The Margalla Trails
Part I. Saidpur Trail
Estimated time: 2 hours (round trip)
Difficulty (out of 5): ***
Safety: The trail is relatively isolated, so be sure to bring a few friends.
Decisions taken in the spur of the moment, even little ones, at times bring more relief and joy than the most thought out ones. I experienced this on Saturday when I went on an impromptu hiking trip in the Margalla Hills via the seldom used Saidpur trail.
As an outdoor enthusiast I wanted to make the most of this weekend, so I planned a cycling trip with a couple of friends to Shah Allah Ditta village early on Saturday morning.
However after being up at 6:30 I soon realised it was not wise to cycle in the cold and I decided to explore the Saidpur Trail instead. My friend Mustafa tagged along and we headed toward the trail. We arrived at the parking lot of Des Par Des restaurant and taking directions from the locals we headed out towards our destination.
Following the polluted stream running through the neighbourhood we began our ascent. Twenty minutes later we found ourselves viewing the scenic capital fast asleep at this early hour, the Rawal Lake engulfed by a haze.
After a shot lunch break we resumed the hike. It was a steep climb, similar to the more popular Trail 3. However after a forty-five minute hike the trail evened out and we found ourselves breathing easier. The trail was not littered and we were glad to say the same for the clear stream. As we trekked along and occasionally passed a Banyan tree, the sound of flowing water from the brooks resonated in the lush surroundings of the hill providing a sense of calmness and serenity.
The trail divides into two lanes in the end, the right one leading towards The Monal restaurant and the left overshooting to its west. As we had no idea at that time where either of these paths led to, we followed the directions given on the rocks and ended up on a narrow path surrounded by bushes and wild flowers with an overpowering smell of jasmine. As we had received the end of our trail we began our descent.
It was a serene and enjoyable hike and the trail is not very long either. So next time if you want to explore a different side of Islamabad grab a few friends and head out to Trail 3 to escape your mundane routine.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 11th, 2011.
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