TL;DR: Start the trek from Nohli. Fit folks should do it as a day trek starting latest by 9 am. Drink water from the smaller tributaries not the main one.
Full report :
I visited Kareri Lake with my wife and son on 9/10th October. The trip was organized by Anthill adventures (led by Aman phone and Vivasvat).
The original route mentioned on the Internet is to drive to Ghera village and then trek first to Kareri Village and then to the lake. In our case we trekked to a meadow called Revati that was 1.5 hours short of the top. This is a safe altitude to sleep for someone who stayed in Dharamsala the previous night.
However I have two discoveries which aren’t well covered in the typical articles on this trek :
A. The lake by itself is overrun with algae and is practically green. I don’t know botany but the lake doesn’t look healthy to me.
B. The trek route actually starts next to a bridge about 1 km from Nohli on the Nohli Kareri road next to the bridge. Nohli is connected to the pathankot Dharamsala road. On the other hand the road connecting Ghera to Kareri never got completed and has major landslides in multiple points which are passable only on foot for the last 4 km. You have to be stupid to walk up from Ghera right now. The road is horrible and in the daytime the sun will sap your energy. If you are only coming to trek stay at a local’s house in Nohli than going to Dharamsala. The road from ghera is in terrible shape and my swift has minor underbody hits in over a dozen places.
There’s a nice little temple at the top which should have stunning views in early winter. Right now all we saw was barren mountains and rocks on one side and the usual high altitude forests on the other side. The trek took us about 4.5 hours from the road head (and another hour and a half from the point where our cars were parked). The trek is beautiful and is quite easy compared to the Churdhar trek which is easily twice as long and much harder. The ascent is moderate (~10%) all through and there are steps along the path. There are only two tricky parts :
A. Shortly after the road head you need to cross from one big rock to another while the stream flows strongly 15ft below you.
B. Another half hour on you climb through a part where the steps disappear, the path becomes less apparent and the surface changes to mud and grit. This is a pain when descending and can fry your calves!
Otherwise the route is comfortably doable for solo or independent trekkers. Water is easily accessible. There is a small shop at the start of the trek, then 10 min short of the top, you can find Hukum Chand’s dhaba who also offers a two (poss even three but it will be tight) man tent for 1000/night. He is reachable at his phones : 1 and 2. At the very top there’s a dhaba and some rooms to crash in which didn’t seem wind proof.
There is no airtel coverage once you start on the trek. Some folks report signal at certain points but we weren’t lucky.
The path is mostly trash free since it is not a major religious center. Please keep it that way!