On a sunny or smoggy day few things could be nicer than fleeing the traffic fumes for the foothills of the Alborz Mountains and the walking trails of Darakeh and Darband. The trails pass waterfalls and cross streams as they head up into the hills. They are crowded on Thursday afternoon and Friday and make a great place to meet Tehranis in a relaxed, social atmosphere.
The lower reaches of both trails are lined with teahouses and stalls selling food and drinks, which are hugely popular in the evenings – some close midweek and in winter. A dish of dizi (stew), a kabab or two, a cold drink or a huff and a puff on a qalyan by the stream will soon help you forget the Tehran traffic. Among other tasty treats to sample on the way up are dates, apricots, pickled walnuts, lavashak (sheets of pressed dried fruit), fresh mulberries and steamed lima beans.
Darband also has a ski lift, with tickets costing US$1.50/3 one way/return.
The starting point for getting to either trail is the northern side of Tajrish Sq. For Darband, either walk 2.5km uphill along Fana Khosrow St (or take a shuttle taxi), or leave the grounds of Sa’d Abad Palace from the rear, cross Meydan-e Darband and continue uphill to where you see the ski lift on the left. The walking trail starts where the road ends. A visit to Darband can easily be combined with a visit to Sa’d Abad, or you can walk all the way to Jamshidiyeh Park from a trail starting further east.
To get to Darakeh take a shuttle taxi from Tajrish Sq. At the end of Darakeh St you’ll be dropped in a square; the trail leads off from the northeastern corner.