7 of the best hikes in Israel which you will love!

When you’re thinking of top hiking destinations in the world, we bet that Israel isn’t a place that springs to mind. Whilst the Holy Land’s history and cities are well known, its hiking trails have largely remained locals secrets. But as hiking addicts we waded through what little information was out there in English and even translated some Hebrew to find out which hikes had to be on our list.

And what we found was incredible! The desert in the southern part of Israel is home to a huge array of stunning canyons and ridge lines which are the best we’ve done in the Middle East (and we only scratched the surface).

Here’s seven of the best hikes in Israel that are a must for any outdoor lover.


Best Hikes in Israel - Dead Sea Area

Wadi Arugot, Ein Gedi

Distance - 3.1km dry route or 4.1km along the wet route to the Upper Pools (one way)
Time taken - Allow a couple of hours for the return walk plus swimming time
Difficulty - Moderate
Type of Walk - Return
Start & end point - Wadi Arugot car park

Whilst all the tour buses in Ein Gedi head to Wadi David, our favourite spot is Wadi Arugot next door. When it’s hot in the desert and let’s face it, it usually is, there’s no better place to be than in water. That makes Wadi Arugot the perfect desert hike, you walk through the water almost the entire time, utter bliss!

This trail will take you through the gorgeous sandstone canyon, passing two pretty waterfalls along the way before arriving at possibly the most stunning swimming spot we’ve ever been to.

Grab your water shoes and prepare yourself as this walk is going upstream…. literally. The joy of Wadi Arugot is that you can hike the majority of the way through a river but it isn’t difficult at all.

Unlike Wadi Mujib in Jordan the water is not fast flowing, (although do not hike in rainy weather as flash floods can mean it’s a whole different ball game and are very dangerous), in fact, despite hiking just after a wet winter the water was never much above our knees and more often than not at ankle level.

It’s beautifully refreshing and fun without being too much of a challenge.

Wadi Arugot Hike - best hikes in Israel
One of the small waterfalls at Wadi Arugot

One of the small waterfalls at Wadi Arugot

The first major sight you’ll come to is a small waterfall after which is the only section of the hike which requires a little scramble using metal rungs.

However, it is only a few steps so shouldn’t pose too much difficulty. Whilst much of the way is through water there are a few sections which are closed and require you to use the dry route. The dry route is still gorgeous so it’s not too much of a disappointment.

The trail at Wadi Arugot

Hidden Waterfall

It won’t be long before you hit Hidden Waterfall. At this point, the majority of people turn around and go back, missing the real gem of the hike in Wadi Arugot. Keep an eye out for the path to the Upper Pools and after 20 minutes you’ll be greeted with one of the best swimming spots we’ve ever visited.

It is a truly incredible place. You can carry on and explore a few more pools, but we found ourselves drawn back to the first one as it is easily the best for swimming.

the upper pools in Ein Gedi
The upper pools at Wadi Arugot

Whilst Wadi Arugot isn’t as busy as Wadi David, we still recommend going early - especially if you plan on going to the Hidden Waterfall. By the time we walked back to our car, the Hidden Waterfall was rammed with screaming kids and would have been a very different experience.


Getting to Wadi Arugot

The hike to the Upper Pools starts at Wadi Arugot in Ein Gedi, which is about a 30 minute drive north of Ein Bokek in the Dead Sea. You will have to pay an entry fee for the hike as it is a national park - 29 Shekels per person ($8 USD).

 

Snake Path, Masada

Distance - 2.5km each way
Time taken - 45 minutes up and 35 down
Difficulty - Moderate
Type of Walk - Return
Start & end point - Masada Eastern Entrance

The thought of hiking up an incredibly steep mountain an hour before sunrise wasn’t particularly appealing but the thought of the reward at the top was enough to get us out of bed at 4am!

The hike up the Snake Path leads to Masada Fort, an incredible structure that has the best view of the Dead Sea in the area. It is one of the most memorable sunrises we’ve seen, as it slowly illuminated the Dead Sea and vast desert.

Snake path at Masada - Hikes in Israel
The snake path at Masada Fort

The track is pretty steep as you climb a series of switchbacks before you reach the top. We got to the fort in about 45 minutes which included a few stops to catch our breath, but you could do it quicker if you’re a fast hiker. Ordinarily it wouldn’t be a difficult walk but we found that on little sleep it felt more of a challenge than it should have!

Whilst it is a lot cooler at this time of day, it was still hot enough to get a sweat on! Luckily there is a water dispenser with freezing cold water at the top which was heavenly after the hike!

After the sunrise you can explore the extensive ruins of Masada, originally built by Herod sometime between 37 BC and 4 BC - making this fortress about 2,000 years old!

Getting to Masada

Masada is a 15 minute drive north of Ein Bokek and you will need to park at the Masada Eastern Parking before starting your hike. Masada has an entrance fee of 29 Shekels ($8 USD) and even if you don’t fancy sunrise, you will need to be there before 10am as this is when they close the Snake Path due to the heat.

 

Best hikes in Israel - Near Eilat

Red Canyon, Eilat

Distance - 4.75km
Time taken - 1 hour 20
Difficulty - Moderate
Type of Walk - Loop
Start & end point - Red Canyon Car Park

The Red Canyon is another walk that is popular in Israel, but one that is rarely spoken about outside the country.

On the border with Egypt, this trail is in the Negev Desert close to Eilat, and winds through open desert landscape before gradually dropping down to the start of the slot canyon.

The high canyon walls are a deep red and it feels like entering another planet. You’ll have to climb down a few ladders and use metal rungs on one section, but it is easy going for the majority of the canyon. You’ll see formations that have been carved out of the rock by centuries of wind and rainfall resulting in a truly spectacular sight.

Red Canyon in Eilat - Best hikes in Israel

The canyon itself is relatively short and you can turn around and head straight back to the car park if this is all you are interested in.

However, we recommend walking the loop which will weave into another valley and take you over ridgelines to the car park. It adds on another 3km but in our opinion was definitely worth it.

Getting to Red Canyon

You will have to do a small amount of driving on an unsealed road. The road is in good condition though, so you shouldn’t have any problems with a 2 wheel drive car. It should take about 10 minutes to drive there heading north of Eilat, it is well signposted.

The Red Canyon is popular, so we recommend going early or late to avoid crowds.

 

Wadi Baraq

Distance - 4.5 km
Time taken - 1 hour 20
Difficulty - Moderate
Type of Walk - Loop
Start & end point - Dirt road labelled Wadi Baraq

If you’ve read our article on Wadi Mujib, you’ll know that we love water filled canyons and mixing up hiking with swimming. Wadi Baraq was a real adventure and one that’ll we’ll remember for a very long time.

Before visiting, make sure you have checked the weather forecast. You should not hike Wadi Baraq when it is raining or even shows a chance of rain as it has a serious risk of flash flooding. Make sure you do this hike in good weather.

Depending on how much rain there has been this will be a wet or dry hike. The pools can stay full for months so you won’t know what you will get until you arrive or talk to someone who has recently done it - bring shoes you don’t mind getting wet!

The hike starts with a steep uphill climb which is well signposted and not too difficult, although I would have preferred my hiking boots over sketchers (which can get wet) for this section. It won’t be long before you’re descending into the wadi itself and that’s where the fun begins.

You will descend through various pools or sections of canyon on a combination of ladders and metal rungs! Sometimes it looks really steep and a bit iffy but I found as soon as I got on the ladder or rungs it was totally fine. I wouldn’t suggest it if you are very scared of heights though, as whilst each section doesn’t have huge drops it can feel a bit exposed.

It is a really fun hike that keeps you guessing with how to cross over the pools to continue the hike. You can see what it’s like by watching the video below.

Getting to Wadi Baraq

Wadi Baraq is off Highway 90 and about 5-10 minutes south of Tzukim or an hour south of Ein Bokek. The turning is well signposted, but you will have to drive a substantial amount down a dirt road which gets worse the closer to the canyon you get.

We had a 4x4 so were able to park within a 10 minute walk of the start of the trail, but you will have to park a lot further away with a low-clearance car.

 

Ada Canyon

Distance - 7.6km
Time taken - 1 hour 52
Difficulty - Moderate
Type of Walk - Loop
Start & end point - Ada Canyon Car Park

If you love a good ridgeline, then Ada Canyon is the trail for you. Tucked away off Highway 40, Ada Canyon starts by walking through the canyon itself. For me this was the absolute highlight, as the honeycomb coloured walls begin to close in on you. It was so much more beautiful than I was expecting, and also a lot of fun.

It won’t be long before you hit your first ladder and the uphill climb begins. The gorgeous slot canyon section was over way too quickly for me but you climb out onto a ridgeline which has amazing views for consolation.

From here it is ridgeline heaven as the trail winds over the top of the canyon for around 4km. Apart from the odd fighter jet flying overhead there was no sound here at all. It was so incredibly peaceful and to be honest it was hard to wrap our heads around why no one else was on this incredible walk!

After the ridge the trail drops down and leads you to the road. Sadly you need to follow the road back for 3km to your car. There weren’t any cars on it, and it’s a relatively scenic stony dirt road, so it could be worse!


Getting to Ada Canyon

Ada Canyon is pretty hard to find. From Highway 13, drive north onto Highway 40. Soon you will see a sign on the left of the road marked as “Wadi Paran”. It is opositie a fenced area with a couple of eucalyptus trees. Do not take the road to the firing range, but the one that forks left.

Soon this road will wind around some hills that are on your left and go to a car park near the mouth of a canyon. This is the start of your trail.

 



Black Canyon, Eilat

Distance - 5.18km
Time taken - 1 hr 15
Difficulty - Moderate
Type of Walk - Loop
Start & end point - Black Canyon Car Park

Black Canyon is a tricky place to find as Google Maps will take you into the middle of nowhere! What this means is that those who find it will have the trail to themselves, our directions are below.

The trail starts by going straight into Black Canyon, one of the wider ones in Israel, but still very beautiful. There are a couple of small climbs with metal rungs in this section, but nothing too wild or adventurous.

The trail then heads uphill for some good mountain views to Jordan in the distance before dropping back to the desert floor to complete the loop. The hike was gorgeous, but didn’t have that adventurous element that many others on this list have.

Black Canyon hikes

Amram Pillars

As you’re in the area, you should also check out Amram Pillars. These natural pink rock formations look like the columns around the outside of a huge temple and reminded us of the entrances to many places in Petra.

It is only around five minutes along the trail before you see the pillars and you won’t need too long to take it all in. We recommend this as an addition to the Black Canyon, rather than one you’d head out for in itself.

If you have two cars to do a car shuffle there is actually a hiking trail between the two places but sadly we were travelling alone and didn’t have the option to try it out.


Finding Black Canyon & Amram Pillars

Ignore Google Maps as it will take you on a random road to nowhere! From Eilat, head north on Highway 90. Make a U-turn at Be’er Ora and head back towards Eilat.

Look out for kilometre marker 20 and turn right. You’ll see the Amram Pillars signposted. When the dirt road becomes a fork, turn left to find the trail for Black Canyon.


Best hikes in Israel - near Mitzpe Ramon

Ein Avdat

Distance - 2.6km
Time taken - 1 hour
Difficulty - Moderate
Type of Walk - One way
Start & end point - Midreshet Ben-Gurion

Ein Avdat was a trail that was hard to find out about online as it seems that everyone has something different to say about how to do. The hike is strictly one way past the top of the canyon so you will need to use two cars or the park shuttle service to get back to the trail head.

The trail goes through a huge canyon to a series of pretty emerald pools (swimming no longer permitted). This section is flat and easy and popular with families. Along the way you’ll likely see ibex and a few vultures, so keep your eye out!

After the pools continue up the staircase to get some great canyon views and a look at the pools from above.

Ladders on the En Avdat Trail

Just past this section you’ll see the sign indicating the trail is now one way, you can either head back or continue on and get transport from the canyon rim back to your car.

The trail up to the rim is fairly steep but doesn’t take long. There are many ladders but they are extremely sturdy and don’t feel exposed, despite reading online they were terrifying, we found them easy. If you have vertigo this would be a different matter though.

The trail finishes at the top of the rim where you can take a shuttle back to your car. They run every 30 minutes, but tend to work on going once it fills up (which can be a lot quicker than every 30 minutes). There is also a drinks van at the top (or there was when we visited in school holidays).


Getting to Ein Avdat

The trail starts on a winding road just outside of Midreshet Ben Gurion on Highway 40 in the heart of the Negev Desert. The road goes through this small village and down to the bottom of the canyon (you can see it on the map below). You can park your car here and then either get the shuttle back or turn around before the ladders and one-way section.

You will have to pay an entry fee of 29 shekels ($8).

 

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