Israeli’s love their country and love to walk its trails. The countryside is crisscrossed with an impressive network of clearly waymarked and maintained trails, covering the entire country. The combination of the pleasant weather outside the summer months, varied terrain with solid hiking infrastructure makes the county a great hiking destination.
One of the classic hikes in northern Israel is to hike from the shore of the Sea of Galilee to the summit of Mount Arbel. Mount Arbel’s height is only 180 meters but is one of the most famous mountains in Israel. It rises very steeply, 380 meters from the Sea of Galilee and is considered by many the best view-point around the lake. From the summit, there is an amazing vista that includes most of the Galilee mountains, the Golan Heights and famous landmarks like Tiberias, Safed and the Horns of Hattin. It’s an 8 Km moderate circular trail. Besides the great view from the summit the route will bring you to the ancient Arbel cliff fortress and the ruins of a 4th century synagogue.
Less than 30 minutes’ drive from Jerusalem hides the amazing Wadi Qelt (Prat Stream), Which is one of the most popular and rewarding hikes around Jerusalem. Wadi Qelt is a stream that runs from the northwestern slopes of the Judaean Desert, just outside Jerusalem and down to the city of Jericho. It’s one of the biggest and only sources of running water in the Judean Desert. The area has also a long human history. While hiking you will pass ancient aqueducts and old monasteries. The deep canyon is full of springs, poos and waterfalls. A real oasis!! There are many variations for all hiking levels ranging from 3-20 km.
You can read more details on these hikes in “Israel by Foot” website.
The Negev desert is the largest geographical area in Israel and offers a huge variety of hiking options. One of the best areas is the Zin valley at the Foot of Midreshet Ben-Gurion. The classic circuit is a 15 Km long hike that visits the magical desert spring of Ein Akev and the summit of “Hod Akev”, one of the most rewarding view points in the Negev Desert.
Mount Ardon rises steeply at the northern edge of the Ramon Crater (Makhtesh). “Makhtesh” is a unique crater-like formation created by erosion. There are only 7 such craters in the world and 5 of them are located in the Land of Israel. Any hiker visiting Israel should include at least one of them in his itinerary. One of the best hikes to experience this unique geological phenomenon is to Climb to the summit of Mount Ardon. It’s a short, but rough 8 Km circuit with real desert atmosphere.
The Red Canyon
The city of Eilat is full of touristic attractions and restaurants, but it is also a great hiking hub. Within a short drive from the city you can find amazing desert hiking options. What makes the Eilat Mountains range unique is the contrast of colors. The sand and rocks change sharply between Black, Yellow and Red. One of the classics of the area is the easy but very rewarding “Red Canyon”. It’s an easy 5 Km circuit but with exciting sections of passing through the narrow deep red gorge with the aid of metal handrails and ladders.