Welcome to one of the country’s most sought out destinations for those who enjoy and appreciate the great outdoors. At Masada National Park, visitors have numerous things to see and do, including a selection of hiking trails for all skill levels.
Best Hiking Trails in Masada National Park
For anyone who enjoys hiking, whether a novice just starting or a seasoned hiker who enjoys a challenge, Masada National Park has hiking trails rated from easy to hard and in between. Each trail offers up-close interaction with the desert landscape combined with a serene atmosphere. The following are a few trails for you to consider on your next visit to the national park.
Trails rated hard include:
Masada Snake Path
The Masada Snake Path is a popular out-and-back trail less than a mile in length. While the distance isn’t extensive, it can take about an hour and a half to complete. The route got its name when it was designated as a secondary route to gain entrance to the fortress. Hikers have the option to walk the estimated 700 steps leading up the mountain, return by taking an alternate path on the other side of the mountain, or take it easy and return via the tram system.
Masada Loop is another exceptionally lovely trail near Arad. It, too, is less than one mile long, but it is considered to be a challenge. The loop has an elevation of 1299 feet and takes a little over two hours to complete. Along the route, incredible views of the desert and the Dead Sea accompany you along the way. While you can hike solo or with other companions, canines are not allowed. Be prepared for some slippery and steep places and constant sunshine as there is no shade.
Masada Campsite Full Circuit
Be prepared for a long hiking adventure when accessing Masada Campsite. The trail is a loop near Kfar Hanokdim that runs for 8 miles and has an elevation of 2437 feet. It can take up to five hours from start to finish. The trail is popular, but it is not always so busy that hikers don’t get a chance to enjoy the serenity and solitude of the area. The route is a full loop around the Masada site.
Rahaf Stream to Masada via Rahaf Rahaf Ascent
At 4.1 miles, expect a two-hour plus hike near Ein Bokek. The point-to-point trail is challenging and best accessed by veteran hikers. While some trails are more populated with fellow hikers, Rahaf Stream tends to be used more by backpackers and campers. The route takes hikers along the Rahaf Stream and continues on to the Rahaf Ascent and ends near Masada.
Trails rated moderate include:
Yair Ascent to Masada
For an interesting hike rated as moderately challenging, the Yair Ascent to Masada is a relatively straight hike with minimal turns along the route. It begins at the Maale Yair Campsite and heads into the desert, where it will eventually reach the edge of the park. The point-to-point trail is 7.8 miles long and takes about three and a half hours from start to finish.
Masada to Nahal Kanaim
While the trail is short at 1.6 miles compared to some of the others, it still rates as moderately challenging. It is a point-to-point trek that usually takes less than an hour to complete. The trail begins at the edge of Masada National Park and continues in an almost straight line to the Kanaim Stream. This is an ideal hike for those who prefer a short trek to enjoy the scenery without being exposed for long periods to the excessive heat of the desert.
Kfar HaNokdim to Neve Zohar via Masada
This trail is not for the faint of heart. It is the longest trail within the park, with an estimated length of 29.8 miles and an elevation of 2637 feet. Located near Arad, this lengthy trail is popular for regular bike and mountain bike enthusiasts. The route begins at Kfar HaNokdim and is usually traveled over several days to enjoy the scenery. The trail goes past Masada towards Neve Zohar and the Dead Sea.
Trails rated easy include:
Red Trail from Bahak Gorge to Masada
The Red Trail is another option for an easy hike over 3.9 miles of desert landscape. Hikers begin the excursion at the Bahak Gorge and meander through the desert sands until reaching the campsites outside of Masada. The point-to-point trail takes about an hour and a half along a relatively straight route. This trail is also open throughout the year.
Harel Brigade Cemetery Loop
Take this 1-mile loop for an interesting and educational 30-minute walk. Located near Kiryat Anavim, the trail provides a leisurely and relaxing walk past the cemetery where Harel Brigade soldiers who were killed during battles to defend Jerusalem are buried.
Road 90 to Masada
For a quick and easy out-and-about, the Road 90 to Masada trail is 1.5 miles in length with an estimated hiking time of 35 minutes. Open year-round, the trail is also used for those who enjoy a leisurely walk or a short and to-the-point run. The trail begins at Route 90 and heads directly to camping spaces near the Masada.
Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Hike
Whether hiking in a lush forest, alpine meadows, or an arid desert, there are tips to put into place for a safe and enjoyable adventure. This short checklist is some of the things to consider before taking any trail.
- Bring and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- Wear sunscreen.
- Wear a hat or some other head covering.
- Wear durable hiking boots.
- Wear appropriate clothing and dress in layers.
- Bring a map of the area and a compass or GPS.
- Check if there is cell phone service availability in Masada.
- Wear sunglasses for protection against the sun’s glare.
- Let others know where you plan to hike in case of an emergency.
- If a trail allows you to bring a dog, keep it secure on a leash.
- Have ample water for your dog, as well.
- Check the weather before going in case of approaching inclement weather, such as flash flooding and monsoons.
- Hike in the cooler part of the day when temperatures are not at their peak.
- Check when the best time of year is recommended for hiking Masada National Park.
- Be aware of desert wildlife.
- Know what signs to look for if you or someone with you is experiencing heat stroke.
The History of Masada National Park
The history of Masada dates back to 37-31 B.C. when King Herod had the fortress built, but it was to serve as his winter palace. In 66 AD, the palace turned fortress, became the last stronghold where Jewish freedom fighters went up against the warring Roman Army.
The Romans won the war and took over Masada on April 15, 3 AD. Only seven people survived the war, five children and two women. The freedom fighters chose to take their own lives versus living as slaves within the Roman Empire.
Masada, for all that it went through and stood for during that time, emerged as a symbol that stands for the struggle of people who want their freedom.
In 2001, the park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Natural Beauty of Masada National Park
The natural beauty of the landscape of Masada National Park is breathtaking and daunting at the same time. From atop the fortress ruins, it is possible to see for miles and miles. The Judean desert is a blanket covering the landscape, and the towering rock formations create unforgettable visual multi-colored sculptures. Amid the sand and beige and coral tones, a dollop of blue from the Dead Sea highlights the panorama.