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Pauline

Israel Best Hiking Areas in Israel

This article was sent to us from Erez Speiser, Israel By Foot, hike-israel.com

The most striking feature of Israel's landscape is its variety. This tiny area has a dramatic desert in the South and the green Galilee mountains in the North. Two areas that are so different, but you can drive from one to the other in less than 3 hours.

When to come to Israel for Hiking?
Israel has a very dry and hot summer that is not attractive for hiking and in some areas even dangerous. The fall is still dry and dusty. Conditions start to be hiking friendly only in November. December till March is the best season. The "sweet spot" is between mid-February and mid-March, when wildflower blossom is at its peak and many streams and springs that are dry during other times of the year are full of water. From the end of March until May its still possible to hike, but the weather gradually becomes hotter, and the landscape dries out.

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Admonit wildflower

Main Hiking Areas

Golan Heights: Vast open planes and deep basalt canyons.
The Golan is a flat high plateau that drops steeply towards the sea of Galilee and the Hula valley. The soil is mostly basalt rocks originated from ancient volcanic activity. The result is a series of gorges with waterfalls, pools and water that flow year round. The most accessible is the Yehudiya Nature Reserve that includes three of the major gorges - Zavitan, Yehudiya and Meshushim.

Galilee Mountains: A good mix of archeology, history and nature.
A very green area full of wildflowers (when you hike in the recommended season). Many hikes can be combined with archeological sites such as ancient synagogues, aqueducts, watermills and crusader fortresses. Or historical spots such as the Sea of Galilee, Mount Tabor or the Horns of Hattin. A good hiking hub to explore the area is the old city of Safed with its picturesque small alleys and galleries.

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Mount Tabor

Jerusalem area: Judean Mountains and the Judean Desert.
Jerusalem is situated in a unique geographical location. Looking West, the scenery is of the Judean mountains western slopes, which are green and fresh. Looking East, the scenery is of the northern Judean desert which is rugged and dry. (The ridge creates a "desert shade" effect).

The western slopes are characterized by steep slopes covered with an evergreen forest and many wild flowers during winter and spring. However, the main attraction for hikers are the dozens of small springs that are scattered in the area.

The eastern slopes mark the beginning of the Judean desert. As we get further east and south we get deeper into the desert and the scenery turns very quickly dry and barren. It is a paradise for hikers with a variety of renown options such as Ein Gedi, Masada and Wadi Qelt.

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Prat Stream in Wadi Qelt

Negev Desert: The Makhteshim (Craters) and much more
The Negev desert is the largest geographical area in Israel and offers a huge variety of hiking options. The most accessible section for hiking is the central Negev area between the towns of Yeruham and Mitzpe Ramon. This area includes the three craters (Makhteshim) and the Zin valley. The area offers a good variety of well-marked and attractive trails.

"Makhtesh" is a unique crater-like formation created by erosion. There are only seven such craters in the world, all of them located in the Land of Israel (five) and the Sinai desert (two). Hikers visiting Israel should include at least one of them in their itinerary.

Eilat Mountains: A festival of colors
The touristic city of Eilat 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. In the horizon, you have in view the Edom reddish mountains and the deep Blue of the Red sea. The most famous and accessible is hike the "Red Canyon", but many other more "serious" hikes are possible in the area.

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Eilat Mountains

More details on hiking options can be found on the Israel by Foot website. This website gives detailed descriptions of hikes throughout Israel with the option of purchasing digital maps for each hike. It also gives recommended road trips and picnic spots.
About the Author
Erez Speiser created the Israel By Foot website (hike-israel.com ).
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Pauline
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