Winter is the best time to hike in the desert, and the northern half of the Judean desert is the closest desert to the center of Israel.  If you do decide to take to the trails this winter, make sure that you listen to the forecast, and do not hike if it’s raining or there is any danger of flood. It is highly recommended to have a trail map (simun shvilim) with you.

  1. Nachal Og (near Kibbutz Almog) - Take a right on Highway 1 from Jerusalem towards Jericho. Turn right to Kibbutz Almog. Just as the road turns left to the gate, park the car, and follow the red trail down to the ravine. Turn right to the green trail and go up-river, including 3 ladders to climb. At the black dirt road turn right, and five minutes later, right again, to a blue trail that will lead you back to the car  (about 2 hours)

  2. Nachal Mashash (near Kibbutz Mitzpei Shalem) - On Road 90, along the Dead Sea, just north of Kibbutz Mitspei Shalem, there is a road going up the cliff to the height of the desert. At the top the asphalt ends, but you keep on driving on the dirt road three more kilometers to a sharp bend in the road. Park, and follow a red trail down-river. There are boulders, ladders, metal bars and all that an adventure-seeking child would like. At one point, a 10-meter rope can help as well. After about a mile you reach a trail junction. Follow the black trail up. On the way you will pass "Murba'at Cave," one of the hiding places of the Bar-Kochva warriors, and the first one where letters from the revolt were found.  Keep going up the steep climb till you end up at the dirt road. Send the driver to bring the car - 1.5 km to the left.  (about 4 hours for strong hiking families)

  3. Nachal Salvadora (halfway between Kibbutz Mitspei Shalem and Ein-Gedi) - Park the car on the west side of the road, just south of the stream. Go up the stream via the green trail, and back to the car on the blue trail. If you have time and energy - before you go back on the blue trail - keep going up the green trail to the big Salvadora tree that gave the trail its name, and try to look for the water spring that feeds it. Then you back-track to the trail junction. (about 1.5 - 2 hours)

  4. Ein Gedi Nature Reserve - Many different trails of various lengths and levels of difficulty. Great brochure at the entrance, and you can ask the rangers for guidance based on your family’s hiking level. Entrance fee.

Happy Winter Trails to you!

Sharona Liman, a featured guest contributor to IsraelKids, is a tour guide in Israel, travelling with families, business people, and seniors, showing the beautiful face of the land.  You can follow her adventures on Facebook:

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