Hiking near the Dead Sea
The mountain slopes on the west side of the Dead Sea are full of amazing rivers (that are usually dry) and canyons. You can choose out of many levels of difficulty, from walks suitable for families with little children to climbing in the most dangerous routes.
Although most of the rivers are dry most of the year, it is strictly forbidden to hike in them in the winter, even with bright skies, a rainfall many miles away can cause a devastating flash flood. Almost every year, people lose their lives in this area. The spring on the other hand, is the preferred season as weather is not yet too hot, and some of the river beds are still wet.
Challenging Dead Sea area hikes
In this article I will describe some of the simpler hikes. If you want to take a more challenging adventure you can consult the experts at the Matsukey Dragot center, near one of the most dangerous canyons in Israel. Do not attempt to walk there without professional guides.
Ein Gedi Area
The most common routes are in David and Arugot trails inside the Ein Gedi National Park. These reserves are well maintained. Entry fee is required but you can save money by purchasing a “green pass“ including some UNESCO world heritage sites, such as the Nabatian cities: Mamshit, Shivta, and Ovdat, Massada, Hazor, Megido, and Beer Sheba.
Another nice climb that is not too difficult is the Salvatore River north of Ein Gedi. There is no clear sign, so you will have to consult the locals for the exact entry point.
Ein Bokek Area
If you want an easy yet beautiful walk, take the Rachaf River trail, starting just a few Kilometers north of the Ein Bokek Dead Sea Hotel resort. The entrance to the trail is well marked.
In the Ein Bokek area, you can also walk up the Bokek River, across the main road that leads to the resort. This river is wet most of the year, and the walk is short and easy.
Einot Tzukim / Ein Feshkha
Einot Tzukim (literally means “cliff springs”) is a hike and nature reserve three kilometers south of Kibbutz Kalia. Its Arabic name is Ein Feshkha. Unlike other hikes mentioned here in this article, the hike at Einot Tzukim doesn’t take you to the mountains; instead, it will take you to the shores of the Dead Sea and its adjacent waters.
Einot Tzukim is considered the lowest nature reserve in the world. However, the central section of it is filled with lush foliage, providing tired hikers with plenty of shade — not what you would usually expect from the Dead Sea area, which is usually barren. It also has several pools where you can swim (they are too salty to drink).
The real gem of this nature reserve is a hidden oasis — a 45-minute stroll which takes you to the winding clean springs and lush, almost jungle-like vegetation. Visits are limited to keep the springs pristine.
Not far away from Einot Tzukim is the Qumran, a hike and archaeological site located on a marl plateau about a mile away from the Dead Sea. It is the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. The scrolls are now under the care in Jerusalem, with some of them displayed at the Israel Museum. You will learn about the ancient Essenes and the artefacts they used.
It takes a short hike to get to the top of Nahal Qumran, where you will get fantastic views of the Dead Sea and some of the caves where the scrolls were found.
The multimedia center and the first section of the trail are wheelchair-accessible.