The Top 6 Hiking Trails in the UAE
UAE is known for its skyscrapers, which include Marina 101, the Princess Tower, and the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa.
Going to the top of these tall buildings, however, is not your only option if you want to get an adrenaline rush from visiting a high place. There are several mountains in the UAE that have fantastic hiking trails, which will cure your need to explore nature as you navigate each peak’s exciting and challenging terrain.
If you’re ready to explore the UAE’s rugged terrains and peaks, prepare your boots, outfit, and gears, and make a beeline for these hiking trails:
1. Jebel Jais
Begin your mountaineering ventures at the tallest mountain in the UAE: Jebel Jais.
The mountain, which is located in Ras Al Khaimah, has several trails for hikers of all levels. These include the Leopard Canyon and the East Flak of Jebel Jais. The latter path is quite long since it takes two days to complete the trek. As such, you have to bring camping gear for an overnight stay at the mount.
The East Flak trail will take you through different spectacular canyons, such as the Thunder Canyon, Wasat Canyon, and Trident Canyon.
Aside from hiking, you can try another exciting activity in Ras Al Khaimah: zip lining. You will find the world’s longest zip line at Jebel Jais.
Although Hatta is widely known for its beautiful dams and biking trails, the area also has different flatland and mountain hiking routes that can accommodate hikers of various levels and experiences.
Its hiking trails cover around 31 miles of hiking trails that will take you through many picturesque and peaceful sceneries.
Its most popular hiking trail is City Hiking, a route that takes hikers across Hatta’s most sought-after destinations, which include the Heritage Village, Al Tala Park, and the three dams.
As you embark on a Hatta mountain tour, be on the lookout for wadis — valleys with riverbeds that give the crags a more fascinating look.
3. Jebel Hafeet
If you’re looking for a more challenging trek, Jebel Hafeet is the perfect mountain for you.
Jebel Hafeet is the third highest peak in the UAE. It is very steep and, as such, only experienced hikers are encouraged to conquer this mountain. Although exploring this mount is not easy, the views you will see will be worth your time and effort.
Jebel Hafeet is located in Al Ain, on the border between the UAE and Oman. If you’re feeling adventurous and in the company of hikers that have already conquered the trail, make the trek in time to see the sunset or sunrise to get excellent views and Instagrammable photos.
Before entering the area, you need official government permission. Make sure you obtain this while planning for your hike.
4. Shawka Dam Loop
Located in Fujairah, this hiking trail loops close to the Shawka Dam. The route is more than six meters long.
The hiking trail, which is one of the easiest to complete in the UAE, will take you through numerous spectacular natural sceneries. It is a circular route that will give you amazing views of the dam and other natural pools.
The end of the hiking trail is something that you will greatly appreciate as well. It opens into a wide, picturesque wadi.
The Shawka Dam Loop also features various hiking trails here for hikers of different levels. There are local guides that can see you through the journey as well.
5. Wadi Tayyibah
If you’re looking for a hike that won’t cause you to feel aches all over your body the next day, head to Fujairah, specifically to Wadi Tayyibah.
The trail is a one-way hike, which will take you past beautiful natural pools and fascinating traditional irrigation systems. During the trek, you can also explore the old village of Tayyibah and the town’s museum to know more about the locals’ traditional way of life.
Wadi Tayyibah also has a lovely picnic ground. If you’re hiking with friends, bring food you can share with and enjoy as you take it easy after the trek.
6. Wadi Lasal
Another easy trail that even first-time hikers can complete is Wadi Lasal, which is located in Sharjah.
The route consists of a circular path which is around 6.2 miles long. The trail is made up mostly of flat terrain, and which can be completed in three hours.
Wadi Lasal’s trails are not marked. But if you get lost, you will easily find the route again by following the wadi downstream.
The area also has a camping site which you can visit. You can also spend the night here if you want to get a clear view of the evening sky and bright stars.
Whichever hiking trail you decide to go on, make sure you prepare well for it. Remember to bring plenty of water and snacks regardless of the duration of your hike.
Always dress appropriately for the hike. Wear loose clothes and hiking boots or sneakers with thick soles. Make sure to bring a hat and a pair of sunglasses as well.
Additionally, plan your route properly. Download maps on your phone, especially if you won’t have a guide for your hike.
Lastly, always be a responsible hiker. Do not litter, stick to the trail, bring reusable water bottles, and take nothing but photos from your hike.
Rasha El Saleh is the Conservation Education and Outreach Coordinator in the education team of Emirates Nature-WWF working on its programme, Connect with Nature. She leads the outreach and youth empowerment aspect in growing the Connect with Nature community within the UAE and providing opportunities for youth to lead in this community, in addition to supporting partnerships with vendors supporting and promoting active aspects of the programme.