Though many associate the UAE with its world-famous skyscrapers and architectural landmarks, it’s also home to stunning natural landscapes, from desert dunes to mountains and beaches. The country has seen a variety of stunning hiking trails pop up in recent years – here’s our pick of the best.
Just a short drive from Dubai, the natural haven of Hatta is the perfect getaway from the city. Best known for its beautiful dams, the region boasts turquoise waters ideal for kayaking and paddleboarding, as well as over 50km (31 miles) of hiking trails amid the peaceful scenery. For those seeking something more high-energy, Hatta’s trails can also be explored on bikes, which can be rented on site. Maps for the trails can be downloaded from Hatta Mountain Bike Trail Centre, where hikers can look at the expertise level required and plan for the hike.
The Hajar Mountains stretch over the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah and Oman, and offer a thrilling hiking trail for adventurers, with the option of overnight camping. What makes the Hajar Mountains trail unique is that it takes hikers uphill, peaking at 1,910 meters (6,266 feet). This makes for an ideal spot to take photos, have a picnic and set up camp.
Wadi Lasal offers the perfect introduction to hiking. Located in Sharjah, the hike consists of a circular trail of approximately 10km (6.2 miles), popular among mountain bikers and trekkers alike. The entire route can be completed in just three hours – including stops – all on flat terrain, making it an easily accessible route for beginners and those seeking a relaxed walk through nature.
Located in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, Jebel Hafeet is the highest peak in the emirate, and the second highest in the entire UAE. Rising high at 1,240 meters (4,068 feet), this trail is suited to advanced hikers, with a tough but rewarding route. Adventurers will be exposed to views of over 500 burial tombs in Jebel Hafeet’s foothill, dating back circa 5,000 years, as well as panoramic views of Al Ain.
The Copper Hike is located in Ras Al Khaimah and is a perfect day hike. The circular route is only 7km (4.4 miles) long and crosses through two wadis, as well as one open plateau. This is a good hike for beginners who are seeking a challenge: it is not steep, but does have patches with loose rocks which can be tricky to traverse. The hike earned its name because of the mineshaft in one of its wadis, Wadi Safarfir, also known as Valley of the Coppersmiths.
At 1,934 meters (6,345 feet), Jebel Jais the tallest mountain in the UAE, home of the world’s longest zip line and myriad trails for hikers of all levels. Some of the more popular routes include the Leopard Canyon trail, a return trip of 8km (5 miles); as well as the hike through the East Flank of Jebel Jais. The latter takes hikers through several canyons, including Thunder Canyon, Wasat Canyon and Trident Canyon, lasting two days, so hikers must bring their camping gear as well.
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