Top 5 UAE hiking trails to check out this winter

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From the avid hiker to the curious beginner, hiking in the United Arab Emirates is a growing pastime for residents across the country, a trend that has soared since the pandemic.

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The UAE is home to plenty of hiking spots which are scattered across all seven emirates, offering stunning views of soaring mountain peaks, valleys and the coast, as well as lots of animal and plant life – a true feast for the senses.

Here are the top five hiking destinations in the UAE:

Jabal Hafeet

A general view of Jebel Hafeet in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. (Twitter)
A general view of Jebel Hafeet in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. (Twitter)

Located in Abu Dhabi, Jabal Hafeet is a popular spot for hikers. The mountain, which stands at about 1,240 meters tall, offers a range of trails that cater to hikers of all levels of ability.

The mountain has a variety of landscapes, including rocky terrain, and natural pools.

One of the most popular trails is the Al Ain Mountain Trail, which takes hikers to the summit of Jabal Hafeet. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow, and it offers stunning views of the surrounding desert landscape.

Along the way, hikers may encounter a variety of plant and animal life, including lizards, snakes, and birds.

As hikers make their way up the mountain, they may find themselves confronted with steep inclines and rocky terrain. It is important to wear appropriate shoes and clothing, as well as bring plenty of water and sunscreen to stay hydrated and protected from the harsh desert sun.

At the top of the mountain, hikers are rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding area. On a clear day, it is possible to see all the way to the coast. Many hikers choose to rest and take in the views at one of the mountain’s numerous rest stops before making the descent back down.

A general view of Jebel Hafeet in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. (Twitter)
A general view of Jebel Hafeet in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. (Twitter)

Al Hajar Mountains

Located in the eastern part of the UAE, the Al Hajar Mountains offer a range of hiking trails for all levels that wind through rugged, rocky terrain.

A view of Al Hajar Mountains in the UAE. (Twitter)
A view of Al Hajar Mountains in the UAE. (Twitter)

The mountains are home to a variety of plant and animal life and offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

Jabal Jais

A general view of Jebel Jais in Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates. (Twitter)
A general view of Jebel Jais in Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates. (Twitter)

Located in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, Jabal Jais is the highest peak in the UAE and offers a range of challenging trails for experienced hikers.

The mountain is home to a variety of plant and animal life, and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

Rainbow Valley

Rainbow Valley in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. (Twitter)
Rainbow Valley in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates. (Twitter)

Known for its unique and colorful terrain, Rainbow Valley is situated in the Liwa Desert – an area known for its vast, sandy expanse and towering sand dunes.

The valley is named after the vibrant colors that can be seen on its rock formations. The rock layers are made of sedimentary rock which have naturally eroded over time, creating an array of hues that range from deep reds and purples to bright oranges and yellows.

The sand dunes that can be found which are made up of fine, powdery sand, and can reach heights of up to 150 meters and provide a challenging but rewarding backdrop for hikers and sandboarders.

Hatta Mountain

With a varied and rugged terrain, Hatta Mountain stands at about 1,300 meters in height and is located in the Hajar Mountains, a range of rocky, steep-sided peaks that rise up from the desert floor.

Hatta Mountain, United Arab Emirates. (Twitter)
Hatta Mountain, United Arab Emirates. (Twitter)

The Hatta Mountain trail takes hikers up to the summit of the mountain, where they are rewarded with picturesque, panoramic views. Along the way, hikers may encounter a variety of plant and animal life, including lizards, snakes, and birds.

Wadi Shawka

Wadi Shawka is a valley surrounded by stunning mountains and offers a range of trails that cater to hikers of different skill levels, offering visitors the opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the UAE.

A general view of Wadi Shawka, United Arab Emirates. (Twitter)
A general view of Wadi Shawka, United Arab Emirates. (Twitter)

The combination of rugged terrain, stunning views, and diverse plant and animal life make it an ideal destination for hikers.

One of the most popular trails is the Shawka Dam Trail, which takes hikers to the Shawka Dam, a man-made reservoir that sits at the base of the mountain.

A general view of Wadi Shawka, United Arab Emirates. (Twitter)
A general view of Wadi Shawka, United Arab Emirates. (Twitter)

At the Shawka Dam, hikers can take a break and enjoy the tranquil setting. Many hikers choose to rest and take in the views before making the return journey back through the wadi.

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