Friday April 12th, 2024
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The Best Hiking Destinations Across Saudi Arabia

For all the nomadic tortured poets amongst us, here are the best 13 hiking trails in Saudi to help you regain your literary drive and travel passion.

Riham Issa

The Best Hiking Destinations Across Saudi Arabia

While the immediate image that springs to mind when one thinks of Saudi Arabia is its sprawling deserts and hot summers spent indoors blasting AC, the reality is that the Kingdom has more up its sandy sleeve than you previously thought. Harbouring an array of diverse natural landscapes with an underrated network of hiking trails, the Kingdom is the place adventure-travellers should jet off to next. From family-friendly trails winding through palm groves and centuries-old archaeological sites to challenging cliff-side paths with panoramic views of the country’s impressive landscapes, Saudi’s trekking trails offer a welcome adrenaline-infused reprieve from the bustling city life.

So, whether you are a seasoned trekker looking for a multi-day backpacking adventure this icy winter season or a stressed workaholic local simply yearning to escape the daily grind with a casual day hike on the weekends, we have compiled a list of some of the best hiking trails to traverse across the Kingdom. Strap on your comfy boots and proceed, por favor…

Jabal Abyad 

Northern Al Madinah, Harrat Khaybar

Jabal Abyad, which translates to ‘White Mountain’ in English, stands as Saudi’s tallest volcano with a height of 2,093 metres above sea level, offering a somewhat challenging yet peaceful hiking experience. With a spectacular layout, akin to the cratered surface of the moon, the mountain’s seemingly snow-capped peak is actually covered in a ghostly white substance of volcanic ash. So, if you have been dying to go to the moon, and perhaps escape earthly realities, this might be the closest you can get to it.

Jabal Sawda 

Rijal Alma, Asir Province

For all you creative minds seeking some Kafkaesque solitude, this might just be the right destination for you. Known as one of Saudi’s most popular hiking destinations and the highest point on the Arabian Peninsula, the Sawda hiking serpentine trail is located in Asir National Park near Abha and takes an average of six hours to complete. Trekking through Jabal Sawda, you will start off in a cactus field, then pass through a mossy forest, where you will most likely find some cute monkeys along the way. Finally, the trail ends on a ridge, boasting a spectacular view of lush verdant greenery.

Jibal Tuwaiq 

Northwestern Riyadh 

Sometimes, amidst the nerve-wracking nature of workdays, we really just want to go out and run our fingers through some grass. And what better place to go when you are trying to run away from your boisterous work life than the very edge of the world? 

Though it’s an astounding narrow-elevated platform, the Jibal Tuwaiq range includes the high peak of Jibal Fihrayn, which is known as ‘the edge of the world’. Jibal Tuwaqi connects neighbouring Jordan to Saudi Arabia by cutting through the Najd plateau, boasting otherworldly geological features and picturesque scenery, perfect for your Instagram feed.

Aqabat Al Quroon 

Al Soudah, Abha, Asir Province

If you, like us, grew up daydreaming of becoming Alice in Wonderland, the Aqabat Al Quroon trail will make all your Mad-Hatter dreams come true by shoving you right into the misty wonderlands of the Asir province. Though, be warned, you might not find any Cheshire cats or fall down any rabbit holes.

AlUla Hidden Valley 

AlUla 

Amidst the peaceful magic and the serene tranquillity of the Arabian Desert, AlUla Hidden Valley offers a four-kilometre hike through the Sahraan Nature Reserve. Though this trail will immerse you in the soft beige sands and historic rocky landscapes of AlUla, we, unfortunately, can’t guarantee you will find your Dune-era Timothee Chalamet there.

Al Wahbah Crater 

Northern Taif, Hejazi Region

If you have been watching National Geographic way too much and have slowly evolved into one of those curious people who want to unravel the secrets of the earth, perhaps you might consider taking a hike at Al Wahbah Crater, which is only 250 km away from Taif. Legend has it, Al Wahba was born out of a mountainous love affair. One stormy night, as a lighting bolt illuminated Qitn Mountain, revealing its beauty to both the Tamya and Chilman Mountains, a lovestruck Tamya planned to move towards its lover, Qitn. However, third-wheel Chilman’s fiery jealousy led it to shoot an arrow at the unattainable Tamya, demolishing it entirely, leaving only a hole behind.

With its diverse and exotic rock formations, the place is known as the largest and deepest volcanic crater in the Kingdom. Surrounded by a range of majestic mountains such as Al Luhayan, Umm Rilan, and Zabna, Al Wahbah offers a scenic view that harbours the wonders of Saudi nature. (Warning: you might get too attached to the gleaming salt domes and beautiful wild plants at its bottom).

The Fog Walkway

Southern Abha, Asir Province

At the top of the Abha mountains, The Fog Walkway - as the name suggests - is akin to walking on clouds. Located in the Al Dabab neighbourhood in Abha, the walkway overlooks the Tihama Mountains, featuring seating areas, mesmerising greenery, and playgrounds for children.

Layla and Majnun Cave 

Al Ghayl, Riyadh

For a hike that combines both history and fantasy, Layla and Majnuncave is said to be the place where renowned Arab poet Qays Al Mullawah (widely known as Majnun Layla) carved verses for his lover, Layla bint Mahdi, a tragic love story immortalised by the poet Nizami. So, if you are currently grappling with lovesickness and considering hiking there, proceed with caution…

Musayqirah Trail

West Riyadh 

About 120 kilometres west of the Kingdom’s capital, the 10-kilometre hike delves deep into the rich history of the region. The trail leads to Graffiti Rock, an outcropping covered in hundreds of petroglyphs artistically etched into the dark patina of its stone. A hike with a side of a history lesson? Where do we sign up?

Wadi Al-Disah 

Prince Mohammed bin Salman Natural Reserve, Southwest Tabuk Province 

True to its moniker, which translates to ‘the valley of the palm trees’, Wadi Al-Disah offers dreamy solitude amidst towering palm trees and a diverse assortment of rare wildlife. Could this be where the Department of Tortured Poets hangs out?  Known as the Grand Canyon of Saudi Arabia, the place is void of any crowds of tourists and will help you connect with nature. Wadi Al-Disah also houses an abundance of cliffs and water streams, so might as well bring your swim trunks along for a quick dip.

The Caravan Trail

Riyadh 

An important artery linking Taif and Makkah, the Caravan Trail is a cultural legacy of great historical value, which was constructed more than 1,000 years ago and used regularly by pedestrians up to the 1960s. The trail, also known as Aba AlQid, is paved with stones resembling staircases winding between a range of soaring mountains such as Al-Hada, the Karr, Qarah and Wadi Noman.

Mount Uhud 

Al Madinah 

Steeped in history, Mount Uhud, on the north end of Al Madinah, and Mount Ayr, on the south end, were called the mountains of Heaven and Hell by the Prophet Muhammad. Amongst the tallest peaks in Saudi Arabia, Mount Uhud offers a marvellous view of the city. The site also holds pivotal significance in early Islam, and is known as the ending point of the Prophet’s 500-kilometre journey from Makkah.

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