Hike of the Month – Masada

Make your visit to Masada an Unforgettable Hiking Experience!

Masada (photo credit: EREZ SPEISER)
(photo credit: EREZ SPEISER)
The Masada site needs not introduction. But getting up there can be much more interesting than the Cable car or the Snake path.
There are 4 main trails to reach the top of Masada. They vary greatly in length and difficulty, providing a solution for any taste and skill level.
The Snake Path:
The trail was built around 35 BCE during the construction of the palace and served as one of the main access ways to the mountain. It was built to serve both humans and working animals, and therefore it is relatively wide and has a moderate inclination. It is by far the most popular trail and can get sometimes very crowded.
Starting point: Masada Eastern entrance (Road 90).
Distance: 2.7 Kilometers
Climb: 350 meters.
The Roman Ramp Path:
To speed up the siege of Masada (73 AD) the Romans built a Ramp that led from the western cliff to the Masada fortress.  The ramp was built with the aid of Jewish forced laborers.  The result is a diagonal battery of about 100 meters that brought the attackers to the fortress walls. It the easiest way to climb to Masada by foot. However, the access by car to the west side is much longer and it is not served with public transportation.
Starting point: Masada Western entrance.
Distance: 700 Meters.
Climb: 50 meters
The "Runner" Path:
During the siege on Masada the Romans built several camps around the mountain. The “Runner” path was constructed to serve the runners that delivered messages from the eastern camps at the mountains base to the western camps on the cliff. The ancient path is rough and rocky with steep and exposed sections. Metal handrails are installed where needed. During the climb you get amazing views on the Northern face of Masada. The trail also passes via the ruins of several Roman siege camps. An inserting and rewarding hike!
Starting point: Masada Eastern entrance (Road 90).
Distance: 3.7 Kilometers
Climb: 350 meters.
Mount Elazar Path:
Elazar mountain is situated south of Masada with the deep Masada canyon separating between the 2 mountains. It is the only spot around Masada which is higher than the palace (About 40 m higher) and therefore offers what is probably the best view on Masada. On its summit you will find also the ruins of another Roman siege camps. The terrain is rough and rocky, and the trail is steep and exposed in some sections.
Go to Israel by Foot Website for a full and detailed description of a hike that combines these trails into full day circuit.
The hike will take you up on the ancient “Runners” path, visit the Masada site, then get back down via Elazar mountain. You will visit the ruins of several Roman siege camps and get amazing views of Masada from various directions. The hike can be shortened by taking the cable car up or down and walking only half of the trek.
Starting point: Masada eastern entrance (GPS 31.313692, 35.366305)
Distance: 8.5 Km. (Add about 2 Km for tour of Masada)
Climb: 350 m.
Difficulty: Medium-Hard.
Start by following the sings to the Snake Path, but instead of going up, turn right on a Red marked trail to reach the "Runner Path". Climb steeply on the "Runner path" (Green Markers). As you gain height you get great views of the Dead Sea and the north face of Masada fortress. The trail ends at the base of the Roman ramp. Climb the ramp for a tour of Masada and get back down to the same point. Follow the Red marked trail up to the saddle below the summit of Elazar mountain. From here follow a Black marked trail to the Summit. Enjoy this unique view point on Masada and descend to the starting point on the steep and rough Elazar path.
Hikes courtesy of Israel by Foot.