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5 Easy Hiking Trails in the UAE

Written by Ausra Osi

on January 3, 2021

UAE hikes // UAE is home to the mighty Hajar mountain range, spectacular wadis, and mysterious valleys. That being said, there are plenty of hiking trails in the UAE to choose from ranging from easy to very difficult. Whether you are traveling to Dubai or live in the Emirates, you must try at least a couple of those fantastic trekking routes. Some of them are well-marked and easy to follow even for a beginner hiker. Trekking in the UAE will allow you to explore breathtaking nature and get a glimpse of the rural lifestyle of the countryside. 

Here I have listed some of the best easy hikes in the UAE. I have tried them all myself and I am sure you will love them too. All the UAE hikes listed below are suitable for beginners. Keep on reading to find out what will be your next outdoor adventure in the UAE.

Top 5 Easy UAE Hiking Trails

1. Ghaf Summit hiking trail in Jebel Jais, Ras Al Khaimah

Jebej Jais road aerial view with clouds
UAE hikes // Jebel Jais mountain aerial view overlooking Ghaf Summit

Let’s start with the UAE hiking trail at Jebel Jais- a mountain with the highest peak in the United Arab Emirates that is accessible to the public. It is also arguably the most famous natural landmark in the country located in Ras Khaimah Emirate.

The starting point of Ghaf Summit hike in Jebel Jais is conveniently accessible by driving smooth twisting roads all the way up to 1300 meters height.

This beautiful and fairly easy UAE hiking trail is 4km one-way. It is a well-marked and easy to follow route with unraveled 180 degrees Hajar mountain range views opening up at the peak.

Ghaf summit hiking trail in the UAE is clear and easy to follow. Even in slippers…but I recommend proper boots.

The highest elevation point is at 1640 meters and is called South Summit- Highest Public Point in the UAE.

The total time needed to complete the hike one way is around 2 hours walking at a medium to slow pace. There are some steep climbs at the start of the trail. However, you will be following a well-laid path and staircases which makes it very convenient. Although rated as one of the easy hikes in the UAE, the Ghaf Summit trail requires a little bit of effort climbing those few steeper steps. Not to discourage you, it is very doable and suitable for beginners.

Man hiking UAE Jebel Jais Ghaf summit trail
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Jebel Jais ghaf summit mountain trail woman standing on the rock
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To sum up, Ghaf Summit is a great introductory hike for those who are new to trekking in the UAE. Hiking this mountain trail in Ras Al Khaimah makes you feel away from civilization without actually being too far from it. Seeing Jebel Jais road winding below the trail gives a sense of comfort. At the same, you will be enjoying glorious views of Hajar mountains.

It will definitely inspire you to explore deeper and go for a more challenging hikes in the area such as Wadi Shah hike.

Directions to Jebel Jais, Ghaf Summit hike starting point

Ghaf Summit hike starting point distance from Dubai is approximately 175 km.

To access the starting point of the Ghaf Summit hike in Jebel Jais, simply follow Google Maps to Jebel Jais Viewing Deck Park.

It will take you around 2 hours to reach the Viewing Deck point when driving from Dubai Downtown. The last 40km drive up the Jebel Jais is slow but joyful as the well-built road zigzags through the mountain revealing amazing views.

Once you have parked your car, head to Viewing Deck Park- Ghaf Summit hike starts there.

The best time to hike Ghaf Summit in Jebel Jais, UAE

Ghaf Summit hiking trail passes very close to the Jebel Jais road, in case you want to return earlier very easy way.

If you choose hiking Jebel Jais on the weekend, I would advise to start early morning, catch the sunrise and avoid the crowds. This trail is quite popular as it is very accessible, therefore you can expect to meet lots of other hikers having fun there on the weekend, especially towards the sunset time.

If you have a luxury to go on a weekday, then any time of the day from November to March is good to hike Ghaf Summit. There are very few people at Jebel Jais in the middle of the week. Be aware that midday might be sunny and hot even in winter, and there is no shade on the trail. Only shade is under a few sheltered resting points which you will pass on the trail. Also, it can get quite cold during the winter months, especially considering the high elevation, so bring a jacket.

I hiked Ghaff Summit trail in the middle of the week during the sunset time. It was awesome to see the sun setting over the sea and painting Jebel Jais mountain in orange shades. Check a shot teaser video below I have compiled from this hike.

Pss… we haven’t finished the whole trail because we were so hyped up taking pictures and videos that we simply ran out of light and had to head back. So be aware and don’t get carried away if you start later in the day but still want to reach the highest point at South Summit. If you find yourself caught up in dark, don’t worry, you can always return following the road instead.

2. Al Rabi Tower Hiking Trail

Woman in abaya climbing khor fakkan al rabi hiking trail overlooking hajar mountains
This trail is suitable for people of various age groups and fitness levels. Not to worry about hiking attire, as you may have noticed.

Al Rabi Tower Hike is by far the best well-marked beginner hike in the UAE. It is also one of the most scenic hikes that is located above the city of Khor Fakkan, near Fujeirah.

Al Rabi trail offers fantastic 360 degrees views of rugged Hajar mountains backing Khor Fakkan city on one side, and blue waters of Gulf of Oman on the other.

Woman hiking and looking at the sea view at al rabi trail
Sea views from Al Rabi hiking trail in Khor Fakkan, UAE

The highest point of the Al Rabi hike is at 393 meters (1290 feet). The total length of the trail is 6 kilometers (going up and returning the same way). Expect to spend there at least 3 hours- not because it takes that long, but because of how beautiful it is.

Al Rabi tower trail is very easy to follow. Therefore, it is suitable for absolute beginners of various age groups. It is kid’s friendly hike that the whole family can do.

arealial view of khor fakkan al rabi hiking trail
Aerial view of the easy Al Rabi Trail in the UAE

Directions to Al Rabi Hiking Trail in the UAE

Starting point distance of Al Rabi trail when driving from Dubai is approximately 145 km.

Al Rabi Hike starts at Al Rabi Tower and is easily accessible by following google maps. It will take you 1.5 hours to reach the starting point of the hike when driving from Dubai. Convenient parking is available.

READ MORE: make sure to check this detailed guide to Al Rabi Hike in Khor Fakkan: The Best Beginner’s Trail in the UAE.

3. Wadi Shawka Dam to Pools loop

a man hiking in shawka area united arab emirates
Following mountain bike trails in Shawka is easy | Hikes in the United Arab Emirates

The other great beginner-friendly UAE hiking trail is winding through the Wadi Shawka area. Starting at Shawka Dam, an immediate climb up the well-built staircases takes you to the summit. Here, the Moon-like Hajar mountain landscape opens up.

Wadi Shawka trails may be explored in an approximately 8km loop. There are several mountain bike trails crossing through the Shawka area, therefore you can come up with your own route or choose to follow one of the routes I did and recorded on the Wikiloc App.

READ MORE: check my detailed post about Hiking Shawka Dam to Pools Loop.

This hike in Eastern Ras Al Khaimah is fairly easy to accomplish. The only tougher part is the staircases at the beginning of the trail. Good leg workout though. The later stages are just a little bit of scrambling from the top down the mountain and easy walks following mountain bike trails.

Sunset at Showka Dam woman running on the hiking trail Ras Al Khaimah UAE
Rugged terrain in Shawka, but fairly easy stroll with few inclines

By following them, you will reach the valley. Following the valley and keeping right, you will be reaching wadi Shawka and pools that are filled with water all year long.

Directions to Wadi Shawka Dam to Pools Loop Trail

Shawka Dam to Pools hike is one nearest UAE hiking trails you can do when coming from Dubai. It is only approximately 105 km.

It will take you approximately one hour to reach the starting point of the Shawka Dam to Pools hike when driving from downtown Dubai. Follow Google Maps and park at the parking lot by the dam.

You have to then go to the upper part of the dam where the staircases are. Your adventure starts there. Be ready- views on top of the mountain are breathtaking!


4. Hatta Hub hiking trails

Hatta Hub hiking trails are clear and easy to follow

Hatta is the best known for its gorgeous Dam. However, this beautiful exclave town (Hatta is a part of Dubai Emirate) recently became a hotspot for adventure lovers.

That being said, you will find quite a few hiking trails winding through the foothills of Hajar mountains, near the Oman border. Several marked trekking routes were introduced in 2019. Those are suitable for hikers of different fitness levels. Color-coded in green, blue, red, and black, from easy to difficult, Hatta hiking trails span a total of 32.6 km. The complete beginners should start with the green trails that are a leveled walk mostly.

Hatta Hub hiking trails in the UAE. Woman hiking in the Hajar mountains.
One of the many easy UAE trails in Hatta Hub area. Mountain views are breathtaking for just a little bit of effort.

Directions to Hatta Hub hiking trails

Marked trails in Hatta, UAE, start at the Hatta Hub. Driving distance from Dubai is approximately 145 km. It will take you around 1 hour and 40 minutes to reach those easy trails in the UAE.

I have explored a combination of the above-mentioned marked routes, as they all intersect with each other. My goal was to reach the HATTA mountain sign and get a cool drone shot of it.

If you want to follow my route, download Wikloc app and save this trail I have recorded. Note: it is a 6-7 km hike (app says 11 km as there was some recording issue that drew a straight line on the map and counted into the total distance).

Woman sitting on the rocks ovelrooling Hatta town in UAE
Hatta town views from one of the Hatta Hub trails

RELATED READS: If you are feeling more adventurous and want to try a less known and even more amazing fairly easy hike in Hatta, then check out my post about THE SECRET CANYON HIKE IN HATTA. It is a truly hidden gem. Not so popular as other UAE hikes in Hatta because it is not well-marked. Nevertheless, by reading my post, you will find out that it is not difficult to follow that trail.

5. Wadi Tayyibah – The Hidden Gem

A couple standing on the mountains in Fujeirah, Wadi Tayyibah, UAE, scenery reminds planet Mars
One of the most epic views I have ever seen in the UAE is easily accessible by a short hike in Wadi Tayyibah area.

Last but not least is the less explored Wadi Tayyibah area with unbelievably great scenery. If you are looking for a relaxed walk that won’t make your body sore the next day, you should head to Wadi Tayyibah. Winding through Hajar mountains on the eastern part of the United Arab Emirates, it is also a part of Fujeirah. It is a great weekend gate away from busy Dubai life and a perfect contrast to the usual desert scenery.

Wadi Tayyibah area becomes very green during the winter season, fills up with beautiful natural pools, and running springs. You will also witness fascinating traditional irrigation systems, some graveyards, and the remains of old houses.

Start your hike at Al Tayyibah Heritage Museum. There are some hiking signposts along the way, marking the trail. It will lead you to the beautiful valley.

Woman hiking in wadi tayyibah uae
Surreal valleys in Tayyibah area

We did not stick to the marked trail completely. Instead, we headed up to the hills and did some “off-road hiking”. This adventure leads to some jaw-dropping views as a reward. I have recorded our exploration trail on Wikiloc (not advisable for complete beginners though):

NOTE: Climbing the hills is not technically difficult, but there is no trail whatsoever. If you decide to go ahead, bare in mind that you need a bit of physical fitness and some experience of walking through rocky terrain. Therefore, complete beginners should stick to wadi, valleys and the marked trail.  

In general, this hiking area has lots of ground to create your own exploration trails. You can wander Wadi Tayyibah and find your way around it based on your adventure preferences. This East Coast area is simply stunning! And despite its lower elevation level (compared to other parts of Hajar mountains), it can be a great playground for curious hikers that love go beyond the marked trails.

valley in wadi tayyibah
An old graveyard in the valley in Tayyibah area.

There are lots of small entrances to secluded spots from both sides of the valley of Wadi Tayyibah. You will find yourself completely alone. Make sure to bring some food as there is a lot of ground for a nice picnic.

If you are confident in your ability, climb higher up one of the many hills to admire views of the Hajar mountains landscape. It reminds me of a sci-fi movie scene. More like what we image planet Mars should look like.

Wadi Tayyibah eastern fujeirah hajar mountain aerial view
Sunset over Hajar mountains in Tayyibah area- aerial view

Finally, don’t shy away if you meet locals on the way. They will most likely stop to ask you if you need any help. On our hike in Wadi Tayyibah, we received advise from a friendly local, pointing us a shortcut through the fence over his father’s farm. Also, we got to try some fresh honey. It just shows the hospitality of the Emirati people- they simply offer you whatever they have the best at the moment you meet them.

Directions to Wadi Taayibah

Wadi Tayyibah hiking trail starts from Al Taiba Heritage Museum which is around 135 km away from Dubai and will take around 1.5 hours to reach it.

Wadi Tayyibah is also great for off-road drives. The total length of Wadi Tayyibah is around 20km. It starts at around the village of Al Uyaynah(25°27’04.0″N 56°09’56.7”E) and ends at Asimah village 25°24’59.2″N 56°10’01.3”E. It used to be a route connecting Dibba to Masafi. Now its just an old East Coast Road mainly used by the locals.

How to Prepare for the Hike in the UAE?

The best time to start hiking in the UAE is early mornings or afternoons for shorter hikes. This way you will avoid the midday heat. Winter months are the most pleasant to go on a hike in the UAE. Also, choose the trail according to your experience and fitness level. Start with easy hikes to familiarize yourself with the environment.  Later you will be able to attempt more challenging treks. Be aware of wildlife. There are snakes in the mountains. Although it is not so common to spot them during the day, still watch where you step.

Here is my checklist of what you would need to bring when hiking in the UAE mountains

  • Lots of water, for this hike I would suggest taking a minimum of 4 liters. Ideally, get yourself a Camel Bak- it is a water reservoir that keeps water cool for a long time and has a readily accessible straw, so you can hydrate while walking. It also keeps water evenly distributed inside the backpack as opposed to bulky plastic bottles.
  • Power snacks and hydration drinks (electrolytes, sports drink,s or hydration tablets). From my personal experience, the best are protein bars, some salty crackers, dates, nuts, snickers chocolate (not so healthy though), bananas, Pocari Sweat and Gatorade work wonders to kill the hunger and give yourself an energy boost.

Pro Tip: freeze your Pocari Sweat (or any hydration drink of choice) a night before you go. Add some ice cubes into your Camel Bak. This will help to keep water cooler for even longer time.

What to wear for the hike

  • Proper hiking shoes/boots with a good grip. It is arguably the most important part of your hiking attire. The best are mid-ankle boots. It will keep your foot more stable than low-ankle ones and gives more movement flexibility than high-ankle. Please don’t hike in sneakers through Leopard canyon- bad idea, as your ankles might get twisted, and it can be slippery on smooth surface rocks.
  • Comfortable hiking bag. Your shoulders and lower back will get tired from carrying lots of water and snacks. And if you are a photographer like me with dozen lenses, a couple of cameras, tripods, and a drone, you must have a proper bag that is designed to adjust to your body and sit properly on your back so the weight load is manageable.
  • Hiking clothes of breathable material will make your hike much more enjoyable. All that quick-dry stuff feels much nicer than a regular cotton t-shirt that gets soaked in sweat in no time and stinks like hell. Consider wearing something with longer sleeves for better sun protection. And do yourself a favor- leave jeans for a city walk. Long hiking pants are advisable. Although, I often go wearing gym leggings.
  • Sunglasses and a cap– there are some shaded areas along the way, but there is a load of sunny ones too. Save yourself from sunstroke by wearing a cap.
  • SPF 50 sun cream, especially for your face and any areas of your body that aren’t covered. Don’t forget your ears- poor thing gets burned quite often.
  • Fleece sweater for winter months as it gets really cold in the evenings.
  • Slippers for after hike– your feet will thank you.

Must have and optional items for a safer hike

  • Trekking Polls are highly recommended by professional hikers to ease the load on your joints, especially when descending. For this particular hike I wouldn’t see myself using them though except for the descending part. But there are foldable polls that are lightweight and fit into the hiking bag easily in case you need both of your hands free.
  • Torch light or a head-light in case you hike into the darkness. Don’t compromise on a good torch light- it can literally save your life.
  • Personal first AID kit (Advil, band aid, antiseptic, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, etc.)
  • Power bank for your phone
  • GPS device or a Wikiloc app where you can find an accurate trail recording which will help you navigate.

Last but not least- let someone of your family or friends know that you are heading out for a hike. Give them the location details. Also inform them when you are starting the hike and when you expect to return.

Are you thrilled about your next hike yet? PIN this post for your future reference. And make sure to subscribe to receive more detailed guides to other fantastic hikes in the UAE!

hatta mountains uae
A guide to 5 easy UAE hiking trails. Love it? Pin it!

al rabi hiking trail in khro fakkan
UAE hikes can be easy too. Love it? Pin it!

READ MORE: Have you tried the hikes described above and willing to go on a more challenging adventure? Below are links to the posts that will guide you to some incredible intermediate level hiking trails in the UAE:

How to Hike Wadi Shah in Ras Al Khaimah. Detailed guide to one of iconic and diverse hikes in Jebel Jais area.

Wadi Naqab hike to the Red Wall. Detailed guide to the most beautiful wadi in the UAE.

Leopard Canyon Hike in Ras Al Khaimah. Detailed guide to a beautiful and moderately challenging hiking trail in the UAE.

I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU! Leave a comment bellow if you have any questions, suggestion or just wanna say “hi”!

2 Replies to “5 Easy Hiking Trails in the UAE”

Aura says:

Thank you for the detailed post. Those places look incredible, didn’t think all this exists in the UAE. I will definitely try to go on all those hiking trails soon. In terms of popularity, which one of the trails is the most and the least popular?

Ausra says:

Hi Aura, I am glad you got inspired to explore the natural side of the UAE. In terms of popularity, the most popular trail is Al Rabi Hiking trek as it is easily accessible and is basically in the town of Khor Fakkan. Another extremely popular (probably it receives a similar amount of visitors like to Al Rabi, but more adventurous ones) is Shawka Dam to Pools hike. It is very close to Dubai as well (~1hour drive). Hatta is the hotspot for the weekends as well, so is Jebel Jais. Therefore, the first 4 hiking trails are quite well known for nature-loving residents of the UAE. A less known location is Al Tayyibah, there were no other hikers on the day we went, you should definitely give it a go if you like quiet places. Or go very early and not on a Friday.

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