Discover the UAE’s wealth of wilderness through an array of remarkable hiking trails that not only showcase breathtaking beauty but also provide a unique outdoor experience—all for free.
From the heights of Jebel Jais to the hidden wonders of Wadi Naqab, these trails offer a perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in nature and make the most of the season. Lace up your boots and explore the diverse landscapes that await in the heart of the United Arab Emirates.
Hiking Trails in the UAE
1. Jebel Jais
Jebel Jais, the tallest mountain in the UAE, offers a diverse hiking experience with a division into two hiking areas, each featuring a total of six trails of varying difficulty levels.
The lower segment presents five trails catering to different abilities, ranging from 0.7km (Farfaar trail) to 6km (Samar trail). Meanwhile, the challenging Ghaf Summit gauntlet in the upper tier spans 4.3km, providing a rigorous test for hikers.
2. Wadi Shawka
Located just an hour away from Dubai, Wadi Shawka stands out as one of the nearest hiking spots, making it ideal for beginners. With diverse routes to choose from, whether you opt for a quick ramble or a day-long adventure incorporating the Shawka pools, each offers impressive panoramic views for ample ‘Gram opportunities. At 120mm, Wadi Shawka receives one of the highest rainfalls in the country.
Begin your journey at the Shawka Dam, where you can either ascend directly to the summit using stairs or select one of the clearly marked trails visible from the small parking area. These well-marked trails ensure a safe and family-friendly experience, suitable for children.
Distance: 6.3 km from stairs and back to parking
Level: Suitable for Beginners
3. Al Rabi Mountain Trail
Situated along the picturesque eastern coastline of the UAE, the Al Rabi Hike stands out as an excellent vantage point for beholding the Gulf of Oman. Nestled just outside the city of Khor Fakkan, this trek promises expansive views of the coastal city once you reach the final lookout.
Spanning a roundtrip distance of 5.5 kilometers, the Al Rabi Trail serves as an ideal entry point for those looking to venture into hiking. The journey commences at the Al Rabi Tower (Burj al Rabi), a historic watchtower erected in 1915, leading hikers up the adjoining mountain.
Distance from Dubai: 1-hour 25 minutes’ drive
Coordinates: 25.339488, 56.359157
4. Hatta Sign Hike
Hatta, Dubai’s largest national park, is a favorite among families and friends, known for the Hatta Wadi Hub adventure center. With four trail options—Easy, Moderate, Difficult, and Severe—covering nearly 33 km, explorers can traverse undulating rugged hills, wadis, dams, farms, a heritage village, and paths leading to the iconic Hatta sign.
Notably, this hike provides toilet facilities, making it an ideal choice for families with young children.
Level: Intermediate to expert
Starting point: Hatta Wadi Hub.
You might also like: You can now travel from Dubai to Hatta by bus for just Dhs25
5. Jebel Hafeet
Nestled in Al Ain, the sole mountainous area in Abu Dhabi, Jebel Hafeet, the UAE’s third-highest peak, presents a range of satisfying hiking options. Among them is the Green Mubazzarah Park. Another option is the ‘smuggler’s route,’ which begins from the Desert Park on the mountain’s far side. Both routes fall into the intermediate category, featuring loose rocks and are not recommended for children or those new to hiking.
According to experts, the climb takes around 3 to 4 hours and the best time to trek up the ranges is at sunset or sunrise.
Starting point: Green Mubazzarah Park (24.098936, 55.748944)
6. Wadi Abadilah
This wadi in Fujairah is known for its beautiful landscape, and the hiking trail goes through a spring valley beside the stunning Masafi mountains.
Classified as an easy-to-moderate trail, this path guides you through agricultural farmland, offering glimpses of banana trees, mango trees, date palms, and other lush vegetation along the way.
Distance from Dubai: 1-hour 30 minutes’ drive
Coordinates: 25.440816, 56.196784
7. Wadi Al Helo Sharjah
Wadi Al Helo stands out as one of the most verdant valleys in the UAE, owing to its ample underground water sources. Translated as the “sweet valley” from its Arabic name, this location provides enjoyable outings for families and beckons adventure enthusiasts eager to explore new landscapes.
While the hike itself is thrilling and exciting, the trails also lead to archaeological ruins and watchtowers.
Distance from Dubai: 1-hour forty minute drive
Coordinates: 24.5633 56.1220
8. Wadi Naqab
Spanning 14 kilometers, the arid riverbeds of Wadi Naqab present diverse hiking opportunities, featuring an ancient village and a succession of wadis (though their water levels may vary with weather conditions). The loop trail from Wadi Naqab to Al Sanat village entails approximately 6 hours, encompassing an ascent with loose rocks, making it a challenge suited for the more adventurous.
Starting point: Wadi Naqab into Google Maps, a sign marks the start of the trail.
9. Stairway to Heaven
Ranked among the more challenging trails in the UAE, the Stairway to Heaven trail in Wadi Ghalilah spans 17 kilometers from start to finish, catering exclusively to seasoned hikers. Reaching a peak 1.5 kilometers above sea level, it promises breathtaking views that will undoubtedly leave conquerors breathless. With its demanding terrain, comfortable footwear is imperative, as this trail is sure to test the endurance of even the most seasoned hikers.
The Stairway to Heaven hike is located in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah.
Level: Intermediate to experienced
Starting point: The car park is at Wadi Ghalila Dam
Distance from Dubai: 1-hour 45 minutes’ drive
10. Wadi Tayyibah
This one-way hike, perfect for amateurs, boasts beautiful views of traditional irrigation systems, museums and natural pools. Located in Al Dibba, Fujairah, it is the perfect place for day-trippers who want a family day out.
Level: Easy (more of a walk than a hike)
Starting point: Al Taiba Heritage Museum
11. Rainbow Mountains / Wadi Ghub
Spectrum Hike, situated in Wadi Ghub, Fujairah, offers captivating vistas with its stacked rock layers, stunning landscapes, and refreshing air. This renowned trail, also referred to as the Rainbow Mountains, is celebrated for its multicolored rock formations that adorn the entire valley. Easily accessible, the trail is just a 7-minute off-road drive from the Ghub Village in Fujairah.
The hiking trail spans approximately 6.20 kilometers, with an estimated duration of around three and a half hours.
Location:25.577142, 56.185255 (Parking Spot for Trail)
Here’s a checklist for hiking essentials:
- Footwear: Choose hiking boots or shoes that are slightly wider on the toes, providing comfort as your feet may swell during the hike. Ensure they are light and breathable.
- Backpack: Opt for an ultralight, water-resistant, and tear-resistant backpack suitable for navigating the diverse terrains encountered in the UAE.
- Hydration: Carry more water than you think you’ll need to stay well-hydrated during the hike, considering the often arid conditions.
- Useful Apps: Download outdoor navigation apps like Wikiloc and Alltrails for trail information, offline maps, and live tracking to enhance your hiking experience.
- Lighting: Pack a reliable headlamp for visibility in low-light conditions.
- Power Source: Bring a portable charger or battery pack along with charging cables to ensure your devices stay powered throughout the hike.
- First Aid Kit: Include a basic first aid kit with essentials like bandages, antiseptic wipes, and any personal medications.
- Sun Protection: Carry sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s rays, sunglasses to shield your eyes, and a hat for additional shade.
- Snacks: Pack energy-boosting snacks to keep you fueled throughout the hike.
- Communication: Ensure your phone is equipped with offline maps and is fully charged for emergency communication.
Be prepared with these essentials to make the most of your hiking adventure in the UAE.