Erez Speiser – Spicing-Up a visit to Jerusalem
Jerusalem is an amazing city for any tourist. It has something for everyone: History, Archeology, Arts, architecture, Night life, shopping and much more.
But the fact that Jerusalem is also a great Hiking Hub comes as a big surprise to most people. While hiking is by no means the reason for visiting this great city, for a nature lover, to mix a day of hiking in between the city many attractions can be a great way to Spice-Up his visit.
Jerusalem is situated in a unique geographical location. One of the best spot to apricate the phenomena (And also a worthwhile visit by itself) is from the tower-top of the Augusta Victoria Church at the northern end of the Olive Mountain ridge.
Looking West, the scenery is of the Judea mountains western slopes, which are green and fresh. Looking East, the scenery is of the northern Judea desert which is rugged and dry.
The reason for this radical change that occurs over just a few Kilometers is the “Rain Shadow effect”. The mountains block the passage of rain-producing weather systems and cast a “shadow” of dryness behind them.
On the western slopes of the Judea mountains the annual precipitation is about 400-600 mm, while on the eastern slopes it is only 50-400 mm. As we go further east and south from Jerusalem, the amount of precipitation drops dramatically. The result is a huge diversity of scenery and landscape within a radius of 50 Km around the city.
The western slopes are characterized by steep slopes covered with an evergreen forest and many wild flowers during winter and spring.
However, the main attraction for hikers are the dozens of small springs that are scattered in the area. The most accessible spots to experience them are the Sataf which is an KKL-JNF regulated park, Or the Springs trail where you can visit 5 different springs in a half day hike.
The best month to hike the area are November – April. But it is enjoyable also during the summer if you make an early start to avoid the heat.
The eastern slopes start with an area that gets more rainfall and is characterized by deep canyons that some of them have a flow of water all year round. The most famous of them is Wadi Kelt (Prat Stream). Which is one of the most popular and rewarding hikes around Jerusalem.
As we get further east and south we get deeper into the Judea Desert and the scenery turns very quickly dry and barren. From most cities in the world you will have to drive for days or take a flight to reach such scenery. There are many existing hikes in this area in all difficulty levels.
The best month to hike the area are December – March. November & April are possible on days when the temperatures don’t get too high. During the summer avoid it. Danger of dehydration and Heatstroke is life threatening!!
More hiking trails near Jerusalem