The climb to Masada

Turn a “Standard” visit to Masada national park into an Unforgettable Hiking Experience!

Combine your visit to Masada with an exciting hike through the Roman siege camps. Get amazing views of Masada from different directions.

GALLERY =====>
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Region – Judea Desert
Distance – 8.5 Km. (Short version 4.5 Km)
Add about 2 Km for tour in Masada
Accumulated Climb – 350 m.
Difficulty – Moderate.
For Private or Public transport directions, use Google Maps –
Masada Eastern Parking

Recommended Month
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Climbing Masada – GuideBook

How to hike up to Masada. All the different options explained.

Click on the map to download it in high quality
A map of all the options to hike up to Masada

There are 4 ways to climb Masada by foot. We will review all of them in details with a Pros and cons summery


The “Snake” Path

Snake path Masada full of hikers
Snake Path By Nis101 [Creative Commons]
Quick Facts:

  • Starting point: Masada Main entrance (East).
  • Length: 2.7 Kilometers
  • Total Climb: 350 meters.

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 domestic ated 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. Therefore, the feeling is not exactly of a “Hike”.

Pros:

  • The easiest options from the main entrance. (West entrance)
  • Well maintain path with no rocks and boulders.
  • Very easy to navigate, no need for a map or hiking experience.

Cons:

  • Might get crowded.
  • No “Hiking” feeling.
  • No special views during the hike.

The “Roman Ramp” Path

Climbing the roamn ramp to masada at sunrise
Roman ramp by By Nis101 [CC BY-SA 4.0 ], Wikimedia Commons
Quick Facts:

  • Starting point: Masada West entrance.
  • Length: 0.7 Kilometers
  • Total Climb: 50 meters.

To speed up the overtaking of Masada (73 AD) the Romans built a Ramp that led from the western cliff to the Masada wall.  This rampart was built with the aid of Jewish forced laborers.  The base was constructed from trees brought from the the Judea mountains and covered with soil that had been collected in the area. The result was a diagonal battery of about 100 meters that brought the attackers under the fortress walls. It is by far 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.

Pros:

  • The easiest and shortest options by far to climb Masada.
  • Well maintain path with no rocks and boulders.
  • Very easy to navigate, no need for a map or hiking experience.

Cons:

  • No public transportation.
  • Much longer to access by car. (Compared with the main entrance)
  • No sense of achievement and certainly not a hike.
  • No special views during the hike.

The “Ruuner” Path

Rough terrain on the runners path near Masada
Rocky terrain on the Runner path

Quick Facts:

  • Starting point: Masada Main entrance. (East)
  • Length: 3.7 Kilometers
  • Total Climb: 350 meters.

During the siege on Masada the Roman legion 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 Northern palace with its 3 stages and the 12 water cisterns. The trail also passes via the ruins of several Roman siege camps. An inserting and rewarding hike!

Pros:

  • A real hike.
  • Not crowded.
  • Amazing views on the northern palace of Masada.
  • Visiting ruins of the Roman siege camps.

Cons:

  • Some sections are Rough, rocky and steep.
  • Longer and more strenuous than pthe revious options.

The “Elazar” Path

View of Masada from Elazar Mountain
View From Elazar Mountain

Quick Facts:

  • Starting point: Masada Main entrance. (East)
  • Length: 4.1 Kilometers
  • Total Climb: 500 meters.

Elazar mountain is situated south of Masada mountain with the deep Masada canyon separating between the 2 mountains. It is the only mountain around Masada which is higher than the palace (About 40 m higher) and therefore offers what is probably the best view on Masada. On it’s summit you will find also the ruins of another Roman siege camps. Its a great location to read/listen to the story of the Masada. From the summit there is a very steep descend into the Masada canyon and short climb to the base of the Roman ramp. As in the runner path, The terrain is rough and rocky and the trail is steep and exposed in some sections.

Pros:

  • A real hike.
  • Not crowded.
  • Amazing view on Masada from mount Elazar’s summit.
  • Visiting ruins of the Roman siege camps.

Cons:

  • Some sections are Rough, rocky and steep.
  • The Longest and hardest way to reach Masada..

Masada Sunrise Tours – Our Alternatives

A crowd wathing the sun rise over the dead sea

This one of the most popular tours offered for foreign tourists. In our opinion, the only benefit you get from it is a good selfie for your Instagram profile……..
You need to get in the middle of the night to watch the sun rising over the dead sea with a crowd of people around you.  If you want to watch the sunrise over the Dead-Sea we recommend other, much more rewarding options:

  • Drive with your car to Metzukey Dragot (Dragot Cliffs) .(GPS 31.589769, 35.392739)
    Its a modest hostel and campground on the edge of the Dead-Sea cliff at the same elevation of Masada and boasts even better views.
    Advantage: You can reach the place with your car and even sleep at the location, so you can wake up much later. Also, it  less crowded compared to Masada.
  • If you prefer to hike, there are a few trails that get to the top of the Dead-Sea cliff at remote locations where you will be able to experience the sunrise all by yourself and enjoy the silence of the desert. We recommend the Black marked trail that starts at Einot Tzukim (GPS 31.716479, 35.450285). It is 1.5 Kilometers long with a 200 meters climb.

Our Recommended Masada Hike

 

If f you are a hiker, you can turn a “standard” visit to Masada into a memorable and unique Hiking Experience.  Climb up the mountain 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 different angles. You will also enjoy true desert atmosphere away for the crowds.

To get the most out of this route we suggest to learn a little about Masada and especially about the Roman siege.[ Masada (Wikipedia) / Siege on Masada (Wikipedia) ]

Track description:

  • For the short version finish the tour at Masada site and descend with the Cable Car.
  • Starting point –  parking area at Masada National Park (1). (entrance fee required)
  • Follow the signs to the “Snake Trail” on an unmarked dirt road for about 500 m until the junction with the ‡Red‡ marker. (2)
  • On your right you can see the ruins of a roman siege camp.
Roman Siege camp F at the foot of masada
Camp F By Ted Chi [CC BY 2.0] Wikimedia Commons
  • Turn right and follow the ‡Red‡ markers for about 1.3 Km until he junction with the ‡Green‡ marker. (3)
  • Turn left and follow the ‡Green‡ markers. You are now on the “Runner Trail”. This trail was used by the Roman messengers (runners) to pass information between the camps.
  • You climb steeply about 200 m. As you gain height you get a good view on the northern palace of Masada.
Masada Northern Palace
Northern Palace by Andrew Shiva / Wikipedia
  • At the top of the cliff the trail curves left. Continue with the ‡Green‡ markers until you reach the back (West) entrance to Masada. (4).
  • Turn left and ascend to Masada on the Ramp trail
  • Tour the site and walk down back to (4). (Or descend with the cable care if you choose the short version)
  • Turn Left and follow the ‡Red‡ markers into the Masada Wadi.
  • After about 750 m you will notice  that the Wadi makes a sharp left turn.
  • Leave the trail and follow the Wadi shortly until the big dry waterfall.
  • Enjoy the dramatic cliff and the great view down to the dead sea.
  • Continue with the the ‡Red‡ markers now into a short steep climb to the saddle of Elazar mountain (5).
  • Turn left on the ‡Black‡ markers to reach the top of Elazar mountain near the Ruins of the Roman Siege camp H.
View of Masada from Elazar Mountain
View From Elazar Mountain
  • Enjoy the view and imagine the Roman soldiers standing in the same spot.
  • The perfect place for a long break.
  • Continue for about 1.7 Km with the ‡Black‡ markers down steeply all the way to the starting point (1).

Topographic map with English labels and legend

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