The climb to Masada

All the options how to climb Masada reviewed! Combine your visit to Masada with an exciting hike through the Roman siege camps. Get amazing views of Masada from different directions.


A map of all the options to hike up to Masada
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Climb Masda as a a part of a 4 days Desert Trek ➢

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



Snake path Masada full of hikers
Snake Path Packed with Hikers 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 domesticated 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”.

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


Climbing the roamn ramp to masada at sunrise
The Roman Ramp
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 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.


Climbing to Masada via the Runner Path
Climbing 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!

  • A real hike.
  • Not crowded.
  • Amazing views on the northern palace of Masada.
  • Visiting ruins of the Roman siege camps.
  • Some sections are Rough, rocky and steep.
  • Longer and more strenuous than the previous options.

Combine the Runner Path as part of a 8 Km Hike to Masada


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.

  • A real hike.
  • Not crowded.
  • Amazing view on Masada from mount Elazar’s summit.
  • Visiting ruins of the Roman siege camps.
  • Some sections are Rough, rocky and steep.
  • The Longest and hardest way to reach Masada..

Combine Elazar Mountain as part of a 8 Km Hike to Masada FULL DAY MASADA HIKE

Masada Sunrise Tours – Our Alternatives

A crowd wathing the sun rise over the dead sea
Typical Crowds at Masada Sunrise

Our 3 options for Masada Sunrise Tours


This is probably one of the most popular tours offered for foreign tourists. Every Hotel desk and  tour agency offers them. It is impossible to know what to choose. We would like to recommend Abraham Tours that stands out as a clear first choice. (And at a fair price)


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 (About 30 Km north to 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 and watch the sunrise with a cup of coffee on the balcony. Also, the spot is much less crowded compared to Masada.


If you don’t want to watch the  sun rising over the Dead Sea with a crowd of people around you.
If you prefer to hike up to your private Sunrise Spot, 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). And climbs to the Einot Zukim View Point. The trail is 1.5 Kilometers long with a 200 meters climb.

Get the small Hiking Map and GPS file for this short hike for just 2$

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The HL Masada Guesthouse is the only lodging option at Masada. It is a modest hostel, but very clean and pleasant and at a very reasonable price. Take into account that due to it’s location it is in very high demand and early booking is recommended.



If 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.
Hike Metrics
Hike Description
Distance8.5 Km (Add 2 Km for touring Masada site)
Short version4.5 Km
Climb350 m
BestDec - Mar
PossibleNov - Apr
(The short version can be done Oct - May if you start hiking at Sunrise)
Start PointGoogle-Maps-icon-2020

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) ]

Important note: If you want to combine the hike with a visit to Masada Archaeological site, you need to but the entrance ticket at office before you start!

Climb Masda as a a part of a 4 days Desert Trek ➢

  • 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.
  • Turn right and follow the ‡Red‡ markers for about 1.3 Km until he junction with the ‡Green‡ marker. (3)
Masada Hiking Topographic map with English labels and legend
Get the Masada Trails Detailed Hiking map for just 5$
  • 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 good views on the Northern palace of Masada and the Roman Ramp.
Masada Northern Palace. View from the "Runner" Path
Masada Northern Palace. View from the “Runner” Path

This is the Perfect Spot for and extended break to enjoy the view and learn about the story of Masada.

For a unique, private tour of Masada with “Danny the Digger” –  Fill out the Form.

  • 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 Roam Ramp trail.
  • Tour the site and walk down back to (4). (Or descend with the cable care if you choose the short version)

More Hikes in the Judean Desert ➢

  • 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 at the same spot.
  • A perfect location for a long break.
  • Continue for about 1.7 Km with the ‡Black‡ markers down steeply all the way to the starting point (1).

Get the Detailed Hiking Map and GPS file for the hiking trails around Masada for just 5$

  1. Detailed Hiking Map of the Masada area optimized for printing on an A4 size paper or for browsing on your device.
  2. GPS track files for navigation on your IOS/Android App.
  3. Map Legend and labels are in English

Buy Now Add to Cart

Sample Map - new2
Typical Map Example

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How long does it take to climb Masada?

Climbing up from the snake path takes about 45 minutes. The length of the trail in about 2.5 Kilometers and you will need to climb 350 meters.
You can also climb from the East entrance on the Roman ramp. this takes about 15 minutes and the distance is about half a kilometer. Go here for a full description of all the options.

What is the height of Masada?

Masada is at sea level (0 m ASL), but is almost 400 meters tall rising from the Dead Sea.

Can you get to Masada by Bus?

Yes. Several “Eged” bus lines that go from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea and Eilat stop at Masada. It is very convenient to reach it with public transport.

Can you sleep at Masada?

Yes. But there is only one options which is The HL Masada Guesthouse. So if you plan do so we recommended booking several month in advance since it is in very high demand.

How difficult is it to climb the Snake Path?

It is a moderate 350 m (1000 feet) climb on a well graded and maintained footpath. Any person in good health and good will can handle it. (If you climb on the Snake Path). There also other options reviewed here.

What are the opening hours of the snake path?

The Snake Path opens each day one hour before the sunrise. Sunrise during the winter is around 06:00 and in the summer around 05:00. You can check exact times here.

When was Masada Built?

Masada was built between 31 and 37 BCE

Who built Masada?

Masada was built by Herod the Great

When was the Siege on Masada?

The siege took place in the years 73-74 BCE and was one of the final events that ended the “Great Revolt” of the Jews against the Roam empire.

How many Jews were killed at Masada?

The common belief is that 960 of the defenders of Masada died during the Siege. However, only 28 bodies were found during the excavation