UAE: Best spots to go hiking this winter

When the the day is leisurely and the weather is inviting, put on your hiking shoes and head to these places

By Areeba Hashmi

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Published: Thu 21 Dec 2023, 12:57 PM

Wadi Shawka

Wadi Shawka, an hour from Dubai, is an ideal hiking spot for beginners. Offering diverse routes, from a quick ramble to a day-long adventure with Shawka pools, it provides panoramic views for stunning snapshots. Start at Shawka Dam and take the stairs or the marked trails visible from the small parking area. The spot is suitable for a day out with family, and has clear trails to follow. It's dog-friendly too, but keep pets leashed. Enjoy the outdoors with ease and capture the beauty of this hiking gem.


Hatta, Dubai's largest national park, an inviting spot for family-friendly hikes is just an hour and 30 minutes from Dubai. Offering four trails of varying difficulty – easy, moderate, difficult, and severe – and spread over 33km, Hatta showcases undulating hills, wadis, dams, farms, and a heritage village. It also has toilet facilities, making it ideal for families with young children. Explore the famous Hatta sign, discover heritage sites and picnic spots in this adventure-packed destination.

Ras Al Khaimah hiking track

The Ras Al Khaimah hiking track, just one and a half hours from Dubai, offers an ideal blend of bouldering and trekking suitable for all ages, including little children. Begin by ascending through the dry wadi to reach a plateau, allowing for a loop around the mountain spanning approximately 5.5km. It's a perfect outing for a mix of adventure and family enjoyment.

Al Rabi Mountain Trail

Al Rabi Mountain Trail, just one hour, 25 minutes from Dubai, offers a delightful hiking experience with a clear path and breathtaking sunrise views over Khorfakkan. This easy 6km trail includes occasional steep sections, complemented by scenic views of the Hajjar mountains. The hike takes approximately three hours at a moderate pace. Afterwards, reward yourself with a refreshing dip at Khorfakkan Beach, to enhance the overall experience.

Ain Al Sharia

Ain Al-Sharia in Fujairah, a one-hour 50-minute drive from Dubai, is ideal for an intermediate-level hike with captivating geological wonders. The 8.8km trail showcases vibrant russet rock formations and ancient petroglyphs on a vast boulder, providing a unique and visually stunning experience. While the trail is well-marked, it demands a hiking experience with limited shelters and open-sun stretches. Adequate water and sunscreen are essential. Accessing the route requires a 4x4 vehicle due to limited parking.

Wadi Helo

Wadi Helo, a one hour, 40-minute drive from Dubai, beckons intermediate hikers with historical allure. Translating to 'The Sweet Wadi,' it resides in Sharjah's Hajar Mountains, featuring a wadi flowing into a lagoon and passing the historic Awhala Fort. The trail unveils historical ruins and watchtowers from the Islamic Golden Age, culminating in panoramic views of the valley and mountains—a perfect choice for history and archaeology enthusiasts seeking a rewarding hiking experience.

Jebel Jais

Jebel Jais, the UAE's tallest mountain, offers outstanding panoramas just a 2-hour drive from Dubai. It is split into lower and upper trails and boasts six hiking options with varying difficulty levels. The lower trails range from 0.7km to 6km, catering to diverse hiking-capabilities. Well-marked paths make navigation easy, and guided tours are available for those seeking supervision. Though more challenging, the upper trail rewards hikers with breathtaking vistas from the UAE's highest points. Jebel Jais is a thrilling destination, home to the country's highest restaurant, 1484 by Puro, reflecting its elevation above sea level.

Jebel Hafeet

Jebel Hafeet, nestled in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi's mountainous region, beckons advanced hikers with rewarding trails. The Green Mubazzarah Park, offering one trail, may be subject to COVID restrictions, so check in advance. Alternatively, explore the 'smuggler's route' starting from the Desert Park on the mountain's far side. Considered intermediate due to loose rocks, these trails are not recommended for children or first-timers. Embark on these challenging paths for an exhilarating hiking experience amid Jebel Hafeet's scenic beauty.

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