panoramic view of Israel's northern mountain range

Israel is home to the lowest point on earth and some of the most historically important peaks and summits. While the geography of Israel is diverse, much of the region is comprised of hills and mountains that are occasionally broken up by valleys and plains.

The Judean Hills is central to the region and history of Israel. The mountain range was home to the Kingdom of Judah and the earliest Jewish settlements. 

To the north is the Mount Carmel mountain range. It stretches from the Mediterranean Sea and is covered in lush vegetation. During Biblical times, the caves were used by criminals. Today, you can explore some of the caves and hike the trails.

After the Mount Carmel mountain range, you reach the Jezreel Valley and the hilly region of Galilee. The hilly area includes Mount Meron, one of the tallest peaks in Israel.

Within these mountainscapes of the holy land are incredibly scenic viewpoints and interesting attractions. 

Here is a guide to some of the most popular mountains in Israel:

Masada

 

Masada is an isolated rock plateau and former fortification found on the eastern edge of the Judaean Desert. It overlooks the Dead Sea and is a popular side trip when visiting the area.

The first-century Roman-Jewish historian Josephus wrote about the early history of the fortress. It includes barracks, storehouses, an armory, and a palace. Several of these sites were excavated and available for viewing during a trip to the Masada National Park.

You have three options for reaching the top. You can take the Snake Trail, located off the Dead Sea Highway. The Roman Ramp Trail is reached from the western side of the mountain. The trails are not recommended for inexperienced hikers, as several spots are a little steep.

The third option is to take a cable car. 

As one of the most visited attractions in the Dead Sea region, it helps to avoid peak holidays and travel seasons. If you cannot avoid popular dates, arrive as early as you can.

Mount Sodom

Perhaps one of the most famous of Israel’s mountains, Mount Sodom contains the world’s largest salt cave. Technically, Mount Sodom is a hill found in the southwestern area of the Judean Desert near the Dead Sea.

To reach Mount Sodom, travel to Ein Bokek. From there, you can take a taxi to the base of the hill. As with any hike, start early to give yourself enough time to enjoy the views from the top and beat the crowds.

There are two trails to the top. Both trails are steep and accessible from Road 90. Ladder’s Ascent takes about an hour and a half and is found across from the Dead Sea Works

The Eilat Mountains

The Eilat Mountains are a mountain range located in the Negev (southern Israel), between Mitzpe Ramon and Eilat, some 200 kilometres south of the Dead Sea.

The mountains (Harei Eilat in Hebrew) offer some of the most spectacular views and triking routes in the country. The range includes the breathtaking Red Canyon – a geologically unique region with incredible desert scenery, as well as the Timna Valley ranges.

Atop the highest peaks in the mountain range, one can (on a clear day), see four different countries at the same time – Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.

The mountain range is accessible by car. From Eilat, it’s a half-hour drive, along Route 12. If you’re coming from the Dead Sea, it’s a 2-hour drive, via Route 90.

Guide day tours are available every Monday and Wednesday, starting from the hotels in Eilat. 

Herodium

The Herodium, Har Hordos in Hebrew, is an ancient citadel, located some 12 kilometres south of Jerusalem. The mountain stands at 2,487 ft above sea level and is the highest peak in the Judean Desert. From the top, visitors can enjoy remarkable views of Bethlehem and the surrounding region.

The site is widely believed to the burial place of King Herod the Great, who built a lavish palace on the mountain some 2,000 years ago. Today, it’s one of the major archaeological digs in Israel and hundreds of precious artefacts have been discovered over the past decades.

Mount Meron

Mount Meron is considered the highest mountain in Israel. However, there are a few spots on Golan Heights and Mount Hermon that may surpass the peak of Meron.

Hiking to the top of Mount Meron is a pleasant experience. The path gradually slopes upward and only takes an hour or two. The entrance to the base is just south of Road 89 between Hurfeish and Sasa.

Mount Hermon

Mount Hermon borders Golan Heights. Portions of the mountain range extend into Lebanon and Syria. 

In the Book of Enoch, the mount is where the fallen angels descended to Earth. It is now the site of a ski resort. 

If you want to see the top of Mount Hermon, your best option is to plan a trip to the resort. Visitors primarily come for the snow. It is accessible via a private car or taxi. 

Mount Scopus

Located in northeast Jerusalem, Mount Scopus offers amazing views of the city. It is one of the three peaks that comprise the Mount of Olives range and reaches 826 meters above sea level.

The mountain served as a vantage point for the Roman army and the site of several wars. It is now a popular tourist attraction. The area includes several observation points with stone monuments.

On the western slope is Ammunition Hill, which includes a memorial and a museum dedicated to the Six-Day War. You can also visit several cemeteries and the National Botanical Gardens on the grounds of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Public transportation provides the easiest options for reaching Mount Scopus. You can take a bus or light rail from Jerusalem. 

To avoid crowds, try to arrive early in the morning. However, the evening provides the best views of the city.

Final thoughts

If you want to explore nature in the holy land, consider hiking one of Israel’s mountains. The destinations discussed above give you a chance to walk the same mountainscapes travelled thousands of years ago by the earliest settlers.

 

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