Nahal Og – Climbing Canyon Walls

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Distance: 4.2kmTime: 1.5-2 hoursDifficulty: Moderate
Ascent: 57m

There’s something about desert scenery that gets me every time.  It’s just so shockingly…beautiful. Not desolate and empty as one would imagine. 

When I find myself alone in a desert canyon, I tune in to nature in a completely different way.  The air feels different.  The texture of the rock walls is striking – smooth and soft in some places, brown and bumpy in others.  I hear the bird calls so crisp, echoing around in the silence.  And I’m surprised all over again.

This past Friday, we took a short drive (less than an hour from home) to Nahal Og to explore another one of these incredible desert canyons.  The great thing about Nahal Og?  It’s a short trek – only about 4 kilometers long.  And it’s circular, so there’s no doubling back at the end.

But what makes Nahal Og really unique (and super fun) are the vertical ascents – there are three or four of them along the way.  While not everyone finds hand hold “ladders” easy to climb, they definitely make scaling the wall of a canyon way easier.

Here’s what we discovered as we climbed the canyon walls in Nahal Og:

Into the desert.

Greeted by a Desert Mirage

As we stepped out of the car, the first thing we saw was a lookout towards Dead Sea, still and blue in the distance.  Rather than checking out the lookout right away (we wanted to get started on the trail early), we headed down towards the green trail first.

Here too, the view did not disappoint.  A blue, cloud filled sky stretched out above, casting light and shadow onto the open expanse of desert dunes down below. 

The scene was simply beautiful.  And we hadn’t even begun.

Into the canyon.

We started off into the canyon on the green trail.  Even though Nahal Og is a super popular trail, there was no one else on the path at that point in the day.  We were all alone, except for the company of the birds that live there.

White Tunnels

Pretty soon, we entered into the shade of the canyon itself.  It was so cool – a sharp contrast from the heat and sun beyond the canyon walls.  We walked along just enjoying the shade and silence – and the rich beauty of the rock that surrounded us.

The cliffs around the inside of the canyon looked inviting.  And we knew we wanted to have our morning coffee in the shade.  So, we scaled one of the cliffs and found a quiet, flat spot to eat. After unpacking our bag, we were ready for our favorite part of the week: Friday breakfast in another one of Israel’s natural wonders. 

In search of a place to sit.

And it really was just as wondrous as we hoped.  It was dead silent in the canyon.  The call of each bird rang loud and clear through the canyon walls.  Every so often, we would see a bird swoop down from its hiding place in the rocks, then fly towards the deep blue of the sky up above.

After ten minutes of solitude, a group of fathers with their children came bounding through.  We packed up and followed them towards the first ladder.

The view from above.

So Fun to Scale

It was incredible to see how easily the group of children climbed up the hand holds.  From ages 6 – 10, they were like little monkeys swinging through the trees.  Some of the adults we watched had a much harder time negotiating the rocky cliffside.

Soon, it was our turn to climb.  We followed in their footsteps, using the metal rungs to reach the next level of the walk through Nahal Og.

Climb time.

From here, the fun continued.  The path alternated between magical walkways through a narrow desert riverbed and then short ascents up the canyon walls.  Some of the climbs were easier than others – but they were all pretty manageable with a bit of careful foot placement.

Nahal Og hike.
Leveling up.

After making our way up all four ladders, past roosting pigeons, and over smooth white rocks, we emerged at the other side of Nahal Og.

The Fun Isn’t Over

I figured that once we were out of the canyon, the hike would basically stop being interesting.  But I was completely wrong.

From the green trail, we made a right onto the black trail, to complete the Nahal Og circular route.  And the black trail took us past awe-inspiring views of the canyon below. 

Nahal Og hike.
Beautiful views down into the canyon.

As we neared the end of the black trail, we could see the Dead Sea reflecting a cerulean sky.  At the crossroads, we took the blue trail, which lead us past the most stunning photo op spots of the whole trail.

There were mini hills to climb and cliffs to look down from.  Beyond the hilly expanse was the blue sea, then reddish mountains in the distance, then the low clouds of the skyline, then even bluer skies up above.  It was like a perfect little layer cake of scenery.

Been Through the Desert

Nahal Og hike.
Layers of color.

The blue trail took us all the way back to our car and the lookout at the beginning.  Once we got there, we didn’t even feel the need to visit the lookout.  We had already seen such beautiful views as we walked along the trail.

It’s always amazing to find magical scenery like this so close to home.  With Nahal Og nearby, anyone in the Jerusalem area can escape for the day towards desert tranquility and adventure.

Nahal Og hike.

Hikers’ Notes:

I loved this trail. It’s such an easy way to experience beauty and adventure nearby.

You can hike this trail if you are in decent physical condition. If you are not used to climbing, you may find the ascents to be a bit difficult. I have this marked as kids and family, but I would only recommend the trail for average kids age eight and above. Great for teens. Not really possible for the preschool set.

Nahal Og is a popular trail since it is short and circular. So don’t expect to find it deserted. I would stay away from this hike on national holidays. I have heard that there are long backups at the hand hold ladders.

If you’d like a quieter experience, go as early in the morning as you can. It’s always open.

There are no entrance fee and no facilities. And I can’t see how a dog would make it through this trail!

The trail is well marked – just keep your eyes open for trail markers and you should be fine. Make sure to bring a hat and plenty of water.

Don’t forget to read my guide to using the navigational features in this post before you go!

Trail map from Amud Anan.

Have you hiked Nahal Og? Do you have any questions or suggestions for fellow hikers? Give me a shout out in the comments below!

Desert beauty at Nahal Og.

Hiking can be dangerous and is done entirely at your own risk. Information is provided free of charge; it is each hiker’s responsibility to check it and navigate using a map and compass.

9 thoughts on “Nahal Og – Climbing Canyon Walls

  1. Hi Susannah! Thank you for the beautiful hike descriptions. Now that we are B”H entering the rainy season it’s important to put a cautionary note about flash floods, especially hiking in canyons! R”L not afew hikers have been caught in a canyon that became suddenyly flooded by a flash flood. Continued success!

  2. Hi Susannah,
    Would you say that this trail is suitable for an adventurous dog? I saw that there were a few spots where we would need to lift him but if it’s only one or two places, is it okay for a dog otherwise? Thanks

    1. I don’t think so. There are a lot of climbing ladders along this trail, more than one or two. Good luck!

  3. Hi Susannah, I appreciate your detailed explanation. about 5 years ago, I researched hikes, and this looked great. We were the only ones there. It became somewhat scary, when we finished the loop, and couldn’t find the exit or even the entrance to backtrack. What should have taken less than two hours, took about 5. We followed an (obviously NOT for the treckers) a trail, and because we saw the occasional black paint kept going. and at some point we realized we were seriously lost and backtracked. eventually getting back there, we followed the blue trail up a steep hill to oversee a beautiful lookout of soft (sand) hills leading to some sort of civilization. We cut through, and after a while, made it to a kibbutz (I think kibbutz og) and miraculously found our parked car. Fun Fact: your cell phone CAN NOT call the police from that area, even on emergency dial. The hills we trecked (I realized as we drove back) were bedouin-filled Wadi’s. we were very lucky!!!!
    Now I’m traveling to Israel next week and actually Do want to go back and do it right!!! Any tips on the end of the loop and advice on something we obviously missed?

  4. My family and I just did this hike. It’s a fun, short hike (my family completed it in under 1.5 hours) close to Jerusalem. Just an update about the trail – what used to be the green trail is now a blue trail. There is a big sign posted in the parking lot that says this in Hebrew but I figured it’s worth noting.

  5. Fun hike!

    We just did this hike and wanted to give some additional tips.

    The green trail is now the blue trail. After about an hour (we went early and no one else was there) the blue trail ends and the trail splits. There is a sign with a blue, green and black trail. You are supposed to take the black trail to get back.

    Getting to the trailhead – take the ALMOG exit off of HWY 1. There is a gas station at the exit. Take the road all the way down and there is a parking lot by the trailhead (don’t turn left to go to the kibbutz).

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