|Get there with Google Maps||Get there with Waze||Get there with Moovit|
|Trail Map||Hike it with Google Earth||Trailhead and Markers Gallery|
|Distance: 10.5km||Time: 5 hours||Difficulty: Strenuous|
|Ascent: 290m||4x4 Parking||4x4 Parking|
4:00 AM. I rolled over, closed my eyes, and tried to sleep. But something was pulling me into the day, nudging me to get out of bed and get going. And that something was sunrise in the Negev.
Less than a two-hour drive away, there was a desert mountain waiting, along with dramatic views of dawn over hills of multihued rock. All we had to do to experience this beauty was get out of bed right now, get in the car, and go. So that’s what we did.
Two hours later, we were pulling into the college at the edge of Sde Boker. The sun was just beginning to peek over the horizon. Our plan for the day was to climb to the top of Mount Tzror, then complete the circle through the valley at Nahal Tzror.
Since this particular hike had been recommended by a friend, we were pretty sure it was going to be a good one. And as we set out onto the trail, shivering in the cold morning air, we looked forward to an epic adventure.
Mount Tzror and Nahal Tzror did not disappoint. On our hike that day, we got to experience the magical beauty of morning in an otherworldly desert landscape. There was a flat-topped mountain, a cool canyon, and rolling walls of chalk white rock. We were all alone on the trail that morning – just us and the desert birds. It was a great day.
Here’s how we hiked to Mount Tzror and through Nahal Tzror in the desert near Sde Boker:
Shaking Off the Sandman
The first part of the trail was blessedly simple. As the sun rose over the horizon, we walked along a flat path out into the desert. On one side, the full moon still hung low in the sky. On the other, the sun gleamed a bright orange-pink.
There other people on this first section of the hike. Early morning joggers and walkers were completing their morning exercise out in this flat part of the desert near Sde Boker. It was a pretty cool place for a morning run.
Soon, we left the joggers behind and found our way onto a more rugged part of the trail. From here, we would be beginning the slow ascent to Mount Tzror.
A Flat-Topped Mountain
For a while, the terrain remained relatively uninteresting. This was fine for us. At that time of day, there was a lot to look at.
Dawn had revealed a spectacular sky filled with miniature grey clouds. As the sun’s rays filtered through the fog, a beautiful scene appeared. In the distance, a flat-topped mountain stood alone, protruding from a deep valley, the dramatic sky completing a perfect picture.
Soon, we would be sitting up on top of that mountain. First, we stopped to take in the scenery from the top of a little rock hill. Desert dunes spread out all around in shades of gold, white, and almost black. It was the most beautiful scene we would see that day.
Over the Ridge
Next, we proceeded towards Nahal Tzror. We climbed down along a white chalk ridge. On both sides of the narrow ridge, the valley dipped sharply.
As we walked across the ridge, it felt like we were in a scene out of a movie. I could just imagine the hero, walking alone on this narrow pathway in isolated terrain. For us, there was no world to save or villain to conquer. Instead, we proceeded up to the top of Mount Tzror where a spectacular lookout awaited.
On Top of the World
When we reached the edge of the mountain, we put down our bags and took in the views. The scene at the top was surreal. In the distance, we could see some of our favorite trails: Hod Akev and Keren Akev were just across the valley.
On one side, the desert continued in rolling hills and mountains into the sunlight. On the other, we could see green fields near Sde Boker. And behind us, more desert valleys and peaks completed the panoramic view.
At that point in the day, it was most definitely time for coffee. After saying our morning prayers, we poured out hot coffee from our thermos and parked ourselves on the edge of the mountain.
It was so peaceful there. Over breakfast and coffee at dawn on a mountaintop, we talked about many things. One of them was how worthwhile it had been to get out of bed at 4:00 AM in order to experience that moment.
Into the Nahal
After spending quite a while at the summit of Mount Tzror, we packed up our stuff and got back on the trail. The sun was rising fast. The cool of the morning was almost gone. It was time to get going.
We climbed back down the mountain and followed the trail into a shallow valley. As we walked, we passed by strange stone structures and narrow cliff edges. After hiking for a while in this world of rocky beauty, we reached a breakaway trail to a standing pool.
Since it was still early in the rainy season, we weren’t expecting to find any water in the pool. And as we approached, we saw that it was, in fact, completely dry. Still, the rolling layers of rock above the pool were beautiful to look at. They reminded me of the scenery at Ein Avdat Nature Reserve, just a few kilometers away.
We took some pictures, then continued to follow the path until we reached the end of the valley.
All in a Day’s Adventure
From here, we followed a more run-of-the-mill path back to the trailhead. Although there was no dramatic scenery here, there was a steep climb. By the end of our journey, we were hot and sweaty. It was hard to relate to the cold we had felt just a few hours earlier.
As we crossed through the gate back into Sde Boker, we took stock of the morning. It had been an incredible adventure. In only a few hours, we had seen the sunrise and a full moon, climbed to the top of a desert mountain, and experienced one of the most spectacular views in the Negev.
Our hike to Mount Tzror and Nahal Tzror had been well worth getting out of bed early for.
Here’s what you need to know to hike this trail to Mount Tzror and Nahal Tzror:
- This trail is suitable for cooler days in fall, winter, and spring. During the rainy season, make sure to check for flash flood warnings before you go.
- We did not bring our dog, but I see no reason why this trail would not be suitable for dogs.
- Wear a hat and sun protection and good hiking shoes to hike this trail. Bring at least 2.5 liters of water.
- If you have a 4x4, you can shorten the trail by 3.5 kilometers. Go to the 4x4 parking and begin on the road to the blue trail, skipping the red trail.
- To follow the full trail, take the red trail from the parking area. Follow the red trail to the big road. Make a right onto the road until you reach the blue trail. Follow the blue trail towards Mount Tzror. When you reach the green trail to Mount Tzror, take it to the top of the mountain and then return to the blue trail. Follow the blue trail through Nahal Tzror. Look for the breakaway trail in Nahal Tzror (marked white, clear, white) and follow it to the standing pool (full only during rainy season). Return to the blue trail and follow it back to the road/black trail. Turn right onto the black trail and follow it back to red and back to the trailhead.
- Use the trail marker gallery, the trail map, and the Google Earth file in the table at the top of the page to find your way on the trail.
Don’t forget to read my guide to the navigational features in this post before you hit the trail!
Trail map from Amud Anan.
Questions? Have you hiked this trail to Mount Tzror and Nahal Tzror? Let’s hear about it in the comments!
Check out our video!