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|Trail Map||Hike it with Google Earth||Terrain View|
|Distance: (Out and back) 2km||Time: 2 hours||Difficulty: Strenuous|
|Ascent: 123m||Trailhead and Markers Gallery|
Where do you stop when you’re on a long road trip down to Eilat?
This is the question we asked ourselves on the way down to Park Timna, right near Eilat, just a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to stop somewhere that would be fun for the kids and not too long or hard. Bonus points for a trail that included water.
So, I consulted our maps, and discovered a little hidden gem near the southern end of the Dead Sea – Nahal Mazar and Gev Mazar. This short desert trail was supposed to be quite challenging, but also very short (only about a kilometer in each direction). During the winter and spring, deep, cool standing pools (gevim) are the highlight of the trail. Our kids were going to be thrilled (I hoped!)
As it turned out, this trail was the perfect choice for our trip down south. The kids loved the crazy angles, intense climbing, and of course, the cool pool of water at the end. And I was thrilled to be out enjoying the desert scenery instead of stuck in the car.
We didn’t see anyone else on our hike to Gev Mazar – probably because this neat little trail and pool are not very well known. The silence and serenity made our hike along Nahal Mazar all the more incredible.
Here’s how we hiked this short but challenging trail through Nahal Mazar to Gev Mazar:
Towards Nahal Mazar
We followed a long, dusty road to the trailhead, not too far from Makhtesh HaKatan. When we reached Nahal Mazar, everyone piled out of the car and basked in the gentle breeze and bright sun. It was good to be out after a long winter of cold and rain.
After organizing ourselves, we headed out on the trail, past blossoming desert plants towards beautiful, jagged mountains. So far, everyone was fully enjoying the walk through spectacular desert scenery. And it helped that there was water just up ahead.
Soon, we reached a lone acacia tree. This is where the trail got tough. From our vantage point at the bottom of the hill, we could see that the path seemed to climb up at an impossible angle, along a smooth rock hill that seemed better for mountain goats than children.
But we persevered. Slowly and carefully, we climbed up the diagonal sheet of rock, using hands and feet to ascend to the top.
For the most part, everyone was really okay. One of my kids was just recovering from a bad virus, so he needed a push or two to get up the hill (Do I win the terrible parent of the year award?)
After a long and exhausting ascent, we reached the very top of the rock hill. From here on in, it would be smooth sailing.
What goes up must come down! Once we were all the way up there on top of a desert mountain, we had to descend a somewhat sheer little cliff to follow the green trail towards the pool. It took a lot of negotiating, especially for those with shorter legs in our crew. But we helped each other along, and soon, we were all down in the dip and ascending one final hill towards the gevim.
The moment we reached a tiny pool of water, my kids plopped down in the shade. There was water and protection from the sun – no need to go further! But my husband ran up ahead to find the actual Gev Mazar. And over one tiny little hill of rock, he found it – a cool, deep pool of water in the desert.
The kids hurried off after him towards the standing pool.
Just What We Needed
Gev Mazar looked awesome – but how deep was it really? There was only one way to find out. My youngest son volunteered to test the waters. Stripped down to his shorts, he waded in slowly, braving the freezing cold as he made his way to the deepest part of the pool.
And it was awesome – truly swim worthy! Once he was in and splashing around in the cool water, it didn’t take long for my other kids to feel some FOMO and hop on in as well.
Soon, they were taking turns jumping off the side into the pool, splashing and swimming in the desert sun. My husband and I sat on the side with our feet in the water, enjoying the spectacle.
Thank Goodness for Warm Rocks
After swimming for a while, it was lunch time. The kids emerged from Gev Mazar and stretched out on the warm rocks with their pita sandwiches. After our challenging ascent through the desert, it was hard to imagine that they were actually freezing cold!
They moved from sun patch to sun patch, trying to escape the shade and soak up the warmth of the rocks in Nahal Mazar.
All in a Day’s Adventure
After a long relaxing lunch (in the sun for my kids, in the shade for my husband and me), we packed up our stuff and turned back the way we came, climbing back up the sheer cliff and proceeding down the diagonal hill just the way we came. It was actually quite a bit more challenging on the way down than it had been on the way up. The impossible angles made some of our kids feel a bit unsettled, as if the world had been turned upside down.
Eventually, we made it down the hill and back to the car. Our short hike at Nahal Mazar had been just what we needed – a fun, challenging, and refreshing adventure in the Negev Desert on the way down to Eilat.
Here’s what you need to know to hike this trail at Nahal Mazar to Gev Mazar:
- This is an out and back trail.
- This trail is best suited to cooler days in the winter and spring. The standing pool doesn't dry up right after rains, but you can expect the water to get murkier as the spring season progresses and evaporate completely by the end of the season.
- Suitable for dogs who can climb.
- Great for adventurous kids!
- To follow the trail - follow the green trail until you reach the standing pool. Then turn around and head back the way you came.
- Use the features in the table at the top of this 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 at Nahal Mazar to Gev Mazar? Let’s hear about it in the comments!