The Eilat Mountains are one of the most beautiful sights in Israel. So full of colors, they are a wonderful place for a hike. Last week, I visited Eilat with a friend and we decided to take a short hike in the mountains early in the morning, just before it got too hot. Since I have already been to the top trails of the area, I looked for a trail I haven’t hiked on. Then I found the White Mountain Trail, which is also known as the Yotam Knife Trail.
The circular trail takes you up a beautiful white mountain and offers a breathtaking view of the surroundings, including the Red Sea Gulf and the city of Eilat. In my view, it is much more amazing than the view from Mount Yoash. But, the highlight of the trail is without a doubt its “knife”, especially for people who like to live on the edge. I’ll tell you more about it in this post, so…
Let’s start with some safety instructions and general notes
- The hike is under your responsibility, so please be careful.
- Make sure you hike with good hiking shoes, have at least 1.5 liter of water, and wear a hat. Though, take into account that if there will be wind at the top of the mountain, your hat might fly off and away, so keep watch of the wind. You can also bring snacks for the way and of course, a garbage bag.
- The top of the trail is entirely exposed to the sun. Therefore, don’t attempt to hike it in very hot hours. The ideal season is spring (February-April) or fall (October-November), but if you choose to hike in the summer like we did, you should start the hike early in the morning. We started at 6:30 AM.
- The trail is well-marked, but it’s always good to have a good hiking map with you.
How to get to the head of the trail?
The trail leaves from a dirt road, that makes its way through the mountains. The quickest and easiest way to get there is by car. In Eilat, you need to get on the bypass road, that bypasses the city from the north. Then, you need to leave the road to a dirt road, that makes its way towards Benny’s Farm and Nahal Netafim. You can search for “Benny’s Farm (החווה של בני)” in Waze. The dirt road is accessible for any type of car, but it’s recommended to drive slowly and carefully because there are some rocks on the way. Drive on the road for about 300 meters until you reach a “Mekorot” water station, where there’s a fork in the road. Right will lead you to Benny’s Farm, but you need to continue straight towards the head of the trail. Then, drive for around 1.3 km until you reach a signpost pointing to the left with a blue marker on it. This is the head of the trail. You can park here and begin the hike.
For those of you who don’t have a car, you can start your hike from the bypass road, what will add about 1.6 km to the total hike.
My friend and I drove along the dirt road all the way to the beginning of the trail. Along the way, there were many improvised graves.
“Ah, now I understand,” my friend said, “These are dog graves.”
We’ve already been in this area before, when we were camping at Benny’s Farm, not far from here, almost five months ago. I also wondered at the time what were all those flowerpots, stones, and signs. I stopped and took a closer look. It really looked like dog graves. Taki, Lada, Ginger, and other dog names were written on the signs. On one sign someone even wrote: “My best friend.” And it seemed like most of them lived for 20 years or so.
At the beginning of the trail (1) stood a signpost, with a sign pointing left to a blue marked trail and stating “Road 12 (MAALE EILAT).”
The hour was 6:30 AM. There were lots of bikers and trotters that passed by us. The start of the trail wasn’t so promising. A wide dirt path with a few mountains around it. To our right we saw a long, white mountain. “That mountain looks edgy,” my friend said. “I think it’s the mountain we will climb on,” I told her.
The way seemed very long, but after about 1.2 km we reached a crossroad. Here the trail splits – forward is a black-marked trail and rightward is a blue-marked trail (2). We continued on the blue-marked trail and at last, the trail started to become more interesting.
We hiked between colorful rocks – orange, brown, pink, and white. We even spotted some sort of desert fox, skipping up one of the mountains. Then, after about 500 meters of walking, we reached the beginning of the climb (3).
It was quite a steep climb and took us about 10 minutes to complete. At the top stood a tall electricity pole, which was buzzing very loudly (4). It’s amazing that you can actually hear the electricity making its way through the power lines. But in spite of the noise, we decided to stop, sit down, and appreciate the magnificent view of the Red Sea, peeking between the mountains.
A few minutes later, we were on our legs again, and almost took the wrong turn down a dirt road, that made its way to the left of the mountain. I looked upwards and saw that the blue trail mark was actually making its way up the mountain, on an ascending trail behind the electric pole. So, we continued upwards.
It was a steep but very short climb, and then we were standing at the very top of the mountain (5). To our right we could see the entire Red Sea Gulf, as well as a large part of the southern Arava. We stopped again to appreciate the view. “The houses look like Lego,” my friend said with a smile. They were so small and distant. The vision was not so good, maybe because it was so close to sunrise. Nevertheless, it was one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen.
The wind was blowing hard, cooling down our bodies. We didn’t even feel that we were totally exposed to the summer sun. We continued along the top of the mountain, which shortly turned to a very sharp edge, a “knife”. It was a very narrow and edgy trail. It felt like if we put out foot in the wrong place, we might stumble down the edge of the mountain. For people with major fear from heights, this is definitely a challenge. For me, it was the highlight of the trail, standing on the very top of the mountain, feeling like I’m hovering in midair with all the wind blowing hard around me.
The “knife” was over after a few minutes and then we were again on stable ground. The view was still there to our right. We continued along the ridge and after about 1.2 km reached the moderate descent down the mountain (6). At the bottom of the mountain, we continued on a dirt trail that made its way back to the dirt road. This dirt road led us very quickly back to the car. That was it. Short but thrilling. I highly recommend it!
To sum it up, this is a short and fun trail, with fantastic views and a wonderful “knife”. We did this hike in July, which is summer in Israel, and that is why we started so early in the morning. It is not advised to hike in the afternoon during the summer, especially in Eilat, where the temperatures can soar to 40 degrees Celsius and more.
How much time does the trail take? About two hours.
Difficulty: Moderate. There are some steep climbs and the “knife” could be challenging for some people, especially those afraid of heights.
It is about a 4.5 km hike.
When is the best time to hike? February to April or October to November, as long as it didn’t rain before you came.
I wish you a wondrous hike in the Eilat Mountains!
Here are more hiking trails which might interest you:
Hiked the trail in July 2020.
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