Hiking the Jordan Trail is an amazing way to experience the breathtaking beauty of Jordan by walking through unique culture and history. The Jordan Trail is a 419-mile hiking trail that spans the country from north to south, connecting numerous villages, archaeological sites, and nature reserves. The trail is divided into eight suggested sections, ranging in length from 25 to 100 miles. It takes an average of 40 days to hike the entire length of the trail, but hikers can choose to do individual sections or multiple sections in any order. And every section is a bucket-list hike unto itself.
What to expect on the Jordan Trail
Distance hikers on the Jordan Trail will cross through a variety of landscapes, including sandstone mountains, lush valleys, and desert oases. Along the way, they will have the chance to visit historical and archaeological sites, meet locals, visit local restaurants and lodging options, and get a more authentic sense of Jordanian culture than would be possible from just driving between major cities. Most of the trail is relatively easy to follow.
You can choose to camp along the trail, or stay in lodging options along the way. Thanks to Jordan’s varied landscape, campsites range from backcountry sites with nothing more than primitive fire pits to lakeside camping at the edge of Jordan’s most beautiful natural sites. Nearly all stops along the trail also offer options for guesthouses, hotels, or Mom and Pop rugged lodging options that’ll provide you with a cozy room and meals for a very reasonable fee.
The best time to hike any section of the Jordan Trail is either spring (April and May) or autumn (October and November). Summers are extremely hot and winters can be quite cold for camping. While it doesn’t rain much in Jordan compared to other parts of the world, rain is still possible in winter.
Watch Matador’s extended video with more information on what to expect along the trail.
The different sections of the Jordan Trail
The Jordan Trail is divided into eight sections, each of which offers unique experiences and breathtaking views.
- Section 1: Jordan to Ajloun
The first section of the trail leaves from Jordan and goes past hot springs, Roman cities, and some small towns known for tourism. Don’t miss a visit to the 12th-century Ajloun Castle.
- Section 2: Ajloun to As-Salt
This 62-mile section goes past the King Talal Dam and explorable caves in Rmemeen, plus an interesting handicraft training system for locals near As-Salt.
- Section 3: Salt to Wadi Zarqa Ma’In
This section takes hikers through Jordan’s highlands toward the northern end of the Dead Sea. Temperatures usually start warming up by this point, and it’s the best opportunity for staying in Bedouin camps. Much of this follows the historic King Hussein’s Rally Road.
- Section 4: Wadi Wala to Karak
This section of the trail covers 46 miles and is one of the prettiest on the route. It passes swimming holes, forested areas, and village ruins before descending into the valley where you’ll eventually find Petra. Be sure to see Al-Karak Castle.
- Section 5: Karak to Dana
Wildlife reserves, historic ruins, and multiple tight wadis (valleys) dotted with lush tropical foliage. It’s a departure from the dryer sections above and ends in Dana, where you’ll find the tourist-friendly Dana Biosphere Reserve.
- Section 6: Dana to Petra
This section takes hikers from Dana to Petra and is one of the most popular sections on the trail, so expect to start seeing more tourists. Speedy hikers can do it in three or four days but you’ll want to plan at least an extra day or two to explore Petra.
- Section 7: Petra to Wadi Rum
Another popular section, the seventh segment. This section takes hikers along Jordan’s high desert, with endless opportunities for hiking, canyoneering, stargazing, and exploring well-researched and excavated ancient sites.
- Section 8: Wadi Rum to the Red Sea
The Red Sea is one of the most popular destination in Jordan, and between there and Wadi Rum you’ll have no shortage of cultural and natural sites to explore, plus more opportunities for staying in Bedouin camps. Spend a few extra days around the Red Sea to take advantage of its amazing snorkeling and diving.
Going on your own vs. using a guide
You can absolutely hike sections of the Jordan Trail on your own, though you’ll want to be sure to fully map your transportation between towns and have a way to get back to your starting point. Renting a car is an easy way to do it, or you can also use local transportation. The official trail website lists details of each section of trail along with suggestions transportation and lodging, plus maps and distances for hikes and side hikes — it’s very easy to plan your route.
However, if you don’t want to take the time to plan it yourself, you can hire a guide for separate sections of the Jordan trail or the whole thing. These will almost always include your transportation from wherever you’re starting and can also include any gear you may need, from backpacks to a tent to sleeping bags. Green Arrow Tours, Jordan Treks, Discover Jordan, and Experience Jordan are all licensed to lead treks along the route. You can arrange private guides or, with some companies, join in on a pre-scheduled group trip, which will usually include all your meals, lodging, and more.
A note about culture and customs
Jordanian culture is very conservative so it is important that you dress modestly at all times. Public displays of affection are frowned upon in some areas, and displaying too much skin or drinking alcohol outside of designated areas can land you in trouble with authorities. The Jordan Trail website has a useful page with advice for visiting different parts of the trail.