Unknown, but certainly not unloved as far as we are concerned. The Jabal Stairway Trail is a varied, challenging hike off the beaten path. We didn’t see a single other hiker the entire way, unless you count the wild mountain goats and stray donkey.
The Jabal Stairway Trail is located in the Hadjar Mountains, just east of the better-known region around Jabal Shams and the famous Balcony Walk. The hike starts in the tiny village of Hulaylat, which unfortunately cannot be found on Google Maps. Drive to these coordinates where you can park your car. A little higher up, at the bend, there is an information board about the trail, from which you can see the first markings.
According to that sign, the walk was supposed to be 8.4 kilometers long… They really pulled a fast one on us! Our watches all showed a solid eleven or twelve kilometers. Considering the hot temperatures and the 650 meter difference in altitude, this turned out to be quite a challenging hike. We needed a whopping five hours to complete the entire route back and forth.
Jabal Stairway Trail
On the way there, the path constantly descends. After all, you start at the top of a mountain and steadily descend to the bottom of the valley. The first part is very rocky and you have to be careful where you step. The fact that the markers are mainly visible for those walking in the opposite direction makes it even a bit more difficult.
After a little over four kilometers, you reach the dry riverbed, where a few modest houses suddenly stand in the middle of nowhere. The residents invited us to join them at their table. As we still had a lot of climbing ahead of us, we had to decline the invitation, but this once again confirmed how hospitable the Omani people are!
It is only after this small slice of civilization, when you are almost at the farthest point, do you see where the Stairway Trail gets its name. More than a hundred steps have been skillfully carved into the rock. They take you to the greener, more tropical part of the trail. Palm trees and green terraces in a kind of oasis lead you into another world. Here and there we saw piles of dates lying around, one of the many treasures that Oman has to offer.
We took a well-deserved break to refuel with some sugar before starting the journey back. This is actually the most challenging part of the hike. Make sure to bring enough water, you will need it!