Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Hiking: Around Jebel Zaghouan

Distance: 10km
Hiking up and down: 560m
Level: moderate
Time: 3.5-4.5hrs
Notes: one section with difficult trail finding
GPS track

This rarely done hike is one with great variation. From the big plain on the south side to the lush, green forest on the northern flanks of Jebel Zaghouan. The best time to do it is in spring time, when the fields are green and covered with wild flowers.

Park your car near the mosque in Sidi Medien, on the western end of the Zaghouan Massif. From here, start walking by following the road for 100m southeast. At the sharp bend move up the settlement left (not a real trail but follow the left side of the houses). After another 150m keep left on a vague dirt track that goes through a bit of wasteland. This gets very muddy after rain! 5 minutes later you will see a dwelling on your left hand side, a bit higher up. Aim for that as the soil is better and the views of the south side of the mountain ridges is pretty spectacular.

Spectacular rock faces on a foggy day

Now you head into north eastern direction, following the south side of the Zaghouan massif. At times there is no clear trail, but the terrain is easy enough to walk on. Ahead of you you can see Jebel Zaghouan, the highest peak in this small mountain range (1303m). You'll pass beautiful rock formations and steep, jagged walls. At the highest vertical section of the Jebel, you will see a distinct rock pinnacle (you will reach it in roughly 1hr20 of walking). Pass this pinnacle and make sure you stay at the same altitude. Contour your way towards the Shepherds Pass, making a subtle bend to the left. After a few hundred metres of scree and indistinct trail, you will find a clear path going up steeply in the direction of a small, red limestone wall. Here the steep trail continues and bends around this wall up the last section towards the pass. In front of you is a massive, intimidating wall. Going up should take you about 20 minutes.

The steep approach to the Shepherds Pass having passed the distinct pinnacle in the distance

From the top of the pass traverse to the other (western) side of the valley. Numerous goat trails head this direction, just take one of them but make sure you descend as you go. At some point you should meet the clear trail (also described in the Zaghouan Pass Long Route) that rounds the slopes of Jebel Zaghouan first into north western direction and later on towards the southwest. Follow this trail until you reach a big stone circle that is used for livestock.  Keep heading southwest for the descent towards the Sidi Medien Valley. This is the trickiest part of the hike as the trail is disused and therefore overgrown. It starts on the right side as you go down. You may find yourself bushwhacking a little bit. Lower down you will see an old mining dirt road on the left side. Keep going down, passing a ruin. 30 vertical metres down there's another disused remains of a dirt track (washed away in the bend). Take the left part of it. 150 metres further there's more ruins. Here, you leave the "road" and descent steeply on the heavily eroded path. First it zigzags down, at times difficult to stay on it. Then it will traverse to the south. Eventually you aim for the big ruined structure, remains of the mining industry in the early 1900's. From this ruin, follow the path southwest again. It's 20 minutes more back to Sidi Medien.

Dramatic mountain scenery on the south face of Jebel Zaghouan

1 comment:

  1. Good post....thanks for sharing.. very useful for me i will bookmark this for my future needs. Thanks.!
    Katni Yellow Sandstone