From an ancient city in the Galilee to the beach in the Sharon: the must-see hiking trails

September, the big holiday month, brings with it a lot of expenses. We jump between attractions, events, holiday meals and more, which weigh on the pockets of many families, who just want to fill their free time. Especially for them, get a recommendation for four free and cool hiking trails that are suitable for the whole family.

Ancient Yodfat National Park

Old Yodfat National Park (Photo: Uri Erlich, Nature and Parks Authority)

The Lower Galilee is an area saturated with favorite attractions and hiking trails, but not many are familiar with one of the most fascinating of them: the ancient Yodfat National Park. The national park has a fascinating story, and has spectacular views and local vegetation.

Yodfat has historical roots that go back to the time of the revolt against the Romans. This is where Yosef ben Matityahu, who led the great revolt, operated. Every stone here is a relic of a bloody history and many stories of heroism. In Yodfat you can see remnants of the city that stood firm for 47 days of fighting. While walking the trails you can imagine how the inhabitants felt during the battles, touring between the hiding caves and cisterns that saved the rebels. A big bonus for hikers during this period is the flowering of the orchards, which already cover the area, and the huge frankincense trees that grow in the area.

Route description: The route of ancient Yodfat is ideal for families, as it is circular and not long. It begins and ends in the parking lot at the foot of Yodfat. It is about a kilometer long, which means you will finish it in about an hour.

We start the hike on a steep path on the northern slope of Yodfat and reach a place where a section of the northern wall is visible. During the ascent we can see a statue resembling Roman soldiers narrow on the area. It is recommended to stick to the green route and the black route that surround the place and take you along with statues and signs to the story of the battle between the inhabitants of Yodfat and the Romans, including some important and interesting points of interest.

Northern Wall: Here the archaeological finds indicate that the wall we see was built on layers of older walls, the first being from the Hasmonean period. The wall was strengthened in preparation for the revolt to protect the city, and one can notice, among other things, a “closing wall”, which is a double wall divided by wide partitions. This wall was built on the remains of an ancient wall that was already in place. Next to the wall archaeologists have discovered the remains of a battery built by the Romans. But you will have to use your imagination to see it, because there are no remnants of it left.

Underground shelter: And speaking of enclosing a wall, you will know that in one of the partitions of the wall in the southern part of the garden, they found a shaft that could be closed and hidden. From it emerges a tunnel that led to three cells hewn in the rock. This shaft and the rooms to which it leads fit the descriptions of Yosef ben Matityahu from the day the city was conquered. “In that day the Romans killed only the multitude who saw their eyes. And in the days that followed they searched the hideouts and slaughtered the people who were hiding in the tunnels and caves.”

Water cisterns: Cisterns are a fairly common occurrence in ancient cities, and can also be seen in Yodfat. The pits, which were used to collect rainwater, were the source of life for the settlement. Just imagine the rebels who were forced to use water from the cisterns, which ran out as the days of fighting lengthened.

Remains of houses: In the dwellings of ancient Yodfat they found many objects that remained from the war period, such as arrowheads and stones, but also coins and pottery. Also, mikvahs were discovered in two of the houses.

Nahal Zalmon National Park

Water flowing in Nahal Zalmon Tichon (Photo: Yaakov Shkolnik)Water flowing in Nahal Zalmon Tichon (Photo: Yaakov Shkolnik)

Between the Upper Galilee and the Lower Galilee is the meandering Zalmon River. The magical stream flows throughout the year, so even at the end of summer it is great to jump into it for a walk. The story of the creek is very interesting, as it recalculated a route and changed the direction of its flow. It all started with the formation of a Peki’in fault, which caused the surface to rise in the eastern part of the Beit Hakerem Valley – then the stream changed direction and began to flow along the fault line. If you come to the national park, you will see literally the area of ​​the rift. In fact, in this area the stream changed the flow path towards the Sea of ​​Galilee. The stream finally empties near Kibbutz Ginosar.

Route description: The route of Nahal Zalmon is linear, so it can be done in two ways. The first way is with a pickup vehicle waiting at the end point, or back and forth to the same point. The route begins in the parking lot on Route 804, where the blue trail junction ends. The route is about 1.5 km long and the walk should take an hour or two. To the route along the stream it is possible (and even recommended) to add a visit to Horbat Zalmon. .

So we mentioned the blue route, it will accompany you and lead to the creek channel. Already at the beginning of the march you will see the first pool of water. Here you can stop and paddle your feet in the water that comes from a kind of Zalmon. As noted, along the creek there are many flour mills, some more surviving and some less so. In any case, you should stop by them. The first is the Ramia flour mill, and is right on the trail. After a short stop, you will continue on the road and go down the path until you see a large carob tree. 30 meters from it there is a cave in which three niches are hewn. The easiest way to get there is by using a staircase near the tree. Then the path descends again towards the creek – and leads to two pools with low but still charming water. If this interests you, on the right side of the pools you will see a grove with hairy elm trees. Just before the end of the route, there are two more flour mills that mark the end point.

The cave stream and the Twin Cave

The Twin Caves (Photo: Ariel Kedem, Nature and Parks Authority)The Twin Caves (Photo: Ariel Kedem, Nature and Parks Authority)

The Judean Mountains area is saturated with tourist sites and busy hiking trails, but to the delight of hikers there are plenty of other magical trails that can be reached and not feel the pressure. One of them is the Cave Creek and the Twin Cave that awaits at the end. Both are located within the Dolev River Reserve. Visitors to the reserve can choose one of two hiking options: a long route, which is fascinating but suitable for cooler days, and a short route, which reaches as far as the Twin Caves.

Route description: The short route, which we will talk about this week, is a circular route that begins and ends in the Twin Caves parking lot. It is about 2 km long, which means that the walk should not take more than two hours.

The easy route begins in the parking lot, where you can start your visit with a family picnic under the carob and oak trees. After a short snack in the shade, set off and ascend a small ascent with the marked path for about half an hour. The path leads up to the development of the Twin Caves. Throughout the walk in the creek you will be accompanied by a Mediterranean grove.

The path is very clear, and it is impossible to get lost on the way. Occasionally he enters the dry creek channel, which only pebbles indicate that there are periods when water flows here. When you reach the cave, you will be able to identify it by means of an explanatory sign and a small rock-hewn staircase leading to its entrance. At the entrance to the cave you will be impressed by a beautiful fig tree.

The cave is a karstic phenomenon that is very familiar in this area. It is actually formed as a result of rainwater infiltration in the limestone and its melting. This geological phenomenon also creates stalactites, sentinels and springs. The unique conditions in the cave attract a variety of species of bats, and you can even see the fruit bats flying above you, or at least hear the sound they make. Since bats are considered a protected animal, be careful, be quiet and avoid shining directly on the ceiling with a flashlight. Inside the cave you will also see stalactites and stalagmites and a spring stored for a small pond.

The route inside the cave is comfortable – on a thin and protected by a railing. It is important to walk on the trail, because water is constantly dripping from above and causing the danger of slipping. Also, the trail leads to the important points of interest and does not harm the further formation of stalactites. After the tour of the cave you can return the same way to the parking lot.

Hof Hasharon National Park

Hof Hasharon National Park (Photo: Etty Nafrin, Nature and Parks Authority)Hof Hasharon National Park (Photo: Etty Nafrin, Nature and Parks Authority)

Instead of just lounging on the beach, we would like to recommend you a trip along the shores of the Mediterranean. In Hof Hasharon National Park, you can combine two loves: a view of the open sea and a walk on the shoreline, right next to Kibbutz Shefayim. Golden sands, unique vegetation and kurkar cliffs leading to the beach make the route perfect for couples and families with children who have gone through the stage of stroller rides. The route is not shaded, so it is worth hiking in the early morning.

Many wildlife live in the Hof Hasharon National Park, but most of them hide during the day for fear of encountering hikers. Even the animals that are considered “nocturnal animals” like the foxes – will only leave their footprints in the sand, so you can only imagine who stepped here in front of you. Also, in the early 2000s deer were returned to the area, and sometimes, especially in the early morning, you can spot a deer rushing to move from the frame.

Route description: This is a light circular route that begins and ends north of Arsuf. It is about 2.5 km long, slightly light.

Our route is very simple, enter the national park and immediately turn left on the path marked in red. After passing through a beautiful eucalyptus grove, the top of the kurkar cliffs awaits us. Notice the interesting road, along which were placed signs with brief information on the way the kurkar formed. What is special about these signs, beyond the enriching information, is that in contrast to the typical wooden signage here, they chose to place glass signs. And as you probably know, glass – like kurkar – is created from dance.

Walk along the path that leads to a wooden deck with amazing observation decks and a seating area dedicated to eight Israeli backpackers who perished in a car accident on the “Death Road” in Bolivia. Although it is difficult to leave the spectacular view and the seating area, our path continues through more small observation decks, “on the slopes” where we can see “paintings” created by nature. After the benefits you will have to part from the cliff and turn northeast. The turn will take you on a narrow path that ends at a kurkar road and a trail junction. At this point you have to choose a path that turns right and leads back to the beginning of the route. If you feel you have not exhausted the trip, you can turn left and head down towards the beach. Just keep in mind that in the end you will have to climb the road up again. 


Source: Maariv.co.il – תיירות by www.maariv.co.il.

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