|Get there with Google Maps||Get there with Waze||Get there with Moovit|
|Trail Map||Hike it with Google Earth|
|Distance: 7.5km||Time: 3-4 hours||Difficulty: Moderate- Strenuous|
|Ascent: 189m||Point B Parking||Point B Parking|
What’s my favorite hike in all of Israel? Several people have asked me this question. And I always give the same answer – they’re all my favorite.
But I think that for now, I have to give a different answer to that question. Because if I had to choose just one hike to go on in the next month, Nahal Tavor would definitely be the one.
What makes this hike so amazing? Maybe it’s that so many different natural elements come together to create a perfect symphony of sights and sounds in one place.
Nahal Tavor leads down through the rolling green hills of the Lower Galilee, right near Mount Tavor. There’s a beautiful river that flows through the valley and the most incredible array of wildflowers that one could hope for. The trail itself is circular, and only a little over seven kilometers. It’s peaceful and off the beaten track.
Here’s what we saw on this week’s journey through a little piece of paradise:
Through the Citrus Orchards and Beyond
The trail starts off in the little community of Gazit. We parked in a dirt lot and headed off, continuing down the red trail, a 4×4 road. Already, the scenery was incredible. To the left, we could see Tavor Mountain, popping up from the morning mist amidst a sea of yellow flowers.
We made a quick right onto the black trail, and then a minute later turned right onto blue. As we continued down the path, we passed rows and rows of grapefruit trees, green and heavy with yellow fruit. Then we reached a little gate and a crossroads to the green trail.
Right there was a place to hang out and have a picnic. The views to the river down below were awe inspiring. Stones were set up, alongside a wooden table and chairs. It felt isolated and tucked away, but still open to the rolling green hills of the Galilee. We stayed here for a few minutes, then continued on the blue trail, heading down to the left.
At this point, we started our descent. At the top, there were wildflowers everywhere, more types than I could identify. As we climbed down, they became even more abundant. Here and there, we could see purple lupines getting ready to greet the late winter en masse. A few more weeks, and the whole area would be a giant sea of violet.
Walking on Water
It was hard to keep moving with so much beauty all around, but we could hear the river calling us from down below. We continued down, down, down, until we reached the bottom.
It started off as no more than a small stream, but we heard the noise of a waterfall building up ahead. So we made a right and followed the blue trail, walking along the river.
Soon we realized we were in for a challenge. The blue trail went right through the river – from one side to the other. I guess on a glorious spring day, we wouldn’t have minded walking through in water shoes (even after days of rain, the water was no higher than our knees). But on that winter day, we had no plans to get our feet wet.
Luckily for us, a fallen tree had been placed over the stream. It was a bit of a balancing act, but we made it across without falling in.
We continued along the riverside path, through clover and flowers on all sides, towards the noise of a waterfall. And suddenly, there we were.
The Hidden Waterfall
The river poured down a three meter whitewater fall ahead of us. On both sides, there were beautiful black rock formations, framed by intense green pouring down the sides of the hills. Up ahead, emerald mountains lay waiting in the distance.
We sat right there for a long, long time. It was kind of hard to believe that this scenery was here in Israel. What we saw all around us rivaled some of the most beautiful hikes we’ve taken abroad. And here we were, only 2 ½ hours from home.
A long while later, we pulled ourselves away from the fall, continuing down the river. Turns out that the river crossing at the beginning wasn’t the only place the trail went through the water. The path led back and forth over Nahal Tavor several times. It kind of reminded me of the West Fork Trail in Sedona, Arizona (only this time we weren’t hiking in the blazing heat – so we really didn’t want to get wet!).
But each time, we made it through drench-free, using the tree branches and reeds around to balance our way over the water. And crossing through the river added an extra layer of interest to an already spectacular trek.
Towards the end of the path, the river quieted down, turning into a lazy stream that flowed through the valley. The green all around did not let up though, and at this point on the path, we saw lots of birds enjoying the water and the trees.
At the end of the blue path, there was another little picnic area set up by the river. Here, we made a right onto the red path to climb back up the mountain towards the trailhead.
This part of the trail was a challenge – it was a steep uphill for a good long time. But the truly incredible scenery all around made the climb so much easier. Our focus turned back towards the rolling green hills that surrounded us. It felt like we were in Scotland again. The only thing missing was a misty fog hovering over the peaks.
We climbed and climbed, past forests of colorful trees, and up the road to our car. In the distance, we could see horses in the trees and fat cows grazing in the grass.
Before long, we were back at the trailhead. It had been one of the most uniquely beautiful hikes that I could remember.
It’s not unusual to find a river in the stones here in Israel. Or green and hilly fields of wildflowers. But the combination of these two elements in such a striking way turned Nahal Tavor into a secret paradise, tucked away from the crowds. It’s right there waiting for adventurous souls to discover its hidden beauty.
So if you can only take one hike in the winter and early spring, please, please take this one! It is located in the area right underneath the Kinneret – so it isn’t totally out of the way. And the path is completely full of beautiful flowers as spring approaches.
The river runs constantly (not only after a rain storm), but it may dry up at some point in the summer. So this hike is a must for winter and spring, when everything is green and the water is flowing.
As for who can hike this trail, it’s only 7.5 kilometers, so it is an option for kids. That said – the water crossings are extremely tricky when the river is flowing strong after rain. Some kids may be able to cross over, but the preschool set and babies would not be able to cross without help. And when the river is as full as it was, it would be hard to keep your balance with a toddler on your back. So if you go with little kids, either plan to get wet or go when you think the water level might be a bit lower (ie:after a dry spell).
Second tricky part for kids is the last uphill. It was quite a loooong climb. Plan to help little kids on this part of the trek as well. You will be winded as you climb, with or without a kid on your back. It is a hard uphill walk at the end (would be especially hard in the heat). And of course, you have to go downhill at the beginning to get down to the valley. But the entire rest of the hike is flat.
Update: You can also hike this trail without the uphill if you have a 4×4. Follow the Waze link to Point B. This will bring you to the end of the main trail, before the final ascent. It is a flat walk from here to the Basalt Canyon waterfall, which is the most beautiful part of the trail. Hike out and back. We drove this in our (non 4×4) minivan, but it was extremely bumpy. Drive here at your own risk!
Still, the scenery here is not to be missed. Even with all of these warnings, I will definitely try to bring my family here when it hasn’t rained for a little while (and when the weather is still cool). If you have older and more adventurous kids, go for it!
Don’t forget to read my guide to the navigational features in this post before you go.
Trail map from Amud Anan.
Have you been on this incredible hike? Do you have any questions or info to share?? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!