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|Distance: 4.6km||Time: 2.5-3.5 hours||Difficulty: Moderate-Strenuous|
When I think of long and peaceful waterfall hikes in Northern Israel, I think of Nahal Jilaboun.
Nahal Jilaboun may be one of the best off-the-radar water hikes in the Golan. Like many Israeli water hikes, the path weaves its way along a gentle stream between a couple of gorgeous waterfall pools. It feels like a tropical jungle.
But unlike other water hikes in the North, it is not filled with groups of kids or crowds of people – at all. Every time we’ve hiked Nahal Jilaboun, we’ve encountered only a few solo hikers and small groups of teenagers on the trail.
I’m not sure if it’s because of the unassuming entrance to the trail – the path begins past a large open field near some abandoned old houses. Or maybe it’s because of the long climb up at the end.
Whatever the reason, the quiet peace found at Nahal Jilaboun enhances the incredible natural beauty on the trail. From flowering bushes hanging overhead to rainbow waterfalls, this hike has a lot to offer.
Here’s what we saw at Nahal Jilaboun:
Beginnings are Rough
We knew what to expect when we pulled up at the trailhead to Nahal Jilaboun. We’d been there before.
So, we weren’t at all put off when we pulled through a dry yellow field to some graffiti spattered structures. We knew that once we climbed down into the valley below, we would leave this fallow desolation behind.
Down we climbed, past bouncing purple blossoms in golden fields of wild wheat. Pretty soon we could see the twisted jungle and gently flowing stream of Nahal Jilaboun.
We were only too eager to get our feet wet, so we climbed right through the water and followed the red path to the other side.
Birds and the Bees at Devora Waterfall
After a short walk, we could see and hear the first waterfall down below. We climbed down the rocks a bit towards the fall (using hand holds placed into the side of the canyon).
In the distance, we could see a tall stream of whitewater cascading down past summer wildflowers. The falls spilled into a large and inviting pool below. We continued the climb down over the rocks towards the water.
The first thing I noticed as I approached the pool was a mini waterfall off to the side. I tried to get in closer, and stumbled upon a swarming nest of bees, making their home in a rock near the stream.
Rather than disturb them, we sat down at the main pool and put our feet in the water. The effervescent waterfall crashed down in the distance. And the walls all around creeped with ivy and other climbing vines.
We were only at the beginning of our hike, so we didn’t spend a long time at this pool. Up we climbed back onto the red trail.
One with Nature
What struck me about Nahal Jilaboun this time around was that the scenery was so interesting and varied. There was so much to see along the way.
Fallen trees turned into fun log bridges, useful for crossing water that we were actually happy to splash through. Pink petals fluttered down from the tall bushes up above. And the stream flowed merrily at our feet as we walked, creating whitewater pools in some places.
There were birds. And reptiles (nothing dangerous, don’t worry!). One lizard sat posing on a rock. A large blue crab waited patiently for me to take its picture.
We made our way forward through the stream, climbing over rocks and getting our feet wet as we walked.
This part of the walk made up the bulk of the Nahal Jilaboun Trail. Sometimes we were crossing through water under a tangle of trees. And other times we emerged out into the open, for a climb up onto a rock and a view of the canyon all around.
Every once in a while, we veered off the path towards a particularly enticing pool. And after a good long trek, we began to hear the crashing sound of the second waterfall.
The Jilaboun Waterfall
From up above, the Jilaboun waterfall is cascading and beautiful. It flows down along the side of the rock in a long channel. And you can’t see the bottom because flowers and trees all around obscure the view.
It was a bit of a climb to get down to the pool. (To get there, we veered off of the red path, onto a trail marked with white, clear, white.) Once we reached the bottom, we made our way through a beautiful tangle of trees, towards a serene waterfall pool.
We could have sat right there in that spot for hours. The waterfall was mesmerizing. And a rainbow had formed at the bottom, the result of afternoon sunlight filtering through the mist. Moss and algae grew on the rocks around the falls, adding color to an otherwise monochromatic view.
It was blessedly cool. We were hot and sweaty from all of the climbing. The mist from the waterfall and cool pool at our feet were so refreshing.
After resting there for a long time, we began to think about heading back. It was getting late in the day – the nice thing about Nahal Jilaboun is that it doesn’t close early like the other National Parks. At that point, we needed to hike up out of the canyon so we weren’t stuck there at nightfall.
We grabbed our backpacks and began the long, long ascent, out of the waterfall canyon. Once we reached the red trail, we made our way towards the blue trail, which took us back through beautiful views towards the dry fields up above.
After climbing for a quite a while, we made it to the top. Through a field we traveled, towards the main road. From here, we made a left and walked on flat ground for a kilometer or so back to our car.
A few hours later, we were back where we started – graffiti spattered buildings in an open field. It was hard to believe that a hundred meters down below lay an entire ecosystem of thriving beauty.
Shaded trails, picturesque waterfalls – there’s not much more you could ask for from a water hike. Nahal Jilaboun should be much more popular considering how beautiful it is. But for now, I’m happy that it’s got a low profile. The undisturbed tranquility at Jilaboun makes a visit to this area a soul-touching experience.
If you’re in the Golan, you should definitely make your way to Nahal Jilaboun. It does require physical ability and a bit of tough climbing, but the waterfalls and the hike itself are well worth it.
I wouldn’t recommend this hike for kids unless they are a little older and really love hiking. The climb up and down are pretty steep.
It’s free to enter the area, but word on the street is that they close a gate to the road an hour before it gets dark. No idea if this is true or not, but I wouldn’t want to stick around to find out.
To follow the trail: after parking, walk past the buildings to find the red trail. Follow it the entire way through the hike. When you see waterfalls, stop and follow the breakaway path down to see them! Once you’re done with Jilaboun Falls, you can follow the red trail until you reach the blue trail. Take the blue trail back up to the top. Make a left and follow the road back to your car (on the left).
Trail map from Amud Anan.
Don’t forget to read my guide to the navigational features in this post before you hit the trail.
Questions? Have you hiked this path? Let’s hear about it in the comments below!