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|Time: 2 -3 hours
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Our family has a long-standing love affair with Nahal Prat. I remember the first time we went there years ago.
That time, we wandered slightly off the beaten track. We felt very accomplished when we discovered a magnificent hideaway full of rich natural beauty. So, over the next several years, we visited that same spot again and again – always knowing that it would be a hit each time we hiked there.
But lately, we’ve decided to take a different approach to Nahal Prat. We’ve explored this desert oasis near Jerusalem from many new angles – taking in the breathtaking cliffs covered in flowers in the springtime and visiting the old monastery in the winter.
This week, we took an entirely new route towards our old time favorite– by starting at Nofei Prat and climbing down the hill to Ein Shacharit, one of Nahal Prat’s most beautiful springs.
It was nice to visit this National Park from a new (free) entry point. The trek was gorgeous: it was so cool to climb down a desert mountain towards a river flowing in the valley. And since the hike wasn’t particularly long (only about 4 kilometers), we were able to spend lots of time in the spring and waterfalls down below.
Here’s how we took a 4-kilometer loop trail to Ein Shaharit at Nahal Prat:
Summer in the Desert
After driving through Kfar Adumim, we parked on the side of the road and followed the black trail, descending into summer desert scenery. We hadn’t gone hiking in the desert for many months, and I had really missed it!
Golden hills stretched out before us, covered in a thin layer of yellow grass. The blue sky, always so crisp against the tawny colors of the desert, spread out in a wide expanse. Down below in the valley, a trail of rich green snaked through the hills where plants grew thick around the river.
A light breeze blew over the hills, giving us respite from the heat as we made our way along the green trail down the hill. We descended for quite some time. And then we began to hear it: bird calls and the sound of a rushing river just ahead.
Water in the Desert
Who loves water in the desert? I do! And so do many little animals…which might be one of the reasons that I love desert oases so much.
We stepped into the stream and were immediately surrounded by fish of every shape and size. In the ocean, it always seems like fish are doing the best they can to swim away as humans approach. Not so for the fish in Nahal Prat. They gathered around our toes and started nibbling.
We turned right onto the blue trail, and followed it past large croaking frogs, a shy crab, and lots of colorful birds. Soon we reached a canyon waterfall and an aquamarine pool. This place of pristine beauty was Shaharit Spring.
First Things First
Of course, before any water fun, it was time for our morning coffee. We crossed over the waterfall and found a shady ledge to stop and eat breakfast. After pouring iced coffee and settling in, I was a bit dismayed when I saw several other hikers descending the mountain, making their way towards Ein Shaharit. I really like my silence in the desert.
As we sipped our coffee, we watched them reach the pool, consider its depths, then jump in, one by one. One brave fellow even climbed the waterfall.
After getting over my initial disappointment, I was thrilled that we had been introduced to a new way to have fun. From our vantage point, the water didn’t look deep enough for a high dive. But according to the other hikers we spoke to, it was quite deep in just one spot – so deep that none of the jumpers had been able to reach the bottom.
We left our muffin crumbs to the birds and ran off to try the jump out for ourselves.
Refreshing, Freezing, Fun
I stood there on the edge of a rock cliff, a cool pool of water waiting for me down below. “Jump at an angle!” advised one onlooker.
One, two, three, I leaped into the air and crashed down in a free fall, enveloped in frigid water as I hit the pool below. It was awesome.
We repeated this adventure quite a few times, then swam through the channel towards the waterfall. At this point, most of the other hikers were gone. One small group drank coffee by the spring’s source at the edge of the pool.
More to Explore
After spending lots of time at Ein Shaharit itself, we were ready to continue on the blue trail. Hopefully, the hot desert sun would warm us up a bit.
We followed the trail past reeds and waterfalls. As we made our way through one tall wall of reeds, we spotted a giant locust, then another, then many, many more. They were holding fast to the tall grass munching away as colorful dragonflies swooped and fluttered in between.
Out came the camera. The dragonflies were too fast for me. But the locusts made very good subjects.
We moved on to one more pool, popularly known as “The Jacuzzi”. That’s because it’s low and shallow, and the gushing waterfall on one side turns the water into a little bathtub full of bubbles (but much, much colder!)
We hung out there for a while, taking in the picturesque scenery of beautiful Nahal Prat, then dried off and continued on our way, ready to tackle a daunting ascent.
On the Up and Up
We turned right to follow the black trail, up the hill back towards Kfar Adumim. After a few minutes, we definitely weren’t cold anymore. But the ascent wasn’t too bad – it actually went by a lot faster than expected.
By the time we reached the top, we were completely dry. The feeling of freezing cold was a distant memory. But the exhilaration of the morning – from getting up close and personal with desert animals to high jumping into a canyon– was still with us.
This hike to Ein Shaharit was a wonderful way to get bite sized exposure to a large and beautiful nature reserve. There’s just nothing quite like the pristine beauty of a desert oasis.
Here’s what you need to know to hike this trail to Ein Shaharit:
- This trail is good for all seasons, but make sure to bring plenty of water and a hat in the summertime.
- This trail is very steep.
- Dogs are not allowed.
- Free entry. This is one of the ways to hike down into Nahal Prat without going through the National Parks entrance. There is no entrance fee when you hike it this way.
- This trail is in Judea and Samaria. Make sure you feel comfortable with your level of personal safety before hiking this trail.
- If you'd like some more time in the water, continue past the turnoff to the black trail for two minutes. You will reach a lovely pool. Then, double back to get onto the black trail and climb up the hill back to your car.
- To follow the trail, take the green trail down down from the road. Trail markers are sometimes hard to find, but always there. When you reach the water and the blue trail, make a right. Soon you will reach Ein Shaharit. Keep following the blue trail until you see a black trail on your right. Follow the black trail all the way back up. (We veered off the black trail to approach the road more directly along a dirt path - you can do it either way.). When you reach the road, make a right and follow it back to your car.
- Use the Google Earth file, Trail marker gallery, and Trail map in the table up top to help you find your way.
Don’t forget to read my guide to the navigational features in this post before you hit the trail!
Trail map from Amud Anan.
Questions? Have you hiked this trail to Ein Shaharit? Let’s hear about it in the comments!