Ein Shaharit – Journey Towards an Oasis

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Distance: 3.5kmTime: 2 -3 hoursDifficulty: Strenuous
Ascent: 216mTrailhead and Markers Gallery

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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.

Ein Shaharit Ein Prat
Beautiful as always.

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.

Ein Shaharit at Nahal Prat
Golden hills in the desert.

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.

Ein Shaharit at Nahal Prat
Hello, there.

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.

Ein Shaharit at Nahal Prat
You better believe we are doing this!

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.

Ein Shaharit at Nahal Prat
Wheeeee!

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. 

Ein Shaharit at Nahal Prat
Hold on tight.

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!)

Shaharit Spring at Prat River
Bubble time at the jacuzzi.

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.

Shaharit Spring at Prat River
Fall at Ein Prat Nature Reserve.

Hikers’ Notes:

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!

Shaharit Spring at Prat River

Hiking can be dangerous and is done entirely at your own risk. Information is provided free of charge; it is each hiker’s responsibility to check it and navigate using a map and compass.

5 thoughts on “Ein Shaharit – Journey Towards an Oasis

  1. Hey Susannah,

    first of all: Kudos for this wonderful website. I am a professional tour guide in Israel, and I still learned a lot about hiking in Israel from you – it’s all really well explained and well written!

    I want to share my experiences of doing an extended version of this hike with a friend of mine on Friday, March 5th. The whole trek was about 9-10 km long and took us about five hours (including two breaks in the middle).

    Just as described in your post, we parked the car at the dirt parking lot in Nofei Prat, from where we walked downhill on the green trail until we reached the Nahal Prat Valley. In the valley we hit the blue trail, which we took to the right until we reached the magical Ein Shaharit Pool after a short while.

    We continued on the blue trail through what I can best describe as a “jungle landscape” in the middle of the desert. We were simply awestruck by the lush green vegetation that we encountered here and the free flow of water in Nahal Prat.

    We passed the black trail on the right, which would have taken us up to Kfar Adumim and then back to the car. Instead, we continued through the Nahal Prat Valley along the blue trail, which mostly went through thick vegetation along the water.

    After about one hour, we reached an area where the terrain flattened out and where the blue trail met the red trail. From here, we took a left onto the red trail, climbing up the mountain that would lead us back into the direction we came from, only this time high above the Nahal Prat Valley we had just hiked through. The topography up here was more desert-ish and very rocky, and the red trail led along an old water-pipeline for most of the way.

    Eventually the red trail had reached the Valley again, where it once again met the blue trail. Since we had now overshot our point of origin, we had to take a left onto the blue trail, on which we walked for about another 45 minutes until we hit the green trail, which we took left and uphill in order to reach our car.

    This was a super-nice and versatile hike, which can easily be adjusted from a shorter to a longer version. There are spots where we were totally alone, while at some other spots (especially where the trail opened up along small pools of water) both Israeli and Palestinian families were hanging out, sometimes even BBQing right there.

    Cheers from Mevaseret Zion and keep up the good work,
    Ofer

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience! We have hiked a part of the trail you described, but haven’t yet walked the red trail above the valley. Hopefully we’ll get to it soon.
      Thanks for the comments and wonderful feedback.
      Susannah

  2. I went on this hike last week and it was amazing! Makes the list for one of my favorite hikes. It was pretty tough At the end – not sure if my kids would have made the walk back up the hill.
    A couple of technical notes- we never found the black trail- not on the way there or the way back, so juts ended up following our footsteps back. And we also tried following the advice of Ofer (from the comments above) taking the red trail until we looped back to the valley/blue trail but also didn’t find that- we got to a pakach from ein prat that said we would have to pay if we continued on the red trial, so we just turned around. So, in the end, we turned around until we connected back to the blue trail.
    All in all, it took 3 hours round trip, and was a perfect morning hike.

  3. Did the hike this morning just after sunrise and it was amazing! first time using a hike from your website and will definitely use again.
    Thanks for the fab site!

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