|Get there with Google Maps||Get there with Waze||Get there with Moovit|
|Trail Map||Hike it with Google Earth||Trailhead and Markers Gallery|
|Distance: 5km||Time: 2-3 hours||Difficulty: Moderate|
|Ascent: 62m||Point B Parking||Point B Parking|
A couple of years ago, we discovered an awesome circular trail through Nahal Dolev – a shady riverbed near Beit Shemesh. The trail led through old ruins, a pine forest, beautiful meadows, and of course, Nahal Dolev itself.
We loved this trail and really wanted to figure out a way to turn it into a family friendly hike. As it was, the trail was too long for little kids. So, we set out to shorten the hike to an easy one-way adventure.
This past week we finally had an opportunity to hike the shorter version of Nahal Dolev. Our plan was to walk Nahal Dolev downhill from the top to the bottom, leaving one car at each end. Since we were hiking with friends from Beit Shemesh, this local trail that required two cars to complete was perfectly suited to our needs.
We woke up to a rainy day that Thursday morning. But a little bit of rain never deterred us. After double checking that there were no flash flood warnings around the area of Nahal Dolev, we outfitted ourselves with raincoats and boots, filled a thermos of coffee, and set out on the trail.
As it turned out, it was even cooler to see Nahal Dolev in the rain. The thick trees and occasional rocky outcrops along the path provided plenty of shelter. And the colors of the green valley were even richer on a cloudy day.
Here’s how we hiked this one-way adventure through Nahal Dolev:
The Advance Setup
We pulled off the highway and parked our car on the side of a dust road: the end of the trail. A few minutes later, our friends showed up. We hopped into their car and drove together for about 8 minutes to the trailhead at the top of Nahal Dolev.
After we set off into the misty fog and rain, it was kind of hard to concentrate on the particulars of the scenery. We were busy catching up with our friends. And the trail itself was downhill and easy to follow. But what I did notice was the stunning view out to the green riverbed down below as we descended.
Before long, we were heading through some vineyards, picturesque in their showy display of fall color. Colorful autumn leaves are a rarity in Israel, but they can be found on grape vines, where different varieties of fruit produce leaves in shades ranging from yellow to deep red.
Through the Shady Riverbed
After the vineyards, we found ourselves deep in the valley of Nahal Dolev. This trail is filled with typical riverbed scenery: shade trees overhanging grey stone and beautiful rock formations on the side of the trail. The ground was a carpet of brown oak leaves, glistening in the early morning rain.
At that time of year, red berries hung down onto the trail. Mushrooms grew under the trees. All of these small details were, somehow, magnified in the misty fog.
After walking for a while absorbed in conversation, we reached a steep downhill turn. According to the map, there was a spring just at the bottom of the hill. We searched amongst the many caves in the area and found a few that may have been a dry spring. But mostly, we just found an awesome wild space to explore.
In Pursuit of Chai and Coffee
We were having a great time walking and taking in our surroundings. But all good hikes must come with a coffee break. From here on in, we were in search of the perfect place to stop and enjoy our hot drinks with a bit of shelter from the elements.
There were lots of trees with large canopies of leaves. But when we reached a rocky outcropping with plenty of flat rocks to sit on and a bit of shelter, we knew we had arrived at our picnic spot.
Over hot chai, coffee, and cinnamon ginger biscotti, we found ourselves enveloped in the comforts of nature. Exploring is fun. But taking a moment to pause along on the trail on a chilly, rainy day is simply, heavenly.
Out of the River and into the Meadow
After our break, we were ready to tackle the rest of the trail. The black trail brought us out of the shade and into a meadow. We passed by the familiar sights of goats and Bedouin children, playing in the tall grass.
In a few more months, this whole area would turn a shade of rich green. For now, the grasses were soft and golden, still dry after months of no rain.
A bit further on the trail, a lot more conversation, and we saw our parked car waiting for us in the distance.
Back in the car, we reviewed our morning and our experience with this one-way hike. We were wet and muddy from our morning in the rain. But experiencing Nahal Dolev on a day like that day had its own special charm.
This spectacular trail through a valley had been a perfect, easy escape close to home. Walking Nahal Dolev one-way was a miniature (and yes, family-friendly!) adventure through the beautiful wilderness near Jerusalem.
Here’s what you need to know to hike Nahal Dolev one way:
- This trail is best suited to fall, winter, and spring. Since it’s one way and downhill, it is possible in the summer. But the trail is only semi shaded. Prepare with a hat, water, and sun protection. Also, wear long pants – some parts of the trail are overgrown.
- Good for kids.
- Suitable for dogs.
- You will need to leave a car at the starting point and end point (Point B in the table at the top of the page). It takes about 8 minutes to drive from one point back to the other.
- To follow the trail: follow black trail markers the whole way through. Keep a close eye out for these markers. They are not always evident, but they are always there.
- Use the trail map, trail marker gallery, and Google Earth file in the table up top to find your way on the trail.
Check out the full Nahal Dolev circular trail here.
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? Let’s hear about it in the comments!