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|Time: 2-3 hours
|Difficulty: Moderate - Strenuous
|Trailhead and Markers Gallery
Every once in a while, you stumble upon a trail of unbelievable beauty.
Usually, this happens when all the cards line up just right: a beautiful trail, a quiet day, perfect weather. But this week, we took a hike at Nahal Firan in the Shomron in unusually warm weather on a rather popular hiking day. It was slightly crowded and kind of hot. And it was absolutely incredible.
The Jordan Valley (where Firan is located) is well known for its intense heat. In the spring and summertime, visitors flock to the springs and rivers at nearby locations like Nahal HaKibbutzim, for a refreshing break from the heat. But in the wintertime, there’s an entirely different kind of fun to experience in the Jordan Valley.
After the rainy season begins, the terrain of the Jordan Valley becomes lush and full of flowers. Rolling green hills meet up with jagged cliffs to create awe-inspiring scenery. And the trail at Nahal Firan is a wonderful place to experience all of this.
The Nahal Firan/Talkid loop trail is about 3 kilometers long and easy to follow. Within the two riverbeds, there are climbing ladders and slides that turn a short hike into an incredible adventure. This trail is also best hiked in the middle of winter, any time from January through March, when the scenery is at its finest.
When we hiked it in late February, we had most of our kids along for the day. From ages 5-20, they all enjoyed the rock climbing, sliding, and tricky negotiation on the trail. And the lush green scenery combined with dramatic views made us all stop and stare.
Here’s how we hiked Nahal Firan/ Talkid in the Shomron:
Has This Always Been Here?
We pulled up to the trailhead after a long drive and got out of the car, eager to see the green hills and flower fields up close. This wasn’t the first time we had seen the lush beauty of the Jordan Valley – we’d passed through in our car many times before. But it was the first time we were going to get to experience it firsthand.
Our kids were taken in with the scenery. Before we even started on the trail, they had stopped to climb up a hill and walk through wildflower patches. I felt lucky that we were able to catch this place at its best – in late winter, after the rains had given the land new life.
We followed a dust path through the greenery past Nahal Talkid until we reached Nahal Firan. Hikers can ascend through either riverbed, but we were going to begin with Nahal Firan and descend through Nahal Talkid during the second half of the hike.
We followed the trail markers into a dramatic canyon. It felt like a scene out of a fantasy movie.
Take it All In
As I mentioned before, it was hot that day. My kids were also hungry after a long car ride, so we found a shady spot off to the side of the trail to stop for a break.
This was a great opportunity to really take in the views of Nahal Firan. From between the walls of the narrow canyon, we could see out to the green growth near the Jordan Riverbed, then out to the Jordanian mountains in the distance.
We sipped our coffee on a rock that laid flat between a patch of wildflowers and took in the unique beauty that exists in this part of the country. It looked like a dramatic desert canyon painted with splashes of green.
After breakfast, we returned to the trail and got ready to climb. There were all sorts of tricky ladders and rocks to negotiate. My little kids were mostly fine on their own, but we had to help my five year old in some of the more difficult spots. The little boys loved this part of the trail.
We climbed under rocks that formed little tunnels, up slanted stone. Soon, we reached a giant boulder right in the middle of the canyon. This was deemed to be the perfect place for a photo op. All of the kids climbed on (it was easily accessible via rock bridge), and I took pictures from down below.
Since it was a day off, some parts of the trail were kind of crowded. Two-way traffic made navigating climbing ladders particularly challenging, as many people were hiking with small children. But it was fun to see so many families out enjoying nature that day.
We also saw early blossoming tulips off to the sides of the trail, along with miniature natural pools, formed by rainwater that courses through the canyon.
Best Turn Around Point Ever
After a long climb, we reached the flat area between of the two canyons. We climbed uphill for a bit through fields of wildflowers and reached a world of whimsical beauty.
Deep green plants grew tall, along with wildflowers and grass, in a giant flat patch between rocky mountains. Everyone gravitated towards this field like fireflies to a light. But before we headed in, we had one last climb – on a breakaway trail up to a lookout between the two valleys.
From the top of the lookout, we took in fantastic views out to the mountains and valleys on one side. On the other, green stretched out forever, from meadows to rolling hills. As my oldest son said, the whole hike would have been pointless if we hadn’t made the short climb up to this lookout: it was just that beautiful.
Next, we descended back to the fields, which my kids proceeded to run and skip through. Soon, they discovered that overgrown plants were a perfect place to play hide and seek. They played for a long time, thoroughly entertained by this novel setting for an old classic. Finally, we were able to drag them away towards the second half of the hike.
Nahal Talkid – Chutes and Ladders
The terrain of Nahal Talkid was quite similar to Nahal Firan. The only difference is that this time, we were headed down.
We climbed in some places and slid in others. There were ropes, metal hand holds, and tunnels to climb through, just as before. My kids were happy to have a break from ascending as they slid and slipped down on smooth rock with shouts of glee.
When we had finished the bulk of the obstacle course, we reached another clearing where we could look out through the crazy gap in the riverbed. Miniature purple flowers blossomed en masse in the sunshine, past the shade of the rocky canyon. I couldn’t help but feel like we were blessed to witness this incredible scenery. It was like something out of a storybook, a scene from a faraway land.
We made our way through the last part of the canyon, climbed over the hills, and headed down the trail back to our car. I took one last look around. The rainy-season scenery of the Jordan Valley was unlike anything I had ever seen in Israel. I was so happy that we were there to experience it.
Our trip through Nahal Firan and Nahal Talkid had been a challenging and fun-filled adventure through incredible natural beauty in one easy loop trail.
Here’s what you need to know to hike this trail at Nahal Firan and Nahal Talkid:
- Hike this trail between the months of January and March for the best scenery. This hike would be too hot to hike in the summertime. Try this on the coldest days of winter for great hiking weather.
- Families who hike often will love this trail. There are some challenging ascents and descents along this trail which might be hard for kids under ten.
- Not suitable for dogs.
- Wear a hat and good hiking shoes and bring plenty of water.
- This trail is only for hikers who feel comfortable climbing up and down over rocks and ladders.
- This trail can get somewhat crowded on vacation days, causing backups at the ladders.
- To follow the trail, use the trail marker gallery and trail map along with the Google Earth file. Trail colors: blue, red, green, blue.
- This trail is in Judea and Samaria. Make sure you feel comfortable with your level of personal safety before hiking in this part of the country.
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 at Nahal Firan and Nahal Talkid? Let’s hear about it in the comments below!