It’s that time of year again!
Just after Passover, the spirit of national celebration fills the air. Vacation days start to appear on the calendar. This week, we’ll be celebrating our most patriotic day of the year : Israel’s Independence Day. And what better way is there to celebrate our nation’s independence than by exploring our beautiful land?
Since it’s springtime, Yom Ha’atzmaut is a great time to get outdoors. The land is at its most lovely, lush and blooming after the rainy season. And the weather is bound to be glorious.
The only problem? Almost everyone in Israel is planning to spend the day outdoors. On Yom Ha’atzmaut, parks and natural spaces are filled to capacity with hikers and picnickers. So if you want to walk through nature without battling the crowds, you’ll have to seek out a quieter trail for your Independence Day adventure.
Here are 5 of my top picks for off the beaten track nature hikes this Independence Day:
Har HaKokhav is a small mountain in the rolling desert hills of the Binyamin region, inside the town of Kokhav HaShahar. In springtime, the terrain at Mount HaKokhav is lush and full of flowers.
The 4 kilometer loop trail up and around the mountain takes hikers past spectacular views, up and over fun rocks, and past rare purple flowers. At Har HaKokhav, this is the month to get a glimpse of the Iris HaArgaman, otherwise known as the Coastal Iris.
This trail is so great that it should be well-known, but it’s not. The hike up and around the mountain is well-marked and absolutely gorgeous. The climb itself is enough of a challenge to feel adventurous, but easy enough for most families with kids.
The moderate level trail at Har HaKokhav is about 4 kilometers in length. Read the full post with maps here.
Beyond Kobe Bridge
To me, this is the quintessential Yom Ha’atzmaut trail. To get there, you’ll have to drive past all of the crowds at Park Begin to reach the trailhead at Kobe Bridge. Then, you can follow the trail through blossoming flowers and past green mountain views.
We’ve hiked this path on Independence Day and had it all to ourselves. Bonus: there are flat rocks to the side of the trail for easy bonfire/barbecue setup. After you stop for a picnic, the loop trail continues along Nahal Refaim, a river that only flows on rainy days.
This moderate trail is about 4 kilometers long. Read the full post with maps here.
Finding water on a hike is always fun. But usually, popular freshwater springs are packed with people on holidays. The best way to avoid the crowds is to hike to a spring. More often than not, all it takes to thin out the crowds is a walk along a trail.
The 3 kilometer hike to Ein Kfira in the Jerusalem Mountains is a great springtime adventure. During the month of April, the path is full of wildflowers and green grass. At the end of the trail, hikers reach a small spring hidden away in the trees. After cooling down and having a picnic nearby, the path leads back the way it came.
This moderate hike to Ein Kfira is about 3 kilometers long. Read the full post with maps here.
Kobe Bridge to Mount Shalmon
Looking for a bigger adventure? Try this off the beaten track trail from Kobe Bridge to Mount Shalmon. We hiked here this Passover and had it all to ourselves.
The trail leads from Kobe Bridge (yes, here again) up an unmarked bike trail. After a long uphill, you’ll be heading through a beautiful forest towards a popular park (expect serious crowds on this part of the trail!). Afterwards, you’ll leave the beaten path behind, as you follow the trail markers over wild terrain back down the mountain.
This hike is best for hikers who are comfortable using maps to find their way. Use the Google Earth file and trail map in the full post to stay on track.
The moderate trail to Har Shalmon is about 6.5 kilometers long. Read the full post with maps here.
Holot Zikim – River to Beach Hike
Ready to hit the beach? I love this less traveled trail at Holot Zikim. The hike leads along a lazy river towards a quiet beach.
As with all the other trails mentioned here, this trail is wonderful in springtime, when blossoming wildflowers make an appearance in the sandy terrain. At the end of the riverside path, hikers reach a sandy beach that tends to be on the quieter side. This is a good place to stop for a picnic. Walk five minutes down the coast to reach the more popular beach with a lifeguard.
This easy trail is about 3 kilometers long. Read the full post with maps here.
Bonus Trail : Tel Gezer
If you’ve read my holiday hiking guides before, you know I can never resist adding in one bonus trail at the end. So my last suggestion for a quieter hike this Independence day is Tel Gezer, a hilltop that sits on an ancient city. This hike on a hill (pictured in the lead photo) is so beautiful in springtime, and it’s not very well known. There’s not much shade at the top, so try this trail early in the morning or late in the afternoon for less sun exposure.
This easy trail is 3K long. Read the full post with maps here.
Don’t give up on an outdoor excursion this Independence Day! Now is the best time of year to get outside and see all of the beauty that Israel has to offer. These off-the-beaten track adventures will help you find some peace and quiet in Israel’s great outdoors.