Upper Zavitan Stream in the Golan Heights

Get there with Google MapsGet there with WazeGet there with Moovit
Trail MapHike it with Google EarthTerrain View
Distance: 6.5kmTime: 3-4 hoursDifficulty: Moderate
Ascent: 81mTrailhead and Markers Gallery

Click here to go straight to hike notes.

Summer’s almost here!  And to all good Israelis, that means that it’s officially water hike season.

Yehudiya Nature Reserve is a popular spot in the Golan for every type of water hike.  At the reserve, there are easy, family- friendly trails along with full day hikes that involve repelling and rock climbing.  And all of them include refreshing pools of water and whitewater falls.

On a trip up north two weeks ago, we decided to head back to Yehudiya to find a nice, mid-length trail.  We were looking for something that would involve lots of water fun, but also a little bit of exertion. 

We arrived at the park with two possibilities in mind: Upper Nahal Zavitan and Lower Nahal Zavitan.  Both were mid-length, semi-challenging, and said to be spectacularly beautiful.  We thought we might even try to tackle both trails in one day!  But, as so often happens at Yehudiya, Lower Nahal Zavitan was closed that morning, leaving us with the Upper Nahal Zavitan trail.

Upper Zavitan stream hike
Not too shabby at Upper Nahal Zavitan.

Luckily, this 6.5 kilometer trail was exactly what we were looking for.  Refreshing pools, waterfalls, cool rock formations, and great natural beauty made the Upper Nahal Zavitan trail absolutely spectacular. 

Here’s how we hiked this mid-length trail full of water fun through Upper Nahal Zavitan:

Stark Beauty

After showing our parks card at the Yehudiya main entrance, we drove down to the other end of the park, where the Upper Nahal Zavitan hike began.  We climbed out of the car, strapped on our backpacks, and began to walk down a rocky dirt road in the early morning sun.

Upper Zavitan stream hike
Appreciating this beauty.

We had heard this part of the trail described as boring and hot.  But in all honesty, we found it to be lovely.  True, the trail didn’t lead through a shaded forest or riverbed.  On the other hand, it was good to get a little bit of sun on our skin so that we could eagerly anticipate our time in the water.  And the late spring wildflowers that danced in the gentle wind made the scenery colorful and interesting to us.

It’s Water Day!

After a long walk on open terrain, we reached the first sign of the Zavitan Stream where water flowed over black rock.  Just a little bit further and we reached the first quiet watering hole, under the shade of some trees.

Upper Zavitan stream hike
Stopping in for a dip.

We climbed down into the shadows and discovered a clear pool next to a wall of grey, hexagonal rock.  Fish swam around inside.  It was quite pretty, so we stopped in for a dip.  Then, we climbed back out and continued along the trail.

Giant’s Causeway Israel

Pretty soon, we reached something even more spectacular: a waterfall stream running over hills of grey hexagonal rock, crashing into a crystal pool down below.  My memories took me back to our time spent in Northern Ireland, where we visited a famous tourist site called Giant’s Causeway.  This attraction was well-known for its hills of hexagonal rock formations, spilling out into the sea.

I had never expected to find the same exact type of scenery right here in Israel (minus the sea).  This strangely shaped grey rock formed little hills – up, down, and all around the stream and pool of water.

Upper Zavitan stream hike
Giant’s Causeway, Israel.

It was fun just to walk up and down the little steps of dark rock.  We put our hands in Nahal Zavitan and dipped our toes in.  Then we made our way down to the main pool: an oasis surrounded by reeds and pink flowers.

A channel in the rocks looked like a great place for a water slide.  So, we used it to slide down into the pool below.  The water was cool and refreshing.  And the scenery was incredible.

Next Stop: On Top of a Waterfall

After spending quite some time in the water, we continued on our way, past more Hexagonal Pools and towards Zavitan Falls.  Before heading down to the viewing platform, we stopped just above the waterfall, overlooking a gaping canyon of greyish black rock.

The view was nice from above, but we could see that it was probably even better from down below.  So, we followed the breakaway trail down, down, down towards Zavitan Falls and pool.

Upper Zavitan stream hike
Heading down to Zavitan Falls.

Daring

We grasped onto ladders and hand holds as we descended.  Then, the blue trail brought us up and over a wall of grey rock.  On the other side, the Zavitan Waterfall was revealed, crashing down into a pool of water.

Upper Nahal Zavitan is a popular trail.  And although it was pretty quiet on that spring day, we were sharing this pool with a bunch of 18 year-olds.  We exchanged pleasantries, and then watched as they scrambled up on the rocks to find a daring place to jump into the water from way up high.  This seemed like a terrible idea.  So, we looked on with a mixture of concern and excitement as they got ready to jump.

Upper Zavitan stream hike
Spectator sport.

Then we watched in awe as they pencil dove into the water, one by one.

Always Better in a Waterfall

After witnessing that bit of adventure, we decided to be adventurous ourselves and swim over to the big waterfall with our iPhone in hand (for pictures, of course!). The spray of Zavitan Falls was cool and refreshing.  I had to swim with my hand up out of the water, but the phone made it through in one piece.

Upper Zavitan stream hike
Life in a waterfall.

We snapped some pictures, then sat on a ledge under the waterfall, relishing the cool mist on our faces.  This was just where I wanted to be: isolated behind a curtain of white foam, a cool breeze on my skin.  Life is always better when you’re sitting in a waterfall.

Ready for Anything

After swimming around for a while, we climbed out of the water to dry off on warm rocks in the sun.  Then, we packed up our bags and made our way back over the ledge onto the other side to begin our ascent up and out of the waterfall canyon.

Soon, we were following the blue trail back through the sun and open terrain of the Upper Zavitan trail.  By the time we returned to our car, we were almost dry.

There’s nothing like a waterfall adventure to leave you feeling incredible.  After our morning hike in Upper Nahal Zavitan, we felt energized and refreshed and ready to explore the rest of the Golan Heights.  This awesome trail at the Yehudiya Nature Reserve delivered the perfect combination of beauty, adventure, and relaxation.

Upper Zavitan stream hike
Zen moments.

Hikers’ Notes:

Here’s what you need to know to hike Upper Nahal Zavitan:

  • This is an all season trail.
  • Upper Nahal Zavitan is located in Yehudiya Nature Reserve. Make sure to check in at the parks website before your visit to register and to check if there are any closures. If you are a Matmon member, entrance is free. Otherwise, there is a fee to get in.
  • Not suitable for dogs.
  • Last entrance to the trail is at 1:45 PM!!
  • Wear a hat, sunscreen, and water hiking shoes for this trail.
  • There are many great trails in this nature reserve. Check out the Yehudiya Falls Trail.
  • To follow the trail, use the trail map and trail marker gallery or pick up an English map of the park at the entry. Follow the Upper Nahal Zavitan trail.
  • Trail marker colors as follows: Begin on the blue trail. Make a left onto the black trail. Next, make a left onto the red trail. Make a right to follow the blue trail to the falls, and then return to the crossroads. Follow the blue trail back to your car.

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!

Upper Zavitan stream hike
Up for a challenge.

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.