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|Trail Map||Hike it with Google Earth||Terrain View|
|Distance: There and back: 3.5km||Time: 1.5 hours||Difficulty: Easy-Moderate|
|Ascent: 130m||Trailhead and Markers Gallery|
The Jerusalem Mountains are home to many natural wonders. There are hidden tunnels, flower covered hills, stalactite caves, mountains, valleys, and more. And of course, there are springs.
Some of the springs in the Jerusalem area are quite popular, attracting large crowds of visitors on weekends and weekdays. Others are more quiet and out of the way.
But of all the springs in the Jerusalem area, my favorite is Ein Sapir.
This spring in a cave looks more like a pirate’s cove than a local watering hole. At Ein Sapir (Sapphire Spring), clear, turquoise tinged waters fill an eerily beautiful cavern. It’s stunning.
So the other day, when we were looking for a short and easy hike close to home, we decided to scout out a trail that began at Ein Sapir. Our plan was to visit this more well-known spring and then follow an unmarked trail towards Ein Eshkef, an even quieter spring nearby.
We actually had no idea what to expect. We knew that Ein Sapir was beautiful, but at 9:30 AM on a Friday, we thought it might be kind of crowded. There was no telling what the trail to the next spring would look like. And there was no way to know whether Ein Eshkef would be beautiful or kind of grody.
With zero expectations, we set off on an adventure along with our twelve year old daughter. It was a pleasantly cool morning, so we didn’t mind exploring a bit. Perhaps we would discover something amazing out there!
And guess what? We did. Ein Sapir was even more glorious that day than we expected. It was quiet and beautiful, and so was the hike to the next spring. Instead of finding just one pretty pool at the end of the trail, we found two, completely quiet swimming spots.
Here’s how we hiked this wonderful trail between the springs of Even Sapir:
We drove through Jerusalem and into the town of Even Sapir towards the first spring, Ein Sapir. As we pulled into the parking area, we heard loud voices coming from the direction of the spring. It seemed like it was going to be crowded, just as we had anticipated.
We got out of the car and approached Ein Sapir, which was next to a pretty picnic area with tables and benches. A group of cyclists had gathered around, the source of all the noise. Luckily for us, they were just getting back onto their bikes to ride off. Within minutes, we had Ein Sapir all to ourselves.
Hurriedly, we climbed into the cool darkness of the water cave, eager to capture some photos before anyone else appeared. We headed down the steps towards the opening of the cave. And then we were greeted by an incredible sight.
White stone framed the crystal clear, turquoise waters of Ein Sapir. We climbed inside, then dipped our feet into the cold pool.
On the side, there was a long flat ridge, a perfect place to sit near the water in the cool shade of the cave. We followed the water deep into the shadows, until we reached the end of the tunnel in the darkness.
This spring was incredibly beautiful, the water clear and cool. I had never seen anything like it in the Jerusalem Area. The rock formations looked more like a secret oasis than spring in the mountains. It felt like we were in a page out of a storybook – one about mermaids and pirates.
Eventually, we were joined by a cute young couple who came in for a dip. We talked to them for a while, snapped some more photos, and then set off on our way in search of another hidden spring.
To get to the next spring, we had to follow the road back the way we came. We debated whether to walk or drive, then decided we might as well get in a good walk (this is Hiking the Holyland, after all).
After following the road uphill and then downhill, we found ourselves on a quiet path between the trees. This natural area was very quiet…and very beautiful. It didn’t feel like we were on the outskirts of a city. Instead, it felt like we were deep in nature.
To our right, we saw a beautiful path under a canopy of oak trees. Rather than (sensibly) continue along the large trail and then wrap around, we decided to climb down the stone wall to reach the path below. At the very least, it made this hike a bit more adventurous.
Down below, we found ourselves in a little world of beauty. A small path led down stone steps, which I followed. A few paces in, I saw the next hidden spring.
It was amazing.
At Ein Eshkef there was a large pool, about thigh high. The water was so clear that you could see every drop of green algae on the bottom. Little fish swam around inside. All around the pool, there was a stone ledge, which was perfect for sitting with our feet in the water. Best of all, there was no one else there.
We decided to eat first while we were still dry, and then go in the water. We took out iced coffee and muffins. And then off came our shoes, as we were unable to resist dipping our feet in the clear water.
When we had finished breakfast, we hopped on in to check out the water. This pool wasn’t as cold as Ein Sapir, but it was still very refreshing. Butterflies and dragonflies flitted between the vines that hung down from the trees.
The Fun’s Not Over Till It’s Over
After enjoying the quiet beauty of Ein Eshkef for a while, I looked at my watch and saw we had to go. But there was one more spring we wanted to visit before we turned back the way we came.
We packed up our stuff and continued to follow the stone steps, down to the bottom of the small valley. After thirty seconds of walking, we reached another large, spring pool, this one filled with bright green water.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to test the depths of this last pool, called Ein Eran. All we had time to do was look around – at the grape vines ripe with hanging fruits, the Tarzan swing, and the wooden benches. It was a picturesque scene, even with (and maybe especially because of) the intensely green water.
After this last spring, we followed the path around (the way we should have the first time!) and back the way we came. We walked past late spring caper flowers and wild fennel, down the road, until we reached our car.
Our little hike that morning had been one full of new and exciting discoveries. This trail between the Even Sapir springs was a wonderful mini-adventure into a world of quiet beauty near Jerusalem.
Here’s what you need to know to hike this trail from spring to spring near Even Sapir:
- This trail is suitable for all seasons.
- Suitable for dogs.
- Good for kids.
- Wear good walking shoes or water sandals, a hat, and sunscreen to hike this trail. Bring plenty of water. There are no facilities.
- Ein Sapir can get crowded on Fridays and holidays. Visit on a weekday or arrive early!
- The first part of the trail is along a road, and not very pretty. After you pass through the yellow gate, the trail becomes much quieter and nicer.
- Use the Google Earth file to follow the trail. This is not a marked path, but it is not especially difficult either. If you don't use the Google Earth file, you should be able to find your way just by using the trail marker gallery and the trail map in the table at the top of the post.
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 Ein Sapir? Let’s hear about it in the comments!