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|Time: 3 hours
|Difficulty: Easy - Moderate
|Trailhead and Markers Gallery
It’s that time of year again: flower season. Every February around Israel, an explosion of colorful blossoms appears. No matter where you go at this time of year, you’re bound to find pockets of pink cyclamen, yellow daisies, and bursts of narcissus. But the most famous of all flowerings around here is Israel’s national flower, the red anemone.
In February time, you can see carpets of these red flowers in select locations in the country, mostly around the Jerusalem Lowlands, Central Israel, and the South. Around Beeri, Shokda, and Pura Nature Reserve in Southern Israel, red flowers start to appear on the scene as early as late January and expire before March. The trails in these reserves tend to be geared towards two types of visitors: cyclists and drivers just popping in to see the flowers.
The cycling trails are long (16 kilometers or more) and somewhat monotonous for hikers. The driving trails are, well, for driving on. That’s why this week, I was super excited to discover a perfect-for-hikers trail at Nahal HaBesor.
The loop trail at Nahal HaBesor was mid length (about 7 kilometers), and relatively interesting. On the hike, we got to walk along a water filled stream, filled with rich bird and plant life. Flowers were blossoming abundantly, cushioned by water reeds on one side and sandy dunes on the other. The trail also circled around a reservoir, before heading back past rows and rows of orange orchards.
In short, this 7 kilometer loop trail at Nahal HaBesor was a fantastic choice for February flower season. Here’s how we hiked it:
A Very Narrow Bridge
We pulled into the parking area and got ready to start on the trail. Our first challenge was to cross a really fun rope bridge, suspended across the now full Besor Stream.
Of course, this was super fun for the humans amongst us. We liked to feel the long bridge swinging back and forth with each step we took. But our border collie did not share our carefree feelings about the bridge.
We all made it across and headed straight into patches of flowers, peppering sand dune hills. Crouching low to the ground, we could see a mix of purples, yellows, and whites, but no red explosion just yet.
I attributed this scarcity of reds to the late beginning of winter this year. Either way, the flowers we did see were beautiful. The sun was shining, the weather was perfect, and were ready to begin our long walk through fields of flowers.
On the Trail
There were two parallel trails to choose from. The green trail was a bit further away from the river. It was well marked, but along a wider path.
Alternatively, we could walk along a marked cycling trail, right next to the stream. This trail was narrower and headed right through fields and fields of yellow flowers. We chose the cycling trail.
We started walking along the path, so happy to experience this mid-winter burst of spring. Next to us, we could hear the river trickling along, frogs croaking. Soon, we reached a little cement structure, which we stopped in on to get a closer look at Nahal HaBesor.
Nothing says picnic time like a field of flowers. Before not too long, we were ready to stop for breakfast. We veered off the trail, up onto a particularly appealing cluster of yellow flowers. Large birds circled above in the bright blue sky.
We spread out our blanket and settled in, stripping off our jackets to soak in the plentiful sun. With a cup of coffee in hand, wildflowers blossoming all around, and bird song filling my ears, the scene felt just about perfect.
I felt lucky that in Israel, a jaunt into springtime is never very far away. This spot at Nahal HaBesor was only about an hour and a half long drive away from my foggy mountaintop town near Jerusalem. We’d been wishing for a warm weather vacation, and it felt like we were getting it right there on the trail.
After sitting there for longer than usual, we finished our picnic in a field of flowers and headed back to the trail. We walked along, taking in the changing colors of the blossoms. Around one bend, we saw clusters of anemone flowers, their bright red color dominating the yellows, pinks, and reds.
Soon, this whole area would be covered in scarlet blooms. We passed a white cloud of flowers in here, and a yellow blanket of blossoms there. Each spot along the trail seemed to have its own brand of flower filled beauty. Although there weren’t many red flowers yet, we were not disappointed. The area along Nahal HaBesor was perfectly lovely without them, filled with other multihued varieties.
After a long walk, we reached the large reservoir, and the midway point of our hike.
Another Fun Bridge!
We crossed over behind a water pumping station and reached something known as the “Pipe Bridge.” This sturdy, long bridge was built to give visitors a safe way to view flash floods at Nahal HaBesor after heavy storms.
We headed across the bridge, but our border collie could not be convinced this time. Instead, he scurried far down below through the reeds, only hesitating when he reached the Besor stream and had to swim through. We encouraged him along from way up above and watched his progress. With a bit of perseverance, he made it through the stream to the other side, where he scurried through many more reeds and up the hill to greet us.
And Back Again
From here on in, we were going to be walking in the other direction along Nahal HaBesor back towards the trailhead. Along the way, we passed spiky cacti and beautiful orange orchards. On the other side, new fields of flowers framed the high cliff above the stream. We headed in to take some more pictures. After walking many kilometers along the stream, past informational signs on a much wider road, we were back at the trailhead.
Our hike at Nahal HaBesor that day had been just perfect for flower season. It wasn’t too long (but long enough!), and there was plenty to keep us entertained along the way. The flowers were spectacular, the weather was beautiful, and we had frogs and birds to keep us company.
At Nahal HaBesor, a little paradise awaits in February, calling nature lovers out of their winter hibernation towards a world of wild beauty.
Here’s what you need to know to hike this trail at Nahal HaBesor:
- This trail is best for the wintertime and early spring.
- Suitable for dogs.
- The trail is flat and easy, but perhaps a little unexciting for kids.
- Wear good walking shoes and bring plenty of water.
- There are facilities at the trailhead.
- To follow the trail: Cross the rope bridge. Then follow the bicycle trail until you reach the green trail. Follow the green marked trail out past the reservoir. Then make an immediate left behind the water pumping station and cross the bridge to the other side of the stream. Follow green to blue. Make a left on the blue trail and follow it back to your car.
- Use the trail marker gallery and the trail map in the table up top to find your way on the trail.
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 HaBesor? Let’s hear about it in the comments!