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|Trailhead and Markers Gallery
|Time: 2 - 3 hours
|Difficulty: Moderate - Strenuous
|Parking at Nahal Dishon
|Parking at Nahal Dishon
Last week, we went on a two day mini-vacation in the Galilee. Our plan was to check out some of the wintertime-only wonders up North before they were all dried up. There were a few incredible trails on our list. But one of my favorite was this 5 kilometer, one way trail at Nahal Aviv and Nahal Dishon.
Just a bit north of Tzfat, the hike through Nahal Aviv was supposed to lead through a green valley, full of wildflowers after the rainy season. We knew that there were going to be some cool caves along the way and perhaps a bit of water. At the end of Nahal Aviv, we would reach Nahal Dishon and the Israel Trail, where we would walk along a bubbling stream until the end.
We absolutely fell in love with this hike.
True, some of our kids were a bit cranky after a long day of traveling. But somehow, that did not affect our opinion of this most incredible trail.
Israel is a country with a large variety of beauty. Still, there are some hikes that feel quintessentially Israeli. The trail at Nahal Aviv and Nahal Dishon did not. Instead, it felt very much like we were walking at a magical place in a faraway land, from a flower-scented valley to a shady forest, with a river to accompany us on our journey.
We had the 5 kilometer moderate trail almost all to ourselves, which we found quite surprising considering the deep beauty of this place.
Here’s how we hiked this incredible trail from Nahal Aviv to Nahal Dishon in the Galilee.
The trail began just off the highway, in a flower filled parking lot. We got ourselves situated and began our journey, climbing through a tunnel to cross beneath the highway. Of course, the kids loved that part.
After emerging from the shadowy darkness, we proceeded away from the road through a rough, rocky riverbed. It was absolutely beautiful. There were so many different kinds of flowers, and the sweet scent of spring filled the air.
Some of my kids had a hard time navigating the slippery, slanted terrain. After two (or was it three?) scraped knees, we had some unhappy campers on our hands. Still, we decided to push forward. And soon, we were walking in relative contentedness through a green and gorgeous valley between overarching cliffs.
Towards the Caves
Nahal Aviv (Spring Valley) definitely lived up to its name. I can’t think of a more spring like place to be. Between the tall grasses, poppies and fragrant white flowers blossomed. As we walked along, we gaped at the incredible rock formations above us on the sides of the path. It felt like we were in some secret canyon, cut off from the rest of the world by solid rock walls.
There was so much growth and beauty to take in. And soon, we reached another type of attraction: a series of awesome caves called Ma’arot Aviv and Ma’arot Chania.
Only one of our children wasn’t feeling too pooped to climb up inside with us (the youngest, of course!). So, the three of us climbed up the hill to explore. And we were so happy we did.
Inside the Caves
Had they simply been a series of natural caves, these caverns still would have been amazing. Gaping chambers of darkness led one to the next, each with their own panoramic window to the outside world of green beauty. We climbed from one to another, exploring different passageways that led to the same spot.
But these caves had also been renovated by people of the past. After climbing through one structure with two carved out openings along with a carved shelf on the inside, we tried to do some quick research about the history of the caves. All we found was that they had been inhabited by humans during many time periods, including the Byzantine era.
After a thorough exploration of these fascinating caves, we climbed back down to the main trail to rejoin the rest of the bunch. Everyone was rested up and ready to continue, downhill through Nahal Aviv towards Nahal Dishon.
An Easy Walk Towards a Beautiful Place
Things got a lot easier from this point on. The trail led down slowly, past more clusters of poppies and mustard blossoms. We walked downhill until we reached a flat path of river rocks. Just a bit further, and we were at the crossroads to Nahal Dishon and the Israel Trail. We were excited to see what the Dishon Stream had in store for us.
A few steps over a little hill, and we were there. We were amazed at the sight before our eyes.
A wide and beautiful stream bubbled along, zig zagging back and forth into the distance through meadows of green grass and wildflowers. Green hills jutted up into the horizon. It looked like a scene out of a storybook.
Of course, my kids headed straight into the water. They were hot and tired and ready to relax and play. We waded through the shallow stream for a good long time. Then we sat next to it just to enjoy the blissful peace of being next to a body of water in the middle of nowhere.
After we’d had our fill of lolling around, we picked ourselves up and continued along the path. This was the easiest part of the hike. With the accompaniment of the river, the wildflowers, and the descending sun, everything seemed just about perfect. We followed this beautiful path and lost ourselves in conversation.
Eventually, the river veered slightly away from the main trail. We found ourselves walking next to a deep, thick forest. At the base of the sturdy tree trunks, a carpet of yellow flowers blossomed.
We felt lucky to be hiking along Nahal Dishon at this most beautiful time of year. Before we were ready, we began to hear the noise of the highway up ahead. This amazing trail was coming to an end.
We walked up to the shaded parking lot where my husband hitched a quick ride up the road to retrieve our car. As we sat in the shade waiting, I thought over what a wonderful hike we had just completed.
Between majestic cliffs, a spring valley, cool caves, and a magical stream, the trail at Nahal Aviv and Nahal Dishon had been one of the most beautiful and varied short hikes we had encountered. This hike through two streams in the Galilee is the place to go for an incredible family adventure.
Here’s what you need to know to hike the trail at Nahal Aviv and Nahal Dishon:
- This is a year round trail. In the summer, the terrain is dry and unshaded. Avoid this trail on the hottest part of a summer day. In the winter, the trail can be slippery after rain.
- Wear good hiking shoes, and bring plenty of water and sun protection to hike this trail.
- This is a one-way trail.
- Dogs are allowed.
- The Dishon stream flows through winter and spring. It's a great place for a dip! We had to cross through the water at one point (there are rocks to step on). On cold days, you may want to just take off your shoes and walk through.
- This trail is good for families. Be careful with small children at the beginning - the rocks are slippery and it is easy to fall. There are some tough ascents, but nothing too overwhelming.
- Make sure to stop and explore the caves! You can even sit inside and have a picnic. They are shady and cool.
- To follow the trail, take the blue trail from the parking lot all the way through Nahal Aviv. When you reach the crossroads at Nahal Dishon, make a right to follow the red trail/Israel Trail. You will follow this path all the way to the end point at the second parking lot.
- Use the trail map and trail marker gallery in the table at the top of this page 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 Aviv and Nahal Dishon? Let’s hear about it in the comments!