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|Trail Map||Hike it with Google Earth||Terrain View|
|Distance: 1.7km||Time: 1-2 hours||Difficulty: Easy|
|Ascent: 67m||Trailhead and Markers Gallery|
It’s that time of year again.
Summertime is the time when we’re all on the lookout for ways to stay cool. And in nature, that means three things: shade, water, and caves.
This past Friday, my family was in need of a mini-adventure. We wanted to go somewhere cool and wet without having to drive too far. And I knew of just the place.
Up in the Jerusalem Mountains, close to Hadassah Hospital, there’s an incredible water cave that stays ice cold even in the middle of the summertime.
Ein Hindak is no ordinary water cave. Most spring tunnels in Israel are perfect for wading in. They’re usually ankle deep, knee deep, or at the very most – waist deep. Not Ein Hindak. To get to the very end of the Ein Hindak water tunnel, you’ve got to be prepared for full immersion.
For little kids, this means actually swimming to the other side. For adults, it means ice cold water up to your chest. And on a hot day in the summertime, I could think of nothing better.
The walk to Ein Hindak is easy and short – only about 20 minutes in each direction along a paved forest path. This was the perfect little trek for our family on a short Friday morning.
Here’s how we took a hike to this incredible water adventure in the Jerusalem Mountains:
We pulled into a little parking area near the path and set out on foot. This walk was lovely. Even at 11:00 AM, it wasn’t particularly hot or unpleasant on the trail to Ein Hindak. That’s because the path was all downhill. The rich smell of pine filled the air, wafting in from the many trees that surrounded the pathway. It felt like the perfect summer morning.
We walked along, talking and enjoying the scenery. It was nice to be out.
Just twenty minutes later, we reached the rock steps down to Ein Hindak. We followed them down towards a thick patch of fig trees. This was the entrance to the spring.
Into the Spring
In some ways, the entrance to Ein Hindak isn’t particularly welcoming. There’s a little gate blocking the entrance along with a sign warning danger due to unstable structures. We passed under the gate and into the thick shade down below, only to be greeted by lots of flies. The stagnant water accumulated at the entrance to the spring attracts these pesky creatures. We made our way past the swarm and first cave, towards a flat patch of ground near the opening of the second cave. This was our first fun challenge of the morning.
The southern cave at Ein Hindak is the longer and deeper one. Some of my kids had never been to the end. That morning, we were going to get all the way to the tunnel’s end, no matter how cold the water was!
We turned on our flashlights and proceeded into the cool darkness.
So Incredibly Cold
Less adventurous types could have a wonderful morning just hanging out in the entrance to the cave. There, cool water and sunlight come together to form a perfect little swimming pool that’s not scary at all!
But our family wasn’t going to be satisfied with a little dip in the water that morning. We wanted to follow the water filled tunnel to the very end of the shadowy darkness.
We proceeded along in the dark, the cold water biting our skin painfully with each step forward. Even in the summer heat, it was so cold!
The water got deeper, and deeper, and deeper. And then eventually, when it was about chest high for me, it started getting shallower again. We continued through the tunnel, our voices echoing in the shadowy darkness. There was light up ahead.
Fun Surprises in Ein Hindak
Suddenly, the water was knee high, then ankle high again! We found ourselves standing in a beautiful natural alcove full of sunlight, shining down from a hole in the ground up above.
But we still had a long way to go. We gritted our teeth, and plunged once more into the icy blackness, determined to reach the very end of the thing.
Before we knew it, our headlamps reflected off of a split pathway – a double ending to the cave. We hopped over a miniature wall into the coldest and deepest water of all. Here, the kids enjoyed dunking and swimming in water surrounded by rock on all sides, with just a couple of feet of space above the water line.
I’m pretty sure I would have been scared of Ein Hindak as a seven year old. But my youngest son loved it!
More to Explore
After swimming and splashing and getting thoroughly freezing, we went back the way we came, through deep and shallow water towards the opening of the cave.
Now we had a decision to make: Would we take the time to explore the less impressive first tunnel at Ein Hindak? Or would we call It a day and head up into the sunshine for hot coffee and brunch?
You can guess what we chose.
Yes, there was more to explore. And we were here to see it all. We stepped through the murky water towards the clean fresh water within the tunnel, then followed it all the way to the end.
The water level in this cave was less deep, the tunnel shorter. We decided that this trail was probably a better choice for smaller kids, and even non-swimmers.
Finally, we emerged from the frigid water into the sunshine. Now, we had seen it all. We were freezing cold, full of adrenaline, and officially ready for a summer brunch picnic. It was time for us to climb back up the stairs and find a nice spot to sit – half sun and half shade. We knew that in this weather, we would be dry and warm in no time.
We felt we had earned our coffee and muffins that morning. On our trip to Ein Hindak, we went beyond our comfort zone to experience the awesome depths of Israel’s natural world, just outside of Jerusalem.
Here’s what you need to know to hike to Ein Hindak in the Jerusalem Mountains:
- This trail is best on hot days! I can't imagine trying to go into this water in the wintertime. Brrr!
- Dogs are allowed.
- Great for kids, but make sure to hold onto kids who can't swim. The water is deep in some places. You can also stay in the shallow water at the opening of the tunnel.
- Bring plenty of water, a flashlight, clothes that can get wet and water hiking shoes to hike this trail.
- There is a sign at the entrance that states that the structure is dangerous. There are no signs that say that one should not enter. I'm not sure what exact this sign is trying to accomplish, but many people enter Ein Hindak all the time. Enter at your own risk.
- Insect repellent can be useful, as water sometimes attracts mosquitoes.
- This is an out and back trail.
- To follow the trail, use the trail marker gallery and trail map in the table at the top of the page.
- After parking, proceed through the green gate and walk down the paved path. Turn left at the end to walk down to Ein Hindak. Go down the steps into the spring itself (inside caves). When you are finished exploring the caves, turn back the way you came.
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 to Ein Hindak? Let’s hear about it in the comments!