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|Trail Map||Hike it with Google Earth||Trailhead and Markers Gallery|
|Distance: 9km||Time: 3 hours||Difficulty: Easy-Moderate|
|Ascent: 83m||Zikim Beach Parking||Zikim Beach Parking|
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About a half of Israel’s western border is made up of coastline with the Mediterranean Sea. Along this gorgeous stretch of coast, many hiking trails await, enticing nature lovers with stunning seaside scenery.
At coastal hikes, you’ll find all sorts of sights that you just don’t see in other parts of the country. There are dramatic cliffs jutting out above the sea on some trails. And there are freshwater streams that spill into the sea on others – these attract birds and other wildlife in abundance.
Most of these streams have been turned into nature reserves by the Parks Authority, to protect the animals that make the area their home. Happy wildflowers grow along these streams too, along with plants and trees that add to the abundant natural beauty.
Last week, we decided to hike along Nahal Shikma, a stream located in Southern Israel, at the very southern end of Israel’s coastline. We had hiked along the Shikma Stream before. But this time, we were going to start much further inland, hitting up the Carmiya Nature Reserve on our way to the beach. All together, we would hike about 9 kilometers on this one-way trail.
Conveniently, our son was home from the army, and he and my daughter wanted to go to the beach. So, we enlisted his help in transporting us to the trailhead. While our kids relaxed and soaked up the sun, we would be hiking along the beautiful Shikma Stream. We would meet up with our kids at the end of the trail.
Our hike along Nahal Shikma was gorgeous and fun. It was not a completely quiet hike – there’s a lot going on in this part of the country! But it was peaceful and straightforward. It was easy to lose ourselves in the beauty of springtime on the coast as we hiked along the river.
Here’s how we hiked this one-way trail along the Shikma Stream:
Just What We Needed
Our son pulled into a small area off of Highway 4 and waved goodbye. We wished him a fun morning at the beach and set off onto the blue trail.
As we walked on a path between tall fields of green grain and huge eucalyptus trees, we felt calm and happy. Yellow and white wildflowers sprouted up from the sides of the pathway. And little, white butterflies flitted from wildflower to wildflower.
For quite some time, we hiked in silence, enjoying the sunshine and the scenery along with our fast pace (no inclines!). Although we couldn’t actually see Nahal Shikma, we knew that it was right nearby. And soon, we reached our first river sighting.
Into the Unknown
As we approached the Shikma Stream, we saw a dip in the road and signs warning of water up ahead. Were we going to have to cross Shikma Stream? How deep would it be?
But as we got closer we realized – although the Shikma stream may be full enough to cause flooding on some winter days, this day we were in luck. The road was completely dry. We could tell that sometimes, this dip was full of water. But luckily, the Shikma Stream remained firmly in place on both sides of the bridge that we walked across.
Citrus Fruits Galore
From here, we began walking past farmland. On one side, beautiful citrus trees stretched out in every direction. On the other side, we could see a stream flowing in some places.
Big yellow pomelos hung from the trees, along with oranges and clementines. I was so hungry just looking at them. And luckily enough, we soon noticed some wild clementine trees that had sprouted up just past the farmland fence. These poor little trees were wild and neglected. But that didn’t mean that there weren’t delicious fruits waiting on their branches. We picked a few tiny clementines and enjoyed the delicious sweetness of fresh citrus on a warm morning.
Into Carmiya Nature Reserve
Next, we proceeded to follow the trail towards Carmiya Nature Reserve. Here, tall, red poppy flowers began to appear, bobbing back and forth in the gentle breeze. As we approached the reserve, we were greeted by more wildflowers of every type.
Then, just before we turned left to follow the trail into the reserve, a huge flock of sheared sheep circled the bend, blocking the path. We thought that our border collie would cause them to disperse, but they seemed more curious about him than scared. So, we made our way around the flocks carefully, and proceeded into Carmiya Nature Reserve.
Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This
And here we were, in Carmiya Nature Reserve. This small nature reserve is oh, so beautiful. Although most of the wildflowers had come and gone, we still really enjoyed walking through this pretty piece of nature.
We had decided that coffee time was going to happen in the Carmiya nature reserve. We were on the lookout for a perfect spot to stop and eat. And soon enough, we spotted just the right one.
A little bit off of the main pathway, we saw a beautiful grassy area, half in the sun and half in the shade of eucalyptus trees. Pretty yellow flowers grew all along the patch of grass. As we approached, we saw the best part: someone had tied a wooden swing to a really, really high branch of a tree. It dangled down to a couple of feet above the ground, creating the longest swing I’d ever seen.
This was definitely our breakfast spot.
First, we took turns swinging on the swing. Then, we unpacked our coffee and blueberry oatmeal and relaxed for a while.
All Good Things…
Eventually, we had to pick up and get going. Our kids were waiting for us at the beach, after all!
We proceeded along the trail (which did get just a little bit confusing), down a sandy path between reeds and wildflowers. Large birds of prey glided overhead, and oversized flowers encroached onto the pathway.
Soon, we reached a road, which we crossed before making our way along the last part of the trail right next to Nahal Shikma.
The Last Stretch
This part of the path was truly beautiful. Between the dunes of sand, grasses and tall red wildflowers grew. At this part of Nahal Shikma, there was a stream to look at, which snaked through the dunes towards the coast just beyond.
We walked up and down along the sand dunes, stopping to let our border collie dip in the stream. And then just a short while later, we made our way over the last sand dune onto the beach.
Our son and daughter were waiting there, happily involved in listening to music and building sand sculptures. Although our short hike had taken almost three hours, our kids didn’t seem to have missed us. We sat down on their picnic blanket and finished up the rest of our wild clementines together.
Our one-way hike along the Shikma Stream had been a perfect outing for the day. This easy walking trail to the Mediterranean Sea is a great choice for a cool day in fall, winter, or spring.
Here’s what you need to know to hike this trail along this Shikma Stream:
- This is a one way trail.
- This trail is best suited to cooler days in the fall, winter, and spring.
- Suitable for dogs.
- After heavy rains, you may not be able to easily cross the Shikma Stream in that one spot. Or, you may want to prepare to cross through water. We had rain earlier in the week, but not enough to make the stream overflow.
- Wear good walking shoes and sun protection and bring plenty of water to hike this trail.
- This is a free entry site. There are no facilities at the trailhead, but there are bathrooms at the beach!
- To hike the trail: The first part is easy. Just park your car off the road and follow the blue trail. When you reach Carmiya Reserve, the marked blue trail goes in the wrong direction. Follow the black trail (This is marked as blue on the map). After the Carmiya reserve, you'll need to turn left onto what appears to be an unmarked trail blocked by a gate. This is actually the green trail, and the gate has a passthrough on the side for walkers. Follow the green trail for a while. It is quite possible that you can follow the green trail all the way to the beach (we didn't know because the trail didn't appear on the map, but it looked like you might be able to.) Instead, at some point before one of the gated passthroughs, we hopped off and on to the blue trail again, which was a few steps away. These trails do not appear marked on Amud Anan, but they do appear on Israel Hiking Map.
- For now, your best bet is to follow the Google Earth file included in the table at the top of the page! The trail marker gallery may help too.
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 along Shikma Stream? Let’s hear about it in the comments!