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|Trail Map||Hike it with Google Earth||Terrain View|
|Distance: 9.5km||Time: 4 hours||Difficulty: Moderate|
|Ascent: 219m||Trailhead and Markers Gallery|
Magical days. They happen sometimes. If you make sure to spend time outdoors, nature will surprise you in a wonderful way.
This past Friday, we were pretty sure that it was going to be super hot. At least that’s what the forecast said. We had had a busy week. So as Friday, our hiking day, approached, I halfheartedly planned out a hike to a spring pool called Ein Rehania, about an hour and a half away from our home in the Ramot Menashe area (north of Zichron Ya’akov). I figured that water would be the best choice for us, considering the heat that was predicted. My husband planned out a nice, 9.5 kilometer loop trail to the spring, and we made plans to leave early in the morning, in order to beat the heat.
But the day didn’t go as planned, at all. And I mean that in a very good way. Instead of a mediocre hike to an average spring pool on a hot day, we got a fantastic hike past a multitude of beautiful hidden sights, including forests, springs, streams, and wildflowers. And rather than being stifling hot, it was more like summer in New Orleans – the sky was filled with clouds and occasional thunder and lightning, and we even got caught in a warm downpour or two. It was magnificent.
Weather aside, the trail itself was really magical. It didn’t feel like we were in Central Israel at all. As we hiked our way from one waterfall spring to the next, through beautiful, varied landscapes, it felt more like a trail in Northern Israel, or in some other country altogether.
Our 9.5 kilometer hike past the springs of Ramat HaShofet was so much more than we had hoped for. Here’s how we hiked it:
It All Began on the Car Ride Over
So, normally, on a mid-June morning in Israel, one doesn’t expect to drive off into a thunderstorm. But this past Friday morning, as we climbed into the car at 6 AM, it was clear that some strange weather pattern was brewing.
It wasn’t long before the rainclouds burst, and drops spattered off the windshield. I opened the windows to breathe in the beautiful scent of (almost) summer rain, and we wondered what lay in store for us at the trailhead.
By the time we reached the trailhead to Ein Rehania an hour and a half later, it was no longer raining. But the sky looked stormy and wonderful – it was just the type of cloud cover one would wish for on a hot day.
What Lies in Store?
We set out on the trail, on a wide path surrounded by a mix of green and golden grass peppered with late spring flowers. After the rain showers, everything had taken on a rich and colorful tone. So far, so good.
We followed the trail towards Ein Rehania – the waterfall spring that had drawn us to this hike. Eventually, we reached a sign that said we were there. But once we followed the path through thick greenery, all we saw in front of us was a sad looking pool, certainly nothing like the waterfall pool we had seen in the pictures.
Since we hadn’t come with high hopes, we weren’t disappointed. We continued along the trail to the next spot marked on the map – Mapal HaTachana. As we neared our destination, we saw an area of thick greenery, and heard the sound of rushing water. Things seemed to be shaping up, after all.
Piece of Paradise
We veered left to search out a place to access the beautiful sound that filled our ears. And we found a little path that led into the most magical place.
It was totally quiet there except for the sound of rushing water and croaking frogs. Water spilled over grey rock, surrounded by a thick canopy of trees and greenery. I immediately took off my shoes and walked through the cool water towards the pool.
I had never imagined that we would find a beautiful quiet spot like this on today’s hike. We sat on the rocks, taking in the beauty of our surroundings as the music of rushing water filled our ears.
After getting our fill of this first spot in the trees, we followed the dust path back to the main entrance of Mapal HaTachana. There, the scene was a bit less serene – a group of kids had biked over and were enjoying the waterfall. But it was just as beautiful.
Okay the Best Part is Over…Right?
We put our shoes back on and set out on the trail, assuming that the best part of the day was behind us. But before we knew it, we were crossing a little stream on rocks. Birds flew in every direction, attracted to some sort of water storage nearby. Their chirps and trills filled the air as they swooped through the clouds.
A bit further on, we saw a magnificent forest to our right. To our left, another large pool sat hidden in the reeds. Our border collie was very happy to stop and take a dip in that one.
At that pool, we met a local from Ramat HaShofet. After making some casual conversation, he pointed us in the direction of yet another beautiful spring, just 200 meters off the trail (marked on the map as something like Ein Alumusim). We followed his directions and found ourselves in another quiet piece of hidden beauty, filled with lush greenery and a small running waterfall.
This place was absolutely incredible.
On a Roll
And so, the day continued, one magical experience after the next. Soon, we ran into the most massive flock of freshly sheared sheep that we had ever seen. Their white coats glistened amongst the golden grass that they grazed in. White birds perched on their backs and flew from one to the next.
Despite the fact that much of this trail was out in the open, we didn’t even suffer from the usual harsh sun. Rather, occasionally rain showers spurted forth from the grey clouds above, keeping us cool.
Everywhere we walked, beautiful wildflowers seemed to be sprouting, so different than the typically sparse color one sees at this time of year. We continued along the trail to the next hidden spring.
Can it Be?
We visited another, more mediocre spring, near some ancient ruins and a picnic area. We passed by a picture perfect little structure – according to the info on our map, it had been built by Germans in the sixties and was called Emek HaShalom…… Eventually, as the morning wore on, we decided that we were hot and hungry enough to stop for iced coffee and muffins. All we needed now was a place to stop.
Usually, searching for the perfect picnic spot take patience and thought. But that morning, we were in the zone – it seemed like the terrain around us held a multitude of secrets. As we usually do, we popped off the trail into a thicket, in search of a nice shady place to stop. But instead of a normal, regular, nice spot in the shade, we found an adorable hand made bridge built over a small stream!!!
We plopped ourselves down right there, between the rough branches turned into a railing, on the smooth surface of the bridge, with a stream running right underneath our picnic spot. It was most definitely coffee time. Our iced coffee and banana muffins tasted so much more delicious with the musical accompaniment of bird song and a trickling stream.
And On We Go
After breakfast (on what we later learned was the Hardof Field School Bridge, built in 2022), we continued on the trail, passing by another hidden spot by the water, eventually making our way onto a paved path.
We knew that at this point, we were almost done with our journey. We followed the very pretty pathway, past manicured surroundings, towards the highway up above. And just then, as things were getting a lot more urban, the rain clouds burst once again. This time, it absolutely poured.
As we walked along the highway in the beautiful rain on that warm June morning, we felt like travelers on a holiday. Nothing about this hike had been mundane or typical. Instead, everything about it had been surprising and delightful, from the rushing waterfalls, to the gorgeous scenery, to the surreal weather.
This 9.5 kilometer circular hike past the springs of Ramat HaShofet demonstrated, once again, that there are so many gems in Israel just waiting to be discovered.
Here’s what you need to know to hike this trail to Ein Rehania and the Ramat HaShofet Springs.
- This is a circular trail.
- This trail is suitable for dogs.
- Wear good hiking shoes and sun protection and bring plenty of water to hike this trail.
- Much of this trail is exposed to the sun. The full trail is not a good choice for very hot and sunny days.
- You can hike a shorter version of this trail out and back to the first spring pools. This hike would be about 3 kilometers total. This would be an excellent choice for a summer hike with kids. It would also be quite straightforward to follow (blue trail out and back). Go early or on weekdays to avoid crowds.
- The first part of this trail is fully marked (blue with a slight detour onto red/purple). The second part is on an unmarked bike trail. The last part leads along the highway. Using the trail marker gallery and trail map in the table at the top, it may not be too difficult to follow. I didn't manage to catch pictures for every single detour in the trail marker gallery, so for extra assurance (and a better hike!), use the Google Earth file in the table at the top of the page.
- When you get to the highway, cross over to walk along the bike path. When you reach the end point, you will have to step over a low barrier to cross the highway and return to your car.
Don’t forget to read my guide to the navigational feature in this post before you hit the trail!
Trail map from Amud Anan.
Questions? Have you hiked this trail at the Ramat HaShofet Springs? Let’s hear about it in the comments!