Amud stream, Upper Galilee, Israel

Best 5 Hikes in Israel’s National Parks

If you prefer to hike in the more secured environment of a regulated national park, “Israel By Foot” presents you with the best options.

We will review the most attractive parks for hiking and recommend how to get the most out of each one of them.

There are more than 60 declared national parks in Israel. They are managed by the “Israel Nature and Parks Authority” (“Ratag” in Hebrew). The parks are divided into 4 main categories:

  1. Declared areas without any facilities or entrance fees.
  2. Recreational & Camping sites. (Usually beaches or natural pools)
  3. All the main archaeological sites like Masada & Cesare.
  4. Nature reserves with hiking trails.

There are 15 parks in the hiking category. Hiking in the parks has some advantages:

  • Hiking in a confined and regulated area.
  • The park provides a map with the hiking trails.
  • You can consult with the park rangers before you set out.

On the other hand, there are also disadvantages:

  • In most parks the hikes are limited to short and easy hikes only.
  • The hiking trails are usually much more crowded.
  • You are limited with the park opening hours.
  • Requires entrance fee.

It get’s down to personal preference if you favor it or not.

  • Yehudia National Park – A wide variety of hiking options inside the reserve, ranging from 5-10 Km. The reserve covers the most attractive streams of the Golan Heights.

  • Amud Stream Natural Reserve – The most attractive stream in the Galil mountains. Plenty of water, shade and huge trees. An easy-medium 3-5 Km hike inside the reserve, or our 10 Km  difficult hike that will take you also to a special view-point.

  • Banias Natural Reserve (Hermon Stream) –  A very easy 2.5 Km hike along a wild gushing stream.

  • Arbel National Park – The most famous view on the Sea of Galilee. An easy walk around the summit inside the reserve, or an ascend to the top as part of a more challenging day-hike.

  • Ein Gedi Nature Reserve – The scenery of water in the desert is a unique one and Ein Gedi, is one of the best places to experience it. There is a good hiking trails network in the reserve to accommodate all hiking levels. Ranging from very easy family strolls to demanding steep ascends to the mountain summits.

  • Ein Ovdat Natural Reserve – Another fine spot to experience the sight of water in the desert. A very easy 3 Km walk inside the reserve, or a day-hike that connects the reserve with the Havarim Stream.

  • General Information


Israel natural parks that have good hiking options


YEHUDIA NATIONAL PARK – DEEP POOLS AND TALL WATERFALLS IN THE GOLAN HEIGHTS

Location: Yehudia Reserve Parking

A typical pool in The Zavitan Stream, Golan Height, Israel
Zavitan – By Dan Sayda [CC BY-SA 4.0], Wikimedia Commons
Yehudia Nation park (The formal name is Yehudia forest Natural reserve) includes the 3 biggest and most attractive streams of the Golan heights. The Yahudia, Meshushim and Zavitan streams.
There is a large selection of trails to pick from ranging from very short up to 10 Km long. The park includes some of the best trails and some of the most beautiful pools in the Golan Heights. Highly recommended!!

Our Recommendation – A Hike in Nahal Zvitan:

From the entrance of the Yehudia National Park Take the green trail heading northwest, towards the Zavitan stream. Turn right on the red marked trail. After a short while, turn left and go down to the stream bed following now balck markers. Your are now inside the Gorge of Nahal Zavitan.

An adventure Detour
Turn right and go upstream without any marked trail. In some sections it is more scrambling then walking. After about half an hour of managing the rocks and bushes your way is blocked with a big pool and a tall cascade that you cannot pass. this is the end of the famous “Black Gorge”. A perfect spot for an extended break! The big advantage is that you have a good chance to be there without any crowds. Retrace your steps to the black marked trail

Nahal Zavitan Pool and Cascade

Turn left and hike downstream along the Black marked trail. The trail crosses the stream several times and in some sections caution is required. After a while you will reach a junction with a Red marked trail. You can turn left go back up to the parking of the Yehudia Natural Reserve.  Or make another very attractive detour to the Netef Spring.

Continue downstream along the Red marked trail for about 250 meters to reach the spring. The spring flows from the cliffs on the North (Right) bank creating chilling natural shower. A great sport to refresh and relax. Retrace your steps to the junction.

Go here for more Hikes in the Golan Heights and Galilee Mountains

Netef Spring in the Yehudia National Park


AMUD STREAM NATURAL RESERVE – THE MOST ATTRACTIVE STREAM IN THE GALILEE MOUNTAINS

Location: Amud Stream Reserve Parking

Amud stream, Upper Galilee, Israel
Amud Strean

Nahal Amud is the most attractive stream in the Galilee mountains. Plenty of water, shade and giant trees. The regulated area in the National park covers only a small section of it. If you are looking a short walk, you can make a 3-5 Km round trip with the map provided by the park. If you are looking for a more serious hike, we highly recommend our 10 Km Nahal Amud Hike.


BANIAS NATURAL RESERVE – A WILD GUSHING STREAM

Location: Hermon stream Reserve Parking

Gushing water on the Banyas Stream
Hermon River By Eladdror [CC BY-SA 4.0], Wikimedia Commons

The Banias river (Hermon) is one of the 3 tributaries of the Jordan river.
It is the “wildest” of the 3, featuring a deep canyon and an impressive waterfall. The scenery is fantastic with plenty of shade and water. It can feel a little more “European” that middle eastern.
The most exciting section is a “Suspended Trail” that is “hanging” above the gushing water.
The Park has 2 entrances. The top one near the Banias springs and the bottom one near the Banias waterfall. It is possible to visit each part of the Banias reserve separately and make a short circular hike in each. However, The best hike is to start at the top entrance and follow the stream all the way to the waterfall.

Our Recommendation – A Hike along the Banias river:

Start at the entrance of the Banias Springs. After visiting the springs and the pools, dont go back to your car, instead follow the blue marked trail going downstream. Along the way you will pass impressive flora, cascades and ancient watermills. after about 2 kilometers you will reach a view point from the top on the famous Banias waterfall.

Banias Nature reserve - The big Waterfall
Banias waterfall by Saydale (Creative Commons)

Descend, cross the Banias river and arrive to a junction with a Red marked trail. Turn left to get another view on the waterfall, this time from below. Go back to the junctions and walk downstream to the “Suspended Birde” trail. An easy ½ kilometer circuit. When done climb to the lower park entrance . You have walked until now about 3 kilometers. If you have 2 cars you could leave the 2nd one here. If not, it’s a flat 2 kilometers walk back to the upper entrance.

Go here for more Hikes in the Golan Heights and Galilee Mountains


ARBEL NATIONAL PARK – THE MOST FAMOUS VIEW ON THE SEA OF GALILEE.

Location: Arbel Parking

The sea of Galilee seen from Mount Arbel
View from Mount Arbel

The two main attractions of the park are the Carob lookout, Probably the most famous view on the Sea of Galilee. And the Arbel fortress, which is a military stronghold carved into the rocks in the 7th century.
Inside the park you can make and easy 2.5 Km hike of the Carob Lookout and the fortress. However, “earning” the view with the climb from lake Kinneret is much more rewarding. Check out our 8 Km Mount Arbel Hike.


EIN GEDI NATURE RESERVE – A  BEAUTIFUL OASIS IN THE JUDEAN DESERT

Location: Ein Gedi Reserve Parking

the hidden waterfall in arugot stream

The reserve includes the Arugot and David streams. It’s the biggest and most beautiful oasis in the Judean desert. The park includes a variety of trails that can be “mixed and matched” to meet all levels of hikers and visitors. Ranging for 2 Km family strolls to 10 Km demanding hikes with some steep ascends. You can make the regular 2-4 km trail in Nahal Arugor or Nahal Davdi, or follow our exciting hike.

Our Recommendation – Circular hike in the Ein Gedi Reserve

Start by climbing the  the “Ein Gedi Ascend”. The trail gets steeper and rougher as its gets closer to the summit. From midway and up you get amazing views on the Dead sea below.

  • the hidden waterfall in arugot stream
    The "Hidden" waterfall

Continue with the black markers on the flat landscape for about 1.5 kilometers, until you are at the top of the Nahal Arugot Canyon. (Another great view point). Descend the very steep trail down to the bottom of the canyon where you meet a Red marked trail. Turn right and walk about half a kilometer upstream to the famous hidden waterfall. (Pictured above). After a clod deep in the pool walk all the way down to the park entrance on the Red marked trail.

Go here for more Hikes in the Judean Desert


EIN AVDAT NATURE RESERVE – THE BIGGEST SPRING IN THE NEGEV DESERT

Location: Ein Avdat Reserve Parking

Ein Avdat viewed from the to of the cliff
Ein Avdat viewed from the to of the cliff

The reserve is a section of the Zin Wadi where the biggest spring and oasis of the central Negev is located. A fantastic setting. The problem is that the only trail in the reserve is about 2 Km long. We highly recommend taking our Ovdat Havrim Hike, that upgrades the experience into a 10 Km circuit that connects the reserve with beautiful Havarim Wadi.


GENERAL INFORMATION

  • Opening Hours:
    Summer: 08:00-17:00 (Fridays until 16:00)
    Winter: 08:00-16:00 (Fridays until 15:00)
  • Prices: Adults 28 NIS / Children 14 NIS
  • Dogs not allowed
  • Parks Authority official website

Written by Erez Speiser

Erez Speiser lives in the Galilee region in Israel. By education, he is a mechanical engineer. In 2018 Erez founded "Israel by Foot" to promote hiking tourism in Israel. Learn more in the About me Video. Or contact at  erez@hike-israel.com