Splashing around on water hikes

Since it’s scorching out there these days, the best way to enjoy hiking during the summer months is to find trails that involve walking right inside a stream.

By MEITAL SHARABI
July 24, 2019 17:11
Splashing around on water hikes

NAHAL ZAKI.. (photo credit: ISRAEL NATURE AND PARKS AUTHORITY)

If you’re like a lot of Israeli teens, you spend a good portion of your summer vacation searching for water hikes all over our small country. You want to go with friends on trails that are fun and involve getting really wet. In this article you will find my recommendations for three such outings. These don’t involve long hikes before you reach a water source where you can swim, splash about and cool off.
Since it’s scorching out there these days, the best way to enjoy hiking during the summer months is to find trails that involve walking right inside a stream. So, put your bathing suit on before you even take your first step. And make sure to leave your valuables and electronic gadgets behind so they don’t get wet and ruined (or wrap them well in sealed bags). Of course, always make sure to wear a hat and bring along lots of drinking water, which some people seem to forget, since they’ll be walking inside water.

MAJRASA
The largest freshwater nature reserve in Israel, Majrasa (aka Nachal Daliyot) is one of the easiest and nicest places to go on a water hike with small kids. The trail requires that you walk right inside the stream, which is shallow at times and a little deeper at others. Kids absolutely love walking in the water, which keeps everyone nice and cool even on the hottest of days. Along the way, you’ll come across lots of places where you can sit and rest and enjoy the cool water. You should of course wear comfortable water shoes since there are many stones and slippery rocks along the way.
The trail begins in Bikat Beit Tzidah, where the marked path descends toward the riverbed. You will pass by lots of reeds as you make your way down to the water. You can walk in the water right from the beginning, where it is pretty shallow. Slowly, the stream widens, and along the way you will see there are little pools off to the sides. You’ll also notice that along a number of places where you can exit the water and continue walking on a dirt path alongside the stream or return to the beginning of the trail. If you end up walking the entire length of the trail inside the stream, you can exit when you see the sign signifying the end and follow the path back to the parking area.
Directions: Drive on Road 92 until your reach Ma’aleh Gamla intersection. Turn west onto a dirt road where you’ll find a sign for the parking area.
Price of entry to nature reserve: Children NIS 14, Adults NIS 38.

NAHAL ZAKI
If you enjoyed hiking in Majrasa and are now searching for something a little more challenging, I recommend trying out Nahal Zaki, an estuary of Nahal Meshushim, where the water slows down on its way to its final destination: the Kinneret. For this hike, you must be a good swimmer and be able to carry equipment with you on your back for the duration of the two-kilometer walk through the water. Since the trail is long and not so simple, you need to make sure all of your stuff is properly packed before setting out. Any valuables or electronic equipment needs to be stored in sealed plastic bags or containers, otherwise they will likely get very wet.
There are many slippery rocks along the way, so it’s best to take each step carefully. Just as in Majrasa, here, too, there are many spots where you can exit the water and walk back to the starting point on dry land (follow the black trail markers).
As you follow the path inside the water (follow the green trail markers) you will see lots of amazing views and can enjoy the verdant surroundings. After about one kilometer, when the shrubbery gets very dense, you’ll come upon little lagoons of water that have formed and that are lots of fun to splash around in. Two of the lagoons are particularly large and deep and you will need to swim through them to continue on the path.
Directions: Drive on Road 92 until you reach the Ma’aleh Gamla intersection. Follow the sign and turn west onto a dirt road in the direction of Majrasa. After driving a bit, you will come to a fork in the road. Turn right and follow the green trail markers toward Nahal Zaki. Continue until you see a sign for the parking area.

NAHAL HAKIBBUTZIM
The Beit She’an Valley in Emek Hama’ayanot is home to a number of water sources. The most well-known site – Gan Hashlosha (Sachne) – is always crowded, and so I recommend going instead to Nahal Hakibbutzim, a perennial stream which is filled by water from a number of springs in the area. Known as Ein Aljamayeen in Arabic, Nahal Hakibbutzim is a great place to go for a water hike. The trail is relatively short, so you can even walk through it and still have time to go to another spring in the area or make a visit to Park Hama’ayanot on the same day.
The trail begins in the KKL-JNF parking area, which also happens to be an extremely popular picnic spot. If you gaze over all the people lunching at picnic tables, you’ll see tall eucalyptus trees, which is where the trail ends. Take the path with the black trail markers that leads down to the water. The stream is quite deep at times (up to 1.5 meters), which is extremely important to know if you will be hiking here with small children. One of the most exciting attractions on this hike – especially for kids – is climbing through one of the two huge concrete drainage pipes that are situated in the stream.
Children absolutely love sliding through the pipes, which empty into a large pool of water on the other side. If you want, you can climb back over on top of the pipes and go through them again. This is pretty much the end of the hike, and you’ll need to retrace your steps to get back to the parking area.
Directions: Drive on Road 669 and after you pass a sign for Kibbutz Nir David, turn right onto a dirt road and follow signs for the parking area.

Translated by Hannah Hochner.


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