All Out Adventure: Exploring Nachal Kziv

Discover Nachal Kziv Nature Reserve and all of the beautiful hikes it has to offer.

July 15, 2012 13:40
4 minute read.
Achziv Beach

Achziv Beach. (photo credit: Shem Tov Sasson)

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The Nachal Kziv (Kziv Stream) Nature Reserve contains some of the Galilee's finest hiking, from the stream's seasonal start carved through the low mountains to the lazy end at Achziv – a historical site. During the winter months the stream's cold water rushes downhill, emptying into the expansive Mediterranean Sea. The summer months reduce much of the stream to sun-baked rocks, with copious amounts of shade trees. Both seasons provide lovely hikes for the whole family.

Achziv Beach (Shem Tov Sasson)

The 20-kilometer long Nachal Kziv can be accessed from many points along its course, some of them requiring vigorous hiking down into the gorges and others just a short walk from civilization as we know it. Perhaps the most popular of segments is the area between Monfort Castle and Ma'alot, a scenic plunge twisting through the rock-face cliffs and tree-covered mountains that comprise much of the Upper Galilee's topography. This segment of hiking is included in the very popular and very worthwhile hike of Hof L'Hof (or as it is known to Americans and other Anglos: Yam L'Yam), which takes hikers from the shores of Lake Kinneret to the Mediterranean. Of course, this hike can be done just by walking along the riverbed but some of the greater treasures lay at a higher elevation.

The Monfort Castle is one of the premier Crusader establishments in the Galilee, along with the Yehiam Fortress and the city of Acre. Below the castle is an old Crusader-era flour mill, which historically used the torrents of icy winter water to grind out flour for the Crusaders living up above. But there was also an inn, for those traveling the riverbed, and that inn still stands today, fully accessible. Another few Crusader buildings can be seen along the stream, a testimony to the war and strife that once slashed its way through the peaceful Galilee.

Crusader Inn (Yitzhak Sasson)

Historical structures are not the only gems along the Kziv Stream. A wonderful little cave known as Ein Tamir and several popular waterholes attract tourists and locals alike. The cave, very easy to miss, is just a slice out of the rock. With crystal-clear, icy-cold water lapping at the feet, spelunkers have to nearly immerse themselves completely to traverse the full length of the narrow, tunnel-like cave. Just a few minutes away are the swimming holes, complete with small waterfalls. The holes are very popular for swimming in and the local fish congregate to snack at the human toes that enter their domain – always a fun experience.

Swimming hole (Smadar Sharabi)

It should be noted that the rare Persian fallow deer were re-introduced after they went extinct in the Kziv area. The deer that you may see today, should you chance upon them sneakily enough, are most likely the children of the deer that were brought from Iran in 1996.

At the start of the stream, on the Western side of Mount Meron, water can only been seen during the winter months. The perennial segment begins only after the city of Ma'alot, a few kilometers before the Ein Tamir cave and watering holes. This hike can be accessed from either the industrial section of Ma'alot, where one can park one's vehicle and trek down the paved road to the riverbed, or from the Monfort castle side, entering into the Christian village of Mi'ilya, where the hike is more strenuous and the riverbed would not be reached for quite some time. On the opposite side of the river, the Goren Park monopolizes the park entries and, although possible, most visitors do not descend from that location.

Nachal Kziv is free to access from everywhere but the end, at the Achziv National Park. There, after paying admission fees, camping can be experienced – one of the more popular past-times in the Achziv Park.

Most access points are found along Road 89, as the highway runs parallel to the stream. A brown sign declaring the presence of the Monfort Castle at the entrance of Mi'ilya marks the spot where the castle can be best accessed. A few minutes further East along the highway, the turn-off for the Ma'alot Industrial area can be found, and from there, the relatively easy hike to the riverbed.

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