Fall in Israel: Where to hike?

Now is one of the best times of year to experience the change in season in Israel’s nature reserves and national parks.

 Nahal Amud Nature Reserve (photo credit: MOCHI NASSER)
Nahal Amud Nature Reserve
(photo credit: MOCHI NASSER)

Fall in Israel is a great time to go out for a hike or picnic in nature. The weather is amazing most of the time and depending on where you go, you might get to see leaves that have changed color and are lazily falling to the ground. There’s something about the advent of a new season that makes people want to get outside and out into nature for a fun hike.

In the springtime, everyone wants to see all the new blossoms, in the summer the sun makes everything so clear and bright, and in the wintertime all the rivers and streams fill up and begin flowing vigorously. In autumn, of course, nothing is more refreshing than breathing in the cooler air and seeing all the trees whose leaves have changed color. Now is one of the best times of year to experience the change in season in Israel’s nature reserves and national parks. Below, you will find four of the best places to enjoy nature and really feel that fall is upon us. 

1. Nahal Amud Nature Reserve

 Nahal Amud Nature Reserve (credit: ETI KORIAT) Nahal Amud Nature Reserve (credit: ETI KORIAT)

Another great place to visit if you love watching the leaves change color in the autumn is the Nahal Amud Nature Reserve. The source of Nahal Amud is in the hilltops of the Upper Galilee, and from there the river flows all the way to the Kinneret at Bik’at Ginossar. At the moment, the tall trees and floor of Nahal Amud Nature Reserve are covered with leaves that have changed to gorgeous shades of orange and yellow. 

Nahal Amud is 22 km. long and flows all year long. As you walk through the nature reserve, you’ll see a plethora of plane trees, pools of water, an ancient flour mill, a number of cliffs and breathtaking views of the surrounding region. The area is also home to local fauna, including Palestine mountain gazelles, wild boars, hyenas, jackals, mongooses, rock hyrax and bats. 

The trail that leads through the Nahal Amud Nature Reserve is appropriate for the whole family and passes through a number of interesting stops. For example, you will see the old police station that was active during the British Mandate, the ancient flour mill that was powered by the water flowing down the river and the wool processing mill. The operation of all three of the above was made possible by harnessing the power of flowing water. 

Type of hike: Circular path that is appropriate for the whole family. 

Directions: From Road 866, between Hananya Intersection and Meron Intersection, turn east and drive to the nature reserve. It’s located 2 km. north of Kfar Shammai.

 

2. Alonei Abba Nature Reserve

If an image of a beautiful forest comes to mind when you think of autumn time, you’ll love visiting the Alonei Abba Nature Reserve. This nature reserve, which is located near Bethlehem of Galilee and Alonei Abba, is a wonderful place for families and couples to get out into nature and enjoy the cool fall weather. There’s something magical about seeing the leaves turn color every year and then watch as they slowly descend to the floor of the forest. 

To reach the Alonei Abba Nature Reserve, enter through the main gate located next to the parking area and walk along the main path. This path reaches all of the various attractions within the reserve. Right away you will see one of the highlights of the reserve: a hill covered with impressively tall oak trees. Next, you’ll come to a lookout from which you can see Mount Carmel, the Jezreel Valley and the hills surrounding Nazareth.

 Alonei Abba Nature Reserve (credit: ETI KORIAT) Alonei Abba Nature Reserve (credit: ETI KORIAT)

The Alonei Abba Nature Reserve is full of flora that is native to Israel, such as gigantic carob trees and Mediterranean smilax, an evergreen climber that is famous for its heart-shaped leaves. Further along, the path begins to descend, then continues around a hill and brings you back to the starting point. 

Type of hike: Short, circular path that is appropriate for the whole family. 

Directions: Park in the parking area, which is located about 200 meters before the entrance to Moshav Alonei Abba. There is a solid white line separating the two directions of traffic, so you’ll need to drive into the moshav and then return and enter the nature reserve from the opposite direction.

3. Einot Telem National Park

 Einot Telem National Park (credit: ACHIYA TOBI) Einot Telem National Park (credit: ACHIYA TOBI)

Located between Jerusalem and Mevaseret Zion, on the upper side of Nahal Sorek, the park offers a large number of biking and hiking trails. It’s a great place to escape the daily grind for a few hours so you can enjoy some peace and quiet, and beautiful natural surroundings. And this time of year, the park is particularly striking since the leaves have turned color and can be seen floating down to the forest floor after detaching from the high branches of the trees. 

Einot Telem is known for its abundance of little springs, ancient terraces that were built into the hills for farming, fig and pomegranate trees, grape vines and a fantastic obstacle course for children built completely out of stone that will keep your kids busy for quite some time. There’s also an abandoned home that was probably used by families that built the nearby terraces. There are visible trail markers all along the short path. 

Type of hike: Circular path that is appropriate for the whole family. 

Directions: If coming from the west, drive east on Road 1 and exit at Motza Intersection. Drive though the tunnel that goes underneath the highway, then drive toward Mevaseret Zion. Turn right onto a dirt road when you see a sign for Park Arazim. 

4. Ein Prat Nature Reserve

 Ein Prat Nature Reserve (credit: DORON NISSIM) Ein Prat Nature Reserve (credit: DORON NISSIM)

The Land of Israel might be geographically small, but it is full of surprises. From the northern border all the way to Israel’s southern tip, you will encounter stunning views and terrific hiking trails. One of my all-time favorites is Ein Prat – aka Wadi Kelt – whose pools are an oasis in the middle of the desert.

If you happen to be walking through the reserve after the winter rains have begun, you will be treated to the most gorgeous blossoming of flowers that are native to the Land of Israel. But even if it hasn’t rained yet, this is a great time of year to hike this trail, since the weather is nice and cool. Even on cool days, every single time you pass by the shallow pools of Ein Prat I can guarantee that you will see people wading in the water. And the view from the nature reserve over the Judean Desert is absolutely magnificent. 

If you’re hiking with kids, you can take the shorter trail that passes by the pools and then leads to St. George Monastery, which was built in the second half of the 4th century CE. From here, you can retrace your steps to return to your car. Some people forego the hike, spread out their picnic near the pools and just hang out there to enjoy the lovely surroundings. 

Type of hike: Linear hike that is appropriate for families. Parts of the hike are wheelchair accessible. 

Directions: From Almon (aka Anatot), turn south and pass through the gate. Drive another 500 m. on a dirt road that becomes a paved road. Drive carefully along this curvy road until you reach the parking area. 

Translated by Hannah Hochner.