Hike of the Month - Springs around Jerusalem

In the small area of the "Jerusalem Mountains" alone, there are about 60-70 such springs. Some of them can be visited very easily by car or public transport.

Sarig Spring (photo credit: DEROR AVI)
Sarig Spring
(photo credit: DEROR AVI)
The western slopes of the Judean Mountains are relatively dry and have no major streams where water flows throughout the year. However, there are dozens of tiny springs scattered on the slopes. In the distant past, from the first Temple period until the beginning of the 20th century, in the absence of pumping and transport systems, the springs were the main source of living.
The settlements and farms were concentrated near them. The spring water was used for drinking and the development of irrigation systems.
Most of the springs were enhanced to exploit the small amount of water they provided.
• The spring's low output was enlarged by carving the rock and concentrating the water flow into a channel.
• A small pool was built to collect the water.
• A system of small canals for transporting water from the collection facilities to the fields.
In the modern era, the springs have lost their importance, most of them have been abandoned. Many of them disappeared or dried up completely due to infrastructure constructions around them.
In recent years with more attention to environmental issues there is a trend of rehabilitation of many springs by both public and private initiatives.
In the small area of the "Jerusalem Mountains" alone, there are about 60-70 such springs. Some of them can be visited very easily by car or public transport. The most know is the Sataf site, that contains reconstructions of a complete ancient hillside agriculture system as described above. Others can be visited on various hiking trails.
Our easy hike will take you on the "Springs trail" to visit 4 different springs in one relatively short circuit. And all this just 15 km away for Jerusalem city center.
Starting point: Seadim Ruin (GPS 31.750649, 35.130326)
Admission: Free.
Short version:  3.5 km
Medium version:  6.5 km
Long Version:  9.5 km
Difficulty: Easy - Medium
Go to "Israel By Foot" Website for a full and detailed description of The Springs trail hike.
Start by taking a short tour at the Byzantine ruins of Seadim. Remains of a Byzantine farm, olive press and an ancient mosque that was built later on-top of the ruins of the Byzantine buildings. Some of the trees around are very old and reach huge proportions. This is due to the belief that trees near a mosque should not be cut down due to the sanctity of the place.
Start Following the Green markers. Over a distance of 3 km along this trail, you will pass 3 springs. After 1.3 km we reach Uzi Spring. Further 300 m along the trail is Tamar Spring. It is named after Tamar Natan, that died in an accident when she was 21 years old. The spring and its surrounding were rehabilitated by her friends and family. For the short version retrace your steps back to the starting point.
Continue further for about 1.3 km to reach our next spring, Ein Sarig, another pleasant spring with 2 pools. The upper smaller pool feeds a lower bigger one, where the water can reach a depth of 1.2 m. For the medium version, return to the starting point on the Red marked dirt road.
Continue to follow the Green markers for another 1.5 km to reach Handak spring. This spring is a "Tunnel" spring.  The ancient tunnel is carved into the rock to reach the source of the water. The tunnel is almost 50 m long and the water depth reaches 1.5 m. It's a unique experience to walk inside the tunnel all the way to its end. (Bring a flashlight!). Retrace you steps back to the Red marked dirt road to return to the starting point.
Hikes courtesy of Israel by Foot - Hiking the Holy Land