Chasing waterfalls

With the significant amount of rainfall we’ve had this winter, it’s an exciting time to visit waterfalls.

With the significant amount of rainfall we’ve had this winter, it’s an exciting time to visit waterfalls. While lots of Israelis are focused on making their yearly pilgrimage to Mount Hermon to enjoy playing in the snow, there are also a number of waterfalls in northern Israel that are worth visiting this time of year just after the rains. Below, I’ve listed five fun hikes to waterfalls that are bound to turn into special winter family outings. 
Located at the edge of Mount Meron near Kibbutz Parod, after years of remaining dry, Parod Waterfall has once again begun flowing abundantly following this winter’s recent heavy rains. One of the sources of water for the waterfall is Ein Ramiel, which bubbles up near Moshav Shefer. The water from this spring is pumped out and used mainly for agricultural purposes throughout the year, but in years when there’s been abundant rainfall, some of the spring water is released to flow into the waterfall. 
At the beginning of the trail, on the west bank of the stream, you’ll find remnants of an aqueduct. A little farther on, on the left side of the trail, you’ll see a trough and on the eastern bank of the stream, you’ll see two small buildings with blue-domed ceilings that are tombs of righteous people. Continue along the path that winds close to the stream, which becomes increasingly deep, until you reach a small amphitheater that’s shaded by an impressive carob tree.
Next, you’ll cross through an open field. At the end, you’ll find that the path continues between a large rock and a prominent (but not deep) cave. Climb down a few stairs that have been hewn into the stone, and then you’ll see a couple of three-meter-high waterfalls. These waterfalls flow with water for only a few short days every year following the winter rains. When you’ve finished taking in the beautiful waterfalls, you can return to your car either by returning by the same path you came on, or by continuing another 200 meters to the open canyon and then climbing up the northwest bank of the stream. This path will take you past an old flour mill and back up to the starting point. 
Directions: Drive east on Road 85. At Hananya Intersection, turn left onto Road 866. Then, turn right into Kibbutz Parod and then left onto a narrow road until you reach the Parod Waterfall parking area. 
There are many great hiking trails in Israel in which the Jordan River features as the main attraction. One of my favorites is the Kfar Hanasi Bridge trail. Unfortunately, due to strong winds in the recent winter storms, the bridge has collapsed. The water in the Jordan River, which is currently flowing forcefully, is joined by water flowing in the Dan, Snir and Hermon Streams in the Galilee, which empty into the Kinneret. The river continues again on the southern tip of the Kinneret, where it flows until it reaches the Dead Sea. There’s only one spot on the river, which is called the Mountainous Jordan, where the water gets deep and the current gets very strong. At this point, the river splits into two distributaries. Most of the water continues to the left, while a small amount of water goes off to the right and forms a shallow pool. 
Directions: From Rosh Pinah Intersection, drive east on Road 8677 toward Kfar Hanasi. Just before the right turn into Tuba-Zangariyye, there’s a left turn onto a dirt path with blue trail markers. Turn there and continue along the path until you reach the bridge. 
Ayit Waterfall is part of Nahal Ayit, which is located in the Yehudiya Forest Nature Reserve, one of the largest and most water-filled nature reserves in the country. Ayit Waterfall can be found between Yonatan and Aniyam, near Road 808, which is sometimes called the waterfall route. When you’re standing above the waterfall, you can see the exposed basalt formations and a plethora of flowers – crocuses, cyclamen and daffodils. There’s a nice and short circular path you can take that goes right alongside the stream. This path is filled with hikers – especially in the springtime – since there’s the wonderful walking path that is fenced in, keeping hikers safe up above the road and stream below. 
The Israel Nature and Parks Authority has also built another place where hikers can access the other side of the waterfall. I definitely recommend getting up close and standing right behind the screen of water so that you can experience the powerful surge of water as it pounds down off the side of the mountain. 
Directions: From Kfar Nahum Intersection, take Road 87 until the waterfall intersection. Turn right towards Aniyam. Pass Aniyam and continue until you reach the Ayit Waterfall parking area. 
The trail that leads to this large waterfall that’s connected to Nahal Orvim is a very nice 1.5 kilometer (each way) linear path that takes about an hour to complete and is appropriate for the whole family. You’ll see the red trail markers in the large parking area near Matsok Orvim. I recommend wearing good walking shoes and a hat, and bringing along a pair of binoculars and of course water. The path is relatively flat and you’ll be treated to a view of gorgeous flowers as you walk along Nahal Orvim. Then, the stream opens up very quickly into a deep canyon where the large waterfall is located. You’ll see plenty of the Mt. Atlas mastic trees and Abraham’s balm bushes, both of which can be identified by their purple summer blossoms. The path crosses over the shallow stream and continues on the other bank for another 500 meters until it reaches an incredible spot from which you can see the waterfall and a northern cliff of the stream. You also have a good chance of catching a glimpse of a bird of prey that is taking advantage of the cliff to take a rest. This is the end of the trail, since it is not safe to move any closer to the waterfall. 
Directions: Drive on Road 959. Between kilometer markers 6 and 7, take the Oil Road and drive about one kilometer until you see the sign for the trail. You should drive slowly on this road since it is not in the best condition. 
Located just above Banyas, Saar Waterfall is a part of Saar River, which begins in Ein Saar on the Israel-Syrian border. The river passes through the villages of Majdal Shams, Mas’ada and Ein Qiniyye. In years past, a flour mill that was operated by the flow of water used to function in the area. This region is the boundary between the basalt stone of the Golan Heights and the chalky ground of the Hermon. The water from the stream is pumped out on a regular basis, but after rainy days, it fills with endless amounts of gushing water. 
Saar Waterfall is actually made up of two famous waterfalls: Risisim Waterfall, which is located at the southern entrance to the Druze village of Ein Qiniyye, and Saar Waterfall. There’s a beautiful trail between the two waterfalls and there’s also a circular path that starts and ends at Saar Waterfall that’s the perfect place to go for a walk to enjoy the luscious winter scenery. 
Directions: Drive along Road 99 and then turn right at She’on Intersection. Pass the Banias Nature Reserve and continue until Nahal Saar Intersection. 
Translated by Hannah Hochner.