One of the last clean rivers in Israel

Crocodiles unfortunately no longer inhabit the area, but Taninim River offers refreshing water, a flour mill, and an impressive Roman dam.

Taninim River (photo credit: HADARIA YAHAV)
Taninim River
(photo credit: HADARIA YAHAV)
Our small country is full of nature reserves with strange names and my favorite one is Taninim (lit. crocodile) River. The 25 km-long river empties into the Mediterranean Sea south of Kibbutz Ma’agan Michael and is named for crocodiles that lived in the nearby Kebara swamps until the early 20th cen - tury. In the fourth and fifth centuries BCE, a city called Crocodilopolis was built there and its remains can still be seen today. The last recorded citing of a crocodile in the area was in 1912.
Even without the attraction of live crocodiles, this trail is still worthwhile for all nature-lovers. In contrast with most of the other rivers in the area, such as the Alexander and Hadera, Taninim has somehow not become pol - luted with industrial waste and sewage as other Israeli rivers unfortunate - ly have. Nevertheless, it should be noted that it is absolutely forbidden to swim in the river.
In the rainy season, the area becomes muddy and is not easily accessible.
The Romans built a dam on the river in an effort to raise the water level so it could be diverted through canals and the famous aqueduct to the ancient city of Caesarea. The canals are 194 km. long and end in a 600-hectare lake.
In the Byzantine period, six flour mills were dug near the dam that were operated by the flow of water when the dam was opened.
The trail along the river runs beneath tall eucalyptus trees and many spe - cies of birds hide on the branches that hang over the running water. At the entrance of the trail, follow signs for the dam. Despite the numerous euca - lyptus trees, most of the trail is not shaded, so make sure to bring hats and plenty of water. Just five minutes into the trail, you will reach a shaded out - look with an absolutely breathtaking view of the lake formed by the dam.
When you’ve finished taking in the view, continue along the trail toward the large stone wall that functions as a dam. Walk along the path until you reach stairs, which you should walk up to reach the top of the dam. From the top, you will have a wide panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea and the Carmel Forest, which is slowly recuperating from the terrible 2010 fire.
Now, return to the trail and walk north along the dam until you come upon the impressive lake and the immense eucalyptus trees. On the other side of the trail you will be able to see the quiet trickle of the Ada Stream and later on you will reach the Taninim River.
The next interesting point you will reach is the reconstructed flour mill that was built during the Ottoman period. A number of mills were built un - der the dam to make use of the strong river current. You will also see the re - mains of the ancient millstones and a Byzantine-era vertical paddlewheel, which is a very interesting find since wheels this shape were not known to have been used in the area before the Crusader period.
There is one more attraction in the area that you should not skip: a small, lovely pool of water that children find irresistible. They usually have their shoes and socks off in a flash so that they can splash around in the cold water. The adults can either join them or relax in the quiet shade.
When you’re done playing in the water, continue along the trail until the road splits and you’ll have to decide whether you want to return to the parking area or to continue along toward Caesarea and the coast. This is not the easiest hike, but it’s worth it to see the beautiful view. If you choose the latter, you will need to retrace your steps to get back to your car.
Location: Ramot Menashe.
Level of difficulty: Easy, circular, and appropriate for families with children.
Length: Up to half a day (2 km).
Season: All year long.
Directions: Drive along the old Tel Aviv-Haifa highway toward Beit Hananya. From there, follow signs to the Taninim River.