Walking on water

Snir Stream is full this time of year and wading in it can be a delightful experience

Snir Stream is 65 kilometers long. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Snir Stream is 65 kilometers long.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
While the last few weekends were spent dealing with the storm and the damage it caused, it’s now time to go back outside to nature and go for a hike under the green trees and in the gushing rivers. The skies have cleared and the temperatures have returned to normal, so take a break from your routine and go for a hike along Snir Stream on the Golan Heights.
The Snir Stream (called the Hasbani River in Arabic) is 65 kilometers long. It is the longest tributary that feeds into the Jordan River. Most of the river is located in Lebanon, so only the very end of the river that extends into Israel can be enjoyed. The water flow this time of year is extremely heavy, so if you’ve hiked here before during the dry, summer months, it’s worthwhile returning again now in the winter to experience the difference.
The Snir Stream in Israel is divided into two parts: the first and longer part is not accessible to hikers, whereas the second part is an official nature reserve that is open to visitors all year long. There are three paths in the reserve: the shortest one takes only 10 minutes and the longest takes two hours. It’s a wonderful place to hike in the winter, it’s intimate and romantic for couples and a wonderful hike to do with the whole family. Walking on the trail is very easy and does not require any special capabilities.
And if none of the above has convinced you to hike along Snir Stream, then you can also walk right inside the running water (I recommend wearing nonslip water shoes or waterproof rain boots if you don’t want your feet to get wet and cold). You can also just sit alongside the stream and dangle your feet inside the flowing water or hop from stone to stone in the riverbed. Bathing and swimming in the water is not allowed in the stream (even in the summer) but walking in the water is. There are a few man-made pools in the area that were built for hikers to cool off in during the summer months, but this time of year not many people actually go in.
I recommend taking the circular path that will lead you back up to the starting point. From the parking lot, follow the signs to the pools.
This will take about 10 minutes. This part of the path is relatively flat and you can even push baby carriages here comfortably. Hikers who have physical limitations can also manage this part of the path fairly well. When you reach the pools, you can decide then if you want to continue along the trail or go back to your car. Near the pools, there are a number of corners in the shade to sit and enjoy a picnic.
Continue along the trail that follows the stream. It’s best to keep your children in view since there are many slippery rocks. Climb down a few stairs to reach the water. And this is where the fun part starts! For a few minutes, you will have to walk in the water, or hop around the stones jutting out of the water.
You will see trail markers on the other side of the stream and you can continue walking along the trail instead if you prefer. After about 20 minutes, you will see stairs that lead back up the parking lot.
If you are interested in pursuing the longer, linear trail, just continue walking along the riverbed or in the water and follow the Israel Trail (Shvil Yisrael) markers. When you reach the end, you can either retrace your steps, or if you came with two cars, go find your second car that you left at the end of the trail.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.
Location: Golan Heights.
Type of hike: Circular, it is advisable to come with water shoes or rain boots.
Season: All year long.
Level of difficulty: Easy, appropriate for families with children.
Length: up to 2 hours (2 km).
Directions: Drive north towards Kiryat Shmona. Continue 5 km. north of Metzudot Intersection and then turn east toward Kibbutz Hagoshrim. From there, follow signs to Snir Stream.