Heading North

Nahal Shofet – located near the center of the country – is a river that flows all year long and offers a variety of short and long trails.

River (photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
(photo credit: MEITAL SHARABI)
The incredible weather we’ve been having recently has made me feel like spending the day outdoors in nature. After all, what more does one need to make the weekend special than close friends, beautiful open views of green fields, and flowing water? And since the South is currently full of hikers in search of anemones and other attractions, I set out for the North, to the Ramot Menashe area and one of its most beautiful rivers: Nahal Shofet.
One of the most amazing aspects of Nahal Shofet is that it is a perennial river. Although it didn’t rain much this winter, the river is still gushing with water, since a number of springs feed into it. The flowing water, beautiful flowers blossoming on the river banks, and easy access have turned Nahal Shofet into one of the most popular outing sites for families and couples in search of nature near the country’s Center.
Nahal Shofet begins near Kibbutz Ein Hashofet, then joins with the Kishon River southeast of Kibbutz Hazorea. At present, there is an abundance of beautiful flowers near the river, such as cyclamen, crown anemone and king’s spear. Flower enthusiasts will surely find other seasonal flowers there, too.
The path I took begins in the Haruvim parking area, which is located inside Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund’s Ramot Menashe Park. A number of different short trails begin from this location (between 30 minutes and four hours). I picked a circular trail that is accessible to handicapped hikers (part of the trail is even paved).
Follow the red-marked trail leading toward the river. The path is easily traversable with baby strollers. You’ll notice that most of the trail is shaded, so you can stop for a picnic or coffee break anytime you desire. After walking for just a few minutes, you will reach the river, where the water flow is not very strong. The further down the path you go, the heavier the flow becomes. If you can convince your children to restrain themselves from jumping in the water here, they will soon be able to enjoy the cool and enticing water at Ein Ami, a spring that flows into the river.
Continue along the wide trail, well shaded from the sun by the gigantic eucalyptus trees, which keep temperatures cool in the summer and protect hikers from the wind in the winter.
The first small, shallow pool is a great place to stop and get your feet wet or just sit and rest next to the cute little waterfall. When you’re ready, continue along the path, which curves alongside the river. Along the way, you’ll pass a water mill.
The next section of the trail is almost completely covered in tangled tree branches. Soon, within the thicket of trees, you will see a low-roofed cave, inside which you’ll find small stalactites. From there, continue along the path until you reach a gorgeous forest and the remains of an old grist mill, whose chimney is still intact. Next to the mill is a memorial plaque for Joshua Marx from Kibbutz Hazorea, who was killed in the War of Independence.
There is also a wooden bridge that crosses over the river and leads to another cave, which is large and roomy. Many visitors picnic in the opening here, since the sound of the trickling water in the background is quite soothing.
This is the end of the path, and you can continue from here to your car if you like, although I recommend spending a few more minutes and going to see Ein Ami, which is not far from the path. The beautiful spring bubbles up through an arched aqueduct that leads to two small pools that were hewn into the stone in the second century and served as water reservoirs. The first pool is shallow and dirty, but the second, larger one is deep and inviting and is often filled with happy swimmers. It’s worth the short trek to these pools even if you don’t intend to take a dip in the water.
When you’ve had your fill, follow the signs back to the Haruvim parking area, where you will find your car.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.
Ein Hashofet, the Carmel
Level of difficulty: Easy, circular and appropriate for families with children
Length: Up to half a day
Season: All year long
Directions: Drive along Highway 2 and then turn east onto Route 70 at the Zichron Ya’acov interchange. Turn south on Route 66 at Hatishbi intersection and then right onto Route 6953 into the Ramot Menashe Park. Follow signs for Nahal Shofet and park your car in the Haruvim parking area.