Right out of a fairy tale

Take advantage of the beautiful fall weather and the relative quiet of nature reserves to discover the magical world of the Sarach and Betzet Rivers.

Kibbutz Eilon 521 (photo credit: Wikimedia commons)
Kibbutz Eilon 521
(photo credit: Wikimedia commons)
We decided to take a trip out of the city to breathe some fresh air. Since the weather was perfect and the nature sites were no longer overcrowded, we decided to visit the hidden world of the forest, where we could have sworn we saw fairies flitting around. There were cool streams and pools of water, inquisitive animals, lush vegetation and even a stalactite cave that was cool and dark.
If this sounds like a scene straight out of a fairy tale, when you reach the beginning of the path at the Sarach and Betzet Rivers you will see for yourself that I’m not exaggerating at all. Although it is more convenient to hike on circular paths so that you don’t need to park a second car at the end of the hike, in this case I warmly suggest that you make the extra effort so you can enjoy the hike from beginning to end. Those of you who can only come with one car should park in the Sarach parking area, and hike down to the river and then follow the same path back up.
The description below refers to the entire linear hike that starts at the Sarach parking area and ends at Kibbutz Eilon. Before you begin the hike, leave one of your cars at the end of the path and then join your group at the beginning of the blue path. If you are interested in learning about the history of the area and archeology, there’s a sign in the parking area directing you to the Danila ruins of a farm from the Byzantine period. This is a short circular path that brings you back to the parking area.
The descent that leads down to the Sarach River is surrounded by dense vegetation native to Israel. Follow the trail as it continues down and crosses over the river to its left bank. Walk alongside the length of the river on the delightful, easy path. After a little more than a kilometer, you will reach the first rest stop, which is at the entrance to the Sarach Cave. It’s easy to miss the entrance to the stalactite cave if you are busy interacting with children, so pay close attention: it’s above eye level and there is a large sign at the entrance. Don’t forget to bring a flashlight (it’s dark, and it’s absolutely forbidden to enter with lit candles or to light a fire once inside).
In the cave, you will notice white reflectors directing you deeper into the cave, and orange reflectors showing you the way out.
There are a number of routes within the cave.
The shortest one only takes a few minutes and even people who are fearful of closed places can enjoy it. The longer route takes about 30 minutes to traverse and requires crawling through the cave’s upper opening.
After you finish touring the stalactite cave, continue along the same path until you reach the next stop: Betzet River. At the river, the path branches out in two different directions; take the path that goes to the left towards the source of the Karkara Springs. It’s definitely worth your while to stop at the Karkara Springs. You can kick off your shoes and spend some time in the flowing water. You’ll know you’ve reached the springs when you see the native-to-Israel Pistacia tree standing next to it. A little bit farther down the path are two more shallow but large pools, and one more small one after that.
When you’ve had your fill of hanging out in the water, continue on the blue trail alongside the river. The oleander bushes and sycamore trees offer plenty of shade and you can hear the water flowing into the small pools. Soon you will come to an area that is full of eucalyptus trees and then Kibbutz Eilon’s water reservoir.
At this point, you will be close to the end of the trail. Enter the kibbutz and locate the second car that you left ahead of time in the parking area.
Location: The Western Galilee.
Type of hike: For the linear trail, you must have a second car. Water shoes and flashlights are also a must.
Level of difficulty: Easy to moderate.
Length: Four hours.
Directions: The trail begins at the Sarach parking area. Turn onto road 899 and follow signs that will direct you northward onto a dirt road at the end of which there is a parking area and signs for the blue path.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.