Around and back

The magical circular path on Mount Meron reveals a vast and tangled forest.

forrest 370 (photo credit: hadar yahav)
forrest 370
(photo credit: hadar yahav)
Now that the hordes have left Meron, take advantage of the relatively mild weather and go for a hike in the area in the Upper Galilee, which is not overly crowded. Since there aren’t many circular paths in Israel, we are happy to suggest a magical one that you will find right at the foot of the mountain.
The path begins at the Moran Stream and winds through a natural forest and crosses many streams, including the Neria Stream. The path ends at the same spot, but you never have to retrace your steps.
Start at the field school near the Moran Stream and follow the green path markers. Within a few minutes of easy walking, you’ll find yourselves inside a vast and tangled forest in which you will feel completely disconnected from the world. You might even feel like you are in the middle of a European forest.
It doesn’t matter at all what the weather is like when you walk there, as the river channel is shady and cool even on hot days. The path continues over a small hill, and then winds among trees, bushes and shrubs.
After about 40 minutes of moderate walking, you’ll reach a high cliff, where the Neria Spring runs. The spring water comes from under the limestone of Mount Meron. There are two springs: The larger one is located on the path itself, and the other one, which is partly hidden and smaller, is just off to the right.
At this time of year there isn’t a tremendous amount of water, so the large pool is not particularly enticing.
But despite the stagnant, murky water, many hikers – especially children – stop for a quick dip. In any case, this is an excellent spot to take a short coffee break or have your picnic. There are plenty of shady areas where you can sit on the stones next to the fig trees and gaze out at the stunning views.
After your picnic, continue along the riverbed, which is dry at this time of year. The walk is easy, even with children. This path passes the pastures owned by Druse who live in the village of Hurfeish. The path twists and turns a bit and then goes back along the riverbed, where you can walk on the stones that line the river.
At this point, the path continues inside the river itself and gradually goes down to the spot where Moran Stream meets the Neria Stream. If you keep your eyes raised as you walk along the path, you will discover a potpourri of treasures – from a car that got stuck there, to wildlife and even fossils and unusual stones.
The next part of the hike rises away from the riverbed, leaving the narrow, shady path behind.
Follow the red path through the broad, open areas. At this point, you will be able to see the road through the nature park that was built illegally by local residents, which connects Beit Jann with Hurfeish. Druse residents who, through this road save 40 minutes of traveling from village to village, paved the road in the middle of the night, thus ignoring the Israel Nature and Parks Authority decision not to grant permission for the construction.
The trail continues along the Neria Stream. In contrast to the twisting and turning of the Moran path, this one is much easier and is slightly sloping. Here, too, you can enjoy the natural forest and the breath-taking foliage along the way. An open area at the foot of the trees is another perfect spot to take out your gas burner and prepare some coffee and a snack.
Since this is a relatively long hike and there aren’t too many attractions along the way, the numerous stops can make the hike much more enjoyable. The last leg of the hike is spent mostly climbing up toward the parking lot. It’s relatively steep, but also short. At the end, you rise out of the shaded path into a small road that leads back to the main road, about 500 meters from where you parked your car.
Location: Upper Galilee
Appropriate for: The entire family Length of hike: About 7 km., which takes about 4-5 hours Best season: All year round How to get there: Drive on Road 89. Follow signs to Mount Meron. Park your car in the lot next to the field school.
Translated by Hannah Hochner