You know you want to get outside right now.
The birds are chirping, flowers are blooming, and the spring air is beckoning. Right now, there may be nothing more appealing than the thought of heading out to one of Israel’s many beautiful hiking trails. And with the Pesach holiday coming up in less than two weeks, you just may have some time off to get out and enjoy nature.
Going on a hike is the perfect way to celebrate the holiday. Since the rest of the country will also be taking time off, it’s likely that most indoor attractions will be packed to the brim. Out in nature, you can step away from the crowds to stretch your limbs and breathe free.
Of course, some trails do get more crowded than others. To help you pick the best hikes for the holiday, I’ve compiled this list of my top 10 choices for Pesach. None of these trails are very long or difficult, which makes them great options for a family outing. And all of these hikes are particularly well suited to the springtime in Israel:
Would you believe it? There are quiet trails even in the Jerusalem area.
The Hurvat Kiyafeh trail is an easy, pretty hike near Beit Shemesh that leads to a First Temple City. The trail itself is wild: overgrown with greenery and wildflowers. We’ve even seen packs of wild gazelle wandering along this path. As you walk, you’ll enjoy experiencing rich nature so close to the city.
Once you reach the top of the hill, the Israel Trail leads you towards the ruins. Hurvat Kiyafeh is a remarkably well-preserved town from the time of King David (which some scholars identify as the Biblical city of Sha’arayim). Aside from the archaeology, there are also beautiful views.
One of the nice things about Hurvat Kiyafeh is that it’s not particularly well known. Chances are that you’ll get some quiet along this short trail.
This circular trail is 4.5 kilometers long. Read the full post with maps here.
Imagine walking past blossoming wildflowers down through a shady (dry) stream bed under a canopy of trees. This is Nahal Katlav, one of the most beautiful trails in the Jerusalem Mountain region.
Nahal Katlav is one of my favorites for families on Pesach. It’s shady, cool, and not too far from Jerusalem. During the springtime, fragrant wildflowers take the trail to another level.
The best way to hike this trail with families is to hike it one way, from the top to the bottom (leaving a second car at the end). Otherwise, you’ll have to climb back up the mountain at the end.
Don’t be daunted when you pull into the trailhead and find it packed with cars. Most visitors to this area stick to the easy trails at the very top.
The one way trail at Nahal Katlav is about 4.5 kilometers long. Read the full post with maps here.
Here’s another one-way hike that’s perfect for adventurous families: Nahal Dolev in the Jerusalem Mountain region. This trail leads through varying scenery, past vineyards, into a valley, and then through sprawling meadows. The wildflowers and rich greenery make this hike perfect for the spring season.
It can get warm along Nahal Dolev, so make sure to hike it on a cooler day.
The one way trail at Nahal Dolev is 5 kilometer long. Read the full post with maps here.
My last pick for the Jerusalem area in springtime is Nahal Halilim, a beautiful trail that heads right out of Mevasseret Tzion near Jerusalem.
The trail at Nahal Halilim (Flutes Valley) leads through a green valley towards a series of cool caves. Step inside the caves to enter a multi-chambered hideaway of shadowy darkness with a window to the outside world.
This hike is particularly well suited to families with kids. It’s short and easy, and there are lots of fun places to climb and explore along the trail.
The out and back trail at Nahal Halilim is about 4 kilometers total. Read the full post with maps here.
Haifa and Central Israel
Every seasoned hiker in Israel knows that the Carmel region is home to some of the country’s most beautiful hikes. The juxtaposition of green mountains and the blue Mediterranean Sea is breathtaking.
Nahal Sfunim is a Carmel Mountain trail that is at its best for just a few months in the springtime. The trail leads up through the shade towards a massive bat cave. Since bats hibernate in the winter, you can’t enter the cave until the month of April.
After exploring the bat cave, you’ll head across the mountain in the sunshine, taking in the gorgeous views. Since this part of the trail is exposed to the sun, it’s best to hike here on cooler spring days. In April, you’ll also get to enjoy the masses of spring wildflowers along the trail.
The loop trail at Nahal Sfunim is about 4 kilometers long. Read the full post with maps here.
Hof HaSharon Reserve
If you’ve never been to the Hof HaSharon National Park, you should visit in the next few weeks. This gorgeous coastal trail features dramatic sea-side cliffs combined with colorful flowers in the winter and spring.
The trail is easy to walk and oh-so beautiful. On warmer days, try hiking here towards evening when you can enjoy the magical beauty of sunset over the waves. The national park is open from sunrise to sunset.
The loop trail at Hof HaSharon is 3 kilometers long . Read the full post with maps here.
Ramat HaNadiv: Ein Tzur
Ramat HaNadiv is a large nature reserve in the Zichron Ya’akov area. The park features antiquities, wildflowers, forests, bike trails, hiking trails, and more.
One trail to the Tzur spring (Ein Tzur) takes hikers to the most well-preserved Roman aqueduct in Israel, still flowing with water in early spring. It’s a great place to dip your feet and cool off (and for little kids to splash around).
I can’t promise quiet at this popular reserve. But if you wander a bit along the area’s many trails, you should be able to find your own secret spot to relax in.
The circular trail at Ramat Hanadiv is about 6 kilometers long. There are many ways to shorten the trail. Read the full post with maps here.
Northern Israel has no shortage of incredible water hikes. On hot days during vacation, these places become magnets for outdoor enthusiasts, looking for a way to beat the heat.
Not so at Nahal Betzet, a gorgeous woodland to river hike in Northern Israel that tends to be on the quiet side. Just because it’s not well known doesn’t mean that it’s not absolutely incredible. The trail leads through a deep forest towards a flowing stream and waterfall pools. Bring along your bathing suit and get ready for a refreshing dip.
The out and back trail at Nahal Betzet is about 6 kilometers long. Read the full post with maps here.
Judea and Samaria
Har HaKochav is a circular mountaintop trail just outside of Kochav HaShahar, a town in the Binyamin area. Although this region gets hot and desert-like in the summertime, the terrain looks completely different during the month of April, after the rainy season.
The trail at Har HaKochav leads up towards a series of boulders and caves, then out to an incredible lookout. The views from the top are unbelievable, especially in late winter and early spring. Afterwards, the trail continues around the green mountain to a place where you may spot deep purple Coastal Irises (if you’re lucky!) These rare flowers are only found in certain parts of Israel.
The circular trail at Har HaKochav is 4 kilometers long. Read the full post with maps here.
No list of top 10 Pesach hikes would be complete without a mention of a desert oasis in Southern Israel, Nahal Arugot. Nahal Arugot is a lesser known water hike at the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve. In contrast to Nahal David (which is often packed with tourists), Nahal Arugot tends to be a little bit quieter, even during holiday times.
At the nature reserve, you can walk inside a canyon towards the Hidden Waterfall. Then, continue climbing along over rocks and through a flowing stream until you reach the upper pools. The turquoise water at these pools is so still and beautiful that I’ve dubbed this place the Fairy Pools.
Since Nahal Arugot is an out and back hike, it’s a good choice for all ages. Simply walk as far out as you can and then return the way you came. Another option is to walk back along the dry trail.
Don’t expect to have this trail to yourself. The quietest times of day at Nahal Arugot are early in the morning and late afternoon.
The full trail at Nahal Arugot is about 7 kilometers total (out and back), but you can walk as much or as little as you please. Click here to read the full post with maps. Since Nahal Arugot is a national park, make sure to reserve in advance online.
Now, Get Out There!
With this list, you should be well equipped to experience all of the spring beauty that Israel has to offer. From wildflowers to freshwater springs to bat caves to forests, this country is home to many natural wonders. There’s no better way to celebrate “Chag HaAviv” (the Holiday of Springtime) than by stepping out into Israel’s great outdoors.