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14 family friendly trails for summer in Israel

The midsummer Mediterranean sun can be brutal, so look for hikes with water, shade, or - ideally - both!
(Susannah Schild)
(Susannah Schild)

It’s almost summertime. I don’t know about you, but once mid-June rolls around, I start dreaming of water hikes and sunset trails by the beach. That’s what summer in Israel means to me.

With the kids off of school, there will be plenty of time to embark on all sorts of family adventures in the great outdoors. But Israel isn’t known for mild summer temperatures. The Mediterranean sun can be brutal on a midsummer afternoon. So how do you choose hiking trails that are well-suited to the summer season in Israel?

To help you get the most out of this season with your family, I’ve put together a list of 14 hikes that are perfect for long, hot days. All of these trails include water, shade, or a combination of both. And these hikes are suitable for people of all ages and skill levels, making them the an excellent choice for families with kids.

Get ready to experience the best of Israel’s great outdoors with your kids this summer. Let’s get to the trails:

North Israel

Banias Springs Trail

Almost everyone knows about the famous Banias Falls. This powerful waterfall is one of the most popular tourist sites in the country. But most people don’t know that there’s a trail that leads past the waterfall and along Hermon Stream towards Banias Springs.

This hiking trail has a little bit of everything. After crossing through the mist of the waterfall, the path continues along a bubbling river under a canopy of shade. There are antiquities on the path, like an old flour mill and an ancient temple. Somehow, the air feels 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the country at this trail along the Hermon Stream.

Just walking along the Hermon Stream

Added bonus: your child can pick up a Junior Ranger activity booklet and pin at the start of the trail.

The Banias Springs Trail is a 4 kilometer hike (one way). Make sure to reserve your spot on the Parks website before you go. Read the full post with maps here.

Lower Hermon Stream

Did you know that the beautiful Hermon Stream of the Banias can also be accessed outside of the National Park? I call this hike “The Other Banias.” In reality, it’s just a refreshing walk through the very same river that flows in the Banias Nature Reserve.

Since this trail is not as well-known, it never gets particularly crowded. But you will see other families there, some well equipped with floaties for a day of tubing along a lazy river.

Floating on a lazy river.

This wet trail is about 2 kilometers long. Read the full post with maps here.

Yehiam Fortress National Park

There are ways to escape from the heat without the help of the Hermon Stream. At Yehiam Fortress National Park in the Galilee, you can take walk through the cool shade of a Crusader Fortress.

Your entire family will love climbing steep steps through ancient passageways. From the top of Yehiam Fortress, you can take in spectacular views out to the rolling green hills of the Galilee.

Beauty at Yehiam.

Make sure to check out the film at the beginning and pick up a Junior Ranger booklet for your kids.

A walk through the park is less than a kilometer. Yehiam Fortress is a National Park and requires reservations on the National Parks website. Read the full post with maps here.

Betzet Stream

We’ve got water hikes. We’ve got shady hikes. But what about a hike that combines both of these essential summertime features?

At Nahal Betzet (Betzet Stream) in the Galilee, take a walk through a quiet forest towards a clean, flowing stream. My kids loved every part of this hike, from collecting colorful feathers and pinecones in the woods to swimming in a waterfall pool at the end of the trail.

Exploring.

Scenery this gorgeous is hard to come by. Your family will love it.

The one way trail is at Nahal Betzet is 3 kilometers long. Read the full post with maps here.

Amud Stream Riverside Loop

Before we leave Northern Israel, let’s head to one last trail: the Nahal Amud Riverside Loop Trail. This shady pathway leads along a beautiful freshwater stream, complete with miniature waterfalls and cool pools.

As with many hikes in Israel, there’s a bit of history along the trail. At Nahal Amud (Amud Stream), old stone benches, little buildings, and a flour mill from the British Mandate period complete the picturesque scenery.

Life is better in a waterfall.

Nahal Amud is a National Park. Make sure to reserve your spot on the National Parks website before you go.

The circular trail is 5 kilometers long. Read the full post with maps here.

Haifa Area

Little Switzerland Loop Trail

Northern Israel may be the most attractive part of the country for summertime hiking. But closer to Central Israel near Haifa, the Carmel mountains provide plenty of shady terrain for warm-weather adventures.

The Little Switzerland Loop Trail is known for its gorgeous views and thick greenery. My kids love climbing up and down the rocks on this short, moderate trail. The best part? You can stay out of the sun and under a canopy of shade the entire time.

A shady adventure.

The Little Switzerland Loop Trail is 1.5 kilometers long. Combine this trail with a trip to Hai Bar Carmel nearby.

Read the full post with maps here.

Aviel Spring Trail

South of Haifa near Zichron Ya’akov, there’s a stream called Nahal Teninim which spills out into the Mediterranean Sea. Just last summer, we discovered a nice little hike along part of the stream that leads to a waterfall spring.

The Ein Aviel (Aviel Spring) hike is a welcome escape from the heat on a summer day. Bring your water shoes and a swimsuit and get ready to walk through a river towards the refreshing spray of a little waterfall.

Summer fun.

The Ein Aviel hike is 1 kilometer long. Read the full post with maps here.

Dor HaBonim Beach Trail

Before you leave the Haifa area, take one last stop to catch the most beautiful sunset in all of Israel at the Dor HaBonim Beach Trail. This incredible hike leads along craggy cliffs that jut out into the Mediterranean. Take a walk here late in the day so you can enjoy the cooler temperatures of early evening.

Bring along a picnic dinner and find a spot on a flat rock next to the crashing waves. Then get ready for one of the most beautiful sunsets you’ll ever see.

Simply spectacular.

The Dor HabBonim trail is 3.5 kilometers long each way. Read the full post with maps here.

Central Israel and Jerusalem

Gazelle Valley

If you’ve got little ones in your family, they probably love animals. I know my kids do. That’s why they love Gazelle Valley, a pretty little nature reserve in the heart of the holy city of Jerusalem.

If you visit Gazelle Valley early in the day, you’ll catch wild gazelle, waterfowl, and birds searching for breakfast in their natural habitat. Bring along a pair of binoculars and get ready to go on a search for different types of animals that live in the Jerusalem Mountains.

Early riser.

The circular trail through the reserve is 2 kilometers long. Read the full post with maps here.

Wet Fun at Sataf

All good Israelis know that the best way to cool off in the summertime is by visiting a local spring. At Sataf in the Jerusalem Mountains, you can take a walk through a beautiful woodland and dip your feet in a cool, freshwater spring that pours out of a cave.

There’s a lot to see on this 3 kilometer hike. Ancient agricultural terraces and olive groves add depth and beauty to an already incredible trail.

Welcome to Sataf.

This circular trail at Sataf is 3.5 kilometers long. Read the full hike post with maps here.

Midras Ruins Trail

One great way to beat the heat in the summertime is to escape into a cave. At the Midras Ruins Trail in Park Adulam (near Beit Shemesh), your kids can explore underground tunnels from the Second Temple Period.

Bring your headlamps and hiking boots and get ready for a little adventure through history. At Midras Ruins, you’ll see ancient burial caves, an old columbarium, and more.

Heading underground.

The Midras Ruins Trail is 3 kilometers long. Read the full post with maps here.

Appolonia National Park

Everyone knows that the best place to be in the summertime is at the beach. At Appolonia National Park, you can take a walk through an ancient Crusader fortress that sits atop a gorgeous stretch of coastline.

My kids loved seeing piles of ancient cannonballs and climbing in and out of the open passageways at Appolonia. We all enjoyed eating our picnic breakfast with a sea view. After our hike, we finished off the morning with a trip to the beach.

Fun in a fortress.

The Appolonia National Park trail is less than 1 kilometer long. This is a National Park, so you need to reserve your spot on the Parks website before you arrive. Read the full post with maps here.

The South

Bokek Stream

In general, Southern Israel is just way too hot for summertime hiking…unless you’re hiking along a cool stream towards a waterfall!

At Nahal Bokek near the Dead Sea, your family will enjoy splashing through a stream that’s inside of a desert canyon. After climbing over rocks and boulders, you’ll reach a cool waterfall that spills into a crystal pool.

Cooling down in Southern Israel.

The hike at Nahal Bokek is 2 kilometers long. Read the full post with maps here.

Arugot Stream

Everyone loves Ein Gedi. But most visitors to Israel stick to the main attraction at the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, the Nahal David Trail.

Right nearby, the trail at Nahal Arugot (Arugot Stream) is just as beautiful, and usually a lot less crowded. At Nahal Arugot, the entire family will enjoy hiking through a refreshing stream and feeling the spray of cool waterfalls. The scenery along the trail is otherwordly.

This is one desert oasis that’s perfect for a summer adventure. You may even get to see some ibex and rock badgers on your journey.

The trail at Nahal Arugot is 6 kilometers long. Make sure to register on the National Parks website before you go. Read the full post with maps here.

Nothing Beats Summer in Israel

This summer, take advantage of Israel’s warm weather and constant sunshine to enjoy a hand picked outdoor adventure. These 14 trails are a perfect way to see the incredible beauty of Israel’s great outdoors with your family. This season, your kids will experience summer as they never have before.

Hold summer in the palm of your hand.

Check out our Kids and Family section for more great hiking trails!

Want to experience the best of every season with your kids in Israel? Get our eBook, Hiking Israel with Kids.

Click here to visit the Parks Authority reservation center.

About the Author
Susannah Schild writes about hikes in Israel from her home right outside of Jerusalem. You can find more of her writing at hikingintheholyland.com
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