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8 accessible nature walks everyone will love

When a hike is more challenge than you want to undertake, don't worry: you can experience the magic of the great outdoors on Israel's flatter, shorter trails
(courtesy)
(courtesy)

Nature is one of those things that appeals to all humans, young and old alike. There’s a magic in the great outdoors which can make anyone’s heart fly. And Israel has its fair share of beautiful places.

For some, part of the joy of experiencing these nature spots is the physical challenge that comes along with the journey. But others are looking for a more accessible way to get outdoors. So, is there a way to enjoy Israel’s beauty when your physical activity is limited?

Absolutely.

All around the country, there are accessible walks where you can enjoy nature without too much strain. These hiking trails were designed to include flat pathways and shorter distances, in an effort to make Israel’s great outdoors accessible to all.

We’ve walked many of these trails with our kids. The following eight hikes have my personal stamp of approval. Some of them (Sorek Lookout Path, for example) have even become family favorites for low-key excursions into nature.

Let’s get to the trails:

Tel Dan Nature Reserve

Located in the northernmost part of Israel, Tel Dan Nature Reserve has got something for everyone. This park is the site of an ancient biblical city which visitors can explore. Not only that, but the beautiful Dan stream (one of the major tributaries into the Jordan River) runs through the park. This freshwater stream creates a shady, green space that is perfect for cooling off on a hot summer day.

Cooling off at Tel Dan

The accessible trail at Tel Dan Nature Reserve isn’t long, but it does travel right along the stream through thick greenery. The hike leads past two ancient gates towards a wading pool. Picnic benches are conveniently located along the path. A newer part of the accessible trail heads up to a wooden terrace and a pretty lookout over the Dan Stream.

Tel Dan is a National Park. Check the Parks website for closures and reservation info.

Read the full post with maps and info right here.

Gamla Vulture Lookout Trail

The ancient city of Gamla, sitting on top of a hill in the Galilee, dates from the time of Joshua. Its name came from the unusual terrain of the city, which juts out from the surrounding area like the hump of a camel.

Gamla National Park is well-known for its tall waterfall and green, rolling hills which are especially beautiful in the springtime. The accessible trail at Gamla is called the Vulture Lookout Trail. The 600 meter circular hike packs a punch — there’s a lot to see and do on this short walk.

Beautiful views at Gamla.

The hike begins with a lookout to the surrounding hills and ancient Gamla. The view is breathtaking. From here, the trail proceeds to the vulture lookout, where you can read about Griffon Vultures that live in the area. Bring binoculars to get a closer look at the vultures flying in the distance! After the lookout, the trail continues towards the remains of a village and a Byzantine era church before returning to the picnic area and parking lot.

Gamla is a National Park. Check the Parks website for closures and reservation info.

Read the full post with maps and info right here.

Nahal Snir Accessible Trail

People go to Nahal Snir for one reason: to get wet. This stream in the Golan Heights is a favorite with families in the summertime. People love to walk through the water, climbing over thick tree roots and rocky outcroppings under a canopy of shade.

Get your feet wet at Nahal Snir.

But you can enjoy this stream from a paved pathway too. The accessible hike at Nahal Snir leads along a shady pathway through the trees, right above the river. After a short walk, the trail reaches a large wading pool, complete with a miniature waterfall at one end. This pool is quite an attraction – I’ve seen groups of teenagers splashing wildly in its cool waters.

After the wading pool, the trail heads back past wildflowers and pretty scenery towards the picnic area.

Nahal Snir is a National Park. Check the Parks website for closures and reservation info.

Read the full post with maps and info right here.

Nahal HaShofet

Near Kibbutz Ramot Menashe (not too far from the Carmel Mountains), a beautiful stream called Nahal HaShofet flows through a forest. Everyone will love the easygoing pace of the Nahal HaShofet Accessible Path.

Nahal HaShofet in the wintertime.

We hiked this trail in the wintertime, but many people enjoy visiting in the summertime, when they can cool off in the fresh water of the stream. The trail meanders through a shady forest, along a gushing stream complete with miniature waterfalls and fish. There are several wooden benches located along the path. Take a seat and stop to enjoy the scenery of this quiet woodland.

Read the full post with maps and info right here.

Apollonia: Seaside Beauty

Life’s better at the beach. At Apollonia National Park, you can experience seaside beauty and ancient history along one beautiful trail.

Cliffside.

The accessible trail at Apollonia leads past cliffside views over the blue Mediterranean Sea. Along the trail, hikers pass the remains of an ancient city before walking to an old Crusader fortress. The fortress and its arched windows make a picture-perfect place to take in the seaside scenery. After the fortress, the trail loops back past archeological dig-sites towards the picnic area.

Apollonia is a National Park. Check the Parks website for closures and reservation info.

Read the full post with maps and info right here.

Sorek Lookout Path

Our favorite local hangouts are the Nahal Katlav and Nahal Sorek Nature Reserves. These reserves boast a vast network of trails that take hikers through some of the most stunning scenery in the Jerusalem Mountains.

But oftentimes, we’re not up for a long and challenging adventure. That’s when we head to the Sorek Lookout Path, a short accessible trail that’s perfect for an evening stroll.

Family fun at the Sorek Lookout Trail.

The hike begins at Café Bar Bahar, then winds along past lookouts, wooden benches, and a few playgrounds with bonfire pits. At the end of the trail, there’s a wooden platform and viewpoint with signs that explain the surrounding area.

The Sorek Lookout Path is one of my favorite accessible trails in the country.

Read the full post with maps and info right here.

Ein Hemed National Park

Hemed means “charm” in English. And Ein Hemed National Park is just that: a charming place.

This easy path near Jerusalem is perfect for a late-spring walk in nature, when blossoming flowers and green grass sprout in abundance next to the stream which flows through the park. At the end of the trail, several picnic benches wait in the grass near the stream. These shady spots are a great place to enjoy a mid-hike snack.

Charming.

My kids also really enjoyed learning about the history of Ein Hemed. The farmhouse at Ein Hemed National Park was a used as a waystation for pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem in the 11th and 12th century.

The Ein Hemed trail is not officially accessible – there are a few sets of steps to reach the pathway along the stream. That said, it is a very easy, flat trail that’s suitable for families with strollers and other people with limited mobility.

Ein Hemed is a National Park. Check the Parks website for closures and reservation info.

Read the full post with maps and info right here.

Haruvit Forest Accessible Trail

Want to experience red flower season on the trail? Try the accessible path at Haruvit Forest, a wonderful walk through nature and a must-do for early February in Israel.

At this time of year, red anemones bloom in abundance along the trail, which is technically located in Southern Israel. I say technically because Haruvit Forest is actually only a short drive from Bet Shemesh. It’s in the northernmost part of Southern Israel.

Paint the town red.

Wooden benches and flat pathways make this trail a great place for an easy stroll through nature at any time of year. But it’s at its best during red flower season when the ground is covered in a carpet of red.

Read the full post with maps and info right here.

Nature Fun for Everyone

Thanks to the efforts of the Parks Authority and KKL, there are lots of places in Israel where you can enjoy nature without too much effort. Get started on your adventure into Israel’s great outdoors with these eight amazing hiking trails.

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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