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Escape into nature: 5 hikes for winter break in Israel

You don’t have to travel far to find invigorating woodland walks among Israel's well-marked hiking trails
Winter at Sataf. (courtesy)

Israel is a beautiful country.

Most tourists to Israel have explored the holy sites and seen the unique architecture. They’ve discovered the charm of quaint neighborhoods and religious communities.

But a lot of travelers are completely unaware of Israel’s incredible natural beauty.

You don’t have to travel far to find woodland walks here in Israel. Jerusalem, the country’s capital, sits in the midst of miles of forested mountains, all with well-marked hiking trails running through.

If you’re visiting Israel in the wintertime, you’re in luck. The country’s mild climate means that you’ll likely have some great hiking weather. And winter in Israel is flower season — the best time to scope out beautiful blossoms in the woods.

Here’s my guide to 5 hikes that are perfect for winter vacation in Israel.

Sunshine therapy, here we come:

Mount Eitan – The Best Hike in Jerusalem

If you’re looking for a nice long walk in a natural setting, head to Mount Eitan at Sataf. At Mount Eitan, there’s an 8 kilometer loop trail which takes hikers through a large pine forest past incredible mountain views.

The hike is long, but the ground is relatively flat. You can even take a stroller on this trail.

On the trail at Mount Eitan.

The loop around Har Eitan is my all -time favorite hike in Jerusalem. It’s easy to find, easy to follow, and a hit every time.

Read the full post for details.

Nahal Arugot

Have car, will travel? If you don’t mind driving an hour, there’s an entirely different climate awaiting at Ein Gedi.

Ein Gedi National Park is generally pretty warm year-round. If you’ve already visited the classic waterfall walk at Nahal David, try something different and even more beautiful: Nahal Arugot.

Fairy pools at Nahal Arugot

Nahal Arugot is a less traveled Ein Gedi trail. Hike this path and get a dose of sunshine at a desert oasis.  At Nahal Arugot, you’ll see crystal waterfalls, beautiful blossoms, and probably some ibex. Go out as far as you like, then return on the red trail above the water.

Read the full hike post here.

Cheater’s Hike to Cafe Derech HaGefen

One of the best things about Jerusalem is the large choice of kosher restaurants and cafes. If you’re pining away for an Israeli breakfast, take this Cheater’s Hike to Café Derech HaGefen.

The path leads from the quaint neighborhood of Ein Karem through the Jerusalem countryside. When you walk past fields, forests, and vineyards, you’ll find it hard to believe that you’re right outside of Jerusalem.

Best brunch in town – Cafe Derech HaGefen.

At the end of the trail, enjoy a lavish spread at Café Derech HaGefen in Beit Zayit. It’s one of the most delicious and beautiful cafes in the city. When you’re finished, take a taxi or hike back the way you came.

Read the full hike post here.

Sorek Estuary at Palmahim

For a little taste of summer in the middle of winter, you’ll want to check out the Sorek Estuary at Palmahim.

This riverside hike near Tel Aviv leads from a eucalyptus forest to reedy beachside scenery. There are lots of birds and colorful flowers on the trail. At the end of your walk, you’ll reach a beautiful, quiet beach with rocky crags on either side.

A world of shells at the Sorek Estuary

Make sure to explore off to the sides – you’ll discover an amazing assortment of seashells. Highly recommended for families.

Read the full hike post here.

The Scenic Trail at Nahal Katlav

In the hills of Nes Harim near Beit Shemesh, you’ll find tons of great hiking trails. Our family favorite is the Scenic Trail at Nahal Katlav.

This short but sweet trail travels through a mountainous woodland. You’ll see lots of greenery and gorgeous views.

Lots of green on Nahal Katlav Scenic Trail.

The trail isn’t too long or hard, so it’s a great choice for families. Make sure to pack a picnic and stop at one of the cute little log benches along the path.

If you’ve worked up a sweat by the end of the trail, there are all-natural popsicles for sale up top (my personal favorite).

Read the full hike post here.

Blink and You’ll Miss It

So, if you’re spending winter vacation in Israel, use the opportunity to indulge in a bit of nature therapy. You may not have a chance to experience the beauty of the great outdoors again for a while.

On the Trail – Tzora Forest Near Jerusalem
On the trail – Tzora Forest near Jerusalem.

Browse Hiking the Holyland for more great wintertime escapes.

For more great hikes all around the country, check out our hike map.

Don’t forget to read my guide to the navigational features in each post before you hit the trail.

January – Flower season in Israel begins.
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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