Susannah Schild
Creator of Hiking the Holyland

Guide to Israel’s Outdoors: Summer 2024

Summer – what a wonderful time of year! As a kid, I remember looking forward to summertime pretty much all year long.  Summer meant freedom, early morning swim practice in an Olympic Pool, and as much ice cream as I could possibly eat (cancelling out any health benefits of those early morning swims).

These days, I live vicariously through my own children when I approach the summer.  My kids are absolutely thrilled to have time off from school.  They’re also looking forward to spending as much time in the water as humanly possible, just like I used to.  As their mother and personal schedule planner/chauffeur, I feel that it’s up to me to help them get the most out of summer vacation.  And I’m happy to do it. That way, I get to experience those summer-vibes even as a forty something who has been out of school for decades.

This year, when trying to compile a list of top kid-friendly outdoor trails for summer time, I was kind of stumped.  Something about this year just doesn’t feel the same as usual (the war? The hostages? The soldiers?)

Still, our kids are only young once – they deserve to have a little bit of carefree summer fun, enjoying this beautiful land we are lucky enough to call home.  So, with some further thought, I was able to put together a list of outdoor summer nature excursions in Israel that I personally would love to schedule into my own summer itinerary, even with everything going on.  Let me share them with you now…

Go on a Sunset Hike

One of the best parts of summer is loosening the reins of our daily schedule.  No early morning catching of the school bus required!  Late mornings goes together with the possibility of later bedtimes.  And that’s where sunset hikes come in.

There’s nothing quite like the beautiful sunsets in Israel.  Some of my favorite family outings have been to local trails that feel absolutely magical at sunset.  I’m not sure which part is better: eating a picnic dinner while watching the setting sun OR walking back to our car by the light of the full moon, to the music of chirping crickets.

A magical sunset at Masarek Park.

There are so many possibilities for great sunset hikes in Israel.  I love the Masarek Trail near Beit Meir, a short, shady trail that brings hikers to one of the most picture-perfect sunset spots in the region.

Another one of my personal favorites is the hike to Beit Itab.  This short, easy trail is beautiful to hike at dusk.  We like watching the sunset on top of the Crusader Fortress while we eat soup from a thermos and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner.

We’ve done a sunset dinner at Mount Tnufa near Jerusalem too, and it was absolutely spectacular.  Since you can reach this place by car, it makes a good spot for a more elaborate dinner along with an evening bonfire.

Mount Tnufa at Sunset.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

Another great choice for summertime is an early morning hike.  Pack a bag the night before, and get your kids into the car just after they roll out of bed.  Then, you can witness the early morning wildlife, while hiking at a cooler time of day.

In the Jerusalem area, one of the best spots for an early morning hike is Gazelle Valley. Get there early and you’ll see plenty of gazelle grazing in the long grasses.  The birds are out in full force at sunrise as well.

Early morning grazing at Gazelle Valley.

One Friday morning, I’d like to spend some time walking around this nature reserve at dawn with the kids, then follow that up with a lazy breakfast at Caffit in the Botanical Gardens nearby. Next, maybe we’ll stop in at the garden center.  And if we still have energy, we can head off to the Kotel.

Who knows? Maybe, after that, we’ll be ambitious enough to continue to the afternoon food trucks/ Kabbalat Shabbat that takes place at the City of David Agricultural Center near the Old City every Friday between 1-3 PM.

Cool Down in a Wet Cave

Springs inside caves are generally not quite as attractive as springs out in the sunshine.  But on a boiling hot summer day, there is simply nothing better than immersing yourself in cold, fresh water in the cool darkness of a cave.

One of my favorite places to escape from the summer heat in Jerusalem is at Ein Hindak, a water cave near Hadassah Ein Karem.  It’s completely dark inside, so if you visit, make sure to bring flashlights (preferably headlamps) and be prepared to be brave.

Keeping cool at Ein Hindak.

I also love Ein Sapir, another spring near Jerusalem.  At Ein Sapir, you get to enjoy turquoise blue waters inside a beautiful, white-walled cave.  This is a popular spring, so go on a weekday to avoid the crowds.

Hit up a Classic, Shady Hike

Even in the hot summertime, there are some classic hikes which are pleasant.  Think downhill and in the shade.

I would definitely choose a one-way hike at Nahal Katlav for a summer day.  The first ten minutes or so would be out in the sun, but after that, you get to enjoy the cool darkness of a shady stream-bed.  Have a picnic mid-way through the trail, in the shadiest, darkest part.  Then cross the Sorek River where your second car will be waiting.

Shady beauty at Nahal Katlav.

And don’t forget to stop for an all-natural popsicle at the café at the trailhead before you leave!

Another great, shady hike is Nahal HaMeara (the one-way version).  This hike is a bit more challenging, so it’s for more adventurous families.  Most of it is shaded.  At the end of the trail, your kids will love sliding down the (probably boiling hot) rock slide for kicks.  And the last part of the hike will take you into the cool darkness of a creepy bat cave.

Go Camping

For some, camping is just not a summertime activity (What? No air conditioning?!)  But in my opinion, it can be! You just have to choose a relatively temperate day and pick your campsite right.

One of the best places to camp out in Israel in the summertime is at Ashkelon National Park.  There, tents are pitched on a grassy area right above the water.  On most days, a nice, cool sea breeze blows in.

Camping at Ashkelon in the summertime.

The Ashkelon Campsite is well maintained and has great facilities (including refrigerators).  When we camp out at Ashkelon, we like to spend the next day riding our SUP and fishing (BYO equipment).  Summer bliss achieved.

Another great place to camp is in the Carmel mountains (on cooler days).  There are several no frills campsites around the nature reserve.  Daytime activities for those camping in the Carmel include hiking (Little SwitzerlandEin Aviel), or touring the many incredible museums in Zichron Ya’akov.  And in the evening, you’ll want to hit up the Dor Habonim beach trail at sunset to witness one of the most beautiful summer sights in Israel.

Go on a Water Hike

It wouldn’t be summer without water hikes.  And just because the Golan will be somewhat inaccessible this summer doesn’t mean we can’t have waterfall fun.

On the trail at Nahal Prat.

In my opinion, the trail at Ein Prat never gets old.  This beautiful water oasis in the Judean desert is nothing short of spectacular on a hot summer day (or any time of year, for that matter). Inevitably, we make a trip to Nahal Prat every single summer.  And my kids never stop asking to go back.

Summer Fun is Within Reach

So, there you have it: some of my thoughts for summer fun in Israel.  Even when things are tough, we’ve got to try to keep on living regular life as best as we can.  Among other things, that includes building amazing childhood memories of outdoor summertime fun in our beautiful Land of Israel.

Embrace summer.
About the Author
Susannah Schild is the creator of Hiking the Holyland, Israel's premier English language hiking website and author of From Southerner to Settler: Unexpected Lessons from the Land of Israel. You can find out more, see the book, and join group hikes at
Related Topics
Related Posts