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Top 10 hikes for Hanukkah in Israel – 2019

Your guide to wonderful winter walks that will take you and your family out into nature during the holiday
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10 Hikes for Hanukkah in Israel

When people think of Hanukkah, thoughts of snuggling up indoors by candlelight come to mind.  There are many relaxing holiday activities to look forward to – eating doughnuts and latkes, getting Hanukkah gelt and presents.

Sounds wonderful. But with eight days of light you need eight days of activities for your family. And wouldn’t it be great if you could spend some of that time experiencing the wonders of nature?

Luckily for us, Hanukkah in Israel is usually a beautiful time of year for hiking.  Yes, there may be rain.  But chances are there will be a few days of sunshine.  And in the month of December in Israel, the days are usually cool and lovely – the perfect weather for exploring the great outdoors.

Olives at Sataf in time for Hanukkah

Here’s a list of my top hiking picks for the Hanukkah season here in Israel:

Northern Israel

Agamon HaHula

Our family used to have an annual tradition of heading up North over Hanukkah.  For five years straight we got to experience the incredible bird migration at Agamon HaHula over the holiday.  We’d sleep in a zimmer nearby, then arrive at Hula in the early morning hours, when the birds were out in full force.

It’s all about the birds.

If you’ve never experienced this natural wonder, make it a priority this Hanukkah.  Get to Agamon HaHula very early (call to see when they open) or as the sun sets for maximum exposure to migrating birds.  If you’d rather bike than hike (or rent a golf cart), you can do that too.

Click here to read the full hike post.

Nahal Rosh Pina

If you’re already up North, Nahal Rosh Pina is a great family hike for the winter season.  This hike isn’t super shady, and the views out to the Kinneret are absolutely spectacular.

Click here to read the full hike post.

Autumn at Nahal Rosh Pina

If you hike Nahal Rosh Pina after a good rain, you’re likely to see plenty of water in the riverbed.

Click here to read the full hike post.

Central Israel

Sorek Estuary at Palmahim

The great thing about hiking in Central Israel over Hanukkah is that the temperatures there are just about as pleasant as they’ll ever be.  The Sorek Estuary is no exception.

This awesome family hike heads through a beautiful Nature Reserve towards a quiet beach.  Explore the rocky cliffs on both sides to gather an incredible collection of seashells.  This hike is a family favorite.

Click here to read the full hike post.

Nahal Alexander

Similar to the Sorek Estuary, Nahal Alexander leads along a river, through the woods, and towards a beautiful beach.  But at Nahal Alexander you’ll find one thing you won’t see anywhere else in the country – soft shelled turtles at the beginning of the trail.

On the trail – Nahal Alexander

This hike is a bit longer than typical kid hikes, so you may want to park a second car at the Beit Yannai beach parking and turn it into a one-way trail.

Click here to read the full hike post.

Jerusalem Area

Borot and Be’erot

For anyone with kids in the Jerusalem area (or Beit Shemesh – even closer), Borot and Be’erot is an easily accessible family friendly hike with all kinds of fun.  There are cool caves along the trail, fun wells, views, and a beautiful forest.

Surprises at Borot and Be’erot

Your kids will love dropping rocks into the wells on the path to check the depth. Easy and kid friendly.

Click here to read the full hike post.

Kedoshim Forest One Way

Last Hanukkah, I took my kids to the Carmila Mountain Loop in the Kedoshim Forest.  Rather than hike it both ways, we parked one car at the top and one at the bottom.

Light your fire outdoors.

Then we hiked down through the shaded riverbed, full of ivy, moss, and winter flowers.  At the end of the trail, we made a bonfire in the firepit and had hot dogs and roasted marshmallows.  The kids had a blast.

Click here to read the full hike post.

Cheater’s Hike

No hike list would be complete without a mention of this awesome hike.  The Cheaters’ Hike from Ein Karem to Beit Zayit is a must do – with kids or without.

This beautiful trail leads from the quaint neighborhood of Ein Karem through the Jerusalem countryside.  You won’t believe that you’re right outside of the city.

At the end of the trail, you’ll find yourself at one of the best cafes in town – Café Derech Hagefen.  Warm up with a good meal, then head back the way you came.

Click here to read the full hike post.

The South

Nahal Bokek

Everyone knows that the Dead Sea is one of the hottest and driest regions in Israel.  Use this unusual weather to your advantage and go for a water hike over Hanukkah!

Waterfalls at Nahal Bokek.

The Nahal Bokek Trail is an easy, 2K hike that winds along a desert river, towards giant boulders and a crystal waterfall pool.  It’s perfect for families with kids.

Click here to read the full hike post.

Nekarot Horseshoe Loop

Heading down to Eilat over Hanukkah? Israel’s largest crater, Makhtesh Ramon is on the way.  Here you’ll find the Nekarot Horsheshoe Loop, a really cool 6.5 kilometer circular hike.

This hike isn’t for every family.  But if your kids are a bit older (or just more intrepid) they would love the incredible scenery on the trail.

If it’s post rain, bring a bathing suit.  You may be able to swim in the pools that form along the trail.

Click here to read the full hike post.

Nahal Og

Nahal Og is a great family hike.  At only 4.2 kilometers, this short trail has incredible desert views and super fun vertical ascents.  If your kids like to feel adventurous, this hike is for them.

Through the canyon at Nahal Og.

I usually hesitate to recommend Nahal Og over the holidays because there can be traffic jams at the ladders when it’s crowded. But not everyone takes off over Hanukkah in Israel – there’s a good chance that Nahal Og will be relatively quiet.

Just in case, make sure to get there early.

Click here to read the full hike post.

Bonus Hike:

Winter River at Nahal Refaim

If it does happen to pour over Hanukkah, well, that’s a blessing!  Use the opportunity to hike down to Nahal Refaim – an incredible raging river that you can only see on the day of a heavy rain or the day after.  You’ll be amazed that this amazing body of water exists right outside of Jerusalem.

Nahal Refaim on a rainy day.

Click here to read the full hike post.

Happy Hanukkah from Hiking the Holyland. May it be filled with joy, light, and lots of magical time in the great outdoors.

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

For more great family hikes, check out Hiking the Holyland’s Kids and Family Section. 

Where the magic happens.

 

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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