There are great places for hiking in Israel to suit every taste - in the south, if you like the desert; in the centre, if you prefer flat terrain; along the coast, if you like the sea; and in the north if you like mountains, streams and waterfalls.
The SPNI - more commonly known in Israel as HaHevra LeHaganat HaTeva - organises guided hikes and tours year round and although they are for Hebrew-speakers, the guides also speak English. I have been on several of these myself and can recommend them - the guides are just amazing and really know their stuff. In fact, they give you so much information that you really need to go more than once to absorb it all!
They also offer private tours with one of their guides which you can book in advance by phone: 03-638-8688 or 972-3-6388688 if you're calling from abroad or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For the more adventurous, take a guided hiking tour including rappelling, climbing or kayaking with Israel Extreme Adventures. Perfect for families or small groups!
There are also many excellent native English-speaking guides who work independently - one of the best is Richard Woolf who lives in the Galilee. Click here to read more about Richard.
The Israel Trails Committee (ITC) which is connected in some way to The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI), are responsible for marking nature trails in Israel. So if you decide to go it alone, you just need to follow the striped signs that are painted on the stones along the way.
They have so far marked 10,000 km of trails for hiking in Israel. This includes the Israel National Trail which is 950 km long and runs the length of Israel from Kibbutz Dan in the Galilee Panhandle to Eilat in the south. This trail is marked with 3 coloured stripes - orange, white and blue to differentiate it from other trails which are usually blue/white red/white or green/white. But you don't have to do the whole trail in one go - it's divided into sections which you can easily do one day at a time.
NAHAL ZALMON (ZALMON STREAM)
The Zalmon River (pronounced Tsalmon) is one of the few rivers which runs all year round even though some of the water is diverted for drinking water. So this is a popular spot in Spring and Summer and becomes crowded with families on Saturdays.
The route is dotted with the ruins of flour mills which used the water for power and were plentiful in the 19th century. Some were still in use until the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. You will see a signpost to your right for Nahal Zalmon as you drive from Rame junction towards the bedouin village of Salama and Kibbutz Lotem. Park at the side of the road and make your way towards the stream and follow the blue markings. There are wading pools along the way and shady areas where you can sit and relax or have a picnic.
For a longer hike, you can continue to following the blue marked trail along the banks of the river until you reach Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) where it enters the lake near to Kibbutz Ginosar.
TIP: If you're looking for a good restaurant in the area, try Rotman at nearby Lotem.
Who? Short hike (around 2 km each way) - Suitable for all the family. Longer hike - for more experienced hikers.
When? All year round but crowded on Saturdays in Spring and Summer.
Where? Turn off route 85 onto route 804 at Rame junction towards Salama and Lotem. Look out for signpost to Nahal Zalmon to your right.
NAHAL FAROD (FAROD STREAM)
Nahal Farod is one of the tributaries which run into the Zalmon River. It's source is in Moshav Shefer where it runs through the settlement and then makes its way down the mountain towards Kibbutz Farod. Unlike Nahal Zalmon, Nahal Farod is dry in the summer and I wouldn't recommend this walk after the end of April. I went back to see if there was still water in the stream in mid-May and couldn't believe how dry and desolate the whole area looked!
Assuming that there is water in the stream, follow the path along its banks.
There are plenty of places to stop along the way for a picnic, but to see the waterfalls, you need to keep going. A short walk downstream, you will come to two quite high waterfalls, one after the other - its worth going on to the second one from where you can see the whole series of waterfalls - some higher than others.
TIP: At Kibbutz Farod you can find mini-golf, an ice-cream shop and an outdoor swimming pool which is open in the summer months. They also have country lodging (all-year-round) if you want to stay overnight.
Who? Suitable for all the family - short hike (around 2 km each way).
When? Late winter and early spring only.
Where? Turn off route 85 onto route 866 at Hananya junction towards Sfat (Safed) and Meron. Look out for the signpost for Farod (Parod) a few minutes drive up the hill to your right. Just before you get to the entrance of the kibbutz, take the turnoff on your right and leave your car in the parking area.
Click on the links below for more about hiking in Israel ...
Banias (Hermon Stream)
Here you can find the spring where the Hermon Stream has its source and where it was believed the Greek god, Pan lived. Follow this nature trail along the wooded banks of the river, and visit the ancient ruins of a temple from the time when this was a thriving Roman city.
Ayun Stream Nature Reserve
Beautiful nature reserve in the Galilee Panhandle by Metulla, Israel's northernmost town. Visit late Winter and Spring to enjoy the the beautiful waterfalls, the Spring flowers and breathtaking views across the Hula valley as far as the Golan Heights and Hermon mountains.
Goren Park and Montfort Castle
Goren Park is situated in Western Galilee and must be one of the best places for hiking in Israel - you can follow the Kziv Stream which is cool and shady in the hot weather, and visit the ruins of Montfort Castle which sits high on top of a hill and enjoy the awesome view over the surrounding wooded hills.
El Al Stream
The El Al Stream in the Golan Heights is one of Israel’s most scenic routes. Read an account of a hike along the stream passing fruit orchards along the way and the beautiful "Black and White" waterfalls.
Read an account of an organized hiking trip to the Jordan Valley during springtime. Starting at Moshav Menahemia, the group pass by Naharayim Power Plant and end with a visit to the museum at Kibbutz Gesher.
Six important things you should take with you when hiking in Israel ...
And last but not least ...