Whether you are a tourist on a Holy land tour or a local Israeli resident, Israel offers fabulous hiking trails all across the country. And there is no better time to lace up your hiking shoes and explore the country than in the spring. Israel’s Mediterranean climate translates into hot summer months while winter brings needed rain. But springtime, beginning in February through May ,brings lush green landscapes, beautiful flowers, and flowing rivers and waterfalls within otherwise dry riverbeds. By April, one can feel the end of spring nearing as vegetation, particularly in the center of the country and lower elevations begins to be dry and overgrow. Therefore, during this season, the most beautiful Holy Land regions to walk are in the Galilee mountains’ higher areas and the Northern, higher sections of the Golan heights. Go off the beaten path and check out our top 5 spring lesser known hikes:
- Wadi Ktalav: If you cannot head north, the higher areas of the Judean mountains are still fresh in the spring. Wadi Ktalav near Jerusalem is a favorite during this period. The trail goes through dense Mediterranean forest, dotted with beautiful reddish colored Ktalav trees (Arbutus Andrachne). The classic hiking route is 7-8 kilometers long, going down into the valley and up on the ridge. Conclude the hike with drinks and light meal on the balcony of the popular Barbahar café-restaurant located near the trailhead.
- Gush Halav Stream: This easy and charming 5-6 Km circular hiking trail begins and ends at the Maronite Christian village of Gush Halav. The family friendly walk goes around a pond surrounded by a grass meadow, old mills, and the beautiful Gush Halav stream that flows year round but is particularly strong in the winter and spring. The trail also passes an ancient synagogue from the Second Temple period that is surrounded by nature. At the end of your holy land hike, enjoy good humus at El Layali in Jish, or visit the nearby Dalton or Adir Wineries in the Dalton Industrial Park. (must have reservations).
- Mount Bental: A new section of the epic 125 km Golan trail was recently marked on the eastern slopes of Mount Bental making it possible to complete a full circle around Mount Avital and Mount Bental. Hikers on this new trail can now traverse these strategic mountains at an altitude of about 1000 m and enjoy stunning views of Mount Hermon, Syria, and the Northern Golan Heights. After the hike, you can drive up to the summit of Mount Bental for refreshments at Café Anan located on the summit.
- Admonit (Wild Peony) Blossom: The admonit is considered by many flower addicts as Israel’s most beautiful wildflower. It is also one of the rarest flowers and blossoms only 2-3 weeks each year typically towards the end of April. Interestingly it is only found in one location in Israel – on the northern slopes of Mount Hilel (1070 meters). The short 3 km hike passes through dense Mediterranean forest and offers fantastic viewpoints of the upper Galilee region. The access to the trailhead is through the Druze village of Beit-Jann. It is an excellent opportunity to tour the small alleys in the village’s historic center. When you are done, enjoy an excellent lunch and panoramic views at Har Hari at the top of the mountain.
- Bashanit Ridge: The Bashanit ridge rises 1,100 meters and is located in the eastern Golan Heights near Aloney Habshan. The combination of the altitude with shade =from the oak forest keeps the ridge fresh and packed with wildflowers long after other areas in the country have dried up. At the end of the trail, there is a pleasant picnic spot by a small brook recently renovated by the local community. Enjoy great burgers at Chavat Gilabun when you are done.
Erez Speiser is the founder of Israel by Foot, an informative Israel hiking website covering hundreds of on and off the beaten trails throughout Israel. Erez is an avid hiker and lives in Rakafet in Northern Israel.