Tiyulim in Hebrew, hikes in Israel are both bountiful and beautiful. Given Israel’s great weather, hikes are possible nearly all year around, allowing you to have a pleasurable experience in nature almost at your fingertips. Below, I provide you with a guide to some wonderful hikes in and around the Jerusalem area, so that you can throw yourselves into the great outdoors without even having to look further than this article.
Har Eitan (Sataf Forest)
Sataf Forest is a rich area that offers a number of different hikes, one of which is Har Eitan. Har Eitan is an extremely popular and easy hike, spanning 8 kilometers and lasting about 2.5 hours. The hike leads around the summit of a mountain, providing beautiful views — a full 360-degree panoramic view spanning from Modiin and Tel Aviv to Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. The width and ease of the road also allows for bikers and joggers, though the area is most prominently used for hiking. There are plenty of trees along the trail, providing a modest amount of shade for the days that seem to be (but are not!) too hot for hiking. To get here, drive to the Sataf parking lot and then walk back down the road on which you entered. This brings you to the beginning of the hike. The path along the hike is clearly marked, and the hike goes in a circle, making it impossible to get lost once you’ve started.
Shvil HaMa’ayanot, “Springs Trail,” located along the Shvil Israel, the Israel Trail, is another beautiful, yet brief, hike. It spans just 3 kilometers, 1.5 kilometers each way (it is not a loop). As evident by its name, there are several – seven, exactly – ma’ayanot (springs) along the trail. Some are too shallow to swim in while some are deep enough to wade in, making this hike appropriate for even the hottest summer months, especially as it is lined with beautiful pine, oak, carob, and olive trees that provide ample shade. There are also plenty of caves and tunnels along the way, making for a fun adventure to take your children on. The hike begins on the road that leads between Hadassah Medical Center-Ein Kerem and Moshav Even Sapir.
Winter River at Nahal Refaim
This is an intense hike, fit only for seasoned hikers and adventurers. It’s also only for those who are lucky enough to be in Jerusalem after several days of really solid rain. This is because the winter river at Nahal Refaim is an extravagant river that only flows in the wintertime and after heavy rain. This hike is located in Begin Park, right next to Ein Kobi. You should park in the same place that you would park for the Kobi Ruins walk, and then take the red trail down into the rocks and trees. It’s about a kilometer in each direction (to the river and back), and is one of the most loved and regarded hikes near Jerusalem.
Shvil Nofi Nahal Katval
Shvil Nofi Nahal Katlav, also known as the Schuster trail, is a rather small trail, located in American Independence Park in the Nes Harim area. It spans about 2 kilometers, but is a perfect oasis of beauty and solitude. To get to this hike take route 3866. You can park at חניון נחל קטלב, the Nahal Katlav parking lot, and walk via Waze or Moovit directions to Bar Behar. The hike begins here, at a popular cafe spot in the forest. As you follow the path to the trails on the right hand of the shop, you’ll notice a red and white trail marker which indicates the
beginning of the small loop that you will hike for the next hour or so. The trail is lined with rocks and trees, allowing your kids to feel as though they are really exploring, but not exploring so much that the hike is difficult for them to manage. The views along the hike are stunning, especially during sunrise and sunset, and there are a number of spectacular wildflowers (depending on the season) along the way. There are also a number of different resting spots along the area, most notably tree log benches that hide under canopies of oak trees, allowing you to rest in the shade on hot summer days, or even to picnic as a break during your hike. For a slightly longer hike, follow the path on the left hand side of Bar Behar. This is where the red trail officially begins.
Sataf to Ein Kerem
This is another hike located in the magnificent Sataf Forest. This hike is located along the Israel Trail, and requires two cars. Park one car at Sataf and the other at Ein Kerem, at the dirt lot near Ein Kerem Agricultural School. Starting at Sataf, follow the signs downhill to Jerusalem, a path along which you’ll find beautiful views as you walk to Nahal Sorek, a wide, flat valley that leads towards Ein Kerem. Here, the nahal route splits off from the Israel Trail. Eventually, Nahal Soeek meets up with Road 395.
This is yet another hike located in the Sataf Forest. It begins on the Har Eitan trail (see first hike listed above), and quickly turns to the right at the sign for the Israel Trail. At the turn, the trail. can be difficult to manage at the turn, as it descends rather steeply and the loose dirt and rocks can make it slippery and tricky to navigate, but the trail quickly evens out and brings you to a flat jeep trail. Once you get to the flat trail, cross the two-lane highway that is Road 395 and head into Kibbutz Tzuba. Here, leave the Israel Trail and enter the Kibbutz. Once you’re inside, pass the park and follow the signs to Ein Tzuba, clearly marked. At the large factory building, turn right and follow the red path into the vineyards of the Tzuba Winery before eventually arriving sat the green trail. Keep your eyes open so as to not miss the spring, which is the highlight of this hike. This hike is a special one, lined with vineyards just outside of the trail and a grove of trees with picnic benches along it.