Just a few days left of the summer vacation! Are you still trying to get into one of the National Parks up North? Forget reservations - there are a few major rivers in the Upper Galilee that you can actually access for free at some points - you just have to know how to do it! Read on, as David Felberg reveals how!
1. Banias (short route): park at the cemetery of Kibbutz Snir. Follow the GREEN trail (turns to BLACK at some point) down to the Syrian Tank (yes, there's a real overturned tank laying on the riverbank). The water is cold, and it's free!
2. Banias (long route, about 4k): NOTE: must leave second car at Kibbutz She'ar Yashuv [Banias Campground]. After you played around in the water in the previous part, go back up to the fork in the trail, and continue on the BLACK path down to the river. The path follows the river, and you can choose whenever you want to camp and jump back in the refreshing water. At some point the trail crosses the river, on a bridge. About 150 meters after the bridge, you reach another fork - follow the RED trail along the river, and then continue on the BLACK path when they merge again. When you reach a large metal bridge - that's the end of the hike. Turn right and follow the road up to where you left your second car.
3. Banias (another short route): if you just want to enjoy the water [like in #1], park at Banias Camping at She'ar Yashuv, walk through the gate and down to the metal bridge (400m). Find a spot on the riverbank and enjoy.
4. Nahal Ayun (for the slightly adventurous): just outside Kiryat Shmona, on Route 99 heading east, you come to a sign pointing right to the KS Airfield. Work is being done there to turn this place into an attraction, but for now it's still work in progress… Park near the gate, walk through the fence on the left and head down the path towards the vegetation - you'll find a secluded place with cold water and lots of shade. If you follow the stream you'll get to a small pool and wooden bridge, and if you're really adventurous you'll find deeper places near the (non-operational) runway where you can jump in.
5. Jordan River, between Lehavot Habashan and Kfar Blum: there is a dirt path accessible from Route 977 near Lehavot Habashan for most cars, which runs along the left bank of the Jordan River. People just park and set up camp, and enjoy the running river (NOTE: some places are deep and require swimming).
An added note from tour guide Aliza Avshalom:
From Lahavot habashan ( gesher lehavot) in the other direction (South) there is a dirt path along the Jordan to Gesher hapkakk. Perfect for flat, safe, off road biking. Lots of places to jump in the water, cool army bridges, a different view of the Hula lake, easy riding. Not shady so choose ends of the day.
Also just for a swim under gesher Hapkak will work - both sides have dirt paths that lead to the water.
6. Jordan River, dam near Kfar Blum: if you follow the dirt road from #5 all the way to Kfar Blum, you reach a large dam and waterfall which is a great place to play around in the cold water. It's shallow at the top of the dam, with lots of places to sit under the falling water.
7. Snir River: drive east from Kiryat Shmona on Route 99. About 6k out of town you'll see "Gan Hazafon" (gas station and shops) on the right. Enter the compound and park on the far right-hand side (the corner closest to the road). On the right there are steps that lead straight down to Nahal Snir which flows smoothly in turquoise-green.
8. Snir River, near Kibbutz Sdeh Nehemia: just before the Snir merges with Nahal Hermon, there's a lovely spot for cooling off and relaxing. Take Route 9779 east towards Thai Village. Turn left at the signs, drive about 300m till after the resort, and then another 400m till you reach parking. Get out and walk till you find a grassy spot along the river.
Enjoy, and don't forget to take your trash with you!
Our guest blogger is David Felberg, a Trail runner, who loves exploring Israel.
Photo Credit: David Felberg