Looking for some off-the-beaten-track places in the central region - for camping, dipping or hiking? Here are some ideas that can fit the bill. With thanks to our guest blogger, trail-runner, David Felberg.
Ein Yivka / The Horses' Pool:
One of the natural springs which feeds Nahal Tzipori. The water flows into a large shallow pool (in summer up to adult's hips). Nearby there's shade for a picnic, and if you follow the BLUE path east you can continue walking through the water to various secluded spots, and in less than 1k you can even reach The Monks' Mill. Waze: "עין יבקע"
Ein Yivka - Photo credit: David Felberg
East of Binyamina, named after Ehud Efrati from Zichron Yaakov who fell in Gaza in 2007. It's a small shaded campsite which also includes toilets and running water, a playground, picnic tables and place for BBQ. From here you can take a short walk/ride south-east to Nahal Taninim and the cool springs of Ein Aviel (free), or drive to Mei Kedem (paid) - restoration of the ancient underground water system to Caesarea, includes a 300m section of walking in the water (just like the tunnel at Ir David) Waze: "גן אהוד, אביאל" (there are a lot of places called Gan Ehud, you want the one near Aviel, which is about 40k from Ra'anana)
Right near Ganei Hanadiv, south of Zichron Yaakov. There's a natural spring and small underwater aqueduct, picnic tables and shade, archaeological finds with signage, but no overnight camping. Nearby there's a large ship "parked" near a car park, which is a sort of an attraction you can climb on. Waze: either "רמת הנדיב", park in the large parking lot and walk south on marked trail to Tel Tzur, or "אורט בנימינה" and walk up short marked path, from north-west side of parking lot (near the boat).
Nachsholim Beach to Habonim Beach:
Adjacent to the Nachsholim Hotel, you can enjoy a nice beach for free, then walk NORTH along the shore and up the cliff to some interesting ruins. From the top there's a RED-marked path that takes you all the way to Habonim Beach (about 3.5k), along the way you can enjoy secret coves with tons of shells, a sunken wreck close to the shore and 2 places that are called "The Blue Cave". All the beaches along the way are free to pitch a tent and stay the night, but there are no facilities. Waze: "מלון חוף נחשולים" park near entrance to the hotel, short walk to the beach.
The shells on the beach of Hof Dor Between Nachsholim and the blue cave by Yoel Keren
Shoham Forest Park:
East of Shoham, sandwiched between Route 444 and Highway 6, there's a large hilly KKL park with shade, picnic tables, archaeological finds and signage, single tracks for bicycles and hiking paths. In the winter the place is covered with red poppies, but even in the summer it's a nice place for an early/late picnic and hike or ride. Waze: "פארק יער שוהם"
The Sculptures Route:
An road winding through the forest, between Tzor'ah and Eshta'ol, with large sculptures, picnic sites, observatories, playgrounds and more. In the middle near Tel Tzor'ah you'll even find the grave of the Biblical Shimshon and his father Mano'ach. You can access the road from Route 44, about 1k from Shimshon Intersection (marked GREEN).
Horvat Midras / Midras Ruins:
A site which dates back to the 1000BCE, and includes bell-caves and tunnels for hiding which were presumably used during the Bar Kochva revolt. KKL marked out routes at the site. From the parking lot, go up a moderate hill following BLUE marked path. Soon the path splits: to the right is a GREEN trail, but continue to the left following the blue. After a few minutes you reach a large bell cave, from the side of which begins a beautiful system of hiding caves, which are in fact a collection of rooms for various uses, connected by tunnels. The cave is safe to visit, and the passage between the rooms is done mostly by crawling on all fours. The route is circular and lasts about 20 minutes. Crawling through the cave is ONE-WAY so you must start from the upper opening in the wall of the bell cave to maintain a consistent direction (attached is a map to print before you go). A flashlight/headlamp is a must! After the caves you can continue touring the site. The next time you meet the GREEN-marked trail, take it back to the car park. Waze: "חרבת מדרס"
Bikes can be rented at TrailHead https://www.nekudat-motsa.co.il/he/home If you need more of the same, continue to Hurvat Burgin (Waze "חורבת בורגין").
Please note that all suggestions should be done at your own risk. Don't forget to take your trash with you.