Sonya Brystowski Schreiber ‘We went to the fortress at Tel Afek park and we had a great day! The price is great – 29 shek per adult and 14 per kid. Under 5 is free. And it’s beautiful there – huge park that you can picnic, BBQ, etc, with a lake and some muddy streams that the kids like to walk in. You could bring a ball or other gear and spend hours hanging out over there if you wanted. The whole place is pretty stroller friendly, there are just a bunch of gravel paths that you’ll have to walk on. It’s nice because you can take some of the side paths and it feels like a hike but its not like you need to walk for an hour to reach the end. It’s just simple and fun for everyone. As a pesach event, in the fortress were a bunch of booths that were set up like Olympic style competitions. Each family is a team and you can compete for points (if you want to). The arts and crafts booth costs extra but my kids had a blast doing it. You can paint on plaster items for 20-30 shek, or do sand art or other projects. There is a whole section where you can climb and explore the ruins and the kids (and my husband) had so much fun doing it. Its nice because you they have a path that wraps around the ruins area so younger kids or less-adventurous family members can take that route and still join in. There was a booth for drinks and kosher l’pesach (without kitniot) popsicles and they were reasonably priced too. Overall it was a really fun day and I’d recommend it to anyone, especially with kids under 7 or 8.’
Yarkon National Park, east of Tel Aviv, extends over 13,000 dunams (3,250 acres), It encompasses two focal points: Tel Afek (Antipatris) with its fortress overlooking the Yarkon springs, and the Yarkon sources, where the stream and its banks are rich in plant and animal life.
Tel Afek: The Ottoman Fortress, Binar Bashi, was built in 1571 atop the ancient mound of Tel Afek. The Yarkon (Rosh Ha‘ayin) springs are clearly visible at the foot of the fortress. On the eastern slope of the mound is the British Mandate pumping station, from which Yarkon spring water was once channeled to Jerusalem.
The ancient city of Afek controlled one of the most important passes on the Via Maris (the Way of the Sea). The Bible says that the Philistines gathered there before a decisive battle against the Israelites (11th century BCE). The Israelites settled in Afek in the beginning of the 10th century BCE following King David’s victory over the Philistines. In the Roman era, Herod the Great built the city he called Antipatris there; the Roman main street and the city’s commercial district were discovered south of the Ottoman fortress. According to the New Testament, the Apostle Paul spent the night there on his way under guard from Jerusalem to Caesarea. A trail along the upper Yarkon Stream begins near the mound and leads to the Yarkon sources. The visit can be combined with a tour of the pumping station by calling the Mekorot water company: 03-938-8961.
The Sources of the Yarkon: Although the springs are capped and mixed with water from the National Water Carrier, a large enough volume flows to support aquatic plants, especially the beautiful yellow water lily, which blooms in summer.
Among the interesting heritage sites in the park is the vaulted el-Mir flour mill, the easternmost mill on the Yarkon. To the west is the walled Kassar Courtyard, with its well and reservoir, which the owner, Salim Kassar of Jaffa, sold to the Jewish pioneers of Petah Tikva in the 19th century.
How to get there: The Yarkon sources entrance to the park is east of the Hod-HaSharon-Petah Tikva road (no. 40) between the Yarkon and Segula junctions. The Afek entrance is on the Petah Tikva-Rosh Ha‘ayin road (no. 483) between Kibbutz Giv‘at HaShlosha and Kibbutz Einat. The Rosh Ha‘ayin train station is near the Tel Afek entrance; Dan buses 27, 7, 17 and 93 also stop at this entrance. Bus 561 from Tel Aviv stops at the Baptist Village near the Yarkon sources entrance.