Each year, as vacation times roll around again, I consult my old lists of favorite hikes for families. My thought process: whatever I wrote about last year must be equally relevant this year. It’s just nature, after all! What could possibly have changed?
But things do change in nature. One wet trail becomes a dry trail, due to rehabilitation at the site. An old favorite for spotting fall squill flowers gets replaced by another, new favorite trail. And after glancing over my old lists of Sukkot hikes, I begin to realize that I might as well write an entirely new one.
After all, Sukkot is a perfect holiday for hiking. The weather has cooled down a bit, fall wildflowers are starting to bloom, and being out in nature allows us to appreciate Israel’s bounty, something we are supposed to be grateful for during the holiday. Not only that, but according to renowned speaker, Sivan Rahav Meir, the 4 species of Sukkot (palm, citron, myrtle, and willow) are there to remind us of the simplicity, the quiet, and the godliness of nature. Getting outdoors over the holiday is a great way to feel the holiday spirit.
Enjoy the best of the season outdoors.
So pack up your portable sukkah, and head on out into nature with your family. Here’s a list of 9 great trails to choose from:
Gibton Springs National Park
I was so excited to discover this quiet and peaceful national park in Central Israel just in time for the holiday. At Gibton Springs, you can escape the crowds into a small paradise full of blossoming squill flowers. Tour the top of the tel at the park, said to be the site of ancient Gibton, mentioned in the books of the Prophets. Then head on over to the small pond where you can catch sight of some migrating birds, especially early in the morning or towards sunset. Gibton Springs
After scoping out the sights at the park, enjoy a peaceful picnic in the eucalyptus forest before heading back to your car.
The trail at Gibton Springs is about 4 kilometers long. Read the full post with maps right here.
This incredible cave hike in northern Israel isn’t for every family. But it is for adventurous families who aren’t afraid of diving into the depths for an hour or so!
A hike into Alma Cave takes you deep down into the depths of a cool cave, along a marked trail, filled with stalactite and stalagmite formations. Physically fit families will love this awesome, do-it-yourself adventure. Advertisement
In the depths of Alma Cave.
I like to recommend cave hikes at this time of year because it’s right before bat hibernation begins. That means that you can enter Alma Cave for just about another month. After that, it’s closed to the public so that hibernating bats can get some R&R without any human intruders.
The trail at Alma Cave is about 1.2 kilometers long. Read the full post with maps right here.
The Biyar Aqueduct
If we’re already getting dirty, we may as well head on over to the Biyar Aqueduct in Gush Etzion, one of the coolest historical hikes I’ve seen. This trail (which isn’t always opened, but is opened during the holidays), takes you through an underground water system that was built during the Second Temple period to carry water into the Holy City. Coolest Aqueduct in Israel.
The nice thing about the Biyar Aqueduct is that there’s a really worthwhile multi-sensory movie at the beginning that brings the place to life. We loved the smoke effects and spraying water. Be prepared to get wet! Advertisement
The full trail at the Biyar Aqueduct is less than a kilometer long. Read the full post with maps right here.
Ramat HaShofet (Ein Reichania)
Summer may be over, but that doesn’t mean that your family is done with water hikes. If you’d like something a bit more off the beaten track, head on over to the Ramat HaShofet Springs trail in the lower Galilee. Beautiful springs at Ramat HaShofet
Although the full hike is a long circle, I recommend that families walk out to the first spring and then return the way they came. If you hike it this way, you get all of the water reward with none of the hard work.
The short trail at Ramat HaShofet Springs is about 3 kilometers long. Read the full post with maps right here.
If there’s one thing that kids love, it’s climbing over rocks. This hike at Nahal Sfunim near Haifa includes a lot of climbing, although most of it is at an ascent. This is another great hike for families who like a challenge.
Towards the end of the climb, you’ll reach an incredible cave. This one is also closed come bat hibernation season, so now is the time to enjoy Nahal Sfunim while you still can. Cave season at Nahal Sfunim
The last part of the trail takes you past gorgeous views of the Carmel Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea.
The full trail at Nahal Sfunim is about 4.3 kilometers long. Read the full post with maps right here.
Dor HaBonim Beach Trail
Sukkot is a great time to head out on a different type of adventure – one that takes you to the most beautiful sunset in the country!
The trail at Dor HaBonim is one of the most magnificent coastal hikes in Israel, especially during sunset hours. I like to pack up a picnic (and our portable sukkah) and head up to Dor HaBonim in the late afternoon. Then, we walk along, watching the waves crash on the cliffs and find the perfect place to set up a picnic dinner. Tidal pools at Dor HaBonim coastal trail.
As the adults watch the gorgeous sunset, the kids can play in the little tidal pools that form on the cliffs. It’s simply magnificent.
The full trail at Dor HaBonim is 3 kilometers long each way. Hike out and back as much as you like. Read the full post with maps right here.
Now that we’ve explored all over the country, let’s head back to the Jerusalem area, which many Anglo Olim call home. There are great trails for families near Jerusalem, too. One of my favorite is Ma’arat HaTeumim, a fun shady trail that heads up over smooth rocks beneath a canopy of trees. A sunny day on Sukkot at Ma’arat HaTeumim.
The two main attractions of this trail are Twins Cave (Ma’arat HaTeumim) and the rock slide at the end. Make sure to bring along a good flashlight – you’ll need it for heading into the depths of Twins Cave, thus named because of a pair of rock formations inside. And don’t miss the smooth rock slide at the end. Kids and adults will love sliding down again and again.
The full trail at Ma’arat HaTeumim is 3 kilometers long. Read the full post with maps right here.
Wet Fun at Sataf
Another one of my favorite trails near Jerusalem is this 3.5 kilometer adventure to Sataf Springs. My family loves wandering through shady forests, pretty olives groves, and past cool antiquities along the way down to the spring. In the shade at Sataf.
Once we reach the spring, everyone loves climbing into the depths of a dark tunnel to reach the source, then climbing out through knee high water out into a sunlight pool.
The full trail at Sataf is 3.5 kilometers long. Read the full post with maps right here.
I’ve been waxing rhapsodic about this trail to Beit Itab near Jerusalem for so many years. Yet every time we hike there (which is not infrequent) we see almost no one on the trail.
I love this hike because of the relaxed beauty, the vineyards, the caves, the pretty pathways, and the cool Crusader fortress at the end. My kids never seem to get sick of hiking here…again, and again…and again! We never tire of this place.
The full trail at Beit Itab is 3.3 kilometers long. Read the full post with maps right here.
The Holiday of Nature
This holiday season, make time in your life for an excursion into nature. These 9 gorgeous trails around Israel will allow you to experience the best of the season with your family and reconnect with the great outdoors.