After climbing Mount Meron, we rested for half a day near Moshav Meron, at HaPitul Campground. In the evening, another friend joined us at the campground and after a good night’s sleep, we woke up early to start another day before sunrise. This time, our destination was Nahal Akbara Campground, located at the end of Upper Nahal Amud.
Nahal Amud, or Amud Stream, is one of the Galilee’s most beautiful streams. The segment is about 12.5-km long, from HaPitul Campground to Nahal Akbara Campground, and is full of natural beauty, flowing water, and ancient ruins of watermills and aqueducts. The first part of the trail was fairly easy, but at some point, it began to be challenging, with huge boulders which we had to climb using hand bars and steep ascents and descends, which really put pressure on our feet. But these challenges are what made this segment so enjoyable! The views were extraordinary and I had great fun.
Before we begin, let’s go over some safety instructions and general notes:
· The hike is under your responsibility, so please be careful.
· Make sure you hike with good hiking shoes, have at least 3 liters of water, and wear a hat. Pack food and snacks for the whole day, BUT make sure to bring a garbage bag as well and take your garbage with you, including toilet papers.
· Don’t go on the hike when it is too hot (over 30 degrees Celsius), as there are many places that are exposed to the sun. Also, do not attempt to hike this trail after rainfall, as it could get slippery and dangerous.
· Pay attention to sunset hours (in Summer around 6-7 PM, in Winter around 4-5 PM). Try to begin the hike before 6 AM so you will have time to rest a bit during the hot hours of the afternoon and still get it to the end of the trail.
· The phone signal is good throughout most of the trail.
· Before you begin the hike, make sure you have a good trail map. The trail isn’t always well marked, so it’s good to have a map. You can also use a navigation app such as the Israel Hiking Map. With GPS, you can also see where you are exactly.
· The trail is marked with the Israel National Trail colors, orange-blue-white.
· If you need any further help with planning your trail, I recommend posting on the Israel National Trail forum on Tapatalk.
How to get to the head of the trail?
If you just want to hike this segment without hiking the previous one, you will need to reach Moshav Meron (in Hebrew: מושב מירון), which is the settlement next to the head of the trail. If you are arriving from Jerusalem, you can take Nativ Express bus number 992 from the ICC Jerusalem Station. This bus goes to Safed, but you need to get off at “Meron Center” station (in Hebrew: מירון מרכז). From there, you need to walk about 10 minutes to HaPitul Campground, located to the south of the settlement. If you arriving from Tel Aviv, you will need to change a number of buses. It is best to check the best route using Moovit app or Google Maps.
Before we could get to Nahal Amud, we had to hike through the Lower Meron Stream, which was quite dry at the time of our hike. The Israel National Trail leaves from the southeastern side of HaPitul Parking Lot. We started by crossing a short tunnel below the road (1) and continued straight on the trail, that merges at this point with a black-marked trail. After hiking a bit in the forest, the view opened up and we continued on a wider path, that was completely exposed to the sun. Luckily, it was still before sunrise, so the heat wasn’t bad. It was just very humid.
About 700 meters after the tunnel, we reached a small cattle gate that led into the Nahal Amud Nature Reserve (2). This gate is different from the official entrance to the reserve and is open throughout the entire day. Unlike the official entrance, you don’t need to pay entry fees at this gate.
The trail started to become more interesting, the trees started getting closer to the path, and about 1.8 km from the cattle gate, we reached a crossroad of the black-marked trail with a red-marked trail (3). There was a wooden sign at the crossroad, pointing to Meron (the direction which we came from) and to the old Ein Tina Police Station and Kfar Shammai (the red-marked trail). We continued left, on the black-marked trail and climbed down a long set of stairs until we reached a big, wooden signpost of the Nahal Amud Nature Reserve. At this point, there’s supposed to be a water spring called Ein Yakim, but we didn’t check it out.
We turned right and continued for about 190 meters along the narrow water aqueduct, deeper into the reserve, until we reached a point where the black-marked trail met a blue-marked trail (4). We continued on the black-marked trail, which took us down a set of stairs to an area above the flowing stream. There, we met one of the park rangers, who greeted us and asked us if we knew that there was drinking water near Akbara Bridge. “Yes,” we replied, and continued on our way.
The sound of the flowing water was exciting and refreshing, and it accompanied us for quite a while. You can go down to the stream and wade in the pools. We didn’t do that. The trail continues through the green vegetation, above the flowing stream and small cascades. It’s well-marked and there’s plenty of shade. There were a few places where we had to cross the stream, but it was very easy to do. About 500 meters from where we met the park ranger, we arrived at a sign telling us that we’ve arrived to a stream junction (5). From this point on, we’re leaving Meron Stream and continuing with Amud Stream.
We turned left, climbed down a few steps and crossed a wooden walkway to the other side of the stream. There’s a blue-marked here, continuing straight up. We took the black-marked trail, that continued right, along the stream, and went on it for about 600 meters until we reached another beautiful spot in the reserve – Sechvi Pools (6). This place is where the Sechvi Stream meets the Amud Stream. There are also ruins of an ancient flour mill right next to the pools. If you need reception, there’s also a SOS WiFi station here.
From the Sechvi Pools, we continued right on the black-marked trail and after a very short while arrived at a huge sign, telling us that the trail ahead of us is for fit hikers only. From this sign on, it is 9.5 km till the end of the segment. After three days of hiking, we considered ourselves “experienced hikers”, so we continued to the long and challenging part of the Nahal Amud trail.
The first 2 kilometers weren’t so challenging, but were more exposed to the sun. We passed by ancient ruins of buildings, which might have been flour mills. In Arabic, the stream is called “Wadi Tawachin,” which means “The Mill Stream,” because of the large number of flour mills which were found along its banks. In the 16th century, some of these buildings were used for fulling, which is a step in creating wool clothes.
Then, we reached a point, where the black-marked trail meets a blue-marked trail (7). The blue-marked trail goes left, to Ein Koves (0.5 km from this point) and Safed (2 km from this point). Later, we’ve heard from other hikers that they’ve camped near Ein Koves, but that the camping site isn’t recommended, because there’s no drinking water. There were also hikers who stayed at the Ascent Hostel in Safed. But for us, 2 km from the trail was a long detour. If you haven’t visited Safed yet, this could be a great opportunity. Though, take into consideration that the trail to Safed involves a lot of steep climbs.
We continued straight on the black-marked trail. The trail starts being challenging about 1 kilometer afterward. First, we saw a sign warning us “Danger of falling. Pit ahead!” and then came a set of rather steep steps, that ascended upwards and had a long railing next to them. We were climbing up to the edge of the wadi, and now we could see the beautiful view of the wadi very clearly, spread before us.
A short while later, we arrived at a long, metal ladder that led downwards, into the wadi (8). The climb down was very easy, but then came another short but challenging ascend, which required us to lift ourselves and really took our breath away. At the top of the ascend we found some shade under a big tree and relaxed for some moments.
Now we were on the other side of Nahal Amud. From here on, the trail is almost always exposed to the sun, so it’s best to not get caught here in the hot hours of the afternoon. The amazing green views of the wadi are seen along the entire way, but sometimes you have to keep your eyes off of the view in order to pass the obstacles along the path. There are many boulders on the way, which have hand bars and railings attached to them, so get ready to do some rock climbing here and there.
Near the end of the segment, we left the cliffy area of the wadi and started walking on a wide, flat dirt path. In the distance, we could hear a busy road, and after a while, we could also see it. Road number 89 crosses Nahal Akbara on the Akbara Bridge, which rises to a height of 80 meters above the wadi. This is one of the most impressive bridges in Israel, 420 meters long, 14 meters wide, and made from four huge concrete columns. The bridge was built following the Yom Kippur War and was meant to make it easier for army forces to reach the Golan Heights and the Rebecca Sieff Hospital in Safed.
We reached a big tree, which offered us shade for a short rest. It was already afternoon, the trail was completely exposed to the sun, but we really wanted to reach the campground, which was already very close by. From the tree (9), we turned left and ascended about 35 meters on a wide path, until we reached a green gate and a sign pointing left towards drinking water.
We turned left according to the sign and walked on a short path, that led to a fenced compound belonging to Mekorot – the Nahal Amud pumping station (10). The drinking water faucet is located on the western fence of the compound. We filled our bottles, rested for a while and then returned to the trail.
From the green gate, there’s a short descend and then a right turn, that very quickly leads to the Nahal Akbara Campground (11). The water faucet is only about 300 meters from the campground. Like many other campgrounds along the Israel National Trail, Nahal Akbara Campground is more of a parking lot and less of a campground. It’s a flat, open space, with a few trees, and nothing else.
We caught some shade under a tree and waited for the evening. Meanwhile, many other hikers arrived at the campground. Some of them were hikers on the Israel National Trail, while others were hikers on the Yam L’Yam Trail (Sea to Sea Trail). The Yam L’Yam Trail overlaps the Israel National Trail from Horvat Homama to the Sea of Galilee.
When the evening came, we spread out our sleeping bags and began thinking about dinner. One of the hikers, which we have met, asked: “Does someone want to order pizza?” The road was a few steps away from the campground, so it was possible. One of our friends jumped on the opportunity, because he was already tired of rice with lentils, although he was with us only for a day. The rest of us decided to stick to the rice with lentils. We were looking for more of a field experience, and pizza was too urban for us.
Continue to the next segment – Hiking in Lower Nahal Amud, from Nahal Akbara Campground to Midgal.
How much time does the trail take? About 7-9 hours, depending on your pace and fitness level.
Difficulty: Moderate to hard level of difficulty, because the trail is very long, mostly exposed to the sun and involved several places where you need to climb with your hands.
It is about 12.5-km long. You can also hike it from the other direction.
When is the best time to hike? We hiked in mid-October, but I think it would be much nicer to hike this tail in the spring, around February-March. Just make sure that you’re not hiking after rainfall, because it could be slippery and dangerous.
I wish you a fantastic hike on the Israel National Trail!
If you want to leave the trail after this segment, you can walk to the nearest settlement, Kadarim, and catch a bus from there. You will probably need to change a number of buses in order to reach your final destination, so it’s best to check on Moovit or Google Maps to see the best route for you. Kadarim is about 3 km from the end of the segment. You will need to walk on the road to reach it, so be careful.
Get ready for the trail by reading my post – The Israel National Trail: Ultimate Preparation Guide.
And check out previous segments of the Israel National Trail:
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Hiked the trail on October 2020.
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