The fifth day on the trail was our first challenging day. Until that day, we were sure that the Golan Trail was pretty easy. We woke up before sunrise and started from Daliot Campsite to Givat Yoav. It was supposed to rain sometime in the afternoon, and the segment was long, so we wanted to start as early as possible. Check out the previous day – Hurvat Khishniyah to Daliot Campsite.
The segment from Daliot Campsite to Givat Yoav is beautiful but a bit more challenging. We walked along the beautiful Nahal Samach, climbed down, and enjoyed its refreshing water. Then, we continued a bit until we reached the meeting point of Nahal Samach and Nahal El Al, and made it all the way to a viewpoint over the Sea of Galilee. So, there’s water and stunning views. If you can lengthen the hike, you can also make a detour to the impressive archeological site of Ein Keshatot (Umm al-Kanatir).
Trail length: The entire length is about 23.5 km. We only got to Ophir Viewpoint and then took a lift to Givat Yoav. So, we only hiked 21 km.
Trail duration: 10 to 12 hours, depending on your pace.
Difficulty level: Hard.
Best season: Spring (February-April).
Water along the way: There is no place to fill water at the start of the trail. There is a drinking faucet about 1.2 km from the campground, but it’s not exactly on the trail. You’ll need to make a 300-meter detour from the route in each direction. If you run out of water, your next option is to climb up to Ein Keshatot, about 9.5 km from the start of the trail. It would be about an 800-meter detour, and since I didn’t do it myself, I’m not sure if there’s water. But the map says there is, and Ein Keshatot is an organized visitor site, so I assume there is water over there. You can also fill water at the endpoint in Givat Yoav.
Stay options at the end of the trail: Because it was raining, we stayed at Village on the Cliff, one of the yurt villages that operate in Givat Yoav. It was fantastic! There are also many other accommodation options in Givat Yoav. But if you prefer camping outdoors, there’s a camping site in the Givat Yoav Woods near the back entrance to the settlement. There are no facilities there, but you can get water and supplies from Givat Yoav.
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Important to note
- The hike is under your full responsibility, so please be careful while hiking.
- Make sure to take enough water for the day (at least 3 liters). If you ran out of water following the previous day, make the detour to the water faucet near the campsite.
- Don’t go hiking when it’s too hot (over 30 degrees Celsius). It’s not enjoyable and can end with heatstroke. Almost all parts of the trail are completely exposed to the sun. Also, hiking after rainfall is not recommended because the route could be muddy and slippery.
- Pay attention to sunset hours (in Summer, around 6-7 PM; in Winter, around 4-5 PM). Try to begin your day hike early so you can rest during the hot afternoon hours and still get to the trail’s end.
- The first part of this trail passes through a military training zone. If you’re traveling on Friday or Saturday, there’s no problem, but if you’re traveling during the week, you should coordinate your plans with the HQ at (+972) 04-6977808. It’s recommended to call them at least a day before you start this segment to make sure it’s ok.
- Network connection was overall good. But in some places, like the bottom of Samach Wadi, the reception wasn’t so good.
- Bring good hiking shoes, a hat, and anything else you might need for the day. Also, make sure to bring a garbage bag to carry your trash.
- The Golan Trail is marked by a green-blue-white mark. The trail is well-marked, but it’s always good to bring a map or use a navigation app to make sure you’re on track. I use Israel Hiking Map and Amud Anan.
If you need further help with planning your hike, you are welcome to contact me at [email protected].
How to get to the head of the trail?
If you want to start your hike from Daliot Campsite, you will need to get to Katzrin and take bus number 88 to the Daliot Junction. The campsite is a short walk from there. But I recommend checking Moovit or Google Maps for the best route, depending on your departure point. If you have a car, you might prefer driving to the Golan area, parking someplace central, and taking a bus from there. It will save you tons of time.
Description of the hike
From the campsite to Nahal Samach
From Daliot Campsite (1), we crossed the road and started walking on the Golan Trail. It was pitch dark, so we had to use our flashlights to see where we were going. A few meters from the road, there’s a left-hand turn to the trail, so make sure not to miss it! Then, the trail continues through a rocky and winding route for about 880 meters until it reaches a junction with a signpost (2). The signpost told us that the drinking water was to the left, so we turned left and walked about 300 meters on a wide jeep road to the drinking faucet (3).
After filling up our water bottles, we reconnected to the Golan Trail. We continued on an easy route for about 1.4 km until we reached the large reservoir of Nahal Samach (4). This reservoir collects the flood water of the Samach Stream and keeps the water for agricultural purposes.
We turned right and then continued on an elevated area above the reservoir. It was super windy at this point. We almost got blown off the trail. This strange weather was going to accompany us throughout the entire segment. About 1.3 km later, we climbed down from the elevated area and started looking for a place to rest, protected from the wind. We found someplace that was somewhat ok.
After resting a bit, we continued on the trail, passed by the pumping station of the Samach Reservoir, and made our way to Nahal Samach (the Samach Wadi). Nahal Samach is the most significant stream in the southern part of the Golan. The trail goes on a narrow route above the wadi. The channel was full of green trees and bushes and was a beautiful sight.
Going down to the water
We climbed out from the wadi about 2.3 km from our resting point. Then, Nitai asked if we could stop again for breakfast. “Look at the view; it’s fantastic!” he told us. It was super windy there, but everyone agreed to stop. That was a mistake because it was better to stop further ahead, near the stream.
After eating and freezing a bit, we continued on the trail, which took us above the wadi for a while and then started descending deep into it. The trail winds down in a slight zigzag and isn’t too difficult. The only thing that’s difficult about it is that it’s very slippery. Two of us slipped while climbing down. So, watch your step!
About 850 meters from the start of the descent, we reached the Nahal Samach crossing (5). If you’re looking for an excellent place to stop, this is the place. We crossed the stream on a couple of rocks and then stopped to rest on the other side. It’s not a large crossing, but nevertheless, it’s lovely. We spent a lot of time there. Nitai entered the water and swam a bit in a small pool that was formed nearby. The rest of us just enjoyed the view of the water. It was too cold to get inside. And we also saw a giant crab that crawled quickly into the water and drifted away with the strong flow.
There was also a sign pointing to the continuation of the stream, saying you could walk in the water to the Syrian Bridge. With the temperature outside, we thought it was a bad idea. But if it’s really possible, it might be a nice activity in warmer seasons.
Climbing up to the junction to Ein Keshatot
We said goodbye to the stream. About 200 meters later, we reached the Syrian Bridge. The trail doesn’t cross it. The Syrians built this basalt bridge in the 1960s when working on a water channel. The channel was supposed to divert the waters of the Hasbani and Banias Rivers from Israel to the Golan. At the time, the Golan was under Syrian control. Their aim was to reduce the water flowing to the Sea of Galilee and to prevent the Israelis from building the National Water Carrier. This led to a series of battles between the Israelis and the Syrians, dubbed “The War over the Water.” Eventually, the plan didn’t work out because the Israeli air force bombed the Syrian channel and facilities.
From the Syrian Bridge, the trail starts climbing out of the wadi. After about 680 meters, we reached a flat route above the wadi. The view to the right was fantastic. We continued walking for about 1.7 km and reached a trail junction with a Golan Trail signpost (6). It told us that we’d completed segment number 10.
From here, you can turn left and climb up to Ein Keshatot (Umm al-Kanatir). We didn’t do that because of lack of time. But if you’re a fast hiker or want to end the segment in Natur, Ein Keshatot is highly recommended. I’ve been there several times, and it’s a fascinating and lovely visitor center and archeological site. It includes the beautifully preserved remains of a Roman-era Jewish village in the Golan. The village’s synagogue was almost wholly reconstructed from its original stones! It costs 25 ILS per adult to enter, but it’s worth it.
From the trail junction to the Streams Meeting Point
So, we didn’t climb to Ein Keshatot. Instead, we continued about 180 meters to the right-hand turn (7), which took us down into the wadi again. Again, the descent isn’t too difficult, but it could be slippery here and there. Also, the ground was all powdery, and a lot of dust went up. Our shoes got completely white, and it wasn’t much fun.
After about 2.8 km, we reached another water crossing of Nahal Samach (8). This was a longer and deeper water crossing. So, we took off our shoes and walked through the water. There were lots of wasps near the water, so it was stressful for me, but it wasn’t too bad.
We stopped at the end of the crossing for a bit, but after drying up our feet, we continued to the next water crossing (9), about 180 meters away. This is more or less where Nahal El Al joins Nahal Samach and becomes one stream that flows down to the Sea of Galilee. The water crossing was also long and deep here. The water reached our knees.
When we finished the crossing, we stopped to rest beneath a huge tree next to the water. Some went aside to play around in the water. There was a large deep pool nearby, where you could get completely wet.
The way up to Ophir Viewpoint
From this point, the trail becomes challenging. There’s a steep climb up from the wadi. And we weren’t smart because we decided to hike up the trail when it was already starting to get hot. The trail climbs about 250 meters over 2 km. It was a bit challenging for me, with the huge backpack and the lack of fitness. I stopped several times but eventually managed to get to the top.
Then, the trail goes on a relatively flat trail, with a beautiful view of agricultural fields to the right. We went on for about 2 km and then stopped to rest under a huge tree. Between the yellowish vegetation, we spotted some cute sheep. Nitai tried talking to them, but we told him it’s not a good idea.
Then, we continued down the trail toward road number 789. The trail goes above the road for a bit and then turns left onto a ladder that passes a fence. Then, the trail turns to an underground passage beneath the road (10). It’s very low, a bit wet, and at the end, there are horrible thorny plants that get stuck in your clothes and skin. So beware and try to avoid the thorns! My boyfriend wasn’t lucky and got all the thorns stuck in his arm. It took a while to free him from their grasp. The scratches remained for a long time afterward.
Once we passed the thorny area, we continued on an easy and flat route. After about 2.5 km, we arrived at a viewpoint of the Sea of Galilee (the Kinneret Lake) (11). Because it was a foggy day, we couldn’t see to a large distance, but it was still beautiful. We could see the lake and all the agricultural fields that encompassed it.
We stopped there for a while, but then it started raining. “Oh, we’re so close to the end!” we cried out and started hurrying up the trail that led to a higher viewpoint. There was another ladder, and the ascent was steep but relatively short. After about 330 meters, we reached the Ophir Viewpoint (12).
From Ophir Viewpoint to Givat Yoav
So, as I mentioned at the beginning of the post, we didn’t hike all the way to Givat Yoav. We arrived at Ophir Viewpoint when it was pouring rain. The viewpoint was built in memory of Ophir, a 16-year-old boy from Givat Yoav who died from a deadly disease. There are 16 olive trees at the viewpoint, symbolizing the number of years Ophir lived.
We took a glimpse from the viewpoint toward the Sea of Galilee. It looked stormy, and we could see lots of waves everywhere.
A short while later, a guy with a golf car came along. He had a wagon connected to the back of his car. “I’m here to pick up my friend’s brother,” he told us.
“You’re talking about the boys with the dog?” we asked him.
“Yeah,” he said.
“They’re behind us,” we told him because we saw them running on the trail from the Ophir Viewpoint. “But it will take them some more time to climb up.”
He hesitated for a moment and then asked: “So, do you want me to give you a lift to Givat Yoav? I can do it in the meantime until they arrive.”
There was lots of room in his wagon, so we happily agreed to his offer. We climbed into the wagon, and he started driving like crazy through the fields of Givat Yoav to our accommodation place, the Village on the Cliff. The rain sprayed our faces, the wind blew hard on us, and we just hoped the car won’t flip over. Luckily, we made it within a few minutes to our yurt and could dry up because we got completely soaked.
If you’re looking for an indoor stay option, feel free to read my view of Village on the Cliff. It was a lovely stay with a gorgeous view.
The section from Daliot Campsite to Givat Yoav is fun and beautiful yet a bit challenging. It’s full of stream crossings and spectacular views of the Golan and the Sea of Galilee. Near the end of the trail, there are some steep climbs, but overall, the ascents and descents aren’t too bad.
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Hiked the trail in October 2022.
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