The previous day we hiked through Upper Nahal Amud. Now we had to hike through Lower Nahal Amud, all the way to the Sea of Galilee. We woke up before sunrise, as usual, and make our way through the impressive riverbed, which was completely dry. Almost all the way, there were large riverbed stones, which made the hike quite uncomfortable. But near the end, we reached the agricultural fields of the Sea of Galilee.
Beside the riverbed stones, there were a few more things on the way. We saw the famous U-shaped pipes of “Mekorot,” the prehistoric Golgolet Cave, and of course – the pillar which gave the stream its name. “Amud” in Hebrew is “pillar” or “column”. The hike from Nahal Akbara Campground to Migdal near the Sea of Galilee is about 10-km long, and it took us only about 5 hours to complete. I recommend hiking this segment when it’s not hot, because there’s almost no shade, especially near the end.
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 most of the segment is exposed to the sun.
· 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 the kibbutz of Kadarim. From there, it is about 3.5 km to the head of the trail, at the Nahal Akbara Campground. It’s best to use a navigation app like Moovit or Google Maps to find the best route for you.
We began our hike from the Nahal Akbara Campground (1), which is a very simple campground north to road number 85. We walked to the traffic roundabout and then turned right and followed the sign which said “Shvil Israel”. Very quickly, we reached the tunnel below the road and crossed to the other side.
After the tunnel, there’s a descend back to the riverbed. At the end of the descend (2), we saw a huge wooden arrow on the ground, pointing towards a cattle gate, so we went through the gate. Afterward, there was also a sign saying “Shvil Israel” in Hebrew (“שביל ישראל”), which assured us that we were on the right track. But from this point on, we couldn’t track the trail marks and guessed our way through the trees and bushes until we spotted the trail mark again.
We stopped to rest at one point and I dared to look at my waist, which was burning horribly and unbearably. “What happened to you?!” one of my friends gasped when she took a look at the wound. It turns out that my backpack wasn’t “hugging” me properly, was rubbing my waist and cutting into my skin. Luckily, we took a first-aid kit with us. My friend dressed the wound so there won’t be any friction and I stayed with that wound dressing the entire trip, till we reached Jerusalem many days later. (Of course, I did replace it once in a while). So… Make sure your backpack is good for your waist and that you’re taking a first-aid kit with you!
We continued through the dry wadi with no major ascends or descends. About 4.2 km from the beginning of the trail, we reached the “Gichon” (3), U-shaped water pipes underneath the stairs, that make their way from one edge of the wadi to the other and transport water by communicating vessels. It is one of the most impressive projects of “Mekorot”, the Israeli national water company.
The next interesting point, the “Amud”, is about 1.6 km from the pipes (4). It is a huge chalk pillar, that was created by weathering processes and rises to a height of about 20 meters. It is also what gave the stream its name – Nahal Amud. “Nahal” in Hebrew is “stream”. “Amud” in Hebrew is “pillar” or “column”. It is so majestic, that you can’t miss it. It was still early morning, and the heat was starting to get unbearable, so we rested in the shadow of the pillar for a while before continuing on our way.
About 440 meters from the pillar, we reached road number 8077 (5). Just before the road, there was a fading green sign, which showed us the animals that we might encounter in the area. The animals were a rock hyrax, a long-legged buzzard, an eagle owl, a vulture, an alpine swift, a fox, a wolf, a wild boar, a striped hyena, and of course, a jackal, which we have heard plenty during the nights. If you’re lucky, you might spot some of those animals. We only met foxes during our trip.
We crossed below the road, where there were some constructions, crossed through a cattle gate, and continued through the dry wadi. About 340 meters from the road, we could see Golgolet Cave to our left (6). “Golgolet” in Hebrew means “skull”. There’s a sign next to it, but it’s quite damaged, so you can’t read much. The cave is quite exciting, because it’s the place where the “Galilee skull” was discovered in 1925 by Francis Turville-Petre. It was the first fossilized archaic human found in the western part of Asia. It was also the first paleontological excavation in the Land of Israel.
We didn’t peek into the cave, because the heat and the humidity were pounding on us and personally, I just wanted to find some shade and rest for the rest of the day. There was no decent shade around, so we moved on. That’s why I always say to hike on pleasant days, when the temperature isn’t over 30 degrees Celsius. We made the mistake of hiking on that day, with close to 35 degrees Celsius, and believe me, it’s horrible.
After a few hundred meters, we started seeing the Sea of Galilee in the horizon. We turned right along with the Israel National Trail, that overlaps a black-marked trail (7) and saw a small basalt stone bridge to our left. I couldn’t find much information about it, but it might be an old carriage bridge from the time of the British mandate.
A bit after the bridge, there’s another split in the trail. We continued left on the Israel National Trail. Very quickly, we left the black-marked trail and reached the first banana greenhouse. Today, bananas are one of the most common crops around the Sea of Galilee, thanks to the warm temperatures all year round. Most likely, people starting growing bananas in this area in the Early Muslim Period, in the 7th century CE. In the 10th century, it was already one of the most common fruits in the region. Many Christian pilgrims who arrived in this area and tasted the bananas dubbed them “the apple from the Garden of Eden,” as they believed it was the fruit which was eaten by Adam and Eve. Although it’s tempting, don’t try to pick bananas from the greenhouses. Remember that they are someone’s livelihood.
The path that goes along the agricultural fields and plantations seemed very long, but I think it was because the heat and humidity were unbearable and we just wanted to reach the end of the segment. At some point, we stopped under a very rare piece of shade. Nearby, we spotted the ruins of the Abu Shusha Mill, which was part of an Arab village abandoned during the 1948 Independence War.
We continued about 1.4 km on the flat and fully exposed trail until we reached a large gravel space with six rusty poles connected by thick lines (8). At this point, we got a bit confused and couldn’t find the trail mark. After several minutes, which seemed like a very long time, some locals stopped by us with their Jeep. “Do you know where the Israel National Trail is?” we asked them, and they pointed to the route, that goes right just before the strange area with the poles. So, we missed the turn.
We took the right turn, which curves into a plantation of crops, that aren’t bananas. Afterward, we turned left and continued straight. The path continues for about 900 meters, until it reaches the fence of Ein Nun (9). Originally, we thought of camping at Ein Nun, so we went around the fence to reach the park’s entrance.
For years, Ein Nun was neglected, but that changed after a massive reconstruction in 2019. When we came, the pool fed by the spring was extremely beautiful, the park was clean, and there were picnic tables with SHADE! We rested there for a while, but because there was a gate and opening hours, we thought it won’t be wise to stay there for the night. So, we started calling Trail Angels in the area.
Trail Angels are people who open their homes for hikers on the Israel National Trail. There are times when you can also use their shower and laundry machine, which can be quite useful. We called several Angels in the area, but many of them were not hosting because of the coronavirus. Luckily, there was one woman who was willing to host us on her rooftop in the town of Migdal.
We took our things and made our way to Midgal, which lies right next to Ein Nun. It is named after the ancient town of Magdala, which lies nearby. There was also an Arab village called al-Majdal, which existed in the area and preserved the ancient settlement’s name. In 1908, a small group of German Catholics settled here. But they couldn’t deal with the malaria and the tough conditions, so they left after a year. The land was purchased in 1910 by a group of Russian Zionists, who founded an agricultural farm. This farm developed to become the town of Migdal.
Just before the entrance to Migdal, near the roundabout, there’s a minimarket called Tzomet Hilik (10). This place is run by a Trail Angel, so you can feel free to ask for refilling of your water bottles or to use the restrooms.
We arrived very early to the Trail Angel in Midgal and were greeted heartfully with cold water and some refreshments. She is a sweet lady, who considers hosting INT hikers as a “mitzvah gedolah,” which literally means “a big religious duty.” She also has a breathtaking view of the Sea of Galilee from her rooftop!
When we were there, she hosted many more hikers, who all were able to find room on the roof. Some of those hikers were part of the group, which we met earlier in the segment from Gesher Alma to Horvat Homama. They thought of hiking Mount Arbel the next day, but we convinced them to take a day off. “It’s going to be extremely hot tomorrow,” we told them, as it really was going to be around 37 degrees Celsius. We also took a day off and used it for groceries and some fun time on the beach.
If you don’t want to stay at a Trail Angel’s place, you might be able to find a place to stay on one of the beaches around the Sea of Galilee. The beaches are about 20-30 minutes by foot from the Israel National Trail. Many of them require payment, but there are some which are free.
Some interesting places close by:
I highly recommend taking a day off at the Sea of Galilee. If you’ll do it, here are some interesting sites near Migdal:
Magdala Archeological Park: About 1.5 km from Migdal are the remains of Magdala, an ancient Jewish town from the time of the Second Temple, recognized as the birthplace of Mary Magdalene. One of the most ancient synagogues in the world was uncovered there, with the famous Magdala Stone. There’s a small entry fee. For more information, check out their official website – Magdala.
The Galilee Boat at Yigal Allon Centre: This center is located in kibbutz Ginosar, about 2.5 km from Migdal. The center’s museum houses an ancient boat, dating back to 100 BCE to 100 CE, which is believed to be around the time of Jesus. It was discovered in the waters of the Sea of Galilee in 1986 and underwent massive conservation. There’s a small entry fee. For more information, check out their official website – Yigal Allon Centre.
The Sea of Galilee beaches: As I said, there are several beaches within walking distance from Migdal, amongst them Tamar Beach, Hawaii Beach, and Ginosar Beach. We found a small, quiet and totally private beach not far from the Dabach supermarket. There’s no lifeguard, so if you enter the water here, please be careful. Check out the map below for the estimated location.
How much time does the trail take? About 5 hours, depending on your pace and fitness level.
Difficulty: Easy level of difficulty, because there are no major descends or ascends on the way. Though, if you’re hiking when it’s hot, this trail could be challenging because of the lack of shade.
It is about 10-km long. You can also hike it from the other direction.
When is the best time to hike? In the fall, from October to November, or in the spring, from February to May.
I wish you a fantastic hike on the Israel National Trail!
Continue to the next segment – Hiking the Israel National Trail: From Migdal to the Jordan River.
If you want to leave the trail after this segment, you can take bus number 48, 50 or 450 from the Migdal Intersection to the Tiberias Central Bus Station. From there, you can get on a bus to your final destination.
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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:
Hiked the trail on October 2020.
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