A Delightful Hike from Ras Ali to Ein Yivka along Nahal Tzipori
This is a scenic circular hike along Nahal Tzipori in the western Lower Galilee. The first 20-minute section is on a tayelet, a flat paved walkway, and is suitable for a stroller and wheelchair. About half the hike is on the Israel National Trail (Schvil Yisra'el).
Nahal Tzipori is the longest stream in the western Lower Galilee. It begins by Tzipori, winds between the rolling Alonim-Shefarim Hills, and drains into the Kichon River, a distance of 32 Km. It is fed by a number of springs and there is flowing water even in the summer. Flintstones and pottery found in the valley indicate that this area was inhabited during prehistoric times, as far back as the Neolithic period from about 8,000 BCE.
During the Bar Kochba revolt all the towns and villages of Judea were deliberately destroyed by the Romans, and the Alonim-Shefarim Hills became populated by Jewish refugees. This area was somewhat off the main thoroughfare and radar of the Roman authorities. The Sanhedrin constituted the religious leadership, and later the political leadership too under Rabbi Yehuda HaNassi, and it convened in the nearby towns of Usha and Shefar’am. It later moved to Beit She’arim and Tzipori, which are also in the Lower Galilee. The number of Jewish communities in this area diminished in the Byzantine period. In the modern period, Bedouin grazed their flocks here and in the 1960s established permanent communities. It is possible that some of their towns on the hilltops were originally Jewish in origin.
Time: 2-2¼ hours.
Distance: Approximately 7 Km.
Type of hike: Circular.
Difficulty: An easy hike.
Directions and stating point: Enter into Waze “Ras Ali”. This will take you to the center of the town. However, the parking lot for the tayelet is about 0.5 Km before this. Just before the first building and therefore before you enter into the town you will see the parking lot on your right. It is just before a covered playground and a blue colored bus stop that also has a cover. There is a single portable WC in the parking lot, but it may not be well kept.
Picnicking by the now deserted Carmelite watermill
Descend from the parking lot to the tayelet or walkway. This is a paved pathway that takes about 20 minutes to its end, a distance of approximately 1 Km. The tayelet ends at the Monk's Water Mill.
There are many grassy areas along the stream, whatever the season, that are ideal for picnicking, as is the expanse of grass by the watermill. This watermill was built by Druze from Shefar'am. In the 1880s it was bought and operated by Carmelite monks. Water was channeled from the Yivka Spring several kilometers away (to be visited). The mill had two stories, and each story had a mill. With the advent of electricity, the mill went out of business and it is now deserted.
Continue along the Israel National Trail (Schvil Yisrael) by crossing the stream on the concrete blocks just beyond the parking area after the mill. This will take you into the hills overlooking the river. Follow the markings for the Schvil Yisra'el trail (white, blue and orange). At the first T-junction turn left and then immediately right. There is a Schvil Yisrael marking but it is rather faint.
About 80 minutes from the beginning of the hike you will see a faint Schvil Yisra’el sign on a rock directing you to a narrow footpath down to the spring and pool of Ein Yivka. (At the time of writing this, this footpath is being improved). At a depth of about 50 cm, the pool is deep enough for swimming.
Together with Ein Tzipori, Ein Yikva provides much of the water for Nahal Tzipori. This spring once supplied water to the Monk’s Mill via an aqueduct, the remains of which are by the mill. The aqueduct was at a higher elevation than the watermill. The pool was built at the time of Jewish settlement and was renovated by the Carmelite monks in the 19th century.
You can return the way you came along the Schvil Yisra'el trail. However, for variety and to save time use the paved tayelet by the stream. This crosses two bridges. At the end of the concrete path, cross the stream on the concrete blocks and then turn right onto the blue-marked trail. After a while, you will see a path on your right that will take you to the Carmelite water mill. (As of writing this paragraph, two of the concrete blocks in the stream are poorly placed and it is a significant jump from one to the next. If the distance is too great for you, turn right at the end of the concrete path and you will meet the Schvill Yisrael. Turn left towards the water mill, the tayelet and your car.
Ein Yivka is deep enough for kids to swim in.
A field full of flowers close to the stream.