Beautiful Nahal Zippori to Ein Yivka
This is a beautiful circular hike in the western Lower Galilee along Nahal Zippori. The first 25-minute section is on a tayelet, a flat paved walkway, and is suitable for a stroller or wheelchair. Some people will be satisfied with just this. Half the hike is on the Israel National Trail (Schvil Yisra'el).
Nahal Zippori is the largest stream in the western Lower Galilee. It begins by Zippori, 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 usually flowing water even in the summer. Flintstones and pottery found in the valley indicate that the area was inhabited from prehistoric times, as far back as the Neolithic period from about 8,000 BCE. After the Bar Kochba revolt, the Alonim-Shefarim Hills became populated with Jewish settlements, as it was somewhat off the beaten track. The Sanhedrin was located in these hills, in Usha and Shefar’am, and later moved to Beit She’arim and Tzippori. Jewish communities diminished in the Byzantine period and Bedouins used this area. In the 1960’s they established permanent communities. Christian German Templers formed two agricultural settlements, Waldheim and Bethlehem, and when they left after World War II, Jews moved into their abandoned settlements.
Time: : Just over 2½ hours.
Distance: Approximately 8½ Km.
Type of hike: Circular.
Difficulty: Very easy.
Directions: Enter into Waze “Ras Ali” and click on “Ras Ali טיילת נחל ציפורי.” This brings you to the parking lot for the tayelet.
Descend from the parking lot to the tayelet. This is a paved pathway. It takes about 25 minutes to the end and is a distance of approximately 1 Km. The tayelet ends at the Monk's water mill.
The many areas of grass along the river are usually green whatever the season and can be used for picnicking, as can the expanse of grass by the water mill. This mill, which is now deserted, was built by Druze from Shefar'am and subsequently bought and operated by Carmelite monks in the 1800s. Water was channeled from the Yivka Spring several kilometers away (to be visited) to operate the mill. The mill had two stories, with a mill in each, and water was channeled to each mill. After being put out of business by the use of electricity, it was used for storage.
For the circular hike, continue along the Schvil Yisrael by crossing the stream on the concrete blocks just after the mill. This will take you into the hills overlooking the river. Follow the markings for the Israel National Trail (Schvil Yisra'el) and after about 80 minutes from the beginning of the hike you will arrive at Ein Yivka. It has a quite a large pool, and at a depth of about 50 cm is deep enough for swimming.
Together with Ein Tzippori, Ein Yikva provides most of the water for Nahal Tzippori. The spring once supplied water to the Monk’s Mill via an aqueduct, the remains of which are by the mill. The elevation of the pool raised the level of water for the mill. The pool was built originally at the time of Jewish settlement and was renovated by the Carmelite monks in the 19th century.
To return, it is possible to go back along the Israel National Trail (Schvil Yisra'el) the way you came. However, for variety and to save about 15-minutes you can return on the paved road on the opposite side of the river to the Schvil Yisra'el trail. This will take you to the end of the tayelet by the Carmelite water mill, and from here it is a 25-minute walk back to your car.
The Carmelite watermill, now deserted.
Ein Yivka is deep enough for kids to swim in.
II could not resist photographing this field full of flowers close to the stream.