The Dolmen Trail in the Gamla Nature Reserve leads through savanna landscape to the spectacular Gamla Waterfall, which flows throughout the year. You will pass a number of dolmens on the way. What is a dolmen? Read on to find out. On the return, turn onto the Vulture Trail to learn about the park’s vulture preservation program.
Time: About 1½ hours total.
Distance: Approximately 4 Km there and back.
Type of hike: Same route there and back.
Difficulty: An easy hike along a level footpath.
Starting Point: Start from the main parking area for the Reserve.
Directions: Enter “Gamla” into Waze and click on “Gamla Nature Reserve.” This will lead you via an entry road to the main parking lot for the Reserve. This will also be your starting point for the hike.
Admission: Gamla Reserve is a site of Israel Nature and Parks Authority. It is open Sunday to Thursday and Saturday 8.00 am to 5.00 pm and Friday and holiday eves 8.00 am to 4.00 pm. It closes 1 hour earlier in the winter. Last entry to the site is one hour before closing time. A kiosk serves hot and cold drinks, snacks and some hiking equipment. There are many shaded and unshaded picnic benches next to the kiosk. Flush WC’s are nearby. There is an admission charge. Click here for their website.
Public transport: Enter "Gamla Nature Reserve" into Moovit. The bus stop at the Gamla Nature Reserve Intersection is only a short distance from the Reserve. There are bus lines from Haifa, Acco, Tzfat, Kiryat Atta, Yokniam Illit, Emeq Hayarden and Jerusalem.
Take the paved road by the WCs.
At the fork, turn right onto the red-marked footpath signposted to Gamla Falls.
Soon you will see a dolmen on your right with an explanation sign. Now that you recognize them, you will notice many others on the other side of the footpath. In fact, you are walking in an ancient cemetery!
Dolmens are ancient burial structures that were constructed by nomadic tribes for thousands of years - from the Neolithic period (8300-4500 BCE) to the Intermediate Bronze Age (2400-2000 BCE). They were made from large flat rock slabs and consist of a large horizontal stone supported by two upright stones. Originally, they would have been covered with stones and soil, but these have been washed away with the passage of time. About 700 dolmens have been found around Gamla. You can see more on the left side of the entry road as you exit the reserve. They are also seen in other parts of the country.
Cross over the bridge and continue along the trail that parallels the ravine until you come to an observation area providing views of the waterfall. This is the place for your photos! If you want to stop for a break, there is a natural picnic area with shade from oak trees just off the trail from here. There are large stones and even a rough-made bench to sit on.
Return the way you came.
When you reach a fork with a paved road, consider returning via the Vulture Trail. It will add only an extra 300 meters to your hike and is definitely worthwhile. Instead of turning to the left to the parking lot, continue straight ahead. You will see first the ruins of a Byzantine monastery. Then, a cage-like structure in the near distance where vultures are being raised from eggs by the reserve to replenish the diminishing number of vultures breeding here. Continue a bit further along the trail and you will come to a covered Vulture Lookout area from where you can look over the Gamla Stream canyon and view these raptors' nesting colonies.
A number of different species of raptors nest on the cliffs. There is particular concern about the Griffon vulture. There used to be nesting colonies for hundreds of these birds, but for various reasons they have become almost extinct. They are valuable in the ecosystem because they eat carcasses. Colonies of these birds can travel up to 100 Km a day doing their clean-up job.
The continuation of this trail leads to the parking lot.
A dolmen is an ancient burial structure consist of a large horizontal flat slab supported by two upright stones.
Path to Gamla Waterfall. To follow your location on your smart phone, click on https://israelhiking.osm.org.il/share/Ye8yGyFLQH
and click on the black box with a cross at the top left of the map. It will change color to green. It is not necessary to download the program unless you wish to.
Additional trails in the Gamla Nature Reserve
The ruins of Gamla: This is an interesting, slightly difficult there and back trail to the ruins of Gamla. This city was destroyed during the Great Revolt and the ruins have only been revealed since the Six-Day-War.
Daliyot Path to the Daliyot Falls: 3.5 Km each way. About 4 hours for the round trip. There is only water in the falls during the winter or spring but the canyon is spectacular. A shorter hike to the Falls starts at the Daliyot Forest, and this is recommended (see Daliyot Recreation Area, Daliyot and Bazelet Canyons and Daliyot Waterfall).