Most visitors to Emeq Hama’ayanot in the Beit Shean area are familiar with Gan Hashlosha (the Sachne), but there is another jewel right next door - Park Hama'ayanot. This park is at the foot of the Gilboa Mountain range and contains numerous springs and a network of paths. Best of all, there is no admission charge. Family activities include swimming in the pools and two river walks. One can also rent a golf cart for 4 or 8 people or a bicycle for the 15 Km of paths that wind between the agricultural land. A water-hike and short family hike are described here.
ADMISSION DETAILS ABOUT PARK HAMAYA'ANOT
Directions: Enter “פארק המעיינות“ into Waze and click on “ חניון - פארק המעיינות.“ At the traffic circle before the entrance to Gan Hashlosha turn right and continue to the large parking lot.
Admission: The park is open from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm and the Visitor Center closes then. However, the park is never entirely closed and there is an exit to the parking area just before the gate. There is no admission charge. The Visitor Center is run by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. You can request a brochure in English there. It contains a map which is helpful for exploring the activities here. The Visitor Center sells snack foods and drinks, and rentals are also from here. It also has WC’s and lockers. There are no WC’s or changing facilities elsewhere in the park.
Where does all the water come from?
This park is in Emeq Hamaya’anot and is full of springs. There is not a lot of rainfall falls here, but there is plenty of rainfall in the Samarian Mountains. Water seeps through the rocks in these mountains and escapes as springs from an aquifer at the foot of the Gilboa Mountain Range. The temperature of the water in the springs and streams is 18 to 20 degrees C whatever the season, so you are assured of a pleasant swim.
Map of the Park of Springs from the park brochure o
Below are three walking and hiking activities in the park:
RIVER HIKE IN NAHAL HAKIBBUTZIM
This water hike takes about 1½- 2 hours from the park entrance gate and back. You will be walking with a gentle current. The depth of the stream is usually a bit above an adult male’s waist, but on occasion almost up to adult’s neck. This is therefore a mixture of walking and swimming. The stream bed is fairly smooth. There are some escape areas through the reeds and onto the path. At the end of the river walk is an optional deeper area suitable for adult swimming. The return is on a paved path.
You will need foot ware that is suitable for both the stream and walking back on a paved road. You can change in the WC’s in the Visitor Center. You can also leave your clothes at the starting point of the stream (without any valuables!), but it’s safer to leave them in the car. You will need somehow to deal with your car key, although you can also leave them with your clothes at the start of the river walk and just hope for the best. Most people seem to enter the water with clothing rather than swimming attire, but there are no rules about this.
The stream flows between dense reeds on both sides. However, there are a few open areas by the stream that can be used for picnicking. But they will probably be occupied unless you arrive early in the day.
From the park entrance, continue straight ahead and very shortly you will come to a pumping building. Just after this is an open area on your left where you can step into the water.
Eventually, you will come to a bridge with a short water slide that leads to a wider pool-like area. You can swim here in the deeper water. Leave the pool by climbing up the rock stairs immediately on your right after the slide. Turn right onto the paved path and this path will lead you past the chicken coups to the gates of the park.
CIRCULAR HIKE TO EIN SHOKEK, WITH WATER HIKE ALONG NAHAL SHOKEK AND A VISIT TO TEL SHUKA
The pool at Ein Shokek. The water is at a wonderful 18 to 20 degrees C whatever the season.
This water hike is more suitable for children than the above water walk through Nahal HaKibbutzim since the depth of the water is only just above an adult’s ankle (about 30 cm) and it ends in only a 60 cm deep wading pool. There is therefore no need to change one’s clothing. A wise precaution, though, is to prepare your possessions (wallet, phone) in case you slip. A tip to prevent slipping is to hold someone’s hand throughout the water-hike, especially as there are a few small waterfalls. As with the other water hike, you will need footwear appropriate for water and dry land or a change of footwear. After coming out of the water, you either turn back or continue on a 1½-hour circular walk (just over 4¼ Km).
Just after the entrance gate turn take the path to the right to Ein Shokek as indicated by the sign. It will take you about 15 minutes to get to the spring. There is a nice pool at Ein Shokek with the water depth up to 100 meter or up to about an adult male’s waist. The descent to the river hike n Nahal Shokek is shortly after this.
You will come out of the water just before the Flour Mill Pool. Total time in the river is about 20 minutes although the kids might want to swim in the pool.
To continue on the circular walk, walk along the road by the river. When you come to Tel Shuka you may wish to climb up to the top for the view. The intersection of the paths before the tel is a bit confusing. There is a footpath to the top and also a concrete path a bit further along.
On top of the tel is a three-story watch tower constructed by neighboring Kibbutz Nir David after three kibbutz members were murdered. The tel has not been excavated.
Return to the park entrance via the road adjacent to Nahal HaKibbutzim.
SWIMMING AND PICNICKING IN EIN MUDA
This is a pleasant pool for swimming and picnicking. The surroundings are nicely arranged with many shaded picnic benches. Although in Park Hamayanot, it is quite a distance from the entrance of this park to the pool, and in any case there is no access other than by a golf cart. Instead, access it from a road off Route 669 (which in any case is closer to Route 90 than the park entrance). Directions: enter "Ein Muda" into Waze and click on "Parking Ein Muda (Spring).
There is a walk from the parking area to the pool (0.65 Km and about 10 minutes). Note that this site can be very crowded on weekends. The pool is OK for adult swimming, with a depth up to about 1/3 of an adult male chest. No foot ware is needed. There is a lot of touching (but no biting) from "things" at the bottom of the pool when one stands in the pool, which can be a bit unpleasant. There are rock steps for entering and exiting the pool, although their location is not obvious.