top of page

Scenic Jordan River trail and ruins of the Crusader fortress Chastelet

The Jordan River has two sections - a northern part which feeds into Lake Kinneret and a southern part which flows from the southern edge of Lake Kinneret to the Dead Sea. This picturesque partially circular family hike is along the bank of the northern section of the Jordan River. It visits the ruins of the unfinished Crusader castle of Chastelet (Little Castle) overlooking an important ford crossing the Jordan River. The hike can be lengthened by continuing along the Jordan River.



Time: 1 hour, but can be lengthened by at least another 30 minutes.

Distance: 2¼ Km.

Type of hike: Circular.

Difficulty: Easy hiking along smooth jeep trails and a concrete path.

Directions and parking: Enter into Waze “derech hayarden haharari.” The turning is off Route 91, about 200 meters from Gesher Benot Ya’acov (Daughters of Jacob Bridge) on the Galilee side of the bridge. There is a brown sign to the trail. Continue a short distance along the jeep road indicated until you come to a parking area.

Public transport: Enter "Gesher Benot Ya'akov" into Moovit. The closest bus stop is a 1.4-Km/17-minute walk from Gadot Intersection. This stop is serviced by buses coming from a number of places.

River Jordan.jpeg

     Do you find my website interesting and helpful?

Then you are sure to love my two new books "In and Around Jerusalem for Everyone - The Best Walks, Hikes and Outdoor Pools" and "The Struggle for Utopia - A History of Jewish, Christian and Islamic Messianism". Both books are available on Amazon and in Jerusalem bookstores. Click on each of the titles for information, reviews and purchase information.


  • From the parking lot, head down to the river. At the T-junction by the river turn right.  Continue walking along this trail some distance until you come to a parking lot by the river.

  • This circular trail now goes up to the fortress on the concrete path on your right. However, before doing this it is worthwhile crossing the concrete bridge and continuing along the bank of the Jordan River for another 15 minutes or so. 

As you walk along you will notice another stream on your right that will eventually become a lake. Plans were devised in 1950 to begin Israel’s National Water Carrier from here with the intention of bringing water to the Negev by means of hydroelectric power from the Jordan River. However, this plan was foiled by Syrian shelling. Instead, the National Water Carrier was started from Lake Kinneret.

  • Continue along the jeep trail until you see a small enclosed damn on your right. A short distance on your left is an unmarked observation area with a wonderful view over the Jordan River. This is a good point from which to return to the parking area by the river and then to the fortress, although you can also extend your hike much further along the Jordan River.

  • On turning back and after crossing the concrete bridge, you will see a concrete path on your left which goes up to a small upper parking lot. The path from here leads to the ruins of the fortress. These can be explored. On the far side of the fortress is a path back to the parking area.

The Crusaders captured this area from the Muslims in 1099 CE and their Kingdom of Jerusalem lasted almost a century. Throughout this time, the Muslims were disorganized and did not resist the Crusaders in any meaningful way. The Christian military monastic movement the Templars appreciated the necessity for a fortress overlooking this natural ford across the Jordan River. The bridge and ford were part of the Via Maris, an important road linking Egypt with Syria and Mesopotamia.


The Crusader king Baldwin was persuaded to authorize the building of a fortress on a hill overlooking the ford. It was called Chastelet or Little Castle. In the meantime, the Kurdish monarch Saladin was establishing an empire from his base in Egypt. Because of its strategic importance, this ford was contested, and in 1179 Saladin defeated the Templars guarding this unfinished fortress.


The entire Christian army was defeated at the Battle of Hittin in 1187, and this effectively brought the Kingdom of Jerusalem to an end since no knights were left to defend the territory (see the web page Karnei Hittin National Park). A Crusader kingdom was established on the Mediterranean coast during the Third Crusade, but the Crusaders were never able to reconquer Jerusalem.  

Ruins of Chastellet.jpeg

Ruins of the castle of Chastellet built to guard the ford across the Jordan River.

Trail along the Jordan River and to Chastelet

To follow your location on your smart phone, click on Click on the black box with a cross at the top left of the map and it should change color to green. It is not necessary to download the app unless you wish to, although it is free.

Links to the HOME PAGE and best family activities, hikes and historic sites in the GOLAN, EASTERN GALILEE, UPPER GALILEE, LOWER GALILEE, JORDAN VALLEY & LAKE KINNERET, the SHEFELAH, TEL AVIV-YAFFO and surroundings, NORTH of TEL AVIV, and SOUTH of TEL AVIV.

bottom of page