There are many hikes in the Yehudia Forest Nature Reserve, although some are for experienced hikers. This is an extremely beautiful and popular circular family hike along the Zavitan Stream. This part of the park is accessed from route 87. Most of the hike is on easy jeep trails, but there are sections that are slightly difficult and involve climbing over rocks. There is an optional (but well worthwhile) descent to the bottom of the waterfall and its pool using an easy ladder. There is swimming in pools, especially the one by the waterfall, but the possibility of bacterial contamination should be checked at the office before stepping into the water.
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Time: 3½ hours.
Distance: Almost 9 Km.
Difficulty: Most of the hike is very easy walking on jeep trails. However, the red-marked footpath along the Zavitan Stream is mild to moderately difficult, although not at all dangerous. The optional descent to the bottom of the Zavitan Waterfall is also slightly difficult. Walking sticks can be helpful for climbing the rocks and for crossing the stream near the Zavitan Waterfall.
Directions: Enter “Yehudiya Reserve” into Waze. This will bring you to the Yehudiya parking lot. After checking in at the park entrance and obtaining a map (also available in English), exit this parking lot in your car and turn right to the Zavitan Parking Lot, following the direction of the sign to the Upper Zavitan Stream. The parking lot is not signposted, but is on the right-hand side of the road, at the end of this road and just before the gate.
Admission: This is a site of the 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 is 2¼ hours before closing. A kiosk serves hot and cold drinks, snacks and some hiking equipment. There is a large shaded area with picnic benches next to the kiosk. Flush WC’s are nearby. There is an admission charge. There is overnight camping. Their phone number is 04-696 2817. This is their website.
HIKE (TRAIL 5 ON THE PARK BROCHURE: THE UPPER ZAVITON CANYON - THE SHORT TRAIL)
Cross over the road and follow the blue sign to the Zavitan Fall.
After some distance you will come to a fork. Turn onto the black-marked path. There is a black-marked sign to the Upper Zavitan Stream, but it is placed slightly after the turn-off. As you hike along this section of the trail, you will notice the ruins of the Arab village of Sheikh Hussein on your left.
At a red-marked sign to the Zavitan Waterfall, turn to your left along a red-marked footpath. This path goes either along the bank or into the wadi and can be somewhat difficult in parts climbing over boulders. It passes two pools with basalt walls with typical hexagon formations.
You will eventually come to an observation area with a brick wall that provides a great view over the Zavitan Waterfall.
300-400 meter from this is a 4-way junction and an optional there-and-back descent to a pool at the bottom of the waterfall. It is indicated by a blue-marked signpost to Zavitan Waterfall. It will add about 40 minutes to your hike (and this time has been included in the time given above). This is a great pool for adult swimming. Over the last few years, the pools have been intermittently contaminated with leishmaniasis and swimming is then not advised. The park ranger will inform you if this is the case. The descent entails descending a ladder, but this is not difficult or scary. Somewhat more difficult is climbing over the boulders on the way to the pool. By the side of the pool is a good place for a snack or lunch. Return to the red trail via the ladder.
At the 4-way junction, continue ahead on the blue-marked jeep trail signposted to Yehudiya Campsite. This will bring you directly to the Zavitan Parking Lot.
The Zavitan Pools along the Zavitan Stream.
Upper Zavitan Canyon short trail. To follow your location on your smart phone, click on https://israelhiking.osm.org.il/share/0xAc4zJprX
and then click on the black box with a cross at the top left of the map. It should change color to green.