There are a number of hikes in the Yehudia Forest Nature Reserve, although some are only appropriate for experienced hikers. Described here is a spectacular and very popular, circular, hike along the Zavitan Stream that is accessed from route 87. Most of the hike is on easy jeep trails, but there are sections that are mild to moderately difficult with climbing over rocks. There is an optional but well worthwhile descent to the bottom of the Zavitan Waterfall and its pool. You can swim in the pools, especially the large pool by the waterfall, but the possibility of bacterial contamination should be checked at the park office before jumping in.
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Time: About 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 dangerous. The optional descent to the bottom of the Zavitan Waterfall involves descent on a ladder by the cliff and is not difficult and walking along rocks. Walking sticks can be helpful for climbing on the rocks and for crossing the stream near the waterfall.
Directions and starting point: 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), turn right to the Zavitan Parking Lot in your car 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 the road and just before a 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 WCs are nearby. There is an admission charge. There is overnight camping. Their phone number is 04-696 2817. Click here for their website.
Public transport: There is an infrequent bus service between the Degania area and Katzrin that stops at the Yehudia parking lot. From here it is a few minutes' walk to the park kiosk.
The Upper Zavitan Falls from the Viewpoint
THE SHORT TRAIL TO THE UPPER ZAVITAN FALLS (#5 ON THE PARK BROCHURE)
Cross over the road from the parking lot 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 here to the Upper Zavitan Stream, but it is placed slightly after the turn-off. Along this section of the trail, you will see 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 along the bank of the wadi and then into the wadi itself and can be somewhat difficult in parts with climbing over boulders. It passes two pools with basalt walls and typical hexagon rock formations.
You will eventually come to an observation area with a brick wall overlooking the Zavitan Waterfall.
About 300-400 meter from the observation area is a 4-way junction. From here is an optional there-and-back descent to the waterfall and its pool. 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). The water in the pool is deep and is wonderful for adult swimming. Pools and streams in the Golan have been intermittently contaminated with leishmaniasis and swimming is then not advised. The park ranger at the park entrance will inform you if this is the case. The descent entails descending a ladder, but this is neither difficult nor scary. Somewhat more difficult is climbing over the boulders on the way to the pool. The side of the pool is a good place for a snack or lunch. Return to the red trail the way you came via the ladder.
At the 4-way junction, turn left onto the trail marked in blue and this will take you directly to your car.
(Note that this hike can be considerably shortened by hiking directly to the Zavitan Waterfall on the blue-marked trail and returning on the same path).
Pool 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/3S044aEKNd
and then click on the black box with a cross at the top left of the map. It should change color to green.