The Golan Heights is teeming with water trails. One of the finest and most versatile of them is the Lower Zavitan Stream trail that starts in the Yehudia highlands, descends to the stream which it is named after because of the many angular curves in its path [zavit in Hebrew means angle], climbs up and goes down again toward the charming splendid cool water of the Meshushim Pool which offers the invaluable pleasure of a nice swim after a walk on a hot summer's day.
The Itinerary’s Rules of Thumb
- This part of the hike at the lower Zavitan Stream and further to the Meshushim Pool is for good hikers and it might take 6 - 7 hours, including two not-easy climbs.
- There are two suggested options for taking this enjoyable route:
- Non-circular trail starting at the Yehudia night-camp, ending at the Meshushim Pool next to the Had Nes community which entails having two vehicles or relying on hitchhiking e.g. leaving the car at the end of the trail and thumbing back to its beginning;
- Two circular itineraries – the first in the Lower Zavitan Stream, the other toward the Meshushim Pool. Level of difficulty is equal to the first trail.
- Hiking does not require entering the stream, but it is possible and recommended;
- It is recommended to wear heavy duty walking shoes as well as sandals for walking in the stream. Be sure to take enough water, sunscreen and a hat
- There are many areas in the Golan Heights with mine fields. It is absolutely not allowed to leave marked footpaths, to cross barbed wire fences, and it is most imperative to bring an updated map with footpath markings with these areas marked in it;
- The trail begins and ends at the Yehudia campsite and the Meshushim campsite, respectively. There is an entrance fee for the campsites (as well as for the trail).
- Opening hours: Apr. – Sept. 08:00 AM – 05:00 PM; Oct. – Mar. 08:00AM – 04:00 PM. Entrance to the nature reserve is closed two hours before the official closing time.
- Tel. 04-6963043, 04-6962817
How to Get There
- Start point– Yehudia campsite – from the Yehudia Junction, at the northern Sea of Galilee, continue on Route 87 toward Katzrin. After about 7 km [4.3 miles] you will see a sharp turn toward the Yehudia Junction [1 on the map].
- End point – Meshushim campsite – from the Yehudia campsite go down Route 87 toward the Yehudia Junction. Continue straight at the junction and at the next junction, the Beit Saida Junction, turn right. Climbing with the road, pass the Had Ness community and 3 km [1.8 miles] after the entrance to Had Nes you will see a sign directing you rightwards to a paved road which turns into a good quality dirt road. This road, marked black on the footpath marking map will eventually lead toward the Yehudia campsite .
The Route of the Hike
The Golan / Amos Kenan
The Golan is different. It is bleaker, wilder, and more heroic than any other region in our country. The black basalt rock marks it as unique. A synagogue and white wall. The intense green and spectacular colors of the blooming and the black are also different, frightening…
In the Golan one should hike…He who never hikes in it, will never see it. You can drive along in your car in the Golan and never know it exists. He who wants to see it has no choice but to put a rucksack on his back and to walk, to get off the road, of course. You walk on the bare highlands and would never guess that in only few minutes you’re about to fall to a deep gorge, and you hear the purling water falling down in a great waterfall. The vulture below you ascends signaling that you’re really on the edge of a cliff…
You walk into a dense thicket of oleanders and willow trees, and there is an intoxicating smell of mint in the air. The water is roaring with wrath upon the bedrock. If you’d like to see the power of water – it’s right here! The upright ancient walls, the waterfalls with their pools at their feet, and canopying them are thick fig leaves - can anything be more precious? Take a rucksack and go down to the tributary, recline comfortably in the shade, near the water, and near their purling sound –there is nothing like it to inspire peacefulness. Lie on your back, look at the sky, and then close your eyes and listen.
The Lower Zavitan Stream
Leave the Yeudia campsite  westward on a green marked footpath. The footpath passes via the Yehudia Forest that covers an area of 30,000 dunams [7,400 acres]. The Yehudia Forest is an area of basalt highlands that inclines from a height of 200 m [650 feet] above sea-level in the northeast of the Golan down to a depth of 200 m in the Bet Saida Valley, north of the Sea of Galilee. The highland and slopes of canyons that intersect through it are covered with an impressive thicket of Tabor oaks, Atlantic pistacio, together with Christ thorn’s jujube, ziziphus lotus, and Styrax officinalis. In the winter and the spring time the meadow amongst these trees is covered with common Narcissus, cyclamen, anemones, Irus Hermona, sea squill, crocus, steruberyia colchiciflora, hairy pink flax, purple viper’s bugloss and many others.
In the nature reserve you can find large herds of boars (try to track their signs and burrows), gazelles (which were brought here during the 1970s from Ramat Issachar), golden jackals, red foxes, Cape hyraxes, field voles, porcupines, Cairo spiny mice, and birds of prey such as the short-toed eagle, Bonellis’ eagle, Egyptian vulture and Griffon’s vultures.
After a 1.5-km [0.9 mile] hike along the green marked footpath you will meet with a red one . Turn right on the trail leading to the Lower Zavitan Stream. The footpath runs adjacently to the edge of the canyon along 400 m [1,300 feet] until you reach a split from the black marked footpath  that starts with a gradual descent down to the stream.
The footpath with the black marking winds between the basalt rocks, the pink blossoms of the oleander bush and the green of willows and carobs, horse mint and purple loosestrife. For the 2 km [1.2 miles] the footpath runs parallel to the streambed as it crosses through two large deep pools. Don't miss the opportunity to swim and rest here.
After a pleasurable swim, continue walking on with the footpath with the black markings until you come across a red one . At this point you have to decide whether to go back to the Yehudia car-park and end off your hike with a circular route, or go ahead on a path which is not circular toward the Meshushim Pool.
For those of you who have chosen to take the Yehudia campsite route or to go ahead with the other one, it is mostly advisable to hike the extra 200 m [650 feet] down the stream on a footpath with markings that will now change to red . You will soon see a sign pointing towards Ein Nataf  [nataf in Hebrew means “dripped" that connotes the spring’s pouring water: drop by drop very slowly, the water drips to the ground while creating a dripping veil of separate drops].
For those who head toward the Meshushim Pool, remain on the red marked path down the stream. In only a few hundred meters the footpath will cross toward the right bank, and gradually climb toward the highlands that lie between the Zavitan and Meshushim streams. It won’t be an easy climb but the beautiful landscape of the Yehudia highlands is rewarding and beautiful.
The Meshushim Pool
An additional 2 km hike through a plane dotted with oak trees will finally take us downhill toward the Meshushim Stream and the Meshushim Pool . The Meshushim Stream is the longest of the Golan's streams at a length of 35 km [22 miles], and we shall meet its representative, the Meshushim Pool. This extraordinary pool is named after an interesting geological formation of hexagonal basalt pillars. Most of them consist of 5 to 6 sides and they are about 40 cm [16 inch] in width. The pillar formation occurred due to lava cooling, temperature and pressure differences in the various layers of the lava that caused fractures. When the pace of lava flow is slow and the gradient is moderate the result is the formation of perfect hexagons. It is recommended to get into the pool and enjoy the water. Please take care not to jump in and to keep the place clean. The area of the pool is unsuitable for eating because oriental hornets are very likely to be attracted to the food and might turn the meal into an unpleasant experience.
After you end your visit there, you will climb the footpath through the opposite bank to the one you arrived by, until you reach the Meshushim campsite  where a car will await you.
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