The Itinerary’s Rules of Thumb
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.
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.
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.