At the steep, eastern part of Mount Carmel there is a stream that cascades down in a series of eye-captivating waterfalls – it is named after the Kibbutz that is located at the foot of the mountain – the Yagur Stream. It starts at the local spring in the Druze village, Isfiya. This itinerary is not long but endows us with an unsurpassed view of the northern valleys due to its challenging, steep creek. During May one of the rarest and most impressive plants of our country – the Madonna lily – blossoms here.
Reuben Karp, a member of the Tiuli Website Community, contributed to this itinerary.
How to Get There and Tips for the Trip
There are several possible routes to hike the Yagur Stream:
- A linear trail – the trail begins at Ein al-Balad in Isfiya, ends at Kibbutz Yagur, and is marked with red footpath markings.
Getting to the starting point at Isfiya: it is possible to get to isfiya either via Route 672, north of the Daliyat al-Karmel village, or from the south via the Damon Junction. As was mentioned before, the starting point is at Ein al-Balad. You’ll find the spring near a road that exits from a roundabout in the Eastern Neighborhood, next to the village water-tower. You can ask passers-by about the exact location of the trail.
Ending point at Kibbutz Yagur: to reach the Kibbutz, drive through the Yagur Junction that links Routes 70 and 75. The Kibbutz is built on the northeastern slopes of the Carmel Mountain. At the Yagur Junction turn southwest to Route 752 and after 1 km [0.620 mile] follow the road-signs and turn into Kibbutz Yagur. Right before the entrance gate of the Kibbutz, is a right turn that leads to a horse ranch and a football field. There, at the edge of the yard, park your car. Find the beginning of the red-marked trail and the white-blue-orange markings of the Israel National Trail.
For those hikers who choose the linear trail - during your preparations please note that leaving a car at the end of the trail for the end of the hike is rather time consuming and that the trail is most suitable for strong walkers due to the steep descents.
- Circular trail No. 1 –the trail starts and ends at Kibbutz Yagur. It begins with a moderate climb and a long contour path toward Isfiya through the red-marked trail and it ends along the same red-marked trail via the Yagur Stream.
Parking is located at the ending point of the Linear Trail. This trail is challenging and suitable for strong walkers.
- Circular trail No. 2 – is similar to the previous one and likewise ends at the Yagur Stream; however the ascent is through the black-marked trail which is shorter but much steeper. For those of you who are in good physical shape and are looking for a challenge – it’s a good choice for climbing. It begins adjacent to Kibbutz Yagur, reaches Ein al-Balad and it’s called the Druze Footpath.
An important note:on rainy days and right afterward entrance to the Yagur Stream is prohibited for fear of flash-floods and slipping.
The Beginning of the Trail
The text below is based on Circular Trail No. 1.
From the car-park which is adjacent to the horse ranch [1 on the map] start following the red markings. In a few meters you’ll exit through a gate that encircles the Kibbutz and come to the meeting place of two trails. The green-marked trail turns right toward Nesher, but you should turn left, southward, on a red-marked trail. After walking an additional 300 m [980 ft] you will come to another trail junction : the blue-marked trail ascends with the NahashStream; however should stick to the red-marked trail. This trail bypasses Yagur and allows hikers access to the area without entering the Kibbutz. Exactly at this stage the trail climbs between the Yagur and Ma’apilim Streams for a short distance up to the slopes of the mountain range. By now the spectacular view will unfold before you: right below you are – Kibbutz Yagur and the Kishon River, behind them, the hills of Alonim and Shfar’am with their carpet of Tabor oak forest. On the horizon try to locate the tracks of the old Jezreel Valley Railway that passes parallel to Route 70 and west of it. The Yagur Train Station still exists somewhere hidden in the thicket of the forest. The range of colors here is amazing: during winter the first anemones of the Carmel start to blossom in shades of purplish-blue; during the springtime,.March-April, the hyacinth squill blooms with its bold, tall stalks that resemble the sea squill with its many small flowers, but unlike the sea squill they are sky-blue. Other species of flowers that you will probably come across are barberry nuts, cyclamens, sage-leaved rockroses, Cretan rock-roses, three lobed sages, yellow asphodels and more.
The Moderate Climb
Descend carefully from the head of the hill to the opening of the Yagur Stream and to a trail junction, with a big tree and a bench : a red-marked trail climbs up in the Yagur Stream (this is the trail with which you will return from Isfiya to Yagur), while a blue-marked trail (the Se’orah Trail) ascends southeastwardly in the bed of the Yagur Stream; however, continue along the blue-marked trail until Kibbutz Yagur is below you. After another 400 m [1,300 ft] you will come to another trail junction . From here the black-marked trail (the Druze Trail) climbs sharply southwardly to the Ein al-Balad Spring in Isfiya; continue an additional 200 m [650 ft] with the blue-marked trail until you come to another trail split from which the green-marked Ya’aran Trail [the forester trail] starts, this trail also climbs to the head of the Yagur Stream. Stick to the blue-marked trail (the Seorah Trail) and climb southeastwardly toward the HaAmakim Junction and the Jalame. Very soon the blue-marked trail changes into a red-marked one and heads south, climbing toward the Shark Ruins which is located on the southeastern outskirts of Isfiya. This is a very moderate foresters trail that every now and then crosses steep ravines and occasionally enables a glimpse of the beautiful views of the Galilee Mountains, and the Zvulun and Jezreel Valleys.
After walking 3 km [1.8 miles] southward, you’ll come to a trail junction . The red-marked trail on which you hiked continues southward to the Husifa Stream and the Bama Fort; however, just continue weston the blue-marked trail. After 300 m [980 ft] you’ll cross the Nof Carmel road (green-marked) and continue with the blue-marked trail to the southeastern neighborhood of Isfiya.
At the point where the blue-marked trail ends – at Isfiya – it reaches a road . Follow this road northward for another 500 m [1,640 ft] until you locate a red-marked trail that goes down to the Yagur Stream. There is a minimarket at the roundabout of the eastern neighborhood in Isfiya where you will find some very nice people– this is an excellent place to stop for an ice-cream and relax after the long climb.
Slightly north and below this road is the fountainhead from where the Al-Balad emanates . Ein al Balad means “the spring of the village”. Ever since the Roman times (when this site was a Jewish settlement) and to thepresent day its water has been used by the local residents. The pools are used for storing the spring water for irrigation of livestock and for agriculture. Unfortunately, a lot of garbage has been dumped at the site, but the pools also host salamander tadpoles, a protected species!
The Ein al Balad’s water is drinkable and flows into the pool via a stone pipe. In order to increase the spring’s capacity, in ancient times, a tunnel was built along the subterranean layer that lies beneath the water. At a distance of a few dozen steps from the spring you’ll find a round opening, through which one can access the tunnel.
To begin your descent walk to the northwest along the comfortable gradient of a red-marked tractor road that comes to the upper ravine of the Yagur Stream. The bed of the stream here is wider and its slopes are more moderate since it was dug through mild chalkstone. At a distance of about 800 m [2,600 ft] from the roundabout, the view of plantations and orchard on your left will change when you cross the Nof Carmel Road again and then it becomes a canyon-typeview .
The Yagur Stream is known for its beauty and it is the most famous among the northwestern craggyt streams of the Carmel. There are two main factors which have contributed to its formation: first, a geological fault line which incipiently resulted in the rise of the Carmel above the valley and the precipitous slope; second, the undermining of the dolomite river rock, which is very hard and cracked. Both created a high degree of inclination that falls 400 meters in an area of 2 kilometers. The Mediterranean forest on both sides of the ravine is extremely developed and consists of kermes oaks, terebinth trees, laurestines, sweet bay, broad-leaved phillyreas, Judas trees, styrax officinalises, eastern strawberry trees, Aleppo pines, carobs and many more. Most of the year the bed of the river is shaded, hence almost nothing can grow here except cyclamens; and yet you can still find rare plants of which the most beautiful one is the Madonna lily that blossoms during May as well as a special type of big fern (15 – 35 cm) with double feather-like ramified leaves that emerges from amongst the rocks. Its name is asplenium onopleris, or black asplenium, and it is named after the dark and shiny shade of its pedicel.
The descent of the stream is extremely delightful, due to the continuous shade. At the beginning of the canyon-like segment of the Yagur stream you’ll come upon the remains of three cars that were washed here by winter floods. Along the trails you’ll pass through dozens of miniature falls or waterfalls but none higher than 5 meters [16 feet]. However, toward the end you’ll come across three bigger ones with handles installed for facilitating the descent/ascent.
Returning to Kibbutz Yagur
At the end of this trail you’ll reach the same stream-opening that you encountered at the beginning of the trail . From here return via the same route with which you arrived.
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