Little Switzerland – Kelach & Galim streams

Little Switzerland and the streams nahal Kelach and Galim are second to none in the whole Carmel area. For touring and exploring them we bring you few optional trails that bring the best of the Carmel: evergreen Mediterranean forest, breathtaking blossoming, limestone caves and most important a bit of serenity that always envelops the Carmel mountains. Don't forget to bring swimming suit and flashlight; both are needed for exploring the Ein Kedem tunnels.
Updated at: 27/4/2017






Moderate, 8 Km


All year

Properties: Water DipFor experienced hikersFor FamiliesRound TripGood for dogsPublic transportation

Optional routes of this tour

Kelach and Galim streams go down from the Carmel slopes toward the costal plain and Mediterranean Sea.  For those who want to hike in these streams we bring the following itineraries:

The entire and main route – is about 6-hour walk in a non-circular route, and due to this fact you’d probably have to leave another vehicle at the end of the trail; however, the good thing about it that it goes downhill all the way through the beautiful forest, Ein Kedem and Oranit Cave. You could either start at point [1] and end it at point [9] without visiting the cave or at point [8] which also leads to the cave. Few segments of the descent might be challenging and if your family is in good shape it may fit you.

Incomplete route No. 1– includes only the upper part of Kelach and Galim streams. It is shorter and takes only 4 hours to complete it, and the walk is mostly down-hill but some of it is a moderate up-hill walking. You might find someone to give you a very short car lift. This trail starts at point [4], ends at [1] and generally is recommended for families.

Incomplete route No. 2– is a shorter one and takes only c. 2.5 hours to complete for a family; it is a circular route which means that only one vehicle is needed. Although it would take you only to the lower part of Galim stream, it will also introduce for you the beauties of Oranit Cavern and Ein-Kedem spring, tunnel in which water you can even swim. This route is recommended for families with younger children and it starts and ends in the same point, No. [8].

For those who'd choose either the full or incomplete No. 2 routes, don't forget to bring swimming suits with you for the entering in the water of Ein-Kedem tunnels.

Getting there

Accordingly there are tips for reaching each options of the routes’ starting and ending points. Choose either one of them (full route, incomplete route No. 1, incomplete route No. 2).

Point No. 1 (Dimon Junction)– (the beginning of the main route, the end of incomplete route 1) – begin near Dimon Junction on Route 721 that goes up from Kibbutz beit Oren (Route 4, west to Carmel) until Dimon Junction.  You'll notice a number of gravel lots off to the side of the road where you can pull off to park. The route that goes down to Kelach stream is marked with blue footpath marking and begins in the north part of the road.

Point  No. 4 (the beginning of incomplete route No. 1): after going up from Beit Oren Junction from Route No. 721 turn left (north) in Dimon Junction. A short distance before the entrance to the University of Haifa (the highest tower in the Carmel) you’d meet with a small junction with a road sign pointing right to Ha'arba'im Grove and left to Hai Bar. Turn left and park at the camping sight, next to a road barrier on the way from which you'd come through. Track after the footpath with the green marking that goes to Galim stream and starts only few meters from north to the barrier.

Point No. 8 – (the beginning and end of incomplete route No. 2 and the end of Main Route). This point is located at Tirat HaCarmel ( you'd find the entrance to Tirat HaCarmel from Route 4 not very far from and north to Beit Oren Junction). In Tirat HaCarmel you should continue eastward as much as possible and near the Pais Center (which is easily visible), in Ezra Laniado St., there is a parking lot along the road from which the footpath with the red marking starts to climb up.

Point No. 9– (a possible end for Main Route) you can start from this point which is also in Tirat HaCarmel, at big sandstone yard in the Palmach St. It is also where the blue footpath ends.

In the following paragraphs there is a detailed description of Main Route, and then come additional descriptions of the incomplete ones.

Main Route

The beginning of the route is in Dimon Junction – just take care to locate the footpath with the blue marking at the junction. In a matter of fact the beginning of this route is in Kelach stream. In order to identify the starting point just search for a sign signifying the beginning of the route along the road and leading to Dimon Junction. In case you'd miss it, there is another way to get there – follow the route, and approximately 150 m (~500 feet) before Dimon Junction you'd meet with a dirt road. Follow it until you'd meet with a blue footpath. After finding the trial, you can rely on the clear and understandable marking along the stream. In a few minutes you'll enter the thick of the Mediterranean forest and meet with its typical flora, many oaks and Palestinian boiss trees as well as red eastern Cyprus and Judas trees with their excellent blossom of lilac and red.

Walking down in the stream is breathtaking, and very understandable why the valley earned the name "the concealed valley" or "Small Switzerland": this forest will probably remind you a legendary forest with its enchanting atmosphere, especially during morning time. It's important to note that in several segments down the hill you'll need to develop a special walking technique or simply sit on your behind and push yourselves down with your hands…     

After walking another 1.5 km [0.9 miles] down the stream we'll meet with the red footpath [2] that originally takes from Kibbutz Beit Oren and crosses Kelach stream on top of bridge or levee that were built, during the times of British mandate in Palestine, as part of an antiwar project in the Second World War. In the light of Rommel’s advancements in North Africa, there was a growing fear that the Germans will conquer the Land of Israel. As a result a sort of Massada plan was made and raised up to public discussion. According to these preparation, in case of Nazi occupation, the Carmel area was designated to serve as a modern Massada for the Jewish population for fighting against the Germans.

If you'd visit this place in May don't miss the beautiful blossom of Madonna lily [lilium]. Continue eastward with the footpath with the red marking and to your left you'll encounter off the the path with an intensive blossoming of Madonna lily.

Galim Stream

From the footpaths intersection we'll follow the trail with the blue marking and walk an additional 1 km until meeting with Galim stream [3]. At this point a footpath with green marking descends from the University of Haifa through Galim stream until this meeting point. The above-mentioned Kelach route is actually a tributary of Galim stream that continues from Carmel and flows to the Mediterranean Sea. The part we will enter now in Galim area was enclosed and fenced during the 70' for the Hai Bar Carmel, a project that focuses on reproducing wild species that have become extinct in Israel or in danger of extinction. The aim of the project is to return them to nature and to create a reproductive nucleus. The Hai Bar animals include an Armenian wild sheep, Persian fallow deer, roe deer, and vultures. Another fascinating thing in our walk are the varied species of wild flowers like Cretan rock rose and sage-leaved rock rose, thorny burnet, and couple of orchids like the long leaf helleborine [cephalanthera longifolia], toothed orchis tridentate, Anatolian orchis, tawny bee-orchid, yellow asphodel and more.

From this point we will continue with the footpath with the blue marking another 2.5 km [1.5 miles] until the intersection with Neder  stream [5]. This is also the meeting point of another footpath, the trail that goes down along Neder stream with a black marking and we shall turn right and follow it. After climbing some 400 m [1300 feet] along this black footpath we will arrive to one of the most beautiful (and wettest) spots of the trail – Ein Kedem [6].

Ein Kedem

Ein Kedemis a fracture spring and two carved tunnels in the mountain empty the abundance of water it brings. The outlet is full of fresh cool water all year-round including during the arid season. Exploring the tunnels is possible but don't forget to bring flashlight and swimming suit with you. The tunnel to your right is the simpler between the two and you could walk in knee-deep water for a distance of 15 m [50 feet] until meeting with the spring where water gushes outside off the rock. For the second tunnel you should invest more efforts – this tunnel is hindered with a cement wall that allows for pumping and boosting the spring water through a wide pipeline.

There is a small window gapping in this wall through which you  can squeeze your way down to the second tunnel. In this tunnel the water is deeper, enough for letting your whole body dip in it. It is longer and a great fun for those who seek for adventures. When climbing up the wall to the opening and squeezing through it please notice the many fossils in the ceiling, which bring witness for the ancient sea that once covered this area and created the chalk rock through which the spring had dug its path. It seems that the right tunnel was carved in Roman times and was used for increasing the capacity of the spring. If you'd look closely next to the black footpath leading to the water source, you'll probably see some ruins of an aqueduct that used to carry the water toward Tirat HaCarmel.   

The Oranit cave complex and end of the main trail

From the spring [6] we'll find our way back to the footpath with the blue marking [5]. To our left on the slope of the mountain we would see the Oranit cave. At this point one can either skip visiting the Oranit cave and continue another 1.5 km [0.900 mile] below with the blue trail along Galim stream until reaching point [9] in Tirat HaCarmel, or turn and climb the mountain through visiting Oranit cave. Please note that throughout winter the cave is an important haven for insectivorous bats[Microchiroptera]so entrance is forbidden from October to March, when the bats hibernate.

For those who'd like to visit the cave, locate an unmarked path near the black-blue intersection and climb with it toward the cave. Be careful when you take the quite short but steep ascent. Oranit cavern is a big impressive Karstic cave and many findings from the times of prehistoric man like flint and bone-made working tools were discovered in it. The complex consists of several huge halls and a corridor leading to the two floors of the cave. Passing through the first floor includes crawling along the footpath with the red making that goes through Oranit, and following this marking will eventually lead you to Sefunim stream and cave.

Here we will rather choose to descend with the red footpath toward the ending point of the route, point [8], near the Pais center of Tirat HaCarmel.

Incomplete Trail No. 1

After parking your vehicle near the barrier on the access road to Hai Bar, we’d find the starting point of a footpath with a green marking [4]. The passage in the first segment of this trail is through a burnt wood, and be aware how the Mediterranean forest is renewed between the charred pine trees. After an essentially short walk we shall enter the riverbed of Upper Galim stream. Tracking its path we immediately notice the immense power of the water that all through history has cutting through the hard limestone boulders. After going down another 1.5 km, we will meet with the intersection of Galim and Kelach streams [3]. Here we should turn left and go up in an easy 3 km [1.8 miles] slope along the streambed of nahal Kelach through the footpath with the blue marking. Going up with it is evidently easy and nice along 3-km until the meeting with Dimon Junction. Halfway through it we’ll meet a footpath with red marking [2] that continues on a bridge from mandatory British era (see above for further explanations). At the end of the moderate slope we will reach Dimon Junction [1] and the vehicle we’d left there.

Incomplete Route No. 2

This ring-like route starts and ends at the same point, No. [8] near Tirat HaCarmel Pais Center. After climbing up along the easy ascent toward Oranit cave and exploring the above-mentioned sights, we shall continue down toward Galim stream through a footpath which is not marked with footpath marking. The path that will take you down begins very close to the cave. This undistinguished footpath is marked with a small green pole which is tucked in the ground. Take care when you'll go downhill because it is quite steep to the point of needing to slide down on your behind…

When we shall hit the bottom and Galim streambed, we must locate the blue-black footpaths intersection [point 5]. We should go with the path with the black marking an additional 400 m [1300 feet] toward Ein Kedem [6] and if you'd scroll upward you'll find more details about this affluent spring. After visiting it we shall go back toward the trail intersection but this time we will turn right with the blue footpath down the Galim stream. The blue trail ends in Tirat HaCarmel but not in the same place where we left the car; you need to just follow down the footpath with the blue marking and pay attention to a place from which it's possible to see the Pais center and then in the closest spot to the center cut straight left and after 100 m [300 feet] join the footpath with the red marking that leads to the end of the trail…

More attractions in this area

Not very far from the point where we will begin our route, in the University of Haifa, there is a fantastic museum with art galleries, historical and archeological articles – the Reuben and Edith Hecht Museum (04-8257773) which is located at the highest building on Mount Carmel on ground floor. The cream of the crop of this museum is a Phoenician merchantship that was excavated from underneath the Mediterranean seabed and was put in a special resin throughout the preservation process in order to make the decaying wooden logs tougher after the thousands of years they have been waiting submerged on seabed. Thanks to much efforts of the archeological conservation team, the merchantship is exhibited in the museum. Guiding tour is available, but coordination is needed ahead of time. The art exhibition of the museum includes impressionist paintings and more (Manet, Pissarro, Modigliani, Soutine etc.) Opening hours: Sun, Thus. Wed. Thurs. 10:00 to 16:00; Fri. 10:00 – 13:00; Sat. 10:00 – 14:00. Entrance is free. 

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