Hermon Stream (Banias) Nature Preserve

Over the long Easter weekend Jonathan and I drove up to Golan Heights in northern Israel. We stayed at a picturesque bed’n’breakfast in Rosh Pina and spent one day exploring and hiking through the Hermon Stream (Banias) Nature Preserve.

The preserve is named for Mount Hermon, which, due to its considerable height, absorbs the rain- and snowfall that eventually move down the mountain to form the springs (Dan, Hermon/Banias, and Senir/Hazbani) that feed the Jordan River.

We parked on the Waterfall side and hiked down to the Suspended Trail, which is a walkway that is suspended over the rapids.

View of the suspended trail over the rapids of the Hermon Stream
Suspended Trail


From here, we climbed back up a bit and headed toward the Waterfall, heeding the helpful warnings posted along the way.

Sign which reads: "Deep water drowning hazard do not enter the water!"
Noted.
Hermon Stream rapids with a vine hanging through the center of the frame
Later in the day, we saw a father precariously positioned on top of rock, holding this vine, making Tarzan noises, and gesticulating in such a way that led us to believe that he was actually going to try and swing across to the other side -- while his family looked on. We didn't watch long enough to see what actually happened...

Trail with steps and a wooden bannister, Hermon Nature Preserve

And then: BOOM. Waterfall.

Shot of the two falls at The Banias Waterfall in the Hermon Stream Nature Reserve

There was a small wooden observation deck that you could stand on and contemplate the falls. Standing there only a few minutes, our clothes quickly became saturated — but there were no complaints as it was a pretty hot day and it felt amazingly refreshing. Like popping open an ice-cold Coke Sprite.*

Emily & Jonathan on the observation deck with the Banias Waterfall in the background

“It’s like Niagara Falls without the ponchos.” –Jonathan

Hermon Stream placard
Learning more! (FYI: 10 meters = ~33 feet)

We deliberated about what to do next: take the 60 minute hike over to the Springs side and then continue up to Nimrod Fortress, or drive over to the Springs side and then continue up to Nimrod Fortress. (**spoiler alert**: We hiked. We also miscalculated the time it would take to hike up to Nimrod Fortress and back down and then back over to the Waterfalls side. So we missed out on seeing the Fortress. Next time!)

Crossing the stream, we headed to the Springs side. We climbed a steep incline and ended up hiking above the Waterfall.

View of the Banias Waterfall from above, through trees
The view from above

“It’s weird. You generally think that you’d have to hike up to see a Waterfall, not down.” –Jonathan

View of the mountains from the trail
"The hills are alive..."

The trail moved back to being mostly covered by trees, rocks, etc. and we enjoyed spectacular views.

tall twisty tree next to the Hermon Stream
I love this tree.

Leaves of a tree against the sun

Here’s a helpful thought: if you’re thinking, “Gee, my seasonal allergies aren’t that bad this year!” Go to a nature preserve and hike around for a few hours! That’ll be sure to wake ’em right up!

Hermon Stream
(This was actually back on the Suspended Trail...)

It was so beautiful that it was easy to forget that this entire region has been recently at war. Until we saw “Danger: MINE FIELD” signs in the distance, or noticed the abandoned tanks and other vehicles turned into …public art?…

Fields and mountains with a small yellow sign
We think this is a mine field sign. According to the map, that area is all still mined.
abandoned jeep in the foreground, fields/mountains in the background
One example of an abandoned war jeep as art

I don’t want to leave you on that note, so instead I’ll share with you a video that I took of the Waterfall. It’s only 15 seconds, but it will give you an idea what it was like to see them…


*As you may or may not know, I cannot drink Coke while here. NOT GLUTEN FREE?! It’s been tough sledding.

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