Ayalon-Canada Park near Latrun junction offers nature, hiking, and cycling trails, places for a picnic, viewpoints, and ruins from various periods.
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Ayalon-Canada Park is located near Latrun interchange between roads #1 and #3.
Map of the area:
And here is a map by KKL of Ayalon-Canada Park:
Note: you can click on the map to enlarge it.
The water aqueduct is the most popular trail. And later in this post, we will visit it. Also, I will not list short paths (less than 1 km) that take you from the car to the point of interest and back. Here is an interactive map from israelhiking.osm.org.il where the most popular trails are marked:
|Name||Color of the Trail on the Map above||Description||Distance (km)||Total climb and descent (meters)||Notes|
|Water Aqueduct Trail||Green||It takes you from the springs valley along the aqueduct uphill.||1.4||91||It is a one-way trail, and you either need two cars or hike back and forth (you can walk in any direction). Also, you can extend this trail by taking the marked black path to Tel Eked. That will add 500 meters (83 meters climb) in each direction.|
|The house of arches trail||Blue||Loop trail to the house of arches, Tel Ayalon, and other points of interest||2.3||205|
Ayalon-Canada Park is popular among cyclists. And KKL created two circular singles for cyclists.
Note: you can find the cycling trail map above in the maps section.
|Single name||Color on the map above||Length (km)||Total climb and descent (meters)||Level|
|The Seventh Fate||Black with yellow borders||10||200||Suitable for experienced cyclists|
|Ayalon Single||Red with yellow borders||10||150||Suitable for experienced cyclists|
|Combined trail||Start with the Seventh Fate, then Ayalon Single, and finish with the Seventh Fate trail.||20||350||You can combine the first two singles into one|
There are two entrances to Ayalon-Canada Park. They are located on opposite sides of road #3.
The western complex is much smaller. There are only picnic tables, restrooms, and a small memorial with some ancient remains. Thus, if you want to hike, cycle or visit one of the historical sites, enter through the eastern entrance (if you are arriving from road#1, turn right).
Both the western and eastern entrances have car gates, and they are open:
Daily: 05:30 – 17:30
Picnic and Barbeque
There are many picnic tables in different park areas, which is probably why most people visit Ayalon-Canada Park.
In the mentioned picnic areas, signs are stating that bonfires are prohibited. But there are coal bins and stands for BBQ. Thus you can prepare a barbeque.
There are two restrooms in this park – one in the western complex and another in the eastern area.
The opening hours of the restrooms: 08:00 – 16:00
About Ayalon-Canada Park
The park is rich in natural woodland scenery, planted forests, and especially fruit trees, which can be seen throughout the area. There are fascinating historical sites in the park and around it, such as an aqueduct, burial caves, secret tunnels, a crusader castle, and church ruins. KKL-JNF cares for the park’s fruit trees and has planted additional trees, developing scenic roads, parking areas, scenic lookouts, and many recreation areas. In the Maayanot Valley and at the Date Palm Spring, large recreation areas have been developed for leisure activities in natural surroundings, including a beautiful manmade lake. It covers seven thousand dunams north of the Jerusalem – Tel Aviv highway, between Shaar Hagai and the Latrun Interchange.
There are also recreation areas near the Ayub Well and in the vicinity of the Ayalon Springs. Ayalon Canada Park is named after the Ayalon Valley that lies at its feet. The natural topography of the Ayalon Valley has made it a very desirable location since ancient times. This is because the fertile soil, which benefited from the water that flowed into the valley, was cultivated since the dawn of history, and also because there is a strategic crossroads in the valley, which dominate the roads from the lowland and the coastal plain to Jerusalem and Beit Horon.
Many battles were fought for control of the valley. One of the most famous was the war between Joshua and the Canaanite kings, which ended with the famous cry, “Sun, stand still in Givon, and the moon in the Ayalon Valley” (Joshua 10:12). There were also fierce battles in the Ayalon Valley between the Hasmoneans and the Seleucids in the 2nd century BCE.
From the scenic roads in Ayalon Canada Park, you can see the locations where, according to tradition, the battles between the Hasmoneans and the Seleucid Army took place, including an observation point with a view of Ma’ale Beit Horon and the Emmaus area. This is where the first battles of the Hasmoneans took place from 167 to 165 BCE.
In the first stage of the Arab occupation of the land of Israel in the 7th century CE, this valley served as a center for their forces. The crusaders also considered the Ayalon Valley a strategic asset and built an important fortress in Latrun, Le Toron Des Chevaliers, the castle of the knights. Many fierce battles also took place here during the War of Independence, between the IDF and the Jordanian Legion.
And here is a video by KKL telling about this park:
Valley of the Springs
The valley is around 1.5 kilometers long, and alongside it are interesting remains from the water system of the city of Emmaus-Nicopolis. The aqueducts were built in the Late Roman period (3rd and 4th centuries CE). On two different levels, two aqueducts were built from stone links along which a channel was carved. The upper aqueduct starts at the Eked antiquities.
The lower aqueduct starts at an underground spring. The water from this spring became available after a shaft three meters deep was made, which reached the groundwater level. On the hiking trail along the Maayanot Valley, there are fig trees, pomegranate trees, and antiquities such as agricultural implements and ancient tombs. Especially notable is the Roman Tomb, a family gravesite carved in the rock. The route ends at the Date Palm Spring, where KKL-JNF created a manmade lake surrounded by recreation areas.
In the lower part of the Maayanot Valley, next to the Date Palm Pool, a circulation system was installed, which conducts water from the pool 300 meters up the valley. The water flows back down to the pool via falls and pools. The system, which began operating in the summer of 2012, is at the test-run stage, and it operates every day from 09:00 to 15:00.
Note: the water in this spring is not clean, and entering the water is prohibited.
As you can guess, the name was given because of the date palms growing here. Here are they:
In the photo above, in the background, you can see the date palm spring.
Date Palm Spring
Also known as Ein Nini, it is a spring that flows from an opening whose walls are tiled with stones. It flows all year. The opening is part of an ancient irrigation system, apparently from the Byzantine period. These days the spring water flows in a short aqueduct used to conduct the water to a storage pool. Below the spring is a park that KKL-JNF developed with spacious lawns and picnic tables, and it has become a favorite spot for visitors.
By the date palm spring, you can find panels explaining the name of the park. Ayalon-Canada Park is named after Ayalon valley and the community of Toronto (Canada), who donated money to the renewal and development of this park.
Water Aqueduct Trail
Date palm spring is the starting or the ending point of the water aqueduct trail. Thus let’s hike along this trail now.
By the date palm spring, you will see green trail marking. This is the water aqueduct trail.
During the last year and the year before, we visited Ayalon-Canada Park in October and April. On both these occasions, hiking the water aqueduct trail was not ideal. The best month for this hike would be February – March.
Note: water aqueduct trail is also called the valley of springs trail.
After several minutes, you will see the following sign telling about this trail.
This is an easy trail. And you can hike in any direction. We chose uphill.
The spring house is an underground structure. It feeds the aqueduct using the spring three meters underground.
Completing this trail took us forty minutes. But since it was a hot day, we decided not to continue along the black trail to Tel Eked. And instead, we headed for a picnic. And we had the picnic by the Roman bathhouse. So let’s visit it now.
The Roman Bathhouse
You can find the Roman bathhouse by Emmaus church. And to get there, enter via the eastern entry and take the first right. After several hundred meters, you will see the following sign to your right.
And near the sign, you can find a trail leading to the Roman bathhouse.
And after hiking for several minutes, you will reach the Roman bathhouse.
The Roman Bathhouse is next to the Emmaus Church, just a little outside the park borders, in the cemetery of the city of Emmaus. The Arabic name of the place is Sheikh Ubeid, who, according to Arabic tradition, was the main commander of the Muslim army that died in the 7th century in the Emmaus plague. Major sections of the bathhouse, which had four chambers, have remained intact. A conduit conducted the spring water to the bathhouse, and this seems to be the hot bathhouse of Emmaus described in Jewish sources.
The bathhouse had four chambers. A cold room (had a pool with cold water), a lukewarm room, and a hot room. The last chamber was used for massages and other treatments.
Almond Tree Blooming
Almond trees usually bloom from January to March. And their white flowers are an attraction for nature lovers and photographers.
In Ayalon-Canada Park, most almond trees grow near Tel Ayalon. Thus if you want to see the blooming, head there (maybe hike the house of arches trail) during the season.
Ayalon-Canada park is among the most popular parks in Israel. And the main reason is probably that it has it all. There are picnic places, trails, cycling singles, and archeological remains. And all of that inside greenery. Moreover, additional attractions are nearby, such as Emmaus, Latrun Monastery, Yad La-Shiryon, and Mini Israel.
Have you visited Ayalon-Canada Park? Tell us in the comment below about your experience.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!
Additional ResourcesHere are several resources that I created to help travelers:
- Israel Trip Planner is the page that will help you to create your perfect travel route.
- National Parks And Nature Reserves page lists and put all national parks on the map. There is also a top list, information about ticket types and campsites.
- If you are looking for things to do, here are the pages for Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Sea Of Galilee, and Makhtesh Ramon.
- Wondering what events are there in Israel? Here is the Events And Festivals By Season guide.