Banias Nature Reserve, also known as Hermon Stream (official site) is one of the most popular Nature Reserves in Israel, and it is located at the Golan Heights.
Map of the area:
Banias Nature Reserve is quite big, and it has two entrances. Over the years we visited it many times, and this post is a combination of those visits to two different areas of the Banias. Let’s start with the map of this National Park:
In the map above you can see two main areas: Banias Spring (#1 on the chart) and Banias waterfall (#34 on the diagram). Near each area, there is an entrance and a parking lot.
As you can see from the map’s photo, there are four routes. The trails allow visiting each area separately. Three of them are cyclic. And the blue way that leads to the waterfall is a one way. If you choose it, then you will need two cars, each one in a different parking lot.
Until today, we never did the long route, and always made the shorter ones.
The routes are:
- Yellow – 45-minute walking trail to the Crusaders city and back to the Banias Spring parking (POI on the map: 1-8, 11-17).
Note: I drew the lines with the arrows. Hope this will make it clearer. And if you want to see the full map, check the photo above.
- Purple – it is also a 45-minute route to the Agrippa palace back to the Banias Spring parking (POI on the map: 1-8, 21-26). I wrote about this route below.
- Blue – a 90-minute route that leads to the Banias waterfall (POI on the map: 1-8, 31-37). This is the only one-way route.
- Red – it is also a 45-minute route that starts at the Banias waterfall parking and leads to the waterfall via the Suspended Trail (POI on the map: 35-37, 41-43). This route is also described below.
Note: entering into water is forbidden at Banias Nature Reserve. If you want a place where kids can play in the water, then check out the nearby Tel Dan Nature Reserve.
Banias Nature Reserve or Hermon Stream?
Why it has two names? Banias spring emerges at the foot of Mount Hermon. It flows through a canyon for 3.5 km, which leads to the most impressive waterfall in Israel. Nine kilometers from its source, the Hermon stream meets the Dan River, and together they form the Jordan river.
The paragraph above explains the Hermon Stream name. Where does the name Banias come from? This photo may give you a hint:
Water gives life and people settle next to water resources. Near the spring, archaeologists found remains of the temple to Pan, which gave the site its name: Paneas or Pameas (pronounced Banias in Arabic). Here is what Israeli Nature and Parks Authority say about it:
Remains of a temple built by Herod the Great stand in front of the cave. After Herod’s death, his son Philip inherited this area, and in 2 BCE Philip founded his capital near the Banias Spring, calling it Caesarea Philippi.
Caesarea Philippi became an important Christian pilgrimage destination as the place where Jesus asked the disciples who people said he was. The New Testament records that Peter answered: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus then blessed Simon, saying: “you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it (Matt. 16:16-19).
Visiting Banias Springs
We decided to walk along the purple route. And the Banias springs and Agrippa palace are part of it.
During this visit, we took the trail from the springs parking (next to the temple) to the Crusader city and back (around 45 min). And then we drove to the waterfall parking. There we went to the waterfall and back (approximately 25 min).
From that point, we took the purple trail. The trail is quite nice. It is mostly shady and has several attractions along. The biggest of them can be found towards the end. You will reach the remains of the Agrippa palace (point #23).
Banias Suspended Trail And Waterfall
The visit to Banias Springs was in 2012. In 2017, we returned Banias. Since I heard so much about the Suspended Trail, we decided to visit it. It is about an hour long trail starting from Banias Waterfall parking. This round route goes through the suspended track, waterfall and returns to the waterfall parking.
I did not expect to find rock badgers there. Usually, I see them in Ein Gedi and Rosh HaNikra grottoes.
As you enter the waterfall gate and go for straight for five minutes, you will reach the first viewpoint. On the top of the mountain in the center, you can see Nimrod Fortress.
The suspended trail starts with a light flat walk, and then you start going down towards the stream. The down part is also not hard, and if you do not have relevant health condition than the walk would be a breeze.
Banias Suspended Trail
Banias Nature Reserve is one of the most popular National Parks in Israel. And that is for several reasons. First of all, there is water including the waterfall.
Moreover, there is a lot of greenery which makes the trails not only more pleasant but more shaded as well. Secondly, at Banias springs you can find remains of the ancient temple and a palace. Thus, if you love nature or archeology, it is worth a visit.
Hope you enjoyed this post and the photos make you want to visit this Nature Reserve.
Have you ever visited the Banias Nature Reserve? What is your favorite trail? Tell us in the comments below about your experience.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!