Blue Valley Park (Emek HaTkhelet) in Safed was recently reopened. And it has easy trails for families and harder ones for experienced hikers. Let’s begin exploring!
Blue Valley Park is near Derech HaAtsma’ut 4, Safed. And here is an interactive map of this area:
And here is the map of Blue Valley park:
Note: You can enlarge the map by clicking on it.
The easiest way to get there is by entering Blue Valley Park or Emek HaTkhelet Park into your navigation app. And there is free parking near the entrance gate.
Blue Valley Park offers several hiking routes. You can take either the short circular trail or take the long walk towards the lower pickup station (top left corner on the map).
The short route: Besides the pools (station no. 1), KKL-JNF has provided a circular route accessible to all and equipped with benches along its length. The two kilometers between stations 1 and 9 are suitable for all the family.
The long route: The full route from the park gate to the pick-up point measures around 4.5 kilometers. The lower section of this trail is steep and thus suitable only for fit and experienced walkers.
Note: unless stated otherwise, all quotes were taken from the official site.
Moreover, the short route has two parts. The northern section (points #1 to #5) is accessible. And the southern part (points #6 to #11) has stairs. Since we wanted to tour both sections, I used a front baby carrier and did not take my camera (only my phone).
Sunday – Thursday: 07:30 – 15:30
Friday: 07:30 – 16:00 (14:00 during winter).
Saturday: 07:30 – 18:00 (15:30 during winter).
Note: though according to the official site, Blue Valley park is closed on Saturdays, as you can see, the sign on-site states they are open. Moreover, we visited on a Saturday.
Blue Valley Park extends over an area of around 580 dunams (approx 145 acres) at the northern approach to Tzfat. Its springs and orchards are overlooked by Mount Meron, which is visible from almost every corner of this park where deer, ibex, and antelope graze among the footpaths. The paths were developed by KKL-JNF, working in conjunction with the Tzfat Municipality, and this partnership has also restored the springs, created pools, and tended the orchards. The park gives residents of Tzfat and its environs an opportunity to enjoy nature close to home, while visitors from all over the country will enjoy taking a quiet break in the forest during their exploration of the city of the Kabbalists.
During our visit, we started with the northern route. And then completed the southern trail, which means that we finished the short trail.
Near the split point between the southern and northern routes, you can find restrooms and a water tap. Moreover, this is also where you can find the pools (marked as #1 on the map).
KKL-JNF create two pools along the riverbed, and we saw some duck there.
The Northern Route
From the pools, we take the northern trail and start climbing up.
From the pools, we turn right along a paved path that runs parallel to Nahal Birya, which rises on the slopes of Mount Canaan and Mount Birya and flows down along the entire length of Blue Valley Park. It drains into Nahal Sechvi, which is one of the tributaries of Nahal Amud.
The path makes its way among tall silver poplar trees that create pleasantly cool pools of shade in summer and drop handsome yellowing leaves in winter.
The Blue Spring
We took the trail to the highest point (marked as #4 on the map). And there you can find the spring that gave the name to this valley.
Here the path splits in two, but either route will take us to the next station along the way, which is Ma‘yan HaTekhelet (“The Blue Spring”). The small tunnel that was dug beside the path at some point in the past and which is now lined with hewn stones was designed to increase the spring’s rate of flow, and its water was channeled into a plastered pool from which it flowed down to the small plots of land below. KKL-JNF has restored the pool and built a stone wall on the slope above it to prevent landslides or subsidence of the Meron-Tzfat Highway (Route no. 89), which passes close by. Ancient carobs and fruit trees planted beside the spring by KKL-JNF complete the pastoral scene.
We walked downhill towards point #2.
This is a small spring, and you can see its water flowing only during the winter.
The Hebrew word Hasil is the name of one of the types of locusts mentioned in the Bible: “He gave also their crops to the grasshopper and the product of their labor to the locust…” (Psalms 78:46). This Hebrew name reflects something of the sound of the Arabic word of the spring, Ein al-Hasil, which means “Harvest Spring.” In the past, this water was used to irrigate vegetable gardens.
We continue our way downhill towards the starting point, the pools.
The Southern Trail
From the pool we continued our descent till point #7.
Some 200 meters further on the path is crossed by a grid beneath which flows a channel that drains a small spring. This is all that remains of Ein al-Afya, which once emerged around 100 meters uphill from this spot. This spring, whose waters were renowned in the annals of Tzfat for their curative properties, was destroyed in excess of enthusiasm when the park was created. Although it is now covered up, its waters continue to flow underground down the slope before emerging at this point.
Our next stop will be at point #9, the observation deck.
Beside the path, KKL-JNF has created shady sitting areas that provide a close view of the wealth of vegetation along the riverbank, including brambles, willows, and fig trees. In summer, the banks are covered in flowering mint and willowherb. A short walk will bring us to the pergola that shades the observation platform that looks westwards towards the Ramat Yehoyariv ridge, Moshav Meron, and the tall peaks of (from right to left) Mount Adir, Mount Hiram, and Mount Meron.
We take the stairs down and reach point #10 – the waterfall.
Note: at the bottom of the stairs, you will see a fork. The trail continues to the left. But to reach the waterfall, we need to make a slight detour. Turn to the right, and after several minutes you will get to the cascade.
We take the right fork here and descend steeply (take care – it can be slippery here in winter!) to a beautiful spot where the river tumbles down a small waterfall into a pool. The edges of the pool and the waterfall wall are covered with fig trees and maidenhair ferns. The right-hand side of the path to the waterfall is damp and drains into a channel covered by a grating. The source of this water is an inaccessible hidden spring called Ein Sis after the swifts (Sis HaHomot in Hebrew) that frequent the area. The Hebrew name of these birds retains something of the sound of the Arabic name of the spring – Ein Sayis, i.e., “Stableman’s Spring.”
The Lower Pools
We return to the fork mentioned above and continue with the trail downhill till we reach point #11 – the lower pools.
We cross a small bridge shaded by eucalyptus and white willow trees, which affords us a view of the river vegetation, and the path leads us to pools where ducks and geese are paddling. In springtime, we can sit beside the pools amid carpets of wildflowers. The hillsides around us are covered with thorny burnet (Sarcopoterium spinosum) and scattered with stalks bearing the pinkish lilac flowers of Jerusalem sage.
As you can see, even in the summer there is some water in the pools.
From this spot, we started to make our way back to the parking. And on our way, we saw a mongoose and a Nubian ibex. So this is the perfect time to mention wildlife.
The park is home to a number of animals brought from elsewhere that now wander around it freely. These include the Nubian Ibex familiar to us from the precipitous landscapes of the Judean Desert and the Negev, whose curved horns and goatee beard (in the male of the species) are instantly recognizable. A small herd of spotted deer (Cervus axis) roams among the trees. In the summer the males grow branched antlers, which they shed when spring arrives.
Another horned inhabitant of the park is the antelope, a wild native of the deserts of North Africa, where it is in danger of extinction.
The park is also home to the Australian emu, a large flightless bird somewhat resembling an ostrich. The female emu lays up to fifteen eggs in a single clutch but leaves it to the male to sit on them and incubate them.
When to visit Blue Valley Park?
Due to its location, you can visit it all year round. We hiked in the summer, and it was not too hot. But there is one exclusion, do not go there after the rains. The rocks and the trails will be slippery.
Blue Valley Park in Safed is a lovely place that suits for short family hikes. You will see water, vegetation, and even wildlife. Moreover, there are some places where you can hold a picnic.
Have you been to Blue Valley Park in Safed? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!
For additional points of interest nearby check out Safed.
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.