Nahal Halilim is a lovely family hike near Jerusalem, and it offers several trails where the highlight is a fantastic cave.
Table of Contents
Nahal Halilim is located near Mevaseret Zion, which is by Jerusalem. Nahal Halilim has two ends, and you can start at Mevaseret Zion or Enot Telem National Park. Here is an interactive map with links to the Mevaseret Zion starting point.
Interactive map of the area:
- Hotels, hostels, and apartments in this area:
Enot Telem National Park and Nahal Halilim Nature Reserve are part of Arazim Valley Park. And here is the map:
You can see Nahal Halilim on the left side of the map.
Note: you can click on the image of the map to enlarge it.
If you start at Mevaseret Zion, the starting point is by the Hashalom School parking lot (HaShalom Street 87, Mevaseret Zion). Here is the link to Waze.
The advantage of this trail is its closeness to Mevaseret Zion. Thus, if you are visiting on a weekday, you can use buses to reach the starting point and return to the starting point from the ending point (of course, it will add walking). Here is a link to Moovit, where both locations were entered.
There are free parking lots near all locations.
Always open. But since there is no artificial light, visit only during daylight.
When to visit Nahal Halilim?
First, you should know there is little shade along the trail. Hence take sunscreen and prefer the less hot hours of the day. Moreover, spring is the best season if you want to see nature blooming.
Our latest visit was in July. And we felt the lack of shade. It was boiling.
Note: during the winter, the trail might be slippery and muddy.
There are several trails at Nahal Halilim. Here is an interactive map from israelhiking.osm.org.il where I marked two tracks:
And here are the details of the marked trails:
|#||Name||Color of the Trail on the Map above||Description||Distance (km)||Total climb and descent (meters)||Notes|
|1||Nahal Halilim||Green||This trail starts by Hashalom School parking lot in Mevaseret Zion and then goes downhill to Enot Telem National Park||2.4||184||This one-way trail is the most common option and requires two cars or public transport.|
|2||Nahal Halilim loop trail||Blue||Start at Enot Telem and head to the Halilim cave and back.||3.7||354||It is the trail we hiked during our latest visit.|
Note: You can make different variations of the trails. For example, park at the Emek Arazim parking lot to shorten the hike. And if you want a longer hike, you can walk to Horvat Luza.
The length of the Nahal Halilim trail depends on the chosen alternative, but in most cases, it will be 2 – 4 km.
And now, I will show photos from our most recent visit.
Enot Telem National Park
We parked at Enot Telem National Park and walked along the blue trail (in the direction of Nahal Halilim).
Enot Telem is a group of springs that has served area residents since antiquity. The park contains remains of early agriculture, including a Second Temple-era irrigation system. At the beginning of the twentieth century, an attempt was made by Jews to settle here. Remains of the soap factory built by the settlers can still be seen. After the place was abandoned during the riots of 1929, the British built a pumping station here, which still exists. In winter and spring, a profusion of wildflowers blooms in the park. The trail continues toward Moza and the Haiilim Stream, a nature reserve, with a trail descending from Mevaseret Ziyon.
Rules of behavior:
- It is prohibited to drink spring water or swim in it.
- Please do not enter the buildings or climb on them or stone fences. There is a danger of collapse!
- Please keep the park clean and take your garbage out with you.
Thirty-five stones have been placed on a trail around Einot Telem. On the stones, you will find information about nature, landscape, the city, and time in the Jerusalem Park valleys. Each stone is related to the one on either end of it. Now, follow the stones.
Vineyards, olive, almond, and fig trees grow along the mountain terraces.
If you have been reading my blog for a while, you are familiar with Stalactite Cave Nature Reserve, also known as Soreq cave. But do you know what Sorek means?
Sorek in Biblical Hebrew refers to a select vine species of red grapes.
After about ten minutes, we reached the meeting point of blue and green trails.
Arazim Valley Park
At this point, we saw explanation signs about Arazim valley park, and I want to explain the hierarchy.
Jerusalem park covers about 15 thousand dunams, including the Valleys Arazim, Motza, and Refaim. And Arazim Valley Park contains Enot Telem National Park and Nahal Halilim Nature Reserve.
The Arazim Valley Park is part of the Jerusalem Park, which extends from Golda Meir Boulevard in the east to the Motsa Valley in the west, and is located in the upper part of Wadi Sorek (one of the longest dry streambeds in Israel). The word Sorek means fine grapes; today, as in the past, both table and wine grapes are grown in the valley. Rehabilitation and conservation of the park have been carried out to benefit residents of the city and its surroundings while protecting nature and the environment. Visitors to the park can enjoy a bicycle path, rest areas, picnic tables, drinking fountains, and playground equipment.
The rock consists of limestone and dolomite, with layers of impermeable clay and marl that cause springs to emerge. The landscape features agricultural terraces, orchards, and layer springs, as well as planted forests. Plant life includes Mediterranean batha; shrubs such as Prickly Burnet and Headed Thyme, with tall herbaceous species.
Animals include Mountain Gazelle, Striped Hyena, Indian Crested Porcupine, Golden Jackal, Red Fox, European Badger, Marten, Mongoose, Mediterranean Spur-thighed Tortoise, and other species.
The variety of birds includes Lappet-faced Vulture, Long-legged Buzzard, Eurasian Eagle-owl, Common Kestrel, Black-eared Wheatear, Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Whinchat, Common Cuckoo, Jay, White-spectacled Bulbul, and Hoopoe.
The cypress trees planted entrance to Wadi Halilim were wrongly called Arazim, hence the n the park.
In this area, we switched to the green path towards Nahal Halilim and started climbing uphill.
As you can see, there is almost no shade.
The trail is not challenging, and significant parts contain easy walking uphill. But the ground is slippery in some areas (mainly near the caves).
Several photos of this upper part of the green trail:
It took us (a family of four) a little less than an hour to reach the cave (from Enot Telem).
As you enter the cave, you will see an unusual cave form. If put simply, this form was caused by trickling water that washed away softer rocks.
The Legend of Nahal Halilim
When we were inside the cave, there was no strong wind. Thus we did not hear anything. But people say when the wind is strong, the cave starts to make sounds, like a giant flute. This brings us to the legend of the cave. And though there are several versions, here is the most popular one:
In the Arab village of Kalunia above Nahal Halilim, there lived a very rich man – the crown prince of the village – and he had a beautiful daughter. When she reached 12, it was decided to marry her. As a test for the intended groom, it was decided to test which of the suitors could herd a herd of goats, and so the heralds went out to all the surrounding villages to announce the test. Down by Nahal Halilim lived a shepherd and his son who had lost his mother at a young age. The young shepherd went to offer himself as a bridegroom and took with him a shepherd’s flute made of ancient olive wood, a magic flute that plays a melody that makes the goats follow the space to the barn.
The crown prince of the village was not enthusiastic about the poor suitor, but he also did not believe that he would be able to herd the goats and agreed to put him to the test. The young shepherd came out with the herd of wild goats, and immediately they ran away everywhere, but the shepherd was not frightened. In the evening, he took out his flute and played. The sheep immediately returned, and he led them to the fold in the village.
The shepherd went out to the meadow again the next day, but he discovered that the magic flute had disappeared or that someone had stolen it. Suddenly a strong wind started blowing, and then the unbelievable happened: the wind passed through the many spaces in the cave and turned the caves into one big flute that played a magic melody. The goats were collected and taken to the pen. The shepherd married the rich man’s daughter, and from then until today, the stream is called “Nahal Halilim.”
From the cave, we used the green trail to return.
Arazim Valley Park has cycling trails:
There are picnic tables near Arazim Valley Park parking and Enot Telem National Park, but both places were filthy.
And there were also various games near Arazim Valley Park parking.
Nahal Halilim offers lovely family tracks. They are short and can be reached by public transport. And the best time for a visit is spring and autumn.
Completing the mentioned track (#2 in the table) took us around two hours (including a short picnic in the cave). And we enjoyed the hike.
This area has many attractions, and you can explore them using the interactive map above.
Have you visited Nahal Halilim? 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.