Tour Is­rael

The Jerusalem Post Magazine - - CONTENTS - • MEITAL SHARABI Pho­tos: HADAR YAHAV

The south­ern Carmel of­fers nu­mer­ous won­der­ful trips, many of which are ideal for fam­i­lies with chil­dren. Within an hour’s drive from Is­rael’s cen­ter, along the Mediter­ranean coast, you have the choice of many dif­fer­ent trips to see the won­ders of na­ture. One of my fa­vorite fam­ily-friendly tracks is along the Se­fu­nim Stream. The stream’s path runs along a charm­ing grove and at­tracts trav­el­ers all year around. The dense wood of­fers pro­tec­tion from the sun and the wind, al­low­ing you to hike there even on days when the weather is not ideal.

The track along the Se­fu­nim Stream is cir­cu­lar, and is about four kilo­me­ters long. When the weather is good, you can def­i­nitely spend a whole day, or at least about four hours, there.

While the hike is suit­able for fam­i­lies, it is con­sid­ered moder­ately dif­fi­cult, and is not ac­ces­si­ble for strollers. It is im­por­tant to take this into ac­count if you think of spend­ing the day there with the lit­tle ones. In the win­ter, when it rains of­ten in the Carmel moun­tains, the path can be slip­pery or even flooded.

The Se­fu­nim Stream is part of the Carmel Na­tional Park, and is one of the smaller streams that pass through its ter­ri­tory. Dur­ing the rainy sea­son, the stream fills with wa­ter flow­ing from the moun­tain on the way to the Mediter­ranean Sea. In dry pe­ri­ods, when the wa­ter in the stream is not the main at­trac­tion, you can sim­ply walk along trail and en­joy the view.

Apart from the beauty of the trail it­self, the hike of­fers many sur­prises. The most beau­ti­ful among them is the Se­fu­nim Cave.

Some of the caves along the course of the stream date back to pre­his­toric times and ev­i­dence was found that they were used by cave dwellers as liv­ing quar­ters. The Se­fu­nim Cave is the most mag­nif­i­cent in the area. It is a large sta­lac­tite cave, cre­ated by rain­wa­ter erod­ing the lime­stone. Se­fu­nim is one of dozens of lime­stone caves, so if you look care­fully, you will be able to spot many in the moun­tain­ous land­scape.

Ac­cess to the site is con­ve­nient; it is pos­si­ble to get there by walk­ing on a trail from Route 4, where there is an im­pro­vised park­ing area just across the road. Make sure to park in a way that doesn’t block the road and be care­ful when you cross. If you pre­fer to play it safe, you can leave your ve­hi­cle at Moshav Me­gadim and fol­low the trail from there, which is marked red.

Soon af­ter you em­bark on your hike, you will no­tice ba­nana groves, and at that point, the trail splits into the red path, which leads to the stream, and the blue path, which takes you along the hike in the op­po­site di­rec­tion. While the trail is cir­cu­lar and you can start ei­ther way, I rec­om­mend tak­ing the red path in or­der

to get rid of the in­cline in the be­gin­ning.

Af­ter a short walk along the trail, you will see the re­mains of an old quarry. The rusty ru­ins might seem dis­con­nected from the moun­tain­ous land­scape, but they serve as ev­i­dence of the only for­merly ac­tive quarry in the area.

Be­fore re­al­iz­ing the ge­o­log­i­cal dam­age caused by quar­ry­ing, it pro­vided raw ma­te­ri­als for the paint in­dus­try. The re­mains at­tract cu­ri­ous visi­tors, es­pe­cially chil­dren; be care­ful not to climb on them de­spite the temp­ta­tion.

Af­ter see­ing the old quarry, you can con­tinue along the trail and fol­low it to the stream. You will no­tice that the veg­e­ta­tion grows thicker and thicker. Af­ter about a kilo­me­ter of mod­er­ate walk­ing, you will spot the right turn to the Se­fu­nim Cave.

The cave it­self can­not be seen from the path and it is easy to miss it, so pay close at­ten­tion as you walk. To reach it, fol­low the trail mark­ing, and hike up the trail.

If you are afraid that you missed it, do not worry. Af­ter a short walk, the red trail will meet the blue trail from be­fore. If you have reached this point with­out find­ing the cave, you can just re­turn and search for it again.

Al­though it is not pos­si­ble to en­ter the cave dur­ing the win­ter, as it is home to a colony of bats that hi­ber­nate there un­til March, it is worth look­ing at it least from the out­side.

The cave is also called Iraq al-Baroud (Gun­pow­der Cave). It was given its unique name be­cause the Arab tribes in the area used it to shel­ter their sheep. In or­der to use the cave, they had to get rid of the bats, which they did by ex­plod­ing gun­pow­der in it.

From the out­side of the cave, you will be able to see an arch­way. This open­ing leads to two caverns within the cave. In the sec­ond cav­ern, you will be able to see beau­ti­ful sta­lac­tites. Apart from the sta­lac­tites, the cave con­tains ev­i­dence from pre­his­toric times: rocks with fos­sils of an­cient an­i­mals.

Once you’ve ex­plored the cave’s se­crets, re­turn to the red trail and con­tinue on it un­til it splits into sev­eral paths. Leave the red path and fol­low the blue one, lead­ing to the other bank of the river and to­wards the end of the cir­cu­lar path.

As you walk along the blue trail, you reach will reach Me­gadim cliff, over­look­ing the open land­scape, from where you can also see the fortress of Atlit and Moshav Me­gadim. Af­ter stop­ping for a well-de­served break, fol­low the path that de­scends the hill­top and brings us back to our start­ing point.

As you walk down, you can do a few short stops, for ex­am­ple by the carob tree, which is al­most halfway down.

Direc­tions: Turn north from the Beit Oren Junc­tion un­til you no­tice the sign on the right, which leads to The Se­fu­nim Stream. You can park in the park­ing lot near the road.

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