THE golan trail
The Golan Trail is considered “the younger brother” of the Israel Trail, and offers 120 kilometers of through-hiking. The trail is located on the eastern side of the Golan, and stretches from Mevo Hama in the south to Mt. Hermon in the north. Throughout the trail are rare views and special off-the-beaten-track sites that are virtually unknown to the common hiker.
From Ein Tawfik, the trail climbs the HaOn Cliff towards Mevo Hama, offering a scenic view of Lake Kinneret. Continuing into the Meitzar Riverbed, the trail then leads to the breathtaking lookout point of Mitzpe Ofir, then down to the Samekh Riverbed. From here the trail passes right next to Ein Keshatot, and then easterly to the basaltic plateaus of the central Golan, featuring the Stonehenge-like Rujm el-Hiri, the Faraj Ruins, and the Hazeka Ridge. In the northern Golan, the trail runs through the Ein Zivan Forest, ascends to Mt. Bental, the Odem Forest, the Birket Ram pool, and the volcanic cones. The grand finale is a challenging steep climb from the Birket Man pool on the Hermon ridge up to the toll booths at the Mt. Hermon ski site. Of course, it’s also possible to do the trail in the opposite direction…
The trail has been marked by the Israel Trail Committee, in conjunction with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, the Israel Defence Forces, and the Golan Tourism authorities; it is marked not only on the trail itself, but also on Trail Map #1. The Golan Trail colors are: blue (the color of Lake Kinneret), white (the color of snowy Mt. Hermon), and green (the color of much of the Golan). You can find the markings on poles, boulders, and stakes throughout the trail.
Golan Trail Sections:
Golan Trail hikers experience “the real Golan” – 15 continuous sections that add up to 120 kilometers of diverse hiking; each day is a different kind of experience. The trail goes from an elevation of 100 meters above sea level, to an elevation of 1500 meters above sea level, through open natural expanses, grazing fields, forests, and riverbeds. There are flat sections, and there are challenging ups and downs, too. The vistas change while you walk, and often leave hikers open-mouthed…
The “human views” are no less fascinating, as the trail goes past various communities that include kibbutzim, moshavim, urban sites, and Druze villages, too. You’ll meet young and old, religious and secular, soldiers in the standing army and reservists, and also United Nations soldiers and tourists from around the world. You won’t be bored! And the Golan residents love to host guests, opening up both their homes and their hearts.
Local “Trail Angels” will be happy to assist hikers on the Golan Trail
contact them via the Golan Tourism Site: http://tourgolan.org.il/golan_trail_angels
What’s to Eat?
So what does one eat while hiking the Golan Trail? There are home-style restaurants that serve local cuisine (whether it be Druze, vegan, or Mediterranean), dairy-based menus, or diverse kinds of meat from Golan herds. There are also special boutique restaurants, with their unique gourmet menus; but you can also find cafes, too, if you’re in need of caffeine… For hikers who prefer to prepare their own meals, there are local grocery stores in almost every village that allow one to stock up on local produce: olive oil, fruit, lemon-cello, chocolate, jams, honey, cheeses, wine, beer, and more…
Where to Sleep?
Through-hikers on the Golan Trail need a place to rest after a tiring day. There are those who prefer to stay at rest areas that are scattered throughout the trail itself in the heart of nature; these rest areas are without amenities, with no electricity or water. But there are many other diverse options, too. In villages and communities along the trail, there are quality hotels, simple hostels, and also kibbutz guest rooms. There are beautiful B&B’s, Native American Wigwams and Teepees, and Mongolian yurts (often heated, if the need arises). There are bungalows, huts, and cabins, too. All you have to do is choose!
In short, you can come to the Golan, choose a part of the Golan Trail that appeals to you, and discover new favorite places. In parts of the trail, you can ride horses, ATV’s, bikes, and jeeps. Just make sure you stop now and then…
The Golan Trail has so much to offer: from mountaintops and volcanoes to warm-water springs; from unknown ancient sites to historic military memorials; from visitor centers to centers of culture and agriculture – that’s what the Golan Trail is all about. You can hike it straight through, or you can do segments…but do it!