Naaman River

Naaman River. Photo: Yaakov Shkolnik
Naaman River. Photo: Yaakov Shkolnik

Naaman River drains the Lower Galilee. Its two main channels are the Evlayim and the Hilazon streams, which are seasonal. However, the springs of the Naaman River, which originate slightly east of Kiriat Bialik, are what provide the main channel of the river with great quantities of water, about 5,000 m3 per hour.

  • How to get there

    There are two ways to reach the Naaman River Trail:

    Southern entrance: the parking area near the market in the Tzur Shalom neighborhood in the northern part of Kiriat Bialik. Turn east from Highway 4 at Chen Boulevard (the BIG shopping mall junction) and drive in about 600m until the market. Continue for about 50m and you will reach the parking area of the Nahal Naaman Trail, which has a KKL-JNF sign at the entrance.

    Northern entrance: 1.5km north of the south entrance, turn east from Highway 4 at the TEN gas station and drive east about 800m until the KKL JNF sign at the entrance to the trail, where you may park.

    Note: Both entrances require driving through construction zones, which is permissible but requires caution. In the future it will be possible for cars to cross underneath the new road.

    Access for physically challenged: The path along the river, and the bridges, are accessible to the physically challenged and to wheelchairs. Along the path there are shaded benches and a recreation area. The paths on either side of the river are paved with asphalt, except for the segment between the north entrance and the Ein Nymphit bridge, which is gravel.

    * Entering the river is not allowed, swimming in it is not allowed, and drinking its water is absolutely forbidden.
    * There is no access for cars on the trail.
    * The recreation area alongside the trail is not intended for picnics and barbecues.
  • Geographic location-

  • Area-

  • Target audience-

  • Track length-

    2 km
  • Track type-

    Walking path
  • Difficulty-

    Wheelchair adapted
  • Season-

  • Duration-

    1-2 hours
  • Interest-

    Hiking and Walking Tracks

Before setting out we recommend that you call KKL-JNF’s Forest Hotline (Kav LaYaar) at 1-800-350-550 for any updates, such as closures due to extreme weather and any information that may be relevant to your route.

Tour Information

The main group of springs is Ein Afek (Kurdani) which gush at the foot of the biblical town of Afek. The springs and the mound are located within the boundaries of the Ein Afek nature reserve.

The springs of the river gush at an altitude of barely 5m above sea level. They are only 4km from the sea, as the crow flies, and in order to overcome the barrier of the sand dunes on the coast, and because of the low gradient, Nahal Naaman has to wend its way north three times as far to reach Akko. It is therefore not surprising that these conditions created large swamps around the springs.

The Naaman swamps, which once covered an area of around 1,600 hectares, were rife with malaria. KKL-JNF purchased the land north of Nahal Naaman in 1925, and in 1938 the kibbutzim of Kfar Masaryk and Ein Hamifratz were founded on the KKL JNF land (later also Kibbutz Afek). The kibbutz settlements struggled with the swamps in order to prevent flooding of cultivated areas. They drained the springs into canals and turned Naaman River into a channel, which accelerated the flow of water in the river, and this is still how it is today.

In the time of the British mandate, the swamps were drained even more. In 1942 the spring water was conducted to Haifa Bay for cooling at the refineries. The swamps became cultivated fields and fish ponds. The remnants of the swamps were declared nature reserves, which preserve the flora and fauna of the Naaman swamps.

In recent years, the Ein Afek springs have dried out completely because of wells that drain the springs of the Nahal Naaman. Some of the water from the wells is conducted to the Ein Afek reserve, and from there it flows into Naaman River. Water is also channeled from the fish ponds and from the runoff of the cultivated fields, and Naaman River has once again become a perennial stream.

In 2007, KKL-JNF, with the support of its friends worldwide, partnered with the Western Galilee River and Drainage Authority, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) and the Asher Regional Council. The channel of the stream was deepened, and 15,000 tons of residue were removed. The garbage dump that used to “decorate” the south entrance was eliminated. KKL JNF treated the eucalyptus groves by the stream, installed picnic tables and benches, and paved the paths on both riverbanks. The Naaman River Authority constructed the bridges and the information signs, and now there is a beautiful place where local residents can spend leisure time, ride bicycles and do power walking by the river.

Hiking the Naaman River Trail

The trek will be described from south to north. Walking east from the parking area at the south entrance of the trail, we cross the eucalyptus grove and the bypass road, and continue along the length of the drainage canal (Canal 42), which will accompany us to the right of the trail. About half a kilometer from the parking area, the canal meets Naaman River. There, on the other side of the canal, there is a covered observation point for viewing the vicinity.

The trail turns left alongside Nahal Naaman and accompanies us on the right. Very soon we will arrive at a metal covered lookout that offers a view of the stream, where there are information signs about the restoration of the river and its wildlife.

If you meet any representatives of the softshell turtle here, the giant turtle whose weight can reach 50kg, don’t be surprised. The INPA brought a number of them to the river in order to create an additional population of this special reptile, which lives in freshwater. When the river was rehabilitated, its banks were given gradual slopes to provide the female softshells with convenient areas for spawning.

Another noteworthy animal is the Yarkon bleak, a silver fish that grows to a length of 20cm. This fish is exclusive to the streams of Israel’s coastal plain and is almost extinct. The INPA has reintroduced the Yarkon bleak to the Afek springs and to Ein Nymphit, and it is more than likely that these silver fish will find their way to Nahal Naaman, if they haven’t already.

There are a number of bridges that cross the Naaman. Right after the first gazebo is the southernmost bridge, which crosses to the east bank of the river. Here you will find a recreation area where you can rest in the shade of eucalyptus trees. Pay attention to the vegetation along the way, especially the tall reeds. After the riverbanks were rehabilitated, KKL-JNF restored the natural plant species, which had been uprooted from the riverbanks.

The length of the river segment between the south entrance and the north entrance is 1.3km. At the north entrance there is a small concrete bridge used by local farmers. From here, one may proceed on the west bank of the river for 700m and reach the northernmost bridge. It is not possible to cross this bridge at present. On the east bank of the river is the Ein Nymphit Nature Reserve. When the trail there is complete, it will be possible to cross the bridge and explore the nature reserve.

Until then, we may return on the same path to the north entrance, or to the south entrance, wherever the car was parked.