Kedem Park and the Middle Section of the River
The middle section of the Alexander River, between Burgeta and Highway 4, features almost “lost” landscapes for an 11 km. segment of the flowing river in the midst of cultivated fields from horizon to horizon. The recreation site that was developed here is Kedem Park, which can be reached by dirt roads suitable for all motor vehicles, from the direction of Moshav Haniel and from the direction of the Ruppin Academic Center.
The Alexander River Restoration Administration (ARRA) constructed beautiful recreations areas under the shade of trees, and the park covers both banks of the riverbed, which are connected by low water bridges.
Except for Kedem Park, this section of the park is suitable for professional hikers only, whereas the country roads are suitable only for ATVs. In the winter they are muddy and, in the summer, the irrigation of the cotton fields can render certain places impassable even for jeeps. It is recommended to hike here by foot or by mountain bike.
Large flocks of birds land in the fields, including red kites and falcons during migration seasons. In the river itself, one can see water fowl such as spur-winged plover, coot, moorhen, white heron, various sandpipers as well as marsh turtles and various fish, mainly catfish. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars!
Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive.
The model river segment north of Kibbutz Ma’abarot is the most popular spot on the Alexander River. It is also called Italy Park, in gratitude for the contribution made by KKL JNF Italy for its development and for the rehabilitation and landscaping of this 750m stretch. There are great lawns, recreation areas, benches and riverbank flora, even a café called Little Alexander, and the dirt roads in the park are accessible for wheelchairs and baby carriages.
Three small riffle dams were constructed in the channel. Two rows of large rocks, one row 30cm lower than the other, with rocks of many sizes between them, allow the water flowing in the river to swirl, which enriches it with oxygen. Fish are able to jump over these facilities, which is why they are also known as fish ladders. The steps also add a flowing look to the river and the sound of rushing water.
There is a concrete bridge at the site, which takes you to Kibbutz Ma’abarot. It is call the Cow Bridge, because in former days the cows were taken across the bridge from the kibbutz to the corral on the other bank. It is hard to believe that the bridge, which is almost 8m higher than the riverbed, gets covered by water when the Alexander River floods.
Nearby is a very pretty steel suspension bridge, which substitutes for the concrete bridge. At the end of the model segment of the river, there is a large recreation area in the shade of eucalyptus trees, and in the middle of it there is a beautiful observation deck.
Photo: Yoav Devir.
The River Trail is a paved path on the north bank of the riverbed. It is 2.7km long and goes from Italy Park to the Water Turtle Park. It is also suitable for bicycles, strollers and wheelchairs. It is an absolutely fun trail and passes the length of the river’s wide, beautiful channel, parts of which are often covered with a thick layer of duckweed.
Alongside the trail there are playgrounds for children, places to sit and landscaped spots that blend in well with the natural surroundings. Parts of the trail are shaded by eucalyptus trees. If you arrive in two cars, you can leave one of them in the Water Turtle Park Recreation Area. If not, simply go back to the starting point. On Saturdays and holidays, when the river has a lot of visitors, it is better not to do too much by car.
Water Turtle Park
The Water Turtle Park was created in 2004 near the Turtle Bridge, which got its name because of the many softshell turtles that like to congregate in its vicinity and entertain visitors. There is a beautiful observation deck there, made of wood, which was constructed on the riverbank and allows visitors to relate to the turtles.
The lookout tower on the manmade hill views the expanses of the entire Hefer Valley, and plans for the park include a landscaped garden, playground equipment for children, benches and water fountains.
The river segment next to the park has the largest population in Israel of the softshell turtle, a giant turtle that usually lives in fresh water. Its length may reach up to 120cm, its weight up to 50kg. Areas of the riverbank have been covered with rocks so that the turtles may sunbathe, and certain parts of the riverbank have been fenced off so that the female softshells can lay their eggs undisturbed by humans and predators.
Photo: Yoav Devir.
The Samara ruin is a big hill on the north bank of the Alexander River at the top of which are the remains of a big house. The house, which was made of sandstone, was built at the end of the nineteenth century and later became a tollhouse for the Ottoman authorities. On the slope of the hill that faces the Alexander River there are caves, apparently ancient sandstone quarries.
The hill is covered with a profusion of wildflowers in the spring, including anemones, Persian buttercups and Sharon tulips. There is a great view of the region from the crest of the hill, and the great view of the sea some meters north of the ruin is well worth the walk.
At the foot of the ruin is a large recreation area, which was created in the shade of a eucalyptus grove. There are smaller recreation areas on the riverbank along the road going west toward Michmoret. One can take a short hike on foot to the estuary, which is about 2km away from the recreation area, or north to the Sharon Park Trail.