Ein Yarda spring. Photo: Yaakov Shkolnik
The waters of the Ein Yarda spring are no longer dammed; they now flow along the Nahal Mahanayim gully. A visit to Ein Yarda is a unique opportunity to enjoy a pleasant babbling brook and a fascinating heritage site.
Nahal Mahanayim is a short river that rises on the eastern slopes of Birya Forest and flows for only thirteen kilometers. It tumbles down from a steep height of 900 meters above sea level and passes through Hatzor HaGlilit on its way to the basalt ridge of Ramat Korazim, which divides Upper Galilee from the River Jordan. It continues on its way from the area north of Mahanayim and Mishmar HaYarden and spills into the Jordan to the north of Kibbutz Gadot.
Beside the river, near Hatzor, stands a tomb which is popularly believed to be that of Honi HaMeagal (Honi the Circle-Drawer, a Jewish sage from the 1st century BCE). In the past, this location was the site of a number of small springs, one of which, Ein Faram, still flows and is surrounded by a grove of handsome fig trees. Ein Margalit, a spring further upstream, no longer flows, but is nonetheless surrounded by picnic tables in the shade of the large fig trees that surround it. In early November, the area between Ein Margalit and Ein Honi is covered with a fine carpet of autumn daffodils (Sternbergia clusiana) in full bloom.Horvat Yarda (the Yarda Ruins)
Horvat Yarda. Photo: Yaakov Shkolnik
At Horvat Yarda you can see the remains of a manor house from the late 19th century, which is built in the form of a square around an internal courtyard with a cistern in the center. The entrance is in the western wall of the building, which is comparatively well preserved. Pottery and coins found at the site provide evidence of settlement since Roman times. KKL-JNF acquired the Yarda lands in 1936.
After the UN Security Council’s declaration of partition in November 1947, the site came under attack from Fawzi al-Kaukji’s Arab Liberation Army. During Israel’s War of Independence, the outpost at the site was held by forces from the Oded and Carmeli Brigades and these defenders fought against the Syrian army, which had broken through into the Land of Israel via the road that ascends from the Gesher Bnot Yaakov bridge and via Mishmar HaYarden. Fighting in the area was fierce, especially since the Syrian troops had occupied Mishmar HaYarden (adjacent to where Kibbutz Gadot stands today). Eventually, in July 1948, the Carmeli Brigade occupied the site and prevented the Syrian army from advancing further into Galilee.
The talks on a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Syria took place here, opposite Yarda, on the highway that leads from Mahanayim to Mishmar HaYarden. In the 1990s, work began on the conservation of the Horvat Yarda ruins. This enterprise was initiated by the veterans’ associations with the help of KKL-JNF, the Council for the Preservation of Buildings and Settlements, Mevo'ot HaHermon Regional Council, Kibbutz Mahanayim and Moshav Mishmar HaYarden. A memorial to the seventy-eight fighters who fell in the area during the War of Independence has been erected to the east of Horvat Yarda, overlooking the magnificent landscape of the Jordan Valley and the Golan Heights.Ein Yarda
Photo: Yaakov Shkolnik
To reach Ein Yarda we have to walk back for some 250 meters along the path that leads to Route 91 until we come upon a short steep dirt road downhill that leads us, after around 400 meters, to an attractive eucalyptus grove on the bank of Nahal Mahanayim. This route is accessible to vehicles with a four-wheel drive.
The water flowing in the stream amid the trees comes from the Ein Yarda spring. This is a peaceful corner where visitors can enjoy a tranquil moment at the water’s edge amid the eucalyptus trees that are interspersed here with large numbers of fig trees.
From here we can follow the signs for around 100 meters until we reach Omri’s Corner, which is dedicated to the memory of Omri Lahad, a young Israeli backpacker who met his death from snakebite in Colombia in 2009 at the age of 23. A short path takes us down to the stream, and beside the little bridge that crosses it you will find a memorial stone and a bench that offers a view of the water.The cycle trail in Nahal Mahanayim
A cycle path departs from the gas station adjacent to Mahanayim Junction and follows the northern bank of the stream until it meets the eastern Hula Valley highway (Route 918). From here visitors are faced with a choice: they can either descend along the Hilly Jordan or climb up to Ein Tina.