Spring Valley Park - Park HaMaayanot

Spring Valley Park - Park HaMaayanot is home to three of the Beit Shean Valley’s most abundant and attractive springs that flow at the foot of the high cliff wall of Mount Gilboa.


Geographic location: Sea of Galilee, the valleys and lower Galilee
Difficulty: Easy
Target audience: All
Season: All
Track type: 0
Duration: 3-5 hours

Identity Card

Nahal Kibbutzim with Mount Gilboa in the background. Photo: Yaakov Skolnik.



“Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain upon you,” pronounced King David in the curse he laid upon the mountain where King Saul and his sons met their deaths (2 Samuel 1: 21). And, indeed, there are no springs on Mount Gilboa. However, the soon to be king “forgot” to curse the valley at its foot, and springs flow in abundance below the steep cliff walls: the Harod Spring (Ma‘yan Harod) and the Sakhne have long since been turned into natural water parks, and recently they were joined by Ein Shokek, Ein Moda and Nahal Kibbutzim, which have combined to create Spring Valley Park - Park HaMaayanot.

Before going any further, we need to solve the riddle of the abundance of water in the valley. How is it that in the comparatively arid Beit Shean Valley, which receives no more than 300 mm of rainfall per year, we find such generously flowing springs? The answer lies on Mount Gilboa. Mount Gilboa is the northerly section of the Samaria Mountains, which receive very considerable amounts of rain. Because of the way the layers of rock in the Samaria region are configured, rain that falls in the area between Nablus and Mount Gilboa in northern Samaria flows underground towards the Beit Shean Valley, where it emerges in the form of springs. In other words, most of the water flowing in Spring Valley Park - Park HaMaayanot started out as rain that fell on Samaria.


Geographic location: Northern Lower Galilee


How to get there:

From the Afula-Beit Shean highway (Route no. 71), turn southwards towards Kibbutz Beit Alfa (Route no. 669). Drive past Beit Alfa and past the road that goes up to Mount Gilboa, and turn southwards into the entrance to the Gan HaShlosha National Park (Sakhne).  At the roundabout before the entrance to the Sakhne turn right, skirt Gan HaShlosha following the road parallel to the park fence, and you will very quickly arrive at a parking lot.

 
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.
 
 
 

Spring Valley Park - Park HaMaayanot

Spring Valley Park - Park HaMaayanot is an unusual site for Israel. On the one hand, part of it is a nature reserve (Nahal Kibbutzim Nature Reserve), while on the other the springs that flow here - Ein Migdal, Ein Shokek, Nahal Kibbutzim and Ein Moda - are devoted to recreation. In addition, there is another unusual feature: both the springs and the nature reserve are situated right in the heart of fields belonging to three kibbutzim: Nir David, Mesilot and Reshafim.

The park was created out of necessity, and out of necessity it was closed to vehicles. Before it was established, the area between the springs was a neglected no man’s land that in the summer was crowded with thousands of visitors. The crowds, the noise, the dust raised by passing cars and the appalling quantities of litter all damaged the natural landscape and made it impossible for anyone to enjoy the site. The area was crying out for help.

KKL-JNF, the South Jordan Drainage Authority, the Emek HaMaayanot Regional Council, the Nature and Parks Authority, the Government Tourism Company and the Ministry of Agriculture all joined forces to establish the park, develop it minimally without encroaching on the natural landscape and provide a unique water leisure facility unmatched anywhere else in the country.

Visiting Spring Valley Park - Park HaMaayanot

Entrance to the park is free of charge: you can explore it on foot without paying a penny, and you can bring in your own bicycle without paying, too. Some visitors, however, will find the distance between one spring and the next too great to cover comfortably on foot, especially when encumbered with a picnic cooler. A cheap and convenient solution to this is the road train that shuttles back and forth, and which for 20 NIS will carry you from one spring to the next. There are also golf buggies and bicycles for hire, at a variety of prices.

Payment: Parking and entrance to the park on foot or on one’s own bicycle are free of charge.

Entrance: There are toilets and drinking water facilities at the entrance to the park, together with a convenience store where you can buy whatever you need for your picnic and have a coffee before setting out.

Transport within the park: Bicycles and golf buggies that hold between four and eight people are available for rent. The road train that provides a shuttle service between the springs departs every hour and a half. You can get on it with your picnic cooler, get off at one of the springs, move on to the next spring, or to your departure point. There is a charge for use of the shuttle or a clubcar.

Combined ticket: Combination tickets that include visits to Gan HaShlosha National Park and Gan Guru are available at reduced prices.
 
 

Ein Migdal and Nahal Kibbutzim

Ein Migdal is one of the largest springs in Spring Valley Park - Park HaMaayanot. Half of its waters are captured directly at source, while the remainder flows along the famous Nahal Kibbutzim stream. The name Ein Migdal (“Tower Spring”) perpetuates the memory of Kibbutz Tel Amal (now called Kibbutz Nir David), the first Tower and Stockade settlement, which was founded on December 10th, 1936.

Nahal Kibbutzim makes its way through the park for almost 1.5 kilometers before flowing into aqueducts that carry it to the fields of the Jezreel Valley. The upper reaches of the river constitute the nature reserve mentioned above. The limpid waters of the river and springs provide habitats for large colonies of underwater plants, of which the most common is hornwort (Ceratophyllum demersum), easily recognizable by its segmented leaves. The nature reserve further upstream supports riverbank vegetation that includes reeds, Jordan tamarisks (Tamarix jordanis), southern cattail (Typha domingensis), northern pampas grass (Saccharum ravennae), brambles and golden samphire (Inula crithmoides). In damp areas beyond the banks sea rushes (Juncus maritimus) and rare plants including the bulrush (Scirpus litoralis) and brookweed (Samolus valerandi) are also found. The river is also home to endangered plant species, such as great fen-sedge (Cladium mariscus).

Tel Shukha
The high hill to the south of Nahal Kibbutzim, which is topped with a three-storey concrete tower, offers a wonderful view of the area. The tower was built in 1939 to provide protection for Kibbutz Nir David after three of its members were ambushed and murdered nearby. The tel has not yet been excavated.

Near Tel Shukha evidence of the site’s prehistoric past was found in the form of flint and stone tools and implements hewn into the rock. The pieces of obsidian – volcanic glass originating in Asia Minor – were of especial interest, as trade in such precious materials is evidence of the importance of the site. These and other artifacts are on display at the Museum of Regional and Mediterranean Archaeology in Gan HaShlosha National Park.

Ein Shokek
Ein Shokek is a spring that emerges into a large and beautiful pool filled with clear water and surrounded by shady trees. A modern aqueduct, known as “Minus 100” because its starting point is one hundred meters below sea level, is fed by the spring. The stone wall beside the spring forms part of a pool that once collected the water and channeled it to two water-driven flour mills. Nothing remains of the upper mill (Tahunat al-Jawsaq), which was close to the dam. Of the lower mill (Tahunat al-Ashraf), which was situated about 350 meters downstream along the Ein Shokek waterway, considerable portions can still be seen. The abundant flow of water from the spring was used to drive three pairs of millstones. There would appear to have been a pool at Ein Shokek all the way back to Roman times.

Ein Shokek and the other springs in the valley are frequented by the local wildlife, which includes wild boar, jackals, foxes, swamp lynxes and porcupines, all of which find cover amid the dense vegetation.

Ein Moda
This is a large spring in the shade of an attractive eucalyptus grove where KKL-JNF has provided a pleasant recreation area. The spring water is collected in a large pool about forty meters in length and half a meter deep.

In wintertime the fishponds between Ein Shokek and Ein Moda are worth a visit. Even those who are not lifelong bird-lovers will find it hard to resist the sight of this waterfowl paradise.