by Moshe Friedman
One of my favorite spots in Northern Israel is the Tel Dan Nature Reserve. Take Rd.90 about 30 km north passing Zomet Machanayim, through the western side of the Hula Valley and pass the town of Kiryat Shemona. At the northern end of town, turn east (right) immediately after the shopping mall onto Road 99. This turn off is Zomet HaMetzudot. Continue on Road 99 east approximately 9 km, passing the turn off to Moshav Bet Hillel on the right, and Kibbutz Mayan Baruch and then Kibbutz Dafna on the left. Shortly after passing Moshav Shaar HaGolan on the right you will see the sign pointing to Tel Dan Nature Reserve. Turn left on this road and continue straight until the entrance of the park.
The Tel Dan Nature Reserve has a number of trails, mostly covered by beautiful trees that provide shade. There are clean bathrooms here as well as a shady picnic area right next to the water. Please remember to wear hats and take water bottles as you begin hiking.
The trails all begin as a concrete path that passes along the riverbank before changing to a wooden “boardwalk.” The walking here is relatively easy and the trails are all well marked. There are signs in English and Hebrew indicating the names of many of the places as well as naming some of the trees. One of the trails leads to a place called “Winnie the Pooh’s Tree,” which is worth visiting but unfortunately is not accessible to baby carriages.
The area was originally the Biblical town of Laish. During the time of the Judges the tribe of Dan was originally located in the center of the country (Gush Dan), but was hemmed in by other tribes as well as by the Philistines. The elders of Dan told their young to head north in search of more room. The tribe of Dan conquered this land for themselves and established a ritual area here after the tribes broke up into the Kingdoms of Yehuda and Yisrael. Dan was a major center for the northern Kingdom of Yisrael.
To see the remains of the Kingdom we must leave the boardwalk and walk along the marked foot trail. If you take the long path along the boardwalk you will come to the end of this path when it becomes a dirt trail. Follow this dirt trail to the left and walk about 65 feet (20 meters) to a small pool of water fed by one of the tributaries of the Dan. This pool was made especially for children to allow them to wade but only under parental supervision. The water is relatively shallow but very cold. The water comes from the Dan Spring which flows not far from here. The spring is fed by rainwater and melting snows from Lebanon.
When you leave Tel Dan, proceed to Kibbutz Dafna and then turn left (south) on Road 918 which goes along the Western side of the Hula valley parallel to Road 90. This road avoids passing through Kiryat Shemona and any traffic in that area. Take this picturesque road for about 26 km. when you will get to the Gadot Junction passing Ein Tina. At the junction, turn right (west) to Zomet Machanayim and back to Road 90 to head south.
This site is appropriate for a family outing with kids of all ages, and is accessible to both wheelchairs as well as baby carriages.
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Based on an article in the Safed “Western Settlers’ Newsletter.” Moshe Friedman is a certified tour guide and medic. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org