Amud Stream Nature Reserve
Some have called the Amud Stream Nature Reserve the most beautiful stream in the Galilee. Nachal Amud (Pillar Stream) or Wadi al-Amud flows from Ramat Dalton in the Upper Galilee to the northwestern part of the Sea of Galilee. It is named after a natural rock formation that resembles a pillar rising out of the water near Kibbutz Hukok. The nature reserve holds natural and archaeological heritage sites. The reserve can be divided into the Upper Amud Stream where the stream flows year-round and the Lower Amud Stream where the stream is seasonal. The reserve is one of the most popular hike destinations in the country where visitors can enjoy rock pools, lush vegetation, wildflowers, and dramatic cliffs.
Upper Amud Stream
In the Upper Amud Stream area is the historic Ein Tina police station that was used by British soldiers guarding the stream pumping station. Notice the bullet marks in the concrete structure from the Arab Revolt of 1936-39. The British pumping station on nearby Ein Yakim Stream supplied water to the city of Safed until 1995. There are remains of ancient aqueducts that would have channeled water to flour mills built along the spring. They would also have brought water to irrigate the nearby orchards that have been reconstructed so that visitors can see traditional agricultural methods. At the point where the Amud Stream and Sekhvi Stream meet are glorious shallow pools shaded by tall trees.
Lower Amud Stream
The caves in Amud Stream Nature Reserve are the country’s most important prehistoric sites. As you walk along the edge of the stream you can look up to see the opening of a large cave about 30m up the cliffs. Thousands of years ago the water level would have been much higher and flowed alongside this opening. Excavations of the cave have found human remains dating back to the Mousterian culture, 50,000-70,000 years ago. Fossilized human bones were also found in the Skull Cave. A human skull found in the Skull Cave came to be known as the “Galilee Man” and belonged to a man who lived here more than 350,000 years ago. The Lower Amud Stream is where you can see the “Amud”, a 20m-tall limestone pillar. This is also the section of the stream where cliffs offer a nesting site for vultures, kestrels, buzzards, and eagles. The Tsera Lookout Point overlooks the National Water Carrier siphon that crosses the stream over a 150m-deep channel.
Hiking in the Amud Stream National Reserve
There are 40kms of marked hike trails in the reserve and maps are available at the reserve entrance. You could take the 5km (2-4 hours) loop trail from the reserve entrance, past the historic British police station, then down into the valley where rocks are covered with moss, ferns, vines, and flowers. Then continuing to the old pump station, an orchard of olive trees and historic flour mill to reach the stream. Here you can wade through pools, see water cascading over rocks, and even swim. The route loops back and you need to make the ascent to the trail-head.
If you want a longer walk there is the one-way trail along the river to the pillar that stretches for 13.5km. This is a difficult hike but offers many exciting discoveries along the way. On route you’ll stop at the Yakim Spring to cool off; see waterfalls; an ancient wool mill; stop at the Shechvi Pools; the Seter Spring and the ancient aqueducts. There is a lookout point along the way where you can get a rare view of the Mediterranean Sea and Sea of Galilee at the same time.