Nachal Meshushim or the Hexagon Stream, runs through the Yehudiya
Forest National Reserve in Israel’s Golan region, north of the Sea of Galilee,
and is part of the Meshushim Stream Reserve. The Meshushim Stream flows for
35km from springs at the foot of Mount Avital and gains strength as it travels
through canyons, into pools, down waterfalls, and through wetlands. The
highlight of the reserve is the Hexagon Pool (Brichat Meshushim). This well-known
idyllic spot at the foot of a canyon is named for the hexagonal basalt columns
that nature has stacked up on the rim of the water. This unique geological
formation comes about when layer after layer of lava flows over rocks for
hundreds of years then cools rapidly forming polygonal shapes as it contracts.
The wall of geometrically-shaped rocks rises about 5 meters to the east and a
waterfall cascades into the pool which is shaded by Mount Tabor oaks and Syrian
ash trees. Visitors can swim in the water that remains cool year-round. The
Meshushim Pool is just one of the spectacular points along the stream which eventually
flows into the Sea of Galilee.
Hiking to the Meshushim Pool
The nearest community to the Meshushim Stream is Had Ness on
road 888. At the entrance to the park, there is a car park, snack kiosk,
toilets, change rooms, and picnic tables. There are four loop trails in the reserve
including the short Lookout Trail (300 m) that offers views of the forest and is
wheelchair accessible. The 700 m-long Dolmen Trail leads to a Bronze Age basalt
burial monument called a dolmen. The most enjoyable way to reach the magical Meshushim
Pool is to follow the down-hill Pool Trail (2 km) for about half an hour. If you
want a longer hike there is a 3km Stream Trail route that takes you deeper into
the canyon. This is a harder route that includes climbing a 3m-high rock cliff
using handholds that have been attached to the rock. On the Stream Trail, you
will stop at the Hexagon Pool, pass through an olive grove, get views from a
quaint bridge, and see the forest landscape before completing the trail. The
longest of the trails is 8km-long and leads to the Yehudiya Campground then
continues to the Zavitan Stream. It is a difficult route that includes steep
descents and is recommended only for fit experienced hikers.
Yehudiya Forest Nature Reserve
The Yehudiya Forest Nature Reserve is crisscrossed by five
streams that tumble over waterfalls as they flow from the mountain tops at 600 m
above sea level to 200 m below sea level. The distinct landscape has deep
canyon-like stream-beds and flat stretches of forest that cover about 35 km².
During the spring the ground is covered with a carpet of wildflowers. The
Meshushim Stream is the northernmost of the reserve’s streams. In addition to
the natural beauty of the reserve, there are also several archaeological sites
from early Christian and Jewish villages including the 1st-century
village of Gamla. The reserve is named after the remains of a Talmudic and
Mishnaic era Jewish village. The reserve is home to small animals including
gazelles, porcupines, red foxes, wild boar, and even a few golden jackals.
There is a large raptor nesting site in the reserve where rare vultures and
eagles come to nest.