HaShofet Stream

Difficulty: basic | Recommended Season: year-round | Area: North Carmel and Menashe | Track Length: 1-2 hours | Route Type: accessible, picnic, water and springs


HaShofet Stream. Photograph: Yaakov Shkolnik
HaShofet Stream. Photograph: Yaakov Shkolnik

The stream flows through fields and woodlands. The pastoral landscape is infused with a peaceful atmosphere. Along its banks grow willow and elm trees amid raspberry thickets, which in summer produce delicious fruit. KKL-JNF has built a wheelchair-accessible path along the most attractive stretch of the stream. The entire route is paved, although wheelchairs will need to be pushed on the return leg. Water flows in the stream usually until early summer.
Accessibility Note: KKL-JNF has built a wheelchair-accessible path along the most attractive stretch of the stream. Parts of the paved path were washed away by torrential rains in the winter of 2019-2020.
An accessible section still remains, about 700 meters long, which reaches the stream's key attractions - relexing nooks and an observation deck overlooking the waterfall and the towering elm trees next to it.

Access arrangements to HaShofet Stream on weekends

On Fridays and Saturdays access to and from HaShofet Stream via the Yokneam Moshava will not be permitted.
The Moshava electric gates will be shut from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. In addition, the electric gates toward HaShofet Stream from the Yokneam Moshava direction and at the Haruvim Recreation Area will be locked.
Access to the stream from Yokneam Moshava will be cleared of cars in favor of first-responder and security vehicles. ccess to the stream basin will be restricted to Road 66 only.
About Ramat Menashe
Ramat Menashe (Menashe Highland) is located south of the Carmel Mountain Range, more or less between Road 70 (Nahal Tut, also known as Wadi Milekh) and Road 65 (Nahal Iron, also known as Wadi Ara).
This is an area of undulating hills, rising to 300 meters above sea level with occasional higher peaks. The main feature of this region is planted forests and natural-growth Maount Tabor oak forests, open spaces, meadows, fields and orchards, springs and flowing streams. The gentle slopes and rural nature of the surrounding villages all radiate an air of tranquility.

KKL-JNF, together with the Megiddo Regional Council and the Yizre'elim Local Planning Committee, has built an initiative intended to preserve the character of this region. This goal has been framed by declaring the majority of this region as a Biospheric Space. The Ramat Menashe Biospheric Space consists of an area of approximately 8400 hectares. The goal is to involve the local inhabitants and the local authority in the preservation of the natural, landscape and heritage assets within their region, alongside the existing human habitation, so as to ultimately benefit all of the above. The biospheric space won UNESCO recognition in 2011. It includes forests, nature reserves, agricultural and pastoral lands as well as six rural communities - Moshav Ein HaEmek and five Kibbutzes - Gal'ed, Dalia, Ramat HaShofet, Ein HaShofet and Ramot Menashe.

The drive along the forestry road leading to the hiking trailhead is enjoyable in its own right.
The Route
The access road to HaShofet Stream branches off the Yokneam-Megiddo road (road 66) between the 28th and 29th kilometer. Signs directing to "Ramat Menashe Park" and "HaShofet Stream" point you in the right direction.
At the entrance we turn south along a paved road. After about 100 meters we will be greeted by the park entry signs.

Several Mount Tabor oaks here are a remnant of the vast Mount Tabor oak forests which once blanketed all of Ramat Menashe. Most of the forest was felled over the years. Remnants can still be seen on the hills in the Kibbutz Gal'ed area.
KKL-JNF has recently been working to restore these forests and increase their area by sowing Mount Tabor oak acorns.

After another 500 meters, we will pass a pumping station belonging to the National Water Carrier (on your left). The paved roadturns right and arrives at a wooden shelter which occasionally functions as a KKL-JNF information center.
The shelter is on the banks of Gahar Stream, which in winter flows quite impressively. A cycling track, named after Meiri Singer, starts from the small parking bay beside the shelter, climbing upstream of Gahar Stream parallel to the road.

The paved road continues upstream. After 1.6 km we will reach an intersection. The branch to the left continues upstream along Gahar Stream as far as the Mishmar HaEmek road (Road 6953).
On our right, within the fenced-off area, the National Water Carrier enters the 7-km-long Menashe Tunnel.

We will continue straight up the road. We will pass "Park Road", which turns left toward Joara, crossing Ramat Menashe. Here the road takes a sharp turn to the right and, after about 600 meters, it reaches a T junction: straight ahead - the Hazorea Recreation Area; left - the descending road northwards toward HaShofet Stream (we will follow this road). We are in the midst of Hazorea forest, which covers about 3,000 hectares. KKL-JNF began planting the forest in the late 1920's. The planters were the founders of Kibbutz Mishmar HaEmek. The mature forest, consisting of conifers and broadleaf trees, is one of Israel's oldest planted forests.

We will drive downwards along the road leading to the HaShofet Stream valley, turning left on the forestry road to immediately cross the stream and park at the hiking trailhead, which is also its terminus.
HaShofet Stream
A circular trail built by KKL-JNF departs from the parking bay. The path is wheelchair-accessible, part of it is paved with asphalt and there is a small stretch of wooden walkway.
The parking bays designated for the disabled adjoin the trailhead itself.

We will first walk along Sanin Stream, which flows mainly in winter - a short tributary of HaShofet Stream. Beside the stream is dense riverbank vegetation - mainly buckthorn, cane and raspberry.
We'll spot the bridge over which we will cross the stream to its right-hand bank. Here we will also find laurel trees, which in Israel grow mainly along the deep streams of the Upper Galilee.
Along the way KKL-JNF has placed benches and group seating corners.

After once again crossing Sanin Stream to its left-hand bank, we will finally reach HaShofet Stream and an observation deck overlooking a waterfall with a pretty pool at its foot. The benches in this corner are shaded by elms - a rare tree in Israel, which only grows near water. The tree sheds its leaves in winter, but the rest of the year it is easy to identify by its serrated, asymmetric leaves.

This is where the accessible path ends.

The trail passes a small dam used for water flow measurement in the stream as well as two small rock overhangs, reaching a nice grove containing the ruins of a flour mill.
The stream can be crossed to reach a large cave. All the caves here are manmade. The flour mill is the end of the trail. So far, we have walked about 900 meters. We will now return to the flour mill and walk uphill to a broad dirt road adjoining the Kibbutz Hazorea cemetery. We cross the dirt road and visit Ein Hashrat - a spring originating in a tunnel fronted by an arched alcove. In bygone days there might have been a statue placed within the alcove, or perhaps this was a place of pagan worship. Kibbutz Hazorea has dedicated the stream in memory of Ami Bar-Ner, a Kibbutz member fallen in action in 1970.

We can return to the trailhead the way we came (recommended on weekends, when there are many cars on the dirt road), or we can follow the dirt road by the spring, which returns us to the parking bay.
Text and photos: Yaakov Shkolnik