Bridge excursions - A Bridge Over Still Waters

We have no troubled waters, but we do have bridges that offer a memorable experience for both children and parents. Here are a few that are well worth a visit, if you happen to be passing by.



Geographic location: Sharon and coastal plains
Track type: Walking path
Target audience: All
Difficulty: Easy
Track length: 1 km
Season: All

Identity Card


• Geographic location:
  Center, Jezreel Valley, Sharon, Carmel, West Negev

• Features:  Water, springs, picnic, lookout

The summer holidays usher in an endless search for activities suitable for the whole family, and fixed or hanging bridges made of stone or ropes, stable or swinging, can provide the high point of an excursion with the little ones. Every bridge has its own unique personality.

Israel is not well endowed with large bridges that span foaming waters, but it does have some that are reminiscent of games with Lego and toy trains. In this article we have chosen to observe the hanging steel bridges of Nesher Park, a basalt Ottoman bridge over the Harod Stream, the Cow Bridge over the Alexander River and the rope bridge across the Besor Stream.

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.



 

The Basalt Canyon Bridge

The Basalt Canyon Bridge spans the lower reaches of the Harod Stream, to the east of Beit Shean. This section of the waterway flows through a narrow basalt canyon, and because of the steep descent the streambed tumbles downhill in a series of waterfalls. En route to the nearby KKL-JNF recreation area we pass the basalt arches of the Roman Bridge. Despite its ancient name, this bridge dates back only to Ottoman times and it was used by local traffic until 1994. A very short path leads from the KKL-JNF recreation area to a steel suspension bridge that, apart from linking the two sides of the canyon, also provides a splendid view of one of the waterfalls, which drops down from a height of thirteen meters. The bridge is also the starting point of a footpath that leads towards Beit Shean’s birdwatching area and the soft chalk hills that overlook the Huga Gardens.

In summertime we recommend visiting the site towards late afternoon, both because of the weather and because visibility eastwards to the Gilead Mountains is better at that time of day.

How to get there
Beside Beit Shean turn to the east along Route no. 90 and head towards the Jordan River border crossing. Very close to the turnoff turn northwards, following the signs, and continue for about 200 meters until you reach the parking lot of the recreation area adjacent to the bridge.

A Bridge in Nesher

Please note: The Katia Gully hanging bridges in Nesher Park are closed until further notice because of safety problems.

Two seventy-meter-long steel-cable hanging bridges span Mount Carmel’s Katia Gully in KKL-JNF’s Nesher Park, a popular local venue that offers views of the greenery of Mount Carmel, playground equipment for children, picnic tables and marked footpaths.

The bridge can be reached by walking for ten minutes down a convenient dirt road along the bank on the park side. Alternatively, we can cross the bank and access the bridges from the other side; this involves a walk of between twenty and thirty minutes amidst woodland vegetation interspersed with views of the gully and the green slopes of Mount Carmel.

Both these hanging bridges, which sway slightly as you walk across them, offer a unique experience.
Nesher Municipality is responsible for the upkeep of the park.

How to get there
Drive along the Nesher road towards Haifa University and Ramot Yitzhak, and from there follow the signs that read “KKL-JNF park,” turn into Rehov HeHaruv (“Carob Street”) and from there make your way to Nesher Park.

Projects and Partners Worldwide
This site was developed with the support of Friends of KKL Switzerland.
 

The Cow Bridge and the suspension bridge

The Alexander River descends from the hills of Samaria to Israel’s Sharon region where it dives underground, mingles with the groundwater and transforms itself into a stream that flows all year round amidst abundant vegetation. In the past the river suffered from neglect and pollution, but in 1995 the Alexander River Rehabilitation Administration was created under the auspices of the Hefer Valley Regional Council, the Jewish National Fund, the Ministry for Environmental Protection, the Sharon Drainage Authority and some fifteen other official bodies. The Alexander River Rehabilitation Project and, specifically, the illustrative sample stretch of the waterway, where the bridges are located, has won prestigious prizes.

The sample stretch of the river to the north of Kibbutz Maabarot is the waterway’s main attraction, and it has been named Italy Park in honor of KKL-JNF Italy’s donation to the project. This section, which extends for 750 meters, has been rehabilitated and landscaped, and today it is bordered by an extensive lawn, recreation areas, seating areas and ecologically appropriate riverbank vegetation. The park’s dirt roads are wheelchair-accessible and suitable for strollers and pushchairs.

The more easterly of the bridges along this stretch of water, which is known as the Cow Bridge, is a concrete structure that Kibbutz Maabarot’s cowmen used in former days when they led their herds to pasture. It is closed to visitors. Slightly further downstream we come to the steel suspension bridge constructed in 2001 as part of the rehabilitation project. Visitors can walk along the bridge to view the river from the vantage point in the middle. The bridge leads to a route that takes us to the turtles’ breeding ground. 
 
From the sample stretch of the river we can stroll along the River Walk, which, after 2.7 kilometers of paved path, brings us to the Turtle Bridge in Water Turtle Park. This is the spot to observe the local soft-shelled freshwater turtles.

How to get there
The sample stretch of the river can be reached from the access road that leads to Kibbutz Maabarot and Kibbutz Mishmar HaSharon. This road branches off the old Coastal Road (Route no. 4) behind the gas station at HaOgen Junction. The Water Turtle Park can be reached from the access road to Kfar Vitkin, which branches off the old Coastal Road (Route no. 4) at Hefer Junction.

The Besor Bridge

The rope bridge on the Besor Trail was the forerunner of the other hanging bridges found at tourist sites in Israel. This eighteen-kilometer scenic route wends its way from Eshkol Park (this shd be an internet link) in the north to Tzeelim Junction. The bridge, which is eighty meters long, is suspended above a natural groundwater pool fringed with reeds and enclosed by bare cliffs.

If we drive northwards along the trail we can conclude our excursion at Eshkol Park, a site managed jointly by KKL-JNF and the Nature and Parks Authority, where we can dip our feet into the large Besor Springs Pool (Brekhat Einot HaBsor) and enjoy the shade of the park’s extensive lawns. In summertime we recommend visiting this site towards late afternoon.

How to get there
The bridge is best accessed from the southern side of the Besor Trail. Drive north from Tzeelim Junction (Route no. 222) for about a kilometer and turn right at the Besor Trail (blue markings). You will arrive at the bridge after about two minutes’ drive along the blue-marked dirt road.