The Hermon Stream (Banias) Nature Reserve is a fantastic trip all year round. Refreshing water and plenty of shade make it a great summer escape. However, in winter, the water flow is much more impressive.
Table of contents
- Banias Reserve Map
- Short hike (3 km)
- Long hike (8 km)
- Main Sights
- Basic Information (Prices, Hours)
- Banias in the bible
BANIAS (HERMON) STREAM RESERVE MAP
The Banias River (Hermon Stream) is one of the 3 tributaries of the Jordan River. It is not the biggest in terms of waterfowl, nor in terms of length. However, it is the “wildest” and the most scenic of the three. 80% of its water comes from one big spring, called the Banias Spring. In addition, a few streams that flow down from Mount Hermon and the Golan heights add some water flow during the winter. The Banias Nature Reserve has two entrances (The ticket you buy at either one of them is valid for both). Each entrance provides easier access to the attractions in its vicinity. The two areas are connected with a 2 kilometers hiking trail so that you can visit all the attractions also from one entrance. It’s a great hike all year round. During the summer, you have lots of shade and wading opportunities in the cold water. During the winter and spring, the water flow is much stronger, and the surroundings are fresh and full of wildflowers.
There are several options of touring the reserve, each one of them with different duration and effort level:
Visit the spring area (Upper entrance):
- Walking distance: 0.5-1.5 kilometers.
- Duration: 15-60 minutes.
- Main attractions: Banias Springs, Watermill, Pan temple, Ancient Banias ruins.
Visit the waterfall area (Lower entrance):
- Walking distance of 1.5 kilometers.
- Duration: 30-60 Minutes.
- Main Attractions: Circular Hike to the Banias Falls and the “Hanging” bridge above the Banias Gorge.
Short Hike from the Springs to the Waterfall:
- Walking distance: 2.5-3.5 Kilometers One way. (If you don’t have 2 cars add 2 Km for the return walk)
- Duration: 1-2 Hours.
- Visit all the attractions mentioned above, plus a lovely 2 km walk along the Hermon (Banias) stream.
Long Hike for the Springs to moshav Shear Yashuv:
- Walking distance: 7-8 Kilometers One way. (Return by bus or taxi)
- Duration: 2-4 Hours.
- Visit all the attractions mentioned above, plus a lovely 6 km walk along the Hermon (Banias) stream.
- The areas of the springs and waterfall are crowded. In this hike, you get out of the main areas into the peaceful and less visited areas of the Banias.
Short Hike in the Banias Nature Reserve
- Walking distance: 2.5-3.5 Kilometers (One way).
- If you don’t have 2 cars, add 2 Km for the return walk.
- Duration: 1-2 Hours.
- Starting Point: Upper entrance to the reserve
- End Point: Lower entrance to the reserve
BANIAS STREAM HIKING MAP
- Leave one car in the lower (waterfall) entrance and go to the trailhead at the upper entrance.
- If you don’t have 2 cars, you will need to walk back 2 km along the road or hitchhike. The 2 locations are not served by public transportation.
- Start with a tour of the Springs, Banias Ruins, and the Pan Temple.
- When done, start following the Blue trail downstream along the Banias.
- You will reach after a few minutes the restored watermill.
- There are plenty of magical spots for picnicking by the water.
- After about 2 km, you will reach a viewpoint that overlooks the Banias Falls from the top.
- A few meters after that, the trail descends to the riverbed, crosses the stream and reached a junction with a Red trail.
- Turn right and follow the Blue trail to reach the foot of the Banias Falls.
- Retrace your steps to the junction and at the junction, follow the Red trail.
- After a short distance, you will meet the “Hanging Trial”. A short, exciting section of trail hanging from the cliffs of the gorge above the water.
- The trail is “One Way”, so you need to continue on the Red trail until you reach the entrance to the “Hanging Trail”.
- Enjoy this short and exciting path and climb up with the Blue trail to the upper entrance.
Long Hike in the Banias Nature Reserve
- Walking distance: 7-8 Kilometers (One way).
- Return to the trailhead by bus or taxi.
- Duration: 2-4 Hours.
- Starting Point: Upper entrance to the reserve
- End Point: Bus station at Shear Yashuv
- Follow the instructions of the short hike until the end of the “Hanging Trail” (2).
- Return on the Red trail to the beginning of the “Hanging trail (3).
- Walk along the Black trail downstream.
- After 100 meters, you will reach a “one-way” gate that marks the end of the paid area of the Banias reserve (After you pass it, you cannot go back!).
- About 250 meters further, you will see an unmarked trail branching left towards the riverbed. Go down towards the stream. It leads to a beautiful picnic spot by the water where there is also an old Syrian tank that fell here in 1967. The tank’s ruin adds to the atmosphere of the place.
- Continue walking downstream on the Black trail for about 1 Km until a junction with a Red trail (4).
- Branch right onto the Red trail that passes near the water stream with many possibilities for pleasant resting spots.
- After about 1.5 Km, the red trail meets again with the black dirt road. Follow the Black dirt road on a bridge across the Hermon (Banias) river and up to moshav Shear Yashuv.
- At the end of the marked trail walk through the moshav until the exit to the main road #99, where there is a bus stop.
Banias (Hermon) Nature Reserve Main Sights
This group of springs that seeps from the bottom of the shallow pools provides 80% of the water that flows in the Banias (Hermon) stream. Mount Hermon, the rainiest area in Israel, does not have any perennial rivers running down its slopes. The rainwater and the melting of the snow permeate into the ground and seeps at the base of the mountain and creates the Banias Springs.
The name of the stream originates from a local legend, which tells that the Greek god Pan (God of the shepherds and nature), wandered the area and drove panic among the animals and the forest fairies. When the Greek Hellenists settled in the area, they named their city Panias after his name. About a thousand years later, when the Muslims came here, they called the town Banias by way of Arabic pronunciation. The five hewn niches in the cliff beside the cave are a remnant of a temple built by the Greeks in the second century BCE in honor of the god Pan.
Ancient Banias Ruins:
The Excavations reveal the crusader Banias fortress, including the gate tower, a shopping area, storage rooms, a cemetery, a moat, and the city walls. The excavation site also revealed a public building erected at the beginning of the first century CE. The construction spanned more than 2,000 square meters and was one of the largest and most magnificent in the Land of Israel. Investigators believe this is the second Agripas Palace.
Old restored Watermill:
The mill used the power of the water to produce flour. The original mill is ancient (age unknown), but it continued to be used by the nearby Druze villages until 1967. Inside the historic building, you can see and learn about traditional flour manufacturing in the land of Israel.
The height of the Banias Falls is not particularly impressive(Only 10 meters tall), but the intensity of its flow is remarkable. In spring, and especially in March, the intensity of the stream is so strong that those standing on the balcony a few dozen meters from the waterfall receive a cold spray of water straight from the waterfall!
“Hanging Bridge” trail:
A short, 80 m trail that is built from a wooden deck attached to the basalt cliffs of the narrow canyon where the Banyas River flows just after the waterfall. The trail was built in 2009 as part of the project to make the reserve more accessible. A fantastic experience!
Old Syrian Tank:
How did the Syrian tank get here? During the Six-Day War, the Syrian army barricaded itself in the Banias area, where Kibbutz Snir is currently located, in preparation for an attack on northern Israel. A simple but ingenious move repelled the attack. The local residents set fire in the fields that split between them and the frontline. During the withdrawal of the Syrian army, one tank traveled along the cliff edge of the Banias creek. Legend has it that the tank commander got confused and drove backward instead of forward. The tank crew has been crushed to death, and since then, the tank has been lying there upside down for fifty years.
- Location: At the foot of Mount Hermon. Google-Maps / Waze
- By Bus: Take bus #58 or #87 from Kiryat Shemona. Get off at the Snir Junction and walk about 1 Km along the road to the entrance of the Banias (Hermon) nature reserve.
- Opening Times:
Summer hours: 08:00 – 17:00, Friday and holiday eves: 08:00-16:00
Winter hours: 08:00 – 16:00, Friday and holiday eves: 08:00-15:00
- Admission fee: Adult 29 NIS, Child 15 NIS.
- There are two ticket offices. On at the entrance to the Banias Springs and another at the entrance to the Banias Waterfall. The ticket is valid for both as long as you enter on the same day.
Banias in the Bible (New Testament)
Jesus visited the Banias around 29AD (Mark 8 27): “Now Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, Who do men say that I am?”. This is one of the important Christian events, giving the city a special religious status that intensified during the Byzantine period. Another event that is associated with Banias is the miracle of the healing of the bleeding woman. The Byzantine Church ruins south of the springs, was dedicated to this event.