The Yehudiya Forest Nature Reserve, covering 66,000 dunams (16,500 acres) in the central Golan Heights, is shaped like a hand, the wrist of which is in the Bethsaida Valley and each of whose fingers is a flowing stream. The land slopes moderately westward from 400 to 100 m above sea level.
The Yehudiya Forest itself covers some 20,000 dunams of the reserve. Its most common tree is the large Mt. Tabor oak, which sheds its leaves in winter. These trees grow at some distance from each other, interspersed with herbaceous species, Christ-thorn and terebinth trees, creating a forest-park landscape.
Among the animals in the reserve are gazelles, wild boars, jackals, conies, Indian crested porcupines and the Cairo spiny mouse. The skies reveal raptors such as kestrels, short toed eagles, Bonellis eagles, Egyptian vultures, buzzards, Griffon vultures and a large variety of song birds.
The reserves five main streams are the Meshushim
the Yehudiya, the Daliyot, the Zavitan and the Gamla. They get their water from dozens of shallow tributaries, and as they flow westward they create deep, impressive basalt canyons and high waterfalls, finally eddying into lagoons and wetlands the flat Bethsaida Valley waterscape scenery unusual for Israel. Most of the streams have trails that are marked with special colors. Some are easy, and some are for the adventurous and require climbing down ladders or rappelling the latter permitted only with the services of a professional rappelling guide.
It is important to stop at the center to get the latest information on the condition of the trails in the reserve and find out the rules visitors must follow.
How to get there:
The reserve is located off the Yehudiya Hushniya road (no. 87) 7 km east of the Yehudiya junction, approximately 5.5 km south of Katsrin
Hours: April thru September 8 A.M. to 5 P.M.
October thru March 8 A.M. to 4 P.M.
Fridays and holiday eves: 8 A.M. to 3 P.M.
Last entry two hours before above closing hour
Telephone: 04.696.2817; 04.696.3043
Adult: NIS 20; youth: NIS 9
Israeli senior citizen: 50% discount
Group rate (over 30 people): Adult: NIS 17; youth: NIS 8.
*The entrance fee to the Meshushim Nature Reserve is the same as the entrance fee to the Yehudiya Nature Reserve.
*Discounts may be available; inquire at the reserve. Overnight camping: NIS 20 per person; NIS 15 for schoolchildren and youth groups