The Banias, whose Hebrew name is Hermon River, is a nature reserve that includes abundant running water, waterfalls and springs, which flow in the shade of plane trees, tangle of vines, shrubs, woodland vegetation riverbanks and archaeological treasures scattered along the paths. The Banias River is one of the three tributaries of the Jordan alongside the Dan and the Snir.
We will start our track at the Cave Of Pan. The cave is located at an impressive cliff where rock doves nest and you can watch rock rabbits tanning for pleasure. At rainy winters the cave floor fills with water and becomes a pool. In front of the Cave Of Pan a western wall that is affiliated with the Temple of Augustus was discovered, it was built by Herod for the god of shepherds Pan. Beyond this extension remains of another temple that was probably dedicated to the goddess of the good city was discovered.
We will climb to the top of the cliff to an amazing lookout: From the north we’ll be overlooking the Hermon, impressive in height even when not covered in white, from the east – the Golan Heights, from the west the Banias Reserve, the Hula Valley and the Naftali Mountains.
From the lookout we will continue along the cliff till we get to a small white building with a dome that is associated with the tomb of Nabi Al Khader. This site is sacred to the Druze and Muslims. From there we will descend safely to the green marked path back to the Banias Pools.
From the pools starts a comfortable blue marked trail leading to an iron and wooden bridge towards the southern bank of the river. We will go under highway 99 that leads to Kiryat Shmona. Here the waters of the Nimrod River meet with the turbulent waters of the Banias. Later we’ll get to Matruf mill – an active mill driven by water power. The water is carried to the roof of the mill from Hermon River, falling through the stone made chimney into the basement and turn three paddle wheels connected to the millstones. Matruf mill is used by the Druze villages natives of the northern Golan Heights: Misada and Ein Kinia, who mill their grain in it. Next to the mill there is a bakery where we can enjoy Druze pitas and hot drinks.
We will continue in the blue path towards “the officers swimming pool” and the Banias waterfall along the channel with the water flow. The water flow in this part of the river is increased and flooding as a result from the meeting of the Banias river and Saar River. A wide path will lead us to the Ein Hilo, a fountain with warmer waters than the Banias who served as a bathing place for Syrian officers who were in the area until 1967. For this purpose, a concrete pool that captures the spring was built.
Near the officers swimming pool, the trail splits and we’ll choose the left one that takes us back to the parking lot through the impressive palace of King Agrippas from the beginning of the first century AD. From there we will go north with the path till the entrance gate to the park.