The gushing springs, waterfalls and lushly shaded streams of Banias Nature Reserve form one of the most beautiful – and popular – nature spots in the country. The park has two entrances on Rte 99 that are about 3.5km (1½ hours on foot) apart. The name ‘Banias’ derives from Pan, Greek god of the countryside, to whom a temple here was dedicated back in Roman times.
Many sections of the park’s four trails (visitors receive a map) are shaded by oak, plane, fig and carob trees. The Suspended Trail, a boardwalk cantilevered out over the rushing, crystal-clear Banias (Hermon) Stream, gives a pretty good idea of how the ancients might have imagined the Garden of Eden. A 15-minute walk upstream is the 10m Banias Waterfall, with its sheer, thundering drop into a deep pool; tempting as it may look, swimming is prohibited here and throughout the reserve. Both sites can be visited on a 45-minute circuit from the Banias Waterfall entrance, which before 1967 was in a demilitarized zone.
Near the reserve's Banias Springs entrance, the excavated ruins of a palace complex built by Herod’s grandson, Agrippa II, can be seen on a 45-minute walking circuit.
Delicious Druze pitas are usually available at or near both of the reserves' two entrances, which are also both served by Rama bus 58, which links Kiryat Shmona with Majdal Shams.