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Lots to see on a walk in Park HaYarkon

Park HaYarkon, which is often called Ganei Yehoshua after a previous mayor of Tel Aviv, has paths close to the Yarkon River on both banks. The walk described starts at Bar Yehuda Bridge, although it is possible to start from anywhere along the river beginning at its estuary. There are defined gardens within the park and three particularly interesting and impressive ones are visited, namely the Tropical, Cactus and Rocks Gardens, as well as the Rosh Tsipor Bird Watching Center. This bird watching center is on the southern side of the Yarkon River, close to the confluence of the Yarkon and Ayalon rivers. However, it does add some distance and if you are not interested in so much walking, you may wish to omit it. It can also be visited by car. You may also wish to make this a more family trip and confine yourselves to the Adventure Park and Tropical, Cactus and Rock Gardens.  

The walk described starts along the southern river path, as it somewhat prettier than the northern side, and returns by the northern river path. However, there is considerable flexibility on which paths you would like to take and the sites you wish to visit.

 

Note that all the paths have a bicycle lane. Cyclists take their designated paths very seriously, so be careful not to walk in them. No one will deliberately crash into you, but they may not be expecting you. Tel Aviv tops the list for dog owners in Israel, about 1 dog for every 17 people, and you will see many dog walkers, and even dog parks. Ducks and boats are on the river, and boats can be rented at Park HaYarkon Paddle/Motor Boat Rentals. There are many benches along the southern river path that face the river if you would like to take this walk in a more relaxed way. There are also picnic benches close to the start of the walk.

Time: About 3½ hours for the full circular walk described.

Distance: 9½ Km.

Difficulty: This is an easy walk that is stroller and mainly wheelchair-friendly.

Type of walk: Circular.

Starting point, directions and parking: The walk starts on the southern path by the river from Bar Yehuda Bridge. Enter “Bar Yehuda Bridge” into Google Maps. If you are coming by car enter “East Reading Parking Lot.” It is just off Rokach Boulevard and is open 24 hours a day. This is not the only parking lot close to the bridge. However, parking places are usually available and it is not that expensive (the cost will be about 6 NIS for the walk duration). It is about a 10-minute or so walk from this parking lot over the bridge to the starting point.

Path HaYarkon.jpeg

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  • Take the southern river path from the Bar Yehuda Bridge turning to the right facing the bridge in the direction away from the coast.

 

  • Go under the next bridge, which is Rokakh Bridge, continuing on the south bank of the Yarkon River.

 

  • At the bridge after this, the Bird Head Bridge, you will need to decide whether you wish to visit the Rosh Tsipor Bird Watching Center or to go directly to the northern gardens. In any case, you will probably need to return to this bridge after visiting the bird center.

 

Bird Head Bridge is at the confluence of the Yarkon and Ayalon rivers. To visit the bird center, you will be initially walking by the Ayalon River. With its natural vegetation, the scenery from this path is very different from that along the Yarkon River. The Rosh Tsipor Bird Watching Center (RS in the map) is open seven days a week from 7.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m. in the summer and 7.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. in the winter. Admission is free. If coming by car or public transport enter “Rosh Tsipor Bird Watching” into Waze or Moovit. There is a large, free parking area. Near the parking area are restrooms and picnic tables.

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  • To visit the bird center, take the footpath onto the Bird Head Bridge and cross the Ayalon River. From the bridge turn onto the first footpath on the left. This will take you to a paved path on the south bank of the Yarkon River. (To go to the path on the north side of the Yarkon River just continue to the end of the bridge). Shortly after the bridge is a fork in the road. Take the right branch along the Ayalon River. You will pass an interesting kids’ play area on your left with wooden climbing structures.

 

  • Take the second turning on the left. There is a wooden pole with a sign, but the writing is no longer present.

 

  • At the T-junction, make an immediate right to the entrance to the JNF-run Rosh Tsipor Bird Watching Center.

 

The bird watching center has three bird viewing stations around an artificial but natural-looking lake. The best time to visit this center is during the bird migration seasons from October to November and from March to April. At other times, you may or may not see many birds or ducks on or around the lake. I advise to go from the entrance to the bird watching building on the left, the Common Moorhen building, as it has a large poster with the different birds, ducks and animals that can be viewed. Binoculars can be helpful. Birds are ringed for research in a nearby wooden building. All the data collected is entered into Israel’s central ornithological data base and is available worldwide. The other two viewing stations are the Kingfisher and Heron structures. This is the center’s website.

  • On leaving the bird center, go straight ahead to the T-junction. There is a wooden bridge for crossing to the other side of the Yarkon River by the bird center, but it is presently closed. Hence, turn left onto the path along the Yarkon River. This will take you back to the Bird Head Bridge. From here you can cross over to the northern back of the Yarkon River.

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A view from the Rosh Tsipor Bird Watching Center.

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Some ducks seen at the Rosh Tsipor Bird Viewing Center.

  • From the bridge turn to the right heading towards its interesting gardens.  There are many intersecting paths in this section of the park and it is advised to follow my map. Unfortunately, there are very few signposts to help you. As long as you know what general direction you are heading, you cannot go too wrong.

 

  • The Adventures Garden (AG in the map) is a great place for kids to explore.

 

  • A visit to the Tropical Garden (TG) is very worthwhile. It is not well signed-posted. So, head towards a large open store (VRS) that rents different types of vehicles such as baggies, bicycles and golf carts (VRS). The entrance to the tropical gardens is a short distance further north from this store.

 

Be aware that the Tropical Garden is only open Sunday to Thursday from 9.00 AM to 4.00 PM, Friday 9.00 AM to 1.00 PM and Saturday 10.00 AM to 3.30 PM. It may close even earlier in the winter. It differs from typical greenhouse tropical displays in that all the trees are well established and many are quite tall. You may see wild jackals in this garden, or in the others. The notice over the garden entrance says that this is a musical as well as a tropical garden, but do not expect piped music. There are two xylophones in the center of the garden by a small lake. The garden is in a fenced-off area and you leave by returning to the entrance.

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Entrance to the Tropical Park in Ganei Yehoshua Park in the HaYarkon Park.

Jackal in Tropical Garden.jpeg

Look carefully and you will see a jackal amongst the shrubbery. They run wild in the park and are harmless.

  • After exiting the Tropical Garden, return to the main path by the vehicle rental store to the entrance to the Cactus and Rock Gardens. These are in a 10-acre enclosure, of which three-fifths contains cacti. These and other plants are interspersed between the rocks. In most parts of the world, rocks are just part of the scenery. Here they are displayed in one of the largest displays of rocks in the world. The rocks reflect Israel’s geological diversity. Many have descriptions in Hebrew and in English. There is also a replica of the mosaic floor from the synagogue at Beit Alpha in the Beit She’an Valley.

Cactus garden.jpeg
Rock Garden I.jpeg
Jackal in cactus garden.jpeg
IRock Garden II.jpeg
  • After exiting the Rock Garden continue around the lake making your way to the path bordering the HaYarkon River. For this circular walk, remain on the northern path of the river until you reach Bar Yehuda Bridge.

Other activities in the park include Sportek in Park HaYarkon. This has plenty of facilities for the kids to let off some steam including multiple basketball courts, tennis courts and football fields and an outdoor rock wall. There is no admission charge. It is located close to Bar Yehuda Bridge in the northern part of the park.

Meymadion is the largest water park in Israel stretching over 25 acres with green lawns and shaded areas. It has water slides and swimming pools suitable for all ages. Every slide and pool is a unique attraction, including meteor slides, slalom slides, fast tube lane, slow tube lane, hot shot slide, wave pool, swimming pool, kids and toddlers pool, adventure pool and more. The phone number is 03 642 2777. It may be closed for private events. It is presently closed. This is its website.

Map of walk in Park HaYarkon

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