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|Hike it with Google Earth
|Distance: 3- 7km
|Time: 3 hours
|Difficulty: Moderate- Strenuous
|Ascent: (full hike) 390m
|Trailhead and Markers Gallery
For years we’ve been hiking our favorite trail at Sataf: The Loop around Mount Eitan. This hike is a hit every time – it has spectacular views and beautiful forest scenery.
Each time we’re there, we see different trails off to the sides. We’ve explored them just a bit in the past. But we were now ready to put together a solid loop trail through another part of Sataf that would take us on a walk through those beautiful forests we had seen from a distance.
So, this past Friday we made our way out onto the blue trail, otherwise known as Shvil HaBa’al. We took this path down into the thick of Sataf where we came across dark forests, cultivated trees, and beautiful fall foliage. And we added a few more little trails to the mix to create one big 7.5 kilometer loop.
As always, Sataf was a major hit. The scenery was beautiful and quiet. And it’s so conveniently located right near Jerusalem.
Here’s what we saw on our exploration of several Sataf area trails:
Autumn in Sataf
It was a beautiful fall morning as we set out on the trail. There was a gentle nip in the air. A faint drizzle faded in and out of existence. It was the perfect morning for a woodland hike.
We began the hike on familiar territory – to get to the first path, Shvil HaBaal, we had to head down into the forest on the tail end of the Mt. Eitan Trail (red).
Once at the crossroads, we followed the blue trail up into the trees.
We were immediately taken in by the scenery. A beautiful tree-lined pathway lay before us. And as we walked through a mix of crumbling ruins and pine needles, we noticed a distinct difference in the foliage all around. Fall had arrived at Sataf.
Cyclamen, Olives, and Blue Mountains
As we continued along the trail, the area became more and more magical.
We crossed through an evergreen forest, dark on this cloudy fall day. The only thing bright about it was the backdrop of blue mountains, that shone through the thicket of trees.
We climbed up off the path to explore an old hut. And while sitting in a bed of pine needles, I noticed winter cyclamen beginning to pop through the sleepy earth.
Sataf wasn’t only wild beauty. We passed by rows of carefully cultivated olive trees, their gnarly trunks creating picture perfect pathways. Dark black olives ripened on the branches, so different than the late summer olives we had seen while hiking only a few months ago.
A bit further down the blue trail, we saw an old wine and oil press. Big pools of water collected in the ruins. Our border collie stopped for a drink.
Into the Quiet Darkness
From here we continued, down through the trees into an area of more ruins. On one side of a crumbling wall there was a deep cave. On the other were piles of stones and trailing ivy.
An ancient olive tree stood between us and beautiful views out to Jerusalem. And the entire area was covered with a thick canopy of shade trees.
We stopped there and took out our thermos of coffee.
What is it about the quiet of nature that gets me every time? It’s the soul touching silence of a natural enclosure. The beauty of structures made out of wood, leaves, and stone. A carpet of pine needles.
It’s a feeling that everything you need for happiness is right there in front of you. Perfect in its imperfection. Perfect in the fact that you must do nothing to make it so.
These are some of the thoughts that crossed my mind while sipping coffee in Sataf.
Then our dog struck up a game of pine-cone fetch. We played for a while, brushed ourselves off, and went on our way.
Back on the Trail
At the very bottom of the blue trail, we reached one of the main attractions at Sataf – two large springs. The one up top (Ein Sataf) was full of people, so we left that for another day’s exploration.
But the one at the bottom seemed less crowded. We made our way past a tree with falling yellow leaves, past vegetable gardens, and towards the spring.
The Bichora Spring was a large, full pool that sat enclosed in a stone structure. At the back was an arched doorway with a little cave. Steps led down into the pool.
On a warm day, I’m sure Ein Bichora is a great place to take a dip. But on that cool and drizzly day, it was more of a sight to see than anything else. After a few minute’s exploration, we left Ein Bichora behind and returned to the path.
Down, Down, Down
From here we proceeded on the green trail down a never-ending set of steps. We passed by little closed off vineyards and terraced gardens. We passed two men picnicking on the side of the steps. And then, when it seemed we could go no further we reached the very bottom – a road and a left turn onto the black trail.
The black trail took us through scenery of a different sort – Sorek River, completely dry in this part of Jerusalem. We tramped along passed tall grasses and red tinged leaves as we slowly ascended back up the mountain.
Jerusalem of Gold
About halfway up the mountain, we reached the final trail of the bunch, the Red Trail – otherwise known as Shvil HaShomrot, thus called because of all of the little watchtower huts located on the path.
As we climbed, we passed by several of them – some perfect for exploring, others looking like they were about to crumble off the side of the mountain.
We also got a true taste of fall as we gazed out from one viewpoint at the mountainside down below, decorated in shades of red, gold, and green.
Soon, we were in pine tree forests again, weaving our way up the side of the mountain through the intensifying drizzle. A bit further on the red trail, right on the green trail, and we were back at the trail head.
Yes, we had given Sataf a thorough exploration that day. And from olive groves to ancient ruins, riverbeds to pine forests, it lived up to everything we expected out of it and then some.
Jerusalem is a beautiful place – and not just because of its spiritual sites and old architecture. Sataf and the woods around the city hold a deep natural beauty that’s waiting to be explored.
Here’s what you need to know about this hike:
- Suitable for all seasons.
- Suitable for dogs.
- Bring plenty of water and wear good walking shoes.
- Facilities at the trailhead.
- Sataf is an ancient village. Read about it here: Sataf
- The trail is easy to follow for the most part. But the turn off to the black trail is unmarked. Study the trail map and trail marker gallery in the table up top to help you through.
- Use the Google Earth file and Amudanan to find your way through the trail.
- There are two options for a shorter trail: Instead of turning right from blue onto green, when you reach Ein Bichora and follow the green trail to the left. This will be about a 3 kilometer trail. OR
- From Ein Bichora, follow the red trail. Do the whole red loop, then make a right onto green to get back to the trailhead. (About 5K). Both of these options get rid of the steep descent and ascent. See trail map for guidance.
- Check out this shorter Sataf hike too!
Want to try more Sataf hikes? Check out our Complete Insider’s Guide to Sataf Forest.
Don’t forget to read my guide to the navigational features in this post before you hit the trail!
Trail map from Amud Anan.
Questions? Tips for fellow hikers? Let’s hear it in the comments below!