Tel Adulam

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Distance: 3kmTime: 2- 3 hoursDifficulty: Moderate
Ascent: 115mTrailhead and Markers Gallery

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Park Adulam is a large green area South of Beit Shemesh that’s a great place to wander.  In Adulam, there are biking trails and hiking trails, forests and ancient ruins.  It’s a fun place to explore all year round.

But from November through April, a transformation occurs at Adulam.  The area’s vast lowlands turn lush and green with the winter rains.  As the season progresses, flowers of every type start to appear, culminating with carpets of red poppies in early April.

This past Friday, we decided to head back to Adulam with the kids, for a family friendly hike up to Tel Adulam.  We weren’t sure whether or not the landscape would have begun its rainy season transformation.  But the trail looked like fun and it seemed like a good choice for that cool and cloudy day.

Tel Adulam hike
Beauty and fun in one.

The trail at Tel Adulam was so much more than we could have hoped.

At Tel Adulam in November, the entire surrounding area had turned a deep shade of green.  Underneath the dramatic grey sky, it felt like we were in a scene out of a movie (Sound of Music on a dark day?). The Tel itself was covered in a beautiful woodland.  The views from the top were breathtaking.  And perhaps most unexpected, the Tel was absolutely full of underground structures, wells, tunnels and other exciting places to explore.

Our kids had a great time.  Here’s how we hiked this trail at Tel Adulam:

Full of Surprises

We made our way through the gate at Neve Michael and followed a small road out into the countryside.  Within minutes, we could see that we were in an area of great natural beauty.  Golden vineyards surrounded us, then lush fields.  Soon, we had reached our starting point right at the foot of Tel Adulam.

Tel Adulam hike
At the trailhead.

Every Tel (mound or hill) is different.  Tel Adulam is covered in trees, a little woodland popping up from an area that’s mostly flat plains.  Getting out of the car, it was hard to know where to look.  On one side, fields of grass were framed by rolling hills.  On the other, the forested Tel waited in the clouds.

Before climbing up the steep hill, we were drawn towards a large tree near the pathway – old, beautiful, and perfect for climbing.  My kids made their way up the fat trunk one by one until they were all perched in the branches up above.  There were flat stones all around.  It was a great place to have a picnic or just hang out.

Tel Adulam hike
Monkeying around.

But we had bigger plans for the day.  I called the kids down from the tree and we were on our way.

The Ascent

Of course, to get to the top of a Tel you need to climb.  We followed the green trail up, up, up, past pine trees and onto wide open spaces.  When the kids felt like they couldn’t take one more step, we took a break, seizing the moment to take a look around.

Tel Adulam hike
Drama on a hill.

Up above, the grey storm clouds created a dramatic backdrop to the hills in the distance.  Light filtered through onto plots of land, divided up for agricultural use.  It was a beautiful scene.

After a short break, we continued trudging up the hill.  The kids were lured by the promise of breakfast once we reached the top.

Olive Groves, Picnic Spots, and History

When we finally reached the top, everyone was ready for a break.  From my perspective, I just wanted a chance to stop and soak up the incredible view.  We debated between several spots – a flat stone area, an olive grove – and finally settled on the Tel Adulam Lookout.  It was grassy, with a mix of sun and shade, and a beautiful view.

Tel Adulam hike
Green and glorious.

Out came muffins, breads, and all sorts of other treats.  We spent a long time there recharging our batteries and just hanging around.  While we sat there, we decided to review the history of Tel Adulam.

Adulam was an ancient Biblical city.  It was first mentioned in the story of Judah (one of the twelve sons of Jacob) who had a friend (Hira) from Adulam and also met his future wife there.  Later on, Adulam is mentioned several times in the book of Joshua.  In the book of Samuel, King David hides in caves at Adulam.

The list of Biblical mentions continues until finally, Adulam was destroyed by King Sennacherib.  But that was not the end of the city’s history.  Just a short while later, we find the Maccabees gathering troops in Adulam.  And in the 4th century, it was mentioned by Eusebius as a large city of over 10,000 people near Beit Guvrin.

Tel Adulam hike
Dive into history.

Cave Hopping

After that, our curiosity was sparked.  We were ready to find remnants of the past on top of this ancient hill.

Just a few meters away from where we were sitting, we discovered something amazing: an awesome network of underground structures that were really fun to explore.  One hobbit hole lead to another.  We had fun climbing through and then sticking our heads out above the grassy hill and calling to each other, like prairie dogs in the zoo.

Tel Adulam hike
Gone caving.

It was pretty incredible to imagine the people that once lived in this ancient city.  From Biblical figures to more recent residents, Adulam was an important place throughout the ages.  Kind David hid in caves there.  And who knows?  Maybe we were climbing through the very same caves.

Into the Woods

We really could have stayed there for hours – exploring the hilltop and climbing through all of the different underground spaces.  But it was time to head home.  We continued along the black trail, finally descending into a thickly wooded area.

Tree huggers.

The truth was, this part of the walk was just as beautiful as the rest of it.  The thick pine forest seemed almost magical in the morning mist.  On the sides of the trail, there were more caves to explore and discover.  It was hard to keep moving.

When we got to the bottom of the hill, we made a right towards our car.  There was one last stop before our hike came to an end: an old well next to the trail.  The well was covered with a giant fig tree, of the sort which commonly grow next to any available water supply.  We climbed beneath its branches to explore.

Fields Forever

And after that, it was time to go.  The sky, still dramatically dappled with grey clouds, hung over green fields that seemed to stretch on forever.  We could have walked along the paved path to get back to our car.  But nobody could resist running through the meadow instead.

It had been an incredible and beautiful adventure.  From views, to woods and greenery, to underground explorations of history, Tel Adulam had everything one could want in a nature trail.  This little gem in the Jerusalem Lowlands was worth taking time to appreciate.

Tel Adulam hike
Run free.

Hikers’ Notes:

Here’s what you need to know to hike this trail at Tel Adulam:

  • Best for fall, winter, and spring. This area of the country is pretty hot and the trail is somewhat exposed. But, if you do hike it in the summertime, make sure to hike early in the morning or in the late afternoon. Of course, it will not be green in the summertime!
  • Wear good walking shoes and bring a hat on sunny days.
  • Great for kids.
  • Suitable for dogs.
  • At the top of the hill, there are plenty of underground caves to explore. Watch out for holes in the ground which lead to these caves, especially if you’re with little kids.
  • This trail is also good for all terrain cycling. Adulam Park is full of cycling trails.
  • Trail markers are hard to come by on this hike. It’s best to use the trail marker gallery, trail map, and Google Earth kmz file to find your way. In theory, you follow the green trail up and the black trail through the Tel and down the other side. Then make a right to get back to the trailhead.

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? Have you hiked this trail? Let’s hear about it in the comments!

Tel Adulam hike
Growth.

Hiking can be dangerous and is done entirely at your own risk. Information is provided free of charge; it is each hiker’s responsibility to check it and navigate using a map and compass.

2 thoughts on “Tel Adulam

    1. It is kind of isolated, but is considered to be in a safe area. I probably wouldn’t go by myself without protection of some sort (dog, weapon, etc.)

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