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I love hiking on trails that have historical and Biblical significance. For me, walking in places mentioned in the Bible brings the ancient text to life. So, we like to choose these types of trails whenever the opportunity arises.
This week, we made plans to drive all the way up to the Galilee to visit Nahal Tavor, one of our favorite trails in all of Israel. Mid-winter is the perfect season for this hike, and the unseasonably warm weather we’re having made the idea of hiking there even more appealing. While we were in the area, we decided to take a 2 kilometer, family friendly walk around Mount Tavor right nearby, an important mountain mentioned in the book of Judges.
Our walk atop Mount Tavor was shady and beautiful. There were flowers, caves, beautiful views, and a really old church at the very top of the hill. We saw cows, turtles, and colorful birds. My kids were so happy to run around along the tree-filled path, taking in the views and making all sorts of discoveries.
Here’s how we hiked this 2 kilometer trail around Mount Tavor in the Galilee:
Besides being a place of great natural beauty, Mount Tavor is also mentioned in the Bible. Most famously, Mount Tavor was the site of the battle fought by the Deborah the prophetess and Barak.
According to Judges, chapter 4, Deborah and Barak ascended to the top of Mount Tavor to launch an attack on Sisera. The great general then gathered his men and chariots at the foot of the mountain. Barak descended towards battle, and God “confounded” Sisera and his chariots, who fled from the scene. Judging by the next chapter (a retelling of the events of the battle in the form of a poem), God sealed the victory against Sisera’s army by causing it to rain. This sudden storm turned the riverbed at the foot of the mountain into a muddy quagmire from which Sisera’s chariots could not escape.
All of Sisera’s men were killed, but somehow, he managed to escape. Not for long, though. He was lured into the tent of Yael, who coaxed him in with promises of food and rest. While Sisera was sleeping, Yael impaled his head with the stake of her tent, ending the threat to the Jewish people.
Reviewing this story before our hike made the experience fascinating. As we drove through the Arab city Daburiyah (like Deborah) on the way up to the top of the mountain, we couldn’t help thinking about the longstanding impact the history of the Jews has had on this land.
Snow Capped Peaks and Flowers
Once we reached the top of the mountain, we parked in the lot of the ancient church that dominates the peak. Then, we found the Israel Trail and began our journey around Mount Tavor.
The first thing we noticed were the views. There’s something about looking out on the Galilee in mid-winter, when the entire land is green and lush. From our lookout at the top of Mount Tavor we could see the cliffs surrounding Sea of Galilee in the distance. Soon, we caught sight of Mount Hermon covered with a fresh cap of snow, towering over the surrounding peaks.
As we followed the trail under a thick canopy of trees, we wove our way in and out of little paths off to the sides. Here, we discovered wild asparagus, mushrooms, mustard blossoms, and lots and lots of bright red anemones. We chased large, colorful butterflies who flitted from flower to flower.
The kids were thrilled to have a shaded, wide open area to skip around and explore. Soon, we came across the perfect tree for climbing. We stopped for a minute so my eight year-old son could climb to the top.
And guess what he noticed while he was way up top in a tree canopy? A turtle was making his way over the hill, past rocks and red flowers. My boy shimmied down so we could check out the reptile up close. Speedy the Turtle (as we immediately named him) didn’t seem to mind being touched and stroked. He was more interested in munching on asparagus than in escaping.
After spending a little time getting to know our new friend, we continued on the trail, past all sorts of mid-February wildflowers. Eventually, we ran into a small herd of cows. Those guys were not as friendly as Speedy.
Can’t Skip a Cave
Our next big stop on the trail was at an arched cave. It wasn’t clear who built the archways on this cave or carved out its interior. But nevertheless, we strapped on our headlamps and went in to explore.
It wasn’t very deep or dark. But my kids had a great time running around through the passageways, reemerging into the light on the other side.
After spending a few minutes inside, we headed out into the sunlight and back onto the black trail.
Just a Nice Ramble Around the Top of a Mountain
There wasn’t much further to go – the whole trail was only 2 kilometers after all. But we took it really slowly, stopping to smell every flower, explore every nook, and balance on every tree trunk. I think my kids were just happy to be outdoors, and in such a beautiful place.
At 12 o’clock, the church bell rang, jerking us out of our outdoor reveries. The kids thought the bell was really cool and wondered who was up there ringing it. To me, it kind of felt like we were wandering through the countryside near an old European town.
Soon, we reached the top of the mountain again, where we followed the Israel Trail past the church and back to our car.
That morning, we had had a wonderful ramble around Mount Tavor, a lush, wooded mountain with amazing views. Biblical history and natural beauty come together on this family friendly trail in the Galilee.
Here’s what you need to know to hike this 2K loop trail around Mount Tavor:
- This trail is good for all seasons.
- Great for kids.
- Suitable for dogs.
- If you have time, hike Nahal Tavor right nearby, especially in mid-late winter. The flowers, rolling hills, and bubbling streams there are just incredible.
- This trail is easy to follow. Just find the Israel Trail/black trail and follow it. When the Israel trail and black trail separate, follow the black trail. When you reach the green trail, make a left to follow it back to the Israel Trail. Israel Trail takes you back to your car.
- Use trail map, trail marker gallery, and Google Earth file in the table up top to find your way.
- Wear good walking shoes and a hat. Bring a flashlight to explore the cave.
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 around Mount Tavor? Let’s hear about it in the comments!