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|Trail Map||Hike it with Google Earth||Terrain View|
|Distance: 4km||Time: 2 hours||Difficulty: Moderate|
|Ascent: 156m||Trailhead and Markers Gallery|
In every corner of Israel, hidden gems are waiting to be discovered.
Last week, we discovered yet another incredible place. It began with a long drive to my sister’s house in her small community in Binyamin. Our plan for the day was to tackle a long-awaited hike near her home, Har Hakokhav, otherwise known as the Kuba.
My sister had been telling us about this beautiful mountain for years. According to her, the trail was fun and challenging, the landscape was green and beautiful in the springtime, and the views from the top were spectacular.
She was absolutely right.
I actually couldn’t believe just how beautiful Mount HaKokhav actually was. The landscape was rocky and dramatic while also being green and lush. There were caves to explore, flowers to find, and so much more.
My kids didn’t complain even once on the 160 meter ascent. The climb to the top was challenging and fun. And all of our children skipped along on the way back down and around the mountain, the cool breeze making their hair fly in the wind.
We had an incredible morning on Mount HaKokhav. Here’s how we hiked it:
There are actually several ways to hike up this quiet little mountain. The blue trail is the easier path – its gradual incline is perfect for a low-key walk. The green trail is more challenging, ascending over boulders and rocks up a neatly defined pathway.
We wanted to experience everything that Har HaKokhav had to offer. So, we decided to make a full loop up and around the mountain, heading up the green trail and down the blue on the other side.
As we walked down the road towards the trailhead, we passed beautiful, gated vineyards, with tall mustard blossoms and hollyhocks growing all around the fences. It was a gorgeous morning – cool and crisp and perfect for a hike. We couldn’t wait to get started.
Up the Mountain We Go
It was clear from the get-go that we were going to love this trail. We began to climb towards the mountain peak, first ascending on a straight path, then making our way over boulders and rocks. As we climbed, the breeze picked up. My kids couldn’t resist stretching their arms out like birds. It almost felt like you could fly.
The more we ascended, the more beautiful the views out to the surrounding area became. Down below, the land was green and lush, neatly divided into agricultural plots and small towns. Far in the distance past the rolling mountains, we could just make out the Dead Sea.
Just as we were beginning to a get tired from all the climbing, we noticed a cave out of the corner of our eye. And we set off the trail to explore.
Always Cool in a Cave
We climbed through the narrow opening in the the jagged rock and there we were: on the inside of a cozy cave. It was like a little home in the mountain – large rocks made perfect places to sit. There was a circle of stones where a bonfire once crackled. And the opening to the outside was like a window to a world of lush beauty, green and glorious.
After hanging out inside for a few minutes, we emerged back out into the sunlight. Here, my kids took the opportunity to climb around a bit before returning to the main trail.
On we traveled, stopping to take in the views once or twice as we ascended. We lost ourselves in conversation as we hiked up the trail. And before we knew it, we had reached the summit.
My kids and their cousins headed straight for the stone circle at the top. It was a good place to stop and relax and feel the crisp wind blow in our faces. We pulled out bottles of water and snacks and made ourselves comfortable up at the top of Har HaKokhav.
As I looked out at our surroundings, I was struck once more by the unbelievable beauty of the place. In the past, I had always thought of this area as dry and desert-like. But in late March after rainy season, the whole area had come to life. Desert rock was adorned with a layer of verdant growth. Green hills contrasted perfectly against a bright blue sky filled with white puffy clouds.
Now was the time to rest and recharge before the rest of the hike. Soon, the green marked pathway would turn into the blue one, and we would be on our way down the other side of the mountain.
Sights and Sounds on the Way Down
After a good long break, we continued onto the blue trail. The first thing we noticed was a pergola and seating area carved into the side of the mountain. That day, there was a group of girls enjoying the place, so we didn’t stop in. But I could imagine how wonderful it would be to relax there in the shade on a sunny day after climbing up the mountain.
On we traveled past yellow and purple wildflowers. We followed the blue trail as it slowly descended down and around the side of the mountain.
As we neared the bottom, we kept our eyes peeled for a special flower found on this mountaintop in springtime: Irus Ha’Argaman, otherwise known as the Coastal Iris. This deep purple flower is extremely rare, and only grows in very dry places.
I couldn’t find any, but then my niece pointed up the side of the hill. She had spotted them: clusters of deep purple flowers popping up from inside the tall grass and growth. I climbed up to get a closer look.
Mountaineering, Family Style
As we followed the trail, I walked by myself for a while to take in the beauty of our surroundings. The kids broke off into groups, each one involved in their own conversation. In the distance, I could hear a familiar bird call, one that I often hear while hiking in the desert.
I saw the source of the sound swoop down and land on a nearby rock. It was a Tristam’s Starling, a black and yellow bird that makes its home in the deserts of Israel. This little visitor reminded me that Har HaKokhav was, in fact, located in desert terrain. But at that moment, it looked nothing like a desert. Tall green grass and colorful wildflowers grew everywhere.
I felt lucky to have been able to hike up this incredible little mountain in springtime, when the landscape was at its best. That day, we had climbed up and down a hidden gem in Binyamin, where the rainy season turns a world of desert hills into a picture-perfect paradise. Just like my sister said it would be, Har HaKokhav was a wonderful adventure.
Here’s what you need to know to hike this trail up Har HaKochav:
- Best suited to winter and spring. If you hike this trail in late spring or summertime, try doing it at sunrise! You'll reach the top of the mountain in early morning, when the breeze can cool you down. Otherwise, it's too exposed and hot to hike this trail in the summertime
- Great for kids.
- Suitable for dogs.
- Wear good hiking shoes and bring a hat and plenty of water.
- This trail is in Judea and Samaria. Make sure you feel comfortable with your personal safety and security before hiking here.
- You can choose how to hike this trail. Make the full circle like we did, or shorten it by taking the green path straight up and down. You can also drive for a while on the blue trail and then walk the rest of the way to the top.
- Use the trail marker gallery and trail map to find your way.
- Want to make a day out of it? Visit Adva Soap Factory in Kokhav Hashahar! This soap making factory employs people with special needs. A visit to this place is an incredible (and fragrant!) experience.
- Taking a late afternoon hike at Har HaKokhav? You can get dinner at the local pizza place in Kokhav Hashahar - Pizza Ma'alash. Pizza Ma'alash is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 6 -9 PM. Call 0545667190 for more info.
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 up Mount HaKokhav? Let’s hear about it in the comments!