Just Roll with It – Ein Tzova

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Distance: 2.5kmTime: 2.5 hoursDifficulty: Easy
Ascent: 98mEin Tzova ParkingEin Tzova Parking

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We had grand plans for this past Friday.  With the kids home from school (Lag B’omer), we knew we weren’t going to get in an epic adventure hike.  But that didn’t mean we couldn’t wake up early, drive almost two hours up north, and go on a hike to a cave and a spring in the Carmel.  We’d been wanting to get to these two particular hikes for a long, long time.

But guess what really happened?  A bunch of us stayed up most of the night with a hacking cough (not Coronavirus!), and we were all way too tired to drive two hours each way that Friday morning.

So instead, we turned to the maps and went on a search for a nearby hike.  I had three qualifications for that day’s journey: it had to be fun for kids, with either water or shade (it was a hot day), and easy to map out.

As my eyes skimmed the map, I noticed Ein Tzova, a freshwater spring near Sataf that I had wanted to visit for a long time.  Near Ein Tzova, a short trail led around Tel Tzova and an ancient crusader fortress.  Put the two together, and voila, we had that day’s hiking adventure.

Tel Tzova Ein Tzova Hike
Taking in the sights at Tsuba.

Since we were up anyway, we figured we might as well get an early start.  On a hot day like last Friday, the spring might be full of people looking for a place to cool down.  So, we packed up our bags, hopped in the car, and were on our way by 7:30 AM.

So, was Tzova a hit?  Well, it was the kind of trail that could have gone either way.  One of our kids really loved the spring, and another one thought it was gross.  (Both my husband and I thought it was a lovely place to dip your feet.). The Tel itself had some redeeming points, but unfortunately the main part of it was cut off from public viewing.

Still, the trail was lovely, and we ended up having a fantastic time.  Read on to hear about our mini-adventure at Tel Tzova and Ein Tzova in the Jerusalem Mountains:

Sloth Pace

We got out of the car and began our hike.  Sort of.  We were all very, very tired, so we proceeded to move forward at a sloth-like pace.  Whenever we saw something interesting, we stopped to get a closer look.  We explored a little cave (the remnants of an old residence, tucked into the ground).  We looked out on green vineyards.  Even caterpillars and blossoming flowers caught our attention. 

We moved so slowly that my kids were quite surprised at a certain point to learn that we still had a fifteen-minute walk to the spring.  Finally, we picked up the pace, just in time to reach a narrow shaded trail that led towards Ein Tzova.

Tel Tzova Ein Tzova Hike
The trail to Ein Tzova.

Since this trail was so lovely, we had to slow down again just to take it all in.  Under the shade of a (very climb-able) carob tree were two picnic benches, where we almost stopped for breakfast.  But we succeeded in convincing our kids that it would be much nicer to continue on the spring.

We walked past white dandelions aplenty, under scattered shade and past blossoming wildflowers.  After a pretty walk following signs towards Tzova Spring, we finally reached our destination.

Uh-oh?

The area of the spring was very picturesque.  Purple irises bloomed in one corner.  Another set of picnic tables beckoned under a thick canopy of shade.  We proceeded towards the spring itself and found a low pool under an arched bridge.  Running water poured from a hole in the wall, down into a splash pool below.

It was perfect, except….

There were bees.  Lots of them.  They buzzed around the algae in one corner of the pool, warning us away from the cool water.  One son ran off in a tizzy.  I wasn’t sure what to do.  So, I looked on as our border collie disregarded the flying pests and splashed through the water.

Tel Tzova Ein Tzova Hike
Who loves water play?

After a few minutes of splashing, our dog had succeeded in dispersing most of the bees.  Most of the swarm flew around one corner of the pool, and there was a clear path right down the middle.  I took off my shoes and waded into the cool water.

And it was lovely and refreshing.  The water was relatively clear, and the bees left me alone.  I found a place to sit near the stone archway and dipped my hands in the water.

After a while, my little son decided to join me in the pool.  He had lots of fun splashing, playing games with our border collie, and doing miniature science experiments with rocks in the water.

Picnic Break

Still, we were ready for a caffeine boost.  So, after playing in the water for a while, we climbed up under a nearby stone pergola and broke out our breakfast.  The boys were happy to cool down with cold chocolate milk while we sipped our iced coffee.  And all was right with the world.

Tel Tzova Ein Tzova Hike
Can’t stop, won’t stop.

As we lingered over breakfast, my young son returned to the water to play. After we finished and packed everything up, we had to drag him away from the spring.

On to the Tel

At this point in the morning, my boys were just about done.  But we still had a Tel to explore!  Tzova was once the site of ancient Biblical town (mentioned in the book of Samuel). Since that time, it had been home to a Crusader fortress and an Arab village. Tel Tzova was where all of the ruins were located.

We returned to the main pathway and climbed uphill until we reached a set of stone steps leading up to the ancient ruins.  With the promise of popsicles at the end, we lured our kids up the steps towards the crusader fortress.

Before we reached the tippy top, we happened across an old Arab building with arched windows and doorways.  This provided a cool escape from the sun.  And it was fun to crawl through from one room to the next.

Tel Tzova Ein Tzova Hike
Cool in the shade.

Then it was onwards and upwards, until we reached the top of the hill. 

We were all excited to check out Belmont, the Crusader fortress. But instead, we bumped into a fellow hiker with the coolest drone setup ever.  He had a sophisticated drone along with vision goggles, that let him see the sights as his flying machine recorded them.

He explained to us that the inside of the fortress was closed off to the public.  Without a drone, you couldn’t see it.  Then, he generously gave us all a turn with his headset so we could see it from above.

Tel Tzova Ein Tzova Hike
Anashim tovim b’emtza haderech.

Best Morning Ever

After spending quite some time playing with his drone, we said our goodbyes and continued on the circular trail around the top of Tel Tzova.  We couldn’t see much of the fortress from our perspective on the trail, but we were too busy talking about how cool the drone was to notice.

Soon, we finished the loop and followed the trail back down towards our car.  It had been a wonderful morning.

Sure, we could have stayed home and caught up on our sleep that day.  But instead, we discovered a new watering hole, met fellow hikers, took a drone ride, and explored a new part of Israel.  Our trip to Tel Tzova and Ein Tzova was a great way to spend a lazy Friday morning. 

And yes, we had popsicles at the end.

Tel Tzova Ein Tzova Hike
It’s all about the journey.

Hikers’ Notes:

Here’s what you need to know to hike at Tel Tzova and Ein Tzova:

  • This trail is best suited to cooler days in fall, winter, and spring.
  • Good for kids.
  • Suitable for dogs.
  • Wear good hiking shoes, a hat, and bring plenty of water to hike this trail. You can bring a bathing suit for Ein Tzova, but the water is very low, so it is not necessary.
  • There are many ways to hike this trail. You can drive to parking point B (Chinyon HaYovel) and take a short path straight to Ein Tzova and back. Or, you can park at parking point A and just follow the black trail up and around Tel Tzova. We parked at Parking point A and connected both trails together for a longer hike. Hiking the trail this way is best for early morning or late afternoon on warmer days or for cool days in the wintertime. Much of the path is exposed to the sun.
  • There are some interesting things to see at Tel Tzova, but most of the fortress is closed off by a fence.
  • Use the trail marker gallery and the trail map in the table up top to hike this trail the way we did.

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 to Ein Tzova and Tel Tzova? Let’s hear about it in the comments.

Tel Tzova Ein Tzova Hike
Exploring.
hike to Ein Tzova
Towards Tel Tzova.

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.

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