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|Trail Map||Hike it with Google Earth||Terrain View|
|Distance: 2-10km||Time: 4-5 hours||Difficulty: Strenuous|
|Ascent: 500m||Trailhead and Markers Gallery|
Sometimes I think I’ve seen almost everything there is to see in my part of Israel. When I look over a map of the Jerusalem Mountains, memories of adventure trails and family hikes fill my brain. It all looks like familiar terrain.
But after yesterday’s 10K adventure from Einot Boker, I came to realize how much I still have left to explore. There are many hidden springs, shady forests, and quiet corners in the Jerusalem Mountains that I have yet to see. And there’s nothing as satisfying as weaving together several new sights into one awesome trail.
Yesterday’s journey started at a beautiful freshwater spring in the middle of a forest. This short trail would have been a peaceful hike all by itself. If my kids had been along for the morning, we would have stopped there. But for us adults, it was only the beginning.
We continued to walk along the Israel Trail to Kedoshim Forest, taking in absolutely spectacular views of Carmila Mountain and the Kisalon Valley. Next, we completed a challenging ascent through shady Kedoshim Forest and then followed a path past caves and springs towards the Scrolls of Fire.
From here, we followed a road through the quiet town of Kisalon towards the last stop of the morning: Ein Kisalon. There’s nothing quite as refreshing as dipping in a cool, clean freshwater spring after a long hike and a 500 meter ascent.
Here’s how we hiked this wonderful adventure in the Jerusalem Mountains:
Start the Morning Right at Einot Boker (Morning Springs)
We pulled into the parking lot and began hiking on the Israel Trail. It was good to get out. In the early part of the morning, a cool breeze still hung in the air.
We followed a wide-open path between two forested areas until we reached a sudden turnoff towards the freshwater spring. As we broke left, we entered into a shady world of quiet beauty. In this forest, dense greenery brushed at us from every side. We climbed down the path, over rocks and fallen branches, until we reached the thickest part of the forest.
Before turning left to the spring, we stopped for a moment. It was so beautiful there. I could just imagine how much my kids would love to sit in this place for a picnic. Pine needles and large rocks made a perfect seating area under the trees. After taking it all in, we turned back to follow the trail to the spring.
We walked along the path through thick greenery over wet ground. After just a minute, we reached an open area underneath a canopy of trees. The spring looked beautiful, the water clean and cool. All around were log benches and flat areas to sit in the shade. Running water and birdsong completed the scene.
I knew we were in for a long, hot walk that day. So, I decided to get a head start on cooling down with a dip in the spring.
The water wasn’t deep (perhaps about chest high), but it was cool and refreshing. I spent a few minutes splashing around, and we were on our way.
Classic Israel Trail
Next, we followed the Israel Trail back in the direction we had come from. As we walked along the wide path, we kept up a pretty fast pace.
We passed blossoming hollyhocks by the dozen, each group of tall pink flowers providing a splash of color against the green mountains and bright blue sky. As we walked, we looked down into the green world of the Kisalon stream bed down below.
Soon, we reached an outcropping of rocks off the path that seemed like a great place to stop for a while. It was shady and quiet, and the view was out of this world.
We headed down, unpacked our bag, and poured iced coffee. It felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. Green mountains and deep valleys surrounded us. Vultures soared through the sky and little birds chirped in the trees. It felt isolated. But the surprising reality was, we were actually quite close to several small towns and not too far from Beit Shemesh.
Towards the Forest of the Martyrs
After a long break, we got back on the Israel Trail and followed it down, down, down, until we were right in the middle of Kedoshim Forest.
Soon, we reached the trailhead for one of our favorite hikes, up Carmila Mountain. But we were going in the opposite direction that day. We turned left onto the green trail, past the Cave of the Martyrs and started climbing uphill.
Brutal, but Awesome!
This short trail was listed as a “Shvil Etgari”, ie: a challenging trail. And challenging it was. Thankfully, we were shielded from the sun by the shade of trees lining the mountainside as we climbed. We climbed, and climbed, and climbed some more.
I’m not used to stopping in the middle of an ascent, but we stopped this time around. Taking a three-minute break made the rest of the uphill journey much more pleasant. And we got a chance to enjoy the incredible views out to the rolling mountains once again.
We resumed walking, not really focusing much on our surroundings as we put one foot in front of the other. And before we knew it, we had reached the top, and a set of cute wooden benches facing the view.
We took a five minute break, then continued to follow the green trail through the Forest of the Martyrs.
Beautiful and Meaningful
Kedoshim Forest (Forest of the Martyrs) is a beautiful, wooded area dedicated to the memory of Jews who were persecuted and killed in the Holocaust. Each section of the forest has its own plaques and memorials.
We walked along, stopping to pay tribute whenever we noticed a sign to the side of the path – this one from the Jews of Rhodes, that one from Yemen. The path continued to ascend, but at a more gentle pace.
Still, it was a hot and sunny day. Towards the end of our long walk on the green trail, we were definitely ready for a cool break. Finally, we reached a cave and a spring. This spring was full of water, but it wasn’t nearly as clean or well-maintained as Einot Boker had been. We decided to pass it up and continue on to the Scrolls of Fire.
Scrolls of Fire
We emerged from the forested area into a neat park. The Scrolls of Fire Memorial stood before us – two giant scrolls engraved with scenes depicting Jewish history from the Holocaust through the War of Independence. Inside the scrolls, a verse from Ezekiel was printed in English and Hebrew:
“Behold my people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves and bring you into the land of Israel. I shall put my spirit into you, and you shall live, and I shall place you in your own land.”
I couldn’t think of a more fitting verse to memorialize the fallen Jews of the Holocaust. Their descendants are now living and sustaining their spirits in the Holy Land.
Kisalon and a Spring
After the memorial, we stopped to fill up our water bottles at the fountain, then continued on a road through the quiet town of Kisalon.
Bougainvillea blossoms spilled over fences in a splash of hot pink. We passed by a farm, little houses, and then veered onto a dirt road which took us out of the town.
We walked along this unmarked pathway through trees and reeds and then turned to the left to reach Ein Kisalon, the final spring of the day. Hot and tired, we eagerly awaited a refreshing dip in the cool water.
And what do you know? Kisalon Spring was the cleanest and most lovely of the bunch! I took off my shoes and jumped in. The water was cold and clear and came up to my chin. Frogs croaked in the background. We conversed with some other nature lovers sitting by the spring. It was really pleasant.
All in a Day’s Adventure
After a twenty minute break by the water, we packed up our things and continued up the path and onto the highway. A few minutes later, we were back at the trailhead.
That day’s adventure taught me something important: there are always new trails to discover and new sights to see near home. This challenging journey between springs, memorials, and shady forests turned out to be a wonderful way to experience some special spots in the Jerusalem Mountains.
Here’s what you need to know to hike this loop trail from Einot Boker:
- This trail is suitable for all seasons. It is not all shaded by any means, but the water and forests provide some help from the heat even on warm days. I would avoid this trail on the hottest days of the summer and fall.
- The springs on this trail are said to be full year round. Note: You could easily turn this into a family-friendly hike to two springs. Use the trail map to skip the 9 kilometers of walking in between the springs. Walk out and back to Einot Boker, stopping to explore the forest nearby, then out and back to Ein Kisalon. This would be a wonderful family adventure!
- Suitable for dogs.
- Make sure to wear good hiking shoes, a hat, and sun protection. Bring plenty of water! There is a fountain near the Scrolls of Fire where you can refill water bottles.
- Use the trail marker gallery and trail map in the table up top to follow the trail. Most of the trail is very straightforward and well marked. The only difficult piece is the trail from Scrolls of Fire to Ein Kisalon. For added certainty, you can use the Google Earth File in the table to follow your location along the trail we walked.
- To follow the trail: Head to the right on the Israel trail, then turn left off of the pathway to Einot Boker (unmarked). Return the way you came and follow the Israel Trail in the other direction all the way to Martyr's Cave in Kedoshim Forest. From here, turn left on the green trail which you will follow all the way to Scrolls of Fire, keeping a close lookout for trail markers. Next, follow the short path to the water point at the end and turn left to walk through the town of Kisalon, following the main road straight the entire time. Turn onto the dirt road just after the makolet. Take the dirt road out of the town, following it for a little while, then turn left towards the spring. Continue on the road to the highway and turn right to reach the trailhead (3 minute walk down the highway).
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 followed this trail from Einot Boker? Let’s hear about it in the comments!