Britannia Park: Hurvat Tsura and Tel Goded

Get there with Google MapsGet there with WazeGet there with Moovit
Trail MapHike it with Google EarthTerrain View
Distance: 7.7kmTime: 3 hoursDifficulty: Moderate-Strenuous
Ascent: 199mTrailhead and Markers Gallery

Click here to go straight to hike notes.

As an avid hiker, I sometime find it quite unbelievable that there are trails in Israel which we’ve never hiked.  Actually, there are lots of them.  But what is even more incredible is that many of these trails are just a half hour or so from our home in Gush Etzion, near Jerusalem.

Since the start of the war in October, we’ve been a bit less inclined to travel far from home on our hiking adventures.  Something about staying close in vicinity to our kids feels reassuring right now.  So, it’s lucky that there are so many hiking trails in the Jerusalem area. 

Some of our wartime trails have made it onto Hiking the Holyland, and some haven’t (it’s hard to keep up with all of our hiking). But this past Friday’s hike at Britannia Park to Hurvat Tsura was one that I definitely wanted to share.

Great day for a beautiful hike.

We’ve seen people hiking in this area across from Park Adulam many times.  It always looked so beautiful and picturesque – green and flower filled in the winter time.  Last Friday morning, we finally had a chance to hike a trail in this area. (During a normal year, on a day like last Friday, we likely would have ventured into the desert instead.)

I’m so happy we finally discovered this trail.  Hurvat Tsura was absolutely beautiful – the crumbling ruins were picture perfect between colorful winter wildflowers.  We followed the Israel Trail, which was lovely and full of seasonal blossoms in many colors.  The last stop on our circular hike was at Tel Goded, the most popular spot of this trail.  This pretty tel was fabulously beautiful (and super fascinating) as well.

Here’s how we hiked this 8 kilometer loop trail in Park Britannia:

Let’s Get to It

Normally, we don’t begin our trail at one of the highlights; usually, we have to work a bit for our reward. But this hike began at Hurvat Tsura, an incredibly picturesque area of ancient ruins (once an agricultural farm) from the Byzantine period.

Hopping out of the car, I practically ran towards the structure atop the hill – its arched windows and chiseled stones lured me in.  Climbing up to the top, I could see that the view out to the surrounding area was more than spectacular.  Close by, plentiful wildflowers grew in shades of yellow, pink, and red.  In the distance, the green hills of the Jerusalem Lowlands formed a complete picture of stunning winter glory. 

The view from Hurvat Tsura.

I really wanted to stop somewhere at Hurvat Tsura to enjoy a hot cup of coffee and our breakfast of strawberry overnight oats.  But, it was super windy that morning.  And although the temperatures were pretty mild, the biting wind made it too cold to stop.  We searched in vain for shelter, since I thought it would be awesome to eat breakfast while looking out at green hills through an arched window, but we couldn’t find any sheltered spot.

Instead, we took lots of pictures, both of the structures and of the fields of irit flowers that grew right nearby.  Then, we continued on our way along the Israel Trail, hoping that hiking would warm our blood.

Flower fields at Hurvat Tsura.

Just, Wow.

Honestly, after getting over the idea of having coffee at Hurvat Tsura, I was happy to simply hike.  We walked along the Israel Trail, and the scenery at that time of year (early March) was spectacular.  We took in fields of crimson anemones, more irit flowers blowing in the wind, and the little white blossoms of wild garlic shoots.

Happy hiker.

The trail itself was nice too.  The path was narrow, weaving between the greenery in a lost-in-nature sort of way.  It felt very isolated.  I was happy to be outdoors on that quietly beautiful Friday morning.

A Better Place

Eventually, the wind died down and the temperatures rose just a bit.  We were now officially ready to stop for coffee.  And luckily for us, there were many fields of flowers just calling us to settle in.

Great place for a picnic.

We chose an especially picturesque spot in a carpet of cyclamen, looking out over the green hills that we had longed to gaze at earlier in the morning.  And there, we poured hot coffee and lost ourselves in the beauty of our surroundings.

More to Explore

All good things must come to an end.  Eventually, after enjoying the scenery in that spot for far too long, we decided to pick ourselves up and head on over to Tel Goded – the next stop on our adventure.  Tel Goded looked unassuming, far less spectacular than Hurvat Tsora had been that morning.  But in fact, this tel is made up of layers upon layers of history, dating back to biblical times.

Red flowers near Tel Goded.

Archeologists and scholars disagree about the exact identity of Tel Goded.  Some say that it’s ancient Moreshet Gat, while others say it is ancient Gedud.  Still others identify the site differently. But what was discovered there is indisputable.  At this spot, 400 meters above sea level, archeologist dug out 37 royal stamps from the time of King Hizkiyahu.  There were also ancient Roman gates, cisterns, and aqueducts.

We didn’t see any of this that Friday, but we did get to take in the magnificent views from the top of Tel Goded before we continued down a dirt path onto our return trail.

On the tel.

Last Licks

The last part of this circular loop took us along a dirt path (marked green) through a beautiful valley.  There were so many wild edibles growing along the sides of the trail that I couldn’t stop myself from picking.  Between breaks to look at wildflowers and to pick asparagus, this part of our hike took a lot longer than it should have.

The good news was that in the valley, the wind died down completely.  We got to enjoy sunny skies and spring like weather as we walked along picking delicacies to add to Shabbat dinner.

Eventually, we reached the turnoff back onto the Israel Trail.  From here, we retraced our steps, past fields of red anemone flowers, past Hurvat Tsora to our car at the trailhead.

Our hike that morning along an unbeaten path had been just what we needed – quiet, gorgeous, and close to home.  This fun trail through Park Britannia is a great choice for a springy morning in the wintertime.

A whole bunch of delicious

Hikers’ Notes:

Here’s what you need to know to hike this trail in Park Britannia:

  • This trail is exposed to the sun, and therefore best suited to cooler days in fall, winter and spring.
  • You can visit Hurvat Tsura without doing any hiking - it's a great place for a picnic!
  • Suitable for dogs.
  • Wear good hiking shoes, and bring water and sun protection to hike this trail.
  • To follow the trail: Take the Israel trail out to Tel Goded, then cut across to the green trail (use trail map and trail marker gallery). Follow the green trail back until you reach the Israel Trail. Return the way you came to Hurvat Tsura. Use the trail marker gallery, trail map, and Google Earth file in the table at the top of the page to find your way on the trail.

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 at Park Britannia? Let’s hear about it in the comments!

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *