Park Britannia: Tel Goded and Hurvat Tabak

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Trail MapHike it with Google EarthTerrain View
Distance: 6.4kmTime: 2-3 hoursDifficulty: moderate
Ascent: 177mTrailhead and Markers Gallery

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Recently, we hiked a new part of Park Britannia, from Hurvat Tsora to Tel Goded.  The main lesson we learned was that we still had a lot of exploration to do in that area.  On our journey, we hadn’t even dipped a toe into the incredible world of underground caves and tunnels near Tel Goded. And there were many trails around there which we hadn’t yet traversed.

So, we made it our mission to find out more.  For the next few Fridays, we knew exactly where we would be hiking: Park Britannia.  And this past Friday, back we went to Tel Goded to scope out more of the local terrain.

It was a beautiful day on Friday – partly cloudy and slightly cool, which is perfect weather for exploring this part of the country.  We knew that along the way, we would be dazzled by plentiful winter wildflowers and beautiful views.  And since this area isn’t forested at all, it’s perfect for those warm winter days.

A warm winter morning.

We hiked a 6 kilometer loop trail with our 8 year old son.  Therefore, we didn’t have tons of time for exploring the vast network of underground caves at Hurvat Tabak, just beneath Tel Goded.  Still, we did make it into a few of them…and promised ourselves that we’d come back to explore more.

Here’s how we hiked this gorgeous 6 kilometer loop trail in Park Britannia.

This is Going Underground

We parked our car in a small dirt area just off the main road, headed through a cow gate, and followed a path up Tel Goded.  Immediately, we were taken in by the plentiful wildflowers that surrounded us.  Their scent filled the air on that sunny morning.

As we could see on the map, there were a lot of underground discoveries to make on this part of the trail.  We veered off the path to check out one cave area that looked particularly enticing.

Pretty cool place.

Inside the cave, the scene was impressive.  There was an entrance to a tunnel on one side.  And up above, an opening in the cave framed a picture-perfect view of blue sky and fluffy white clouds.  One yellow flower peeked over the edge.

Of course, we knew we were going on a deep dive into this tunnel, whether we liked it or not. We had to see what was inside.  My husband went first, and after a few minutes of crawling, called out to me that this was one tunnel worth exploring.

Underground Pigeons?

Until I become a professional archeologist, I’ll never really understand how some of these things get underground.  Deep within the tunnel, we found ourselves in a chamber of carved out nooks and crannies, otherwise known as a columbarium.  From my limited understanding, these types of pigeonholes were actually used for, well, pigeons.  Did this columbarium, deep underground, once have easy outdoor access? Or did the pigeons that lived here have to fly through a long and twisty tunnel to get in and out?

Perfectly carved.

(If anyone out there can explain this to me, I’d love to understand!)

Either way, the whole scene was super cool, and felt like a movie set.  We walked around in a room full of geometric shapes, in complete darkness, taking a few careful photos.  Then, we headed back into the sunshine.

More Caves and Uphill

After this one cave, we explored a few more – a carved burial cave, some more long tunnels. But my young son was ready to eat breakfast.  And that meant that we had to keep on hiking up to find a perfect picnic place.

The burial cave.

We climbed up a super steep hill to get to the top of Tel Goded.  With the crumbly and dry dust beneath our feet on the path, it sometimes felt like we were going backwards.  But we made it to the top! And I found lots of asparagus to pick along the way.

We wove our way along the path onto the other side of Tel Goded where we were treated to a spectacular view out to the surrounding hills and valleys.  Further out, we could see Kiryat Gat, and the coastline.  We picked a perfect patch of wildflowers and laid down our picnic blanket.

Climbing to the top.

Best Part of the Week

And there, we all enjoyed an absolutely delicious breakfast.  This week, we had carrot muffins and hot coffee.  The sun was warm, and the wind was slightly cool. The scent of mustard flowers and white garlic flowers filled the air.  The birds chirped merrily, and some swooped through the air, providing constant entertainment.

Time to relax!

As usual, we really wanted to just stay right there for the rest of the morning.  Who needs to hike when you can sit in such a serene place?

But we had work to do – we had to scope out the rest of this trail!  So, eventually, we packed up our stuff, folded up our picnic blanket, and set back out on the trail.

So Much Beauty

I have to admit that after that first caving stop, we didn’t explore any of the other (probably incredible) caves along the trail.  We were having too much fun: tasting wildflowers, walking along easy terrain, and enjoying the magnificent weather.  We committed to coming back to this area again soon, to continue our deep dive into the local terrain.

A beautiful and fascinating walk.

As we walked along with our son, we spoke about understanding directions (north, south, east, and west), and we learned about what the Israel Trail markers tell you about which way you are going.  We taught him which wildflowers and greens can be eaten and which cannot.  We saw bugs and butterflies as we hiked along, one foot in front of the other.  He allowed a ladybug to rest on his finger and took it along for a ride.

And the best part of the morning? That was when we saw a turtle, his favorite animal, crossing the path.  He couldn’t stop talking about it for the rest of the hike.

Best buds.

A Perfect Morning

We covered lots of ground in contented strolling and talking that morning.  I gathered wild edibles while our son sucked the nectar out of purple wildflowers. My husband manned the map and took note of all the hidden underground ruins we had to return to.  He pointed out deer tracks and cow tracks as we passed them.

After a morning of hiking our loop trail in Park Britannia, we were back at the trailhead.  There, a small family was gathered for a picnic. They were the only people we had seen that morning.  With one last glance under a tree near our car, I noticed some sweet hedge nettle, which I picked for my husband and son to taste.  And then we piled back into our car for the short drive home.

It had been a perfect morning adventure.  This 6 kilometer loop trail from Hurvat Tabak in a quiet part of Park Britannia is truly spectacular at this time of year.

Late winter loveliness.
Are you sure you’re catching my good side??

Hikers’ Notes:

Here’s what you need to know to hike this trail from Hurvat Tabak and Tel Goded:

  • This is a circular hike.
  • Good for big kids.
  • Suitable for dogs.
  • This trail is exposed to the sun. It's perfect for cooler days in fall, winter, and spring.
  • Wear good walking shoes and sun protection to hike this trail. Bring a flashlight for cave diving.
  • To follow the trail, use the Google Earth file, trail map, and trail marker gallery in the table at the top of the page.
  • This hike leads up an unmarked trail to Tel Goded. From there, you'll take the Israel Trail to the left for most of the hike. At some point, leave the Israel Trail to take unmarked paths back to the trailhead. I've tried to include useful instructions in the trail marker gallery, but you'll need to use the Google Earth file or Amud Anan to follow this trail accurately.

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 Hurvat Tabak? Let’s hear about it in the comments!

Dark tunnels.
Bright outdoors.
So many flowers to taste!

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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