Aminadav Forest - Forests & Hills near Jerusalem

Aminadav Forest is located on the Shalmon-Soreq Ridge that rises to the west of Jerusalem between the gullies of Nahal Soreq and Nahal Refaim. The scenic route created through the forest by KKL-JNF offers magnificent vistas. The forest itself contains natural springs, terraces and the remains of ancient agriculture.

  • How to get there

    From Jerusalem, after driving by Mount Herzl and the access road to Ein Kerem, turn westwards on to the road that leads to Moshav Ora and Moshav Aminadav.

    From Tel Aviv, turn west (i.e., right) off the Tel Aviv - Jerusalem Highway (Route no. 1) at the Harel interchange, drive to the Sataf roundabout, then on to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital, from there to the entrance to Moshav Ora, then continue as described above.
  • Geographic location-

    Jerusalem - Judean highlands and surroundings
  • Area-

  • Facilities-

    Restroom, Picinic - Barbecue area, Lookout, Active recreation area, Memorial, Marked path, Accessible site.
  • Other sites in the area-

    Horvat Saadim Nature Reserve, the Monastery of John the Baptist, Sataf, Tel Tzova, Har HaTayyasim (“Pilots’ Mountain”) Nature Reserve, U.S. Independence Park and the Forest of the Martyrs.
  • Access-

    Special (adapted for the disabled)
  • סוג חניון-

    Accessible parks,Overnight parks,Picnic parks
  • Interest-

    Hiking and Walking Tracks,Bicycle track,Lookouts,Archeology

Projects and Partners Worldwide

Aminadav Forest was rehabilitated and developed thanks
to contributions from Friends of KKL-JNF worldwide,
including the USA, Germany, Columbia, Italy and the UK.
Aminadav Forest. Photo: Flash 90.
Aminadav Forest. Photo: Flash 90.

About the Park

Together with the region’s natural woodland, this forest provides the most significant area of green belt available to the residents of Israel’s capital. The scenic route created through the forest by KKL-JNF offers magnificent vistas, and the forest itself contains natural springs, terraces and the remains of ancient agriculture. At the entrance to the forest KKL-JNF has provided recreation areas and sports facilities, together with cycle trails, a sign-posted orienteering course and a path specially adapted for disabled access.

The Scenic Trail created by KKL-JNF along the Shalmon-Soreq Ridge offers a magnificent view of the Soreq and Refaim gullies and the Jerusalem Hills, with the large open expanses of central Israel visible in the distance.

Ein Tamar in Aminadav Forest. Photo: Yaakov Shkolnik.
Ein Tamar in Aminadav Forest. Photo: Yaakov Shkolnik.

The interior of the forest possesses an abundance of natural springs, some of Israel’s finest agricultural terraces and the remains of orchards, wine presses, olive presses and limekilns. At the forest entrance, KKL-JNF has provided a number of recreation areas, some of which offer facilities for sport and active recreation. The forest also includes cycle paths of varying levels of difficulty, a sign-posted orienteering route and a special disabled-accessible path adjacent to the active recreation area at Horvat Saadim.

The starting point for a visit to the forest is the Kennedy Memorial, from which we can continue along the Shalmon-Soreq Ridge Scenic Trail.

Ein Sarig in Aminadav Forest. Photo: Yaakov Shkolnik.
Ein Sarig in Aminadav Forest. Photo: Yaakov Shkolnik.

A Route through the Forest

We’ll start our tour from the Kennedy Memorial (site no. 1 on the map), a remarkable monument to the memory of former U.S. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who was murdered in November 1963. Much of the charm of the memorial is due to its location at the top of an isolated hill 823 meters above sea level. Before setting out on our tour, it’s worth taking a walk round the Kennedy Memorial building to enjoy the magnificent landscape on every side: the Judean Hills, Mount Hebron and a “window” on to the Coastal Plain, where, on a clear day, Ashdod can be observed in the distance.

Kennedy Memorial. Photo: Yaakov Shkolnik.
Kennedy Memorial. Photo: Yaakov Shkolnik.
The memorial building, designed by architect David Resnik and sculptor Dov Feigin and inaugurated in 1966, is shaped like the stump of a felled tree, symbolizing a life cut short at the age of forty-six. The main hall is encircled by 51 concrete columns each 7.2 meters high, which symbolize the 51 states of the USA.

KKL-JNF operates a visitors’ information center in the hall beneath the memorial building, where tourists can acquire fliers about the route, inspect the detailed map and aerial photograph of the region, and listen to some useful advice. The information center is open on weekdays from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., and its telephone number is 02-5709926. The site is also equipped with washrooms and toilet facilities.

Horvat Saadim

Moving on, we turn off the Kennedy Memorial access road and follow the signs along the track that leads down to Horvat Saadim (site no. 2 on the map). After leaving the car in a small parking lot adjacent to the fork in the path that leads to the springs of Ein Hindak, we set out on foot to visit the woodland and the spring nearby (the walk takes between 30 minutes and one hour).

Horvat Saadim is a very small nature reserve, and the main reason for its recognition as such is the presence of the exceptionally large specimens of the Israeli common oak (Quercus calliprinos) that grow there – an unusual sight where this variety of oak is concerned. An impressively ancient carob tree can also be seen in the vicinity.

Horvat Saadim  in Aminadav Forest. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive.
Horvat Saadim in Aminadav Forest. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive.

These oak trees may have attained their unusual proportions because of the nearby presence of the remnants of a maqam, i.e., a shrine dedicated to the memory of a Muslim saint – in this case Sheikh Ahmad. All that now remains of the building are two walls two meters high, one of which still retains an arch in its entirety. Sheikh Ahmad was renowned for his ability to induce fertility in barren women, and this may be the source of the Arabic name of the site, Khirbet Sa'ida, which means “Fortunate Woman Ruins.” We approach the building by means of a broad path that leads from the parking lot into the depths of the woodland.

Near the maqam, in open ground, stands a heavy stone column that once supported the beam of an oil press. The basin stone of the press (i.e., the lower stone, in which the olives were crushed before the oil was extracted from them) was found in a nearby cave, which would appear to have been its original site. To reach the cave we go to the north of the maqam and walk for several meters down the slope below the memorial to Captain Shlomo Malachi, who fell in the Six-Day War.

Active Recreation Areas

The continuation of our walk will take us some 300 meters to the west of the edge of Horvat Saadim. Slightly to the north of the dirt track that encircles Mount Shalmon we come to Ein Saadim (site no. 3 on the map), whose spring emerges from two short conduits hewn into the rock. In the past, this water flowed into two collection pools, which can still be seen at the site, and from there it was conveyed to the agricultural terraces below the spring. The almond trees growing on the terraces are the final remnant of the orchards that once flourished here. A signpost points the way to a short path that leads up the slope to the Saadim Recreation Area (site no. 4 on the map) in the Cairo Martyrs’ Grove, which is dedicated to the members of an Israeli intelligence network that operated in Cairo in 1954. Several of the members were executed when the network's operations were discovered.

View from Aminadav Forest. Photo: Yaakov Shkolnik.
View from Aminadav Forest. Photo: Yaakov Shkolnik.

A kilometer-long trail specially adapted for disabled use leads from the Saadim Recreation Area to the Activities Recreation Area (site no. 7 on the map), before returning to its starting point. We go back to our vehicle and follow the dirt road around Mount Shalmon (it is indicated with black markings) until we reach Havat HaGitot (“Wine Press Farm”). At first, the trail leads us to a junction (site no. 5 on the map), where a signboard displays a map of the forest. At the junction, we continue straight on, then immediately turn right on to a stretch of trail beneath a high-tension electricity pole (green markings). The track takes us round the ridge to the west and north, ascending to the highest point of Soreq Ridge (altitude point 714), where KKL-JNF has established a small, cozy recreation area (site no. 6 on the map). Here we can park the car and continue upwards on foot, following a path bordered with curbstones that leads to the top of the hill.

Along the way, this footpath passes three ancient wine presses that were used to extract juice from grapes that was later fermented to produce wine. The third (upper) wine press is especially impressive, as it is large, with a treading floor 5.7 x 4.7 meters in size. After treading, the grapes underwent additional compression by means of a beam, one end of which was fixed in a rectangular depression hewn into the western edge of the floor. The remains of an olive press can also be seen just nearby. The wine presses and other agricultural equipment at the site would appear to have belonged to a local farm and to have been in operation at some time between the Ancient Israelite Period and the Byzantine era. The footpath continues to the top of the hill. Here, beside a cairn (i.e., a man-made heap of stones) we are rewarded with an impressive view of the landscape in all directions. All around us are the remains of buildings that once belonged to the farms established here in the various different periods. The footpath takes us back down to the Wine Press Recreational Area where our car is waiting.

A cave at Aminadav Forest. Photo: Niro Taub.
A cave at Aminadav Forest. Photo: Niro Taub.

If you want to spend a little more time in these natural surroundings, you can make your way to Aminadav Forest’s Active Recreation Area. To get there, you take the dirt road back to the junction where we saw the signpost with the map on it (site no. 5 on the map). Here, you turn right (red trail markings) and continue on for about a kilometer. Then turn left, still following the red markings and the sign that reads “Kennedy Memorial.”

At the first junction, turn left, and you’ll find yourself in the Aminadav Active Recreation Area (site no. 7), where KKL-JNF has established a large recreational site that includes a basketball court, exercise equipment, playground equipment for children, barbeque facilities and running water. The site provides direct access to a challenging mountain-bike trail that continues for 2.5 kilometers and ends at Fischer Junction (site no. 5 on the map). And from there it’s only a short distance back to the Kennedy Memorial.

Aminadav water hole. Photo: KKL-JNF Archive.
Aminadav water hole. Photo: KKL-JNF Archive.