Aminadav Forest - Forests & Hills near Jerusalem

Photograph: Adi Tana, KKL-JNF
Jerusalem is surrounded by mountains. Among them is the Salmon-Sorek ridge, rising west of the capital. KKL-JNF has planted the Aminadav Forest on the ridge – a large forest of about 1750 acres. The trees join the natural grove on the ridge, coming together to create the largest open field near Jerusalem.
KKL-JNF opened landscape roads for private vehicles on the ridge that present travelers with the splendid landscapes of the Jerusalem Mountains. In addition, travelers can also enjoy recreation areas, walking trails and cycling tracks. In the main recreation area, near the Se'adim Ruins, KKL-JNF opened a trail for people with disabilities. The forest is rich with sites that include springs and terraces, many of them considered to be the pretties in Israel. Within the forest are relics of the past as wine presses, olive presses and lime furnaces.
Development of the forest was done due to donations from KKL-JNF's friends in The United States, Germany, England and Israel.
  • How to get there

    Kennedy Memorial Gate: the Kennedy Memorial is about half a kilometer west of the entrance to Aminadav. Even Sapir Gate: accessible through the entrance to the town of Even Sapir. It is a solid dirt road, marked in red, which goes up to the Se'adim Ruins. Sorek Stream Gate: a dirt road marked in black goes up from road 386 between the markings of the 11th and 12th kilometer near a large facility of Israel's Electric Corporation. Refa'im Bridge Gate: a dirt road marked in red goes up from road 386 near the steel railway (around the 7th kilometer mark). The road goes through Refa'im Stream and fits a 4X4 vehicle and cyclists.
  • Opening hours

    Due to works, the Kennedy Memorial is currently closed for visitors.
  • Entrance fee

    Entrance to the Site of Free
  • 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-

    Se'adim Ruins, John the Baptist Monastery, Sataf, Tel Tzuba, Pilots' Mountain Reserve, US Independence Park and Martyrs Forest
  • Access-

    Special (adapted for the disabled)
  • Type of parking-

    Accessible parks,Overnight parks,Picnic parks
  • Interest-

    Hiking and Walking Tracks,Bicycle track,Lookouts,Archeology


The Salmon-Sorek Ridge is a branch in the Jerusalem Mountains, the western part of the ridge that the towns of Ora and Aminadav are built on. The ridge is between the Sorek Stream in the south and the Refa'im Stream in the north – the streams that create the deepest meanders in the Jerusalem Mountains. The two streams meet at the feet of the western Sorek branch.
The Kennedy Memorial, 823 meters above the sea, is the highest place in the forest. From here, the Salmon-Sorek branch goes west, until it reaches the meeting point of the streams near the Refa'im Bridge (Road 386), about 450 meters above the sea. This spot of the ridge provide beautiful views of the surroundings.
Like most of the ridges in the Jerusalem Mountains, the Salmon-Sorek Ridge is made mostly of lime and dolomite, hard rocks that tend to fracture. Through the fractures, rainwater run into the depths of the ground. Between the layers that build the ridge is also a thin marlstone layer, made of small crumbs. It is easily recognizable due to its yellowish color. The layer is relatively protected from water. The rainwater usually stop at the layer and flow upon the layer. When the layer is exposed, usually due to the undermining of a stream, a spring is created. The water are collected from a small drainage pool, and the amount of spring water amount from the Jerusalem Mountains is therefore small.
The site commemorates John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United Stated, who was murdered on November 22, 1963, at the age of 46. The memorial is made in the shape of a cut tree stump, symbolizing the life of the president that were cut short. In front of the entrance to the memorial, which is 7.2 meters high, is a large field used for special events. The memorial, created by David Resnick, was revealed on July 4, 1966.
One particularly unique aspect of the site is its location – the top of an isolated mountain, rising high above its surroundings. Walking around the memorial provides a stunning view of the Jerusalem Mountains and the Hebron Mountain, as well as the coastal plain in the Ashdod area. A walking trail, marked in blue, goes down from the Kennedy Memorial to the Se'adim Ruins.
Did you know? (A puzzle for kids)
Enter the memorial hall and count the number of pillars that come together to create the cut tree stump. What does the number represent?
Answer: the memorial has 51 pillars, one for each state of the United States of America, including District Columbia, where the capital city of Washington is located. Two additional pillars create the opening of the memorial and they bear the symbols of KKL-JNF (53 pillars overall).
This small nature reserve is notable for the common oak trees growing in it. The trees grew to extraordinary heights that are uncommon for the specie. An impressive old oak tree also grows in the reserve.
In the open field is also a heavy stone pillar. It appears to have been a part of an old olive press from a nearby cave, where additional parts of an olive press, including a large stone wheel, have been found. To reach the cave, travelers should go a few steps north, and then a few steps down the slope underneath the memorial for Captain Shlomo Malachi, who died on duty during the Six-Day War.
The Piano Memorial
The Piano Memorial commemorates that late great pianist Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982). The site's parking lot is located near the access road to the Kennedy Memorial on the northern side of the road going from the gate of the Kennedy Memorial to the Se'adim Ruins. From the parking lot, it is a 100-meter walk to the memorial. The trail is accessible for people with disabilities.
Sculptor Israel Hadeni designed the memorial in the shape of piano keys that invade the impressive landscape of the Jerusalem Mountains. The "piano" is made of marble stones, and near it is a modest stone with the name of Arthur Rubinstein and the dates of his birth and death. In 1969, KKL-JNF planted a section in the forest in Rubinstein's memory. The forest was planted with the support of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra and the orchestra's friends association.
The accessible trail is located west of the Se'adim Ruins in a grove named after the Cairo Martyrs. The grove commemorates the members of an Israeli intelligence network that operated in Cairo in 1954. The exposure of the network led to the execution of several of its members.
From the recreation area, a walking trail of about 1 kilometer, accessible to people with disabilities and containing shaded benches, passes near the Sport Recreation Area and comes back to the starting point. Near the starting point are the remains of a lime kiln, where calcite rocks were burned to be turned into lime.
The trip provides the opportunity to get to know some of the tree and bush species that grow wild in the Jerusalem Mountains, including common oak, Israeli buckthorn, cistus incanus, prickly burne and many others. During the winter, the landscape fills with many flowers including cyclamen and anemone.
The recreation area is also used as an overnight camping site, mostly for youth groups.
Aminadav Active Recreation Area
The recreation area is about half a kilometer west of the Se'adim Recreation Area, on the side of the road marked in red. KKL-JNF has set up a large active recreation area with a basketball court, workout facilities, and playing facilities for kids. The recreation area also includes water taps and barbecue facilities.
The circular accessible trail for people with disabilities, which originates in the Se'adim recreation area, reaches the active recreation area and also provides the opportunity for a short trip in the forest.

Walking Trails

The forest roads fit private vehicles, but in the winter, they tend to get muddy. Drvie carefully.
The Wine Press Farm
Starting point and end of the track: the Wine Press Farm Parking Lot (see details below)
Length: about 1 kilometer
Difficulty: easy
The way to the Wine Press Farm fits a car but not a bus. To get there, travelers should drive from the gate of the Kennedy Memorial following the black-marked trails to the Fisher Junction – a junction with information board containing a map of the forest. In the junction, after driving forward, a right turn (underneath a high-voltage pole) following green marking leads to a way that bypasses the Sorek Ridge from the west and goes up to a small parking, almost at the top of the ridge. KKL-JNF established a small recreation area here.
From the parking lot, a blue-marked trail goes up with three ancient wine presses, carved in rock, along the way. The third and upper wine press is the most impressive – spreading over 4.5X7.4 meters.
Near the wine press are the remains of an olive press. It appears that the wine presses and the rest of the agricultural facilities in the area belonged to farms active from ancient Israeli eras to the byzantine period.
The trail continues all the way to the top of the mountain (715 meters). Here, next to a stone heap, there is an impressive view of all the surroundings, among the remains of structures that probably belonged to the farm owners. From this point, the trail goes back down to the parking lot.
The Springs Trail
Starting point: the parking lot of Se'adim Ruins
End of the track: the parking lot, about 100 meters from the Even Sapir Gate up the road marked in red
Length: about 3 kilometer (marked in green)
Difficulty: medium
1. Travelers should arrange a pick-up vehicle at the end of the track. Public transportation is available from the Hadassah Hospital on weekdays.
2. Return is also possible from Ein Tamar on the trail marked in blue, offering a circular round.
3. The "green" trail continues until Ein Hendak, Sataf and Tzuba. Travelers can go on a long trip on this trail, though arrangements for a pick-up vehicle should be made.
The track:
From the parking lot of the Se'adim Ruins, a few steps east bring travelers to a small section of cedar trees. A dirt road going down about 100 meters reaches a junction. The road goes right and its color changes to blue (travelers coming back on foot from Ein Tamar will walk through this road).
The road stretches between pretty terraces, testaments of ancient mountain agriculture. After about half a kilometer, a series of small caves carved in soft yellow rock will reveal themselves. Near the first cave there is a stone with a round water trough carved in it, used to provide water for sheep and goats. The spring water were collected in two pools built left of the trail. One of the aqueducts, about 15-meter long, is well preserved. It comes out of a cave at the side of the mountain, going under the trail and coming out on the other side. All these springs are now dry.
This is where travelers will notice the yellowish rock – marlstone of Motza formation – a rock which creates a tight layer, which stops the rainwater that flow through the layers of rock above it.
The trail continues down the slope with the woods planted by KKL-JNF. Half a kilometer from the Aminadav Springs the trail goes right and reveals the splendid view of the Jerusalem Mountains. At our feet is the town of Even Sapir and above it the Hadassah Ein-Karem Hospital. Beyond the large channel of the Sorek Stream are the Eitan Mountain and the Sataf, the Tayasim Mountain and many towns.
The area is still recovering from two large fires that broke out during 2014 due to travelers' negligence. KKL-JNF bases the forests' recovery on natural processes of grove renewal and the sprouting of pine trees from seeds spread by pine cones opened during the fire.
The next station is the Uzi Springs. The two springs flow one by one, at the edge of the forest. One of them flow all throughout the year and its water are collected in a nice pool.
From here, the road marked in green takes travelers eastwards, near the south bank of Wadi Yosef – a large ravine going down to Ein Hendak. The agricultural terraces in the ravine are incredible well-reserved. About 300 meters from Ein Uzi is the spring of Ein Tamar, a nice and small spring dedicated to the memory of Tamar Nathan, killed in 1996 during a trip to Bolivia. The spring come out of pit into a pool dated to the byzantine period. Some of the original plaster still covers the well. Sharp-eyed travelers will notice small round holes carved in the eastern side, and some researchers have speculated that these holes were used to breed fishes. The site also contains the remains of a large public structure from the same period – perhaps a church or a monastery.
Ein Tamar flows all throughout the year, and travelers can get their feet wet and enjoy two picnic tables set in the shadow of oak trees (from this point, they can get back to the starting point with stairs that go up to the trail marked in blue). The springs trail, marked in green, goes down from here along the yellowish marlstone later, which is the basis for a few additional (dry) springs. Towards the end of the green trail, it meets a wide dirt road.
200 meters left down the road is the end of the track. Before the end, travelers can continue on the path located in the opposite side, and after 100 meters reach Ein Sarig, another pool of water shaded by willow tree.

Cycling Tracks

Several cycling tracks in different levels of difficulty are marked at the Cairo Martyrs Recreation Area (Se'adim Recreation Area).
The Eight Track
The ride is on multi-purpose road that fits cars, travel by foot, and cycling, across the Salmon-Sorek ridges, following black and red markings. The trail length is about 10 kilometers.
The Ridges Track
Includes a challenge single. The track starts at the Se'adim Recreation area and goes down 5.5 kilometers to the Refa'im Stream channel (trails marked in blue).

KKL-JNF and the Community

As a service to the community, KKL-JNF operates three information stations at the Jerusalem Mountains – Bar Giora, Sataf and the Kennedy Memorial. The stations contain drinking water, accessible restrooms and picnic tables. Travelers can get track information, consult a detailed map and get advice on the surroundings.
The Kennedy Memorial station is located at the space underneath the memorial. Travelers will also find a huge aerial photo here, which features the surroundings. Since the site is a memorial, there are no picnic tables in it. Travelers can hold a picnic in the nearby recreation area, in front of the Se'adim Ruins, a two-minute drive from the memorial.
The station is open from Sunday to Thursday, and on Saturday, from 09:00 to 16:00.
Photographs in this page courtesy of Yaakov Shkolnik, Yossi Zamir, Malka Barkai and the KKL-JNF Photo Archive.