Mount Carmel & Carmel Forest

Hills and vales, rivers, cliffs and dense Mediterranean woodland all combine to make the Carmel Ridge Forests a lively ecological area gaily carpeted with flowers, dotted with recreational parks and endowed with magnificent scenic lookouts.

Geographic location: Mt. Carmel, Krayot and surroundings

Identity Card

Photo: Yoav Devir

Hills and vales, rivers, cliffs and dense Mediterranean woodland all combine to make the Carmel Ridge Forests a lively ecological area gaily carpeted with flowers, dotted with recreational parks and endowed with magnificent scenic lookouts. The Carmel extends from the hills of Ramat Menashe in the south to Haifa Bay in the north, with the Mediterranean Sea as its western boundary and the Jezreel Valley as its border to the east. In December 2010, the forests of Mount Carmel suffered the worst fire in Israel’s history, in which some 25 thousand dunam (approx 6,250 acres) of natural woodland and planted forest were destroyed.  Ever since, KKL-JNF foresters have been monitoring the forest’s renewal process and have played a major role in its rehabilitation.  

• Region:  Northern Israel, Western Galilee and Mount Carmel.

• Notable sites in the forest: Keren HaCarmel Forest and the Cyclamen Trail, the hanging bridges of Nesher, Carmel Coast Forest, the Active Recreation Park, the Ron Trails, cycle paths, the Carmel Scenic Trail, Carmel National Park, Nahal Kelah, the Druze communities of Daliyat al-Carmel and Usifiya, the Kedumim Quarries, Horshat HaArbaim, the Mandate Paths, Shaar HaCarmel Recreation Area, the Haifa rivers, Ein Hod.

• Facilities: Picinic area, Lookout, Marked path, Archeological site, Active Recreation, Memorial.

• Additional sites in the area: Furadeis, Yokneam, Wadi Milik, Atlit, Nesher.

• How to get there?
From north and south: Route no. 672 crosses the Carmel from north to south. In the south it links up with the Furadeis-Yokneam Highway via Wadi Milik (Route no. 70) at the Elyakim Junction (Tzomet Elyakim).

From the north: The forest can be reached from the southern neighborhoods of Haifa, Ramat Denya and Haifa University. From the Haifa area it can be accessed from the west from Via Maris, the ancient Sea Road (i.e., the continuation of Route no. 672), which joins the Coastal Road at the southern entrance to Haifa.

From the west: You can take the road that ascends eastward from Oren Junction (Tzomet Oren; Route no. 721), which can be reached from the Haifa to Tel Aviv Highway (Route no. 4) or from the Coastal Road (Route no. 2); leave the highway at the Atlit Interchange. This is a pleasantly scenic route, but the road is narrow and requires a high level of concentration from the driver.

From the east: Take the Nesher Road (Route no. 7212) that ascends to the Carmel to the southeast of Route no. 75, between Yagur Junction and the Kerayot Junction. This winding road provides wonderful views of the surrounding landscape.

Projects and Partners Worldwide
Carmel Ridge Forests was rehabilitated and developed thanks to a contribution from friends of KKL-JNF worldwide, including USA, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, France, Australia and Israel.

About the Forests

Photo: KKL-JNF Archive

The Carmel extends from the hills of Ramat Menashe in the south to Haifa Bay in the north, with the Mediterranean Sea as its western boundary and the Jezreel Valley bordering it to the east. These boundaries encompass a discrete area of 232 square kilometers. At its highest point, Mount Carmel Ridge soars to a height of 546 meters above the above the blue waters of the Mediterranean. From the hilltops the green slopes of Mount Carmel, the communities of the Coastal Plain, farmland, banana plantations and fishponds can all be seen, with the blue sea and the bays of its shoreline in the distance.

In the Biblical Song of Songs the poet declares “Thy head upon thee is like Carmel…” (Song of Songs 7:6), and this hill, which was a byword for beauty, bounty, majesty, green woodland, vineyard and orchard, is also mentioned in the Book of Jeremiah: “And I brought you to Carmel, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof…” (Jeremiah 2:7).

Climate and Vegetation

The dense Mediterranean woodland that clothes Mount Carmel is the product of the prevailing weather conditions: the region’s proximity to the sea, its temperate climate and high humidity levels have created a well-developed natural woodland of Israeli common oak (Quercus calliprinos), terebinth (Pistacia palaestina), carob and mastic trees (Pistacia lentiscus), among which a population of smaller flowering shrubs and aromatic herbs can be found: spiny broom (Calicotome villosa), Genista fasselata (another variety of broom), sage-leaved rockrose (Cistus salviifolius), soft-hairy rockrose (Cistus creticus), Greek sage ( Salvia fruticosa, also known as three-lobed sage) and Syrian marjoram (Origanum syriacum, also known as hyssop). The designated area of the Carmel Forests extends over more than 80 thousand dunam (20,000 acres), and has been declared a national park. Of this area, 24,000 dunam constitute a nature reserve containing some 670 species of plants. KKL-JNF has planted 30,000 dunam of trees in the region, and has provided it with recreation areas, scenic routes, footpaths and hiking trails.

Geology and Archeology

Ancient tomb. Photo: KKL-JNF Archive

On the seaward side Mount Carmel Ridge descends to Israel’s Coastal Plain. The slope was created by geological processes that took place hundreds of thousands of years ago during a period when the sea level was higher, and the constant action of the breaking waves caused parts of the cliff to collapse, creating a rocky and precipitous shoreline. The area is also characterized by tuff rocks whose colors range from black to yellow and green, and which are particularly noticeable when traveling along the dirt road from the beach towards Kerem Maharal and the Shir Valley.

The tuff rocks are the result of underwater volcanic eruptions; the volcanic ash floated to the surface of the water before sinking once more into the depths. As tuff rock is softer than the chalk rock of the Carmel, it was quickly eroded by rainfall, resulting in the creation of depressions like the Shir Valley and Maharal Valley. Reef-like rocks composed of fossilized marine creatures such as molluscs and corals can also be found in the region, and an impressive reef-like rock can be seen in the Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve.

Mount Carmel has been home to human habitation since the prehistoric era, and the remains of ancient settlement have been uncovered in caves in the hillsides. Throughout history these hills have attracted settlers of different religions: Jews, Druze, Christians and Muslims.  The Bahai Temple of Haifa, the beautifully tended gardens that surround it and the various sacred sites – most of which are dedicated to the memory of the Prophet Elijah, a Carmel native himself – make the area in ideal venue for a fascinating excursion into both nature and history.

Forests and Nature

Carmel Terraces. Photo: Yoav Devir

Most of the area of Mount Carmel is covered in natural woodland, and cultivated forests have been planted only in places where the natural growth has been completely destroyed. The cultivated forests are mainly the work of KKL-JNF, which planted them after the land had been acquired. Although most were created after the State was founded, the afforestation process had begun much earlier, in the 1920s and 1030s, when the region was still ruled by the British Mandate. An area of forest dating back to that period can still be seen on the road from Elyakim Junction to Haifa (Route no. 672), between kilometer markers 28 and 29. The trees are stone pines (Pinus pinea), which are notable for their rounded foliage and edible pine nuts.

KKL-JNF’s activities on Mount Carmel are different from those in other parts of the country. Apart from looking after those trees that do not form part of the national park or nature reserves, KKL-JNF devotes its resources and experience to caring for the natural woodland and making it accessible to visitors. These activities are carried out in coordination with the Nature and Parks Authority and the Society for the Protection of nature, and every action is performed sensitively and cautiously in order to prevent any damage to the landscape and the natural habitats it provides. Scenic routes, recreation areas and observation points are all constructed with the greatest precision.

Photo: Tania Susskind

Many of the recreation areas created on Mount Carmel by KKL-JNF in the past are now under the auspices of the Nature and Parks Authority, which is responsible for their operation within the national park. Mount Carmel has some thirty picnic spots, and KKL-JNF has helped to mark out and signpost numerous footpaths in the region.

KKL-JNF works unceasingly to prevent fires from occurring in the Carmel Forests, and acts swiftly to extinguish any that do manage to break out. Its special observers keep watch from the Carmel Forest observation post and Haifa University Tower and warn of any impending blazes.

KKL-JNF is also responsible for the grazing areas shared by the flocks of goats from the nearby Druze villages and cattle from neighboring Jewish communities. This cooperative controlled grazing not only exemplifies coexistence but also provides a form of biological fire-prevention: as they satisfy their hunger the flocks reduce the risk of fire by devouring much of the tangled vegetation and other flammable material that accumulates at ground level.

The Great Fire

On December 2nd 2010, this perennially green hill was transformed into a mountain of fire and columns of smoke as the biggest blaze in the history of the State of Israel destroyed its woodland. The fire burned for three days and nights, devouring the greenery meter by meter until it had laid waste to some twenty-five thousand dunam (approx 6,250 acres) of planted forest and Mediterranean woodland. Some 6,000 dunam (approx 1,500 acres) of this area consisted of forests planted by KKL-JNF around Nahal Haik, the Alon Valley (Biq‘at Alon), Nir Etzion, Nahal Bustan, the environs of the Carmel Forest Hotel, Beit Oren, Nahal Oren, Mount Arkan and Mount Shokef.

Photo: KKL-JNF Archive

The trunks of some of the scorched trees fell like skittles and lay full length and bare on the ground; those that remained upright were as black as spent matches. Burnt pine cones clung to their branches and refused to shake loose. The scent of sage, marjoram and mushrooms that usually fills the woodland after the first rain was replaced by the suffocating reek of smoke. Everyone was waiting for the forest to heal itself naturally, and for the moment when the land would turn brown again and the first green shoots would begin to emerge. KKL-JNF’s foresters kept a close eye on the renewal process as it began slowly to unfold.

Recovery and Flowering

Nature has no time for trauma; it recovers quickly and resumes its routine as soon as possible. On Mount Carmel, tree trunks that had been only partially burned began to put out new green foliage, pine cones scattered their seeds in all directions and crowded ranks of tiny conifers began to emerge from the soil. The foresters and tractor drivers got to work pruning, raking, removing fallen trees, cutting down blackened stumps and sawing and shredding dead wood that could present a danger if it fell; the pulverized remains were kept for use as surfacing material on woodland paths. The birds began to sing again, the scent of sage filled the air and the mastic trees put out new leaves that clothed the blackened stumps in green. Amid all this fresh greenery the autumn crocus (Colchicum; also known as meadow saffron) displayed its flowers as if determined to prove that Nature has laws of her own and that no fire could subdue its violet petals and prevent their emergence in due season.

Photo: KKL-JNF Archive

It is in the unique ecological fabric of the region that the greatest damage can be found in the wake of the fire. Mount Carmel’s northwestern slopes and gullies, like those of Nahal Oren, Nahal Kelah and Nahal Alon, were covered in a dense forest of Jerusalem pine and Israeli common oak. Additional impressively foliaged Jerusalem pines, some as much as a hundred years old, grew around the area of Kibbutz Beit Oren, and gave it its name (Beit Oren means “Pine Home”). Unlike broad-leaved trees, which can regenerate from their roots alone, pine trees that have been completely burnt cannot revive. In this same area we can see Israeli common oaks (Quercus calliprinos), terebinths (Pistacia palaestina) and Greek strawberry trees (Arbutus andrachne) that have regenerated themselves from their roots and a carob tree that is sending out green branches over the black surface of the ground.

Dormant underground buds near the roots spring into life and emerge from the soil after rain. These buds grow into new branches that, within a number of years, will create a young Mediterranean woodland. The undergrowth characteristic of the woodland is also showing signs of speedy renewal, and rockroses (Cistus salviifolius and Cistus creticus), sage bushes, mock privet (Phillyrea latifolia) and buckthorn (Rhamnus lycioides) are all in the process of regrowth.
Natural Renewal

Pine-tree forests regenerate from the natural seeding process that KKL-JNF foresters have been monitoring so carefully during the years since the fire. The sudden intense heat of the flames caused the pine cones to burst open and scatter their seeds far and wide. Some fell in areas that had been totally devastated by burning and lay there waiting for rain. Most were eaten by ants, beetles and other creatures, but those that survived long enough to sprout created a dense prickly green carpet in the spring immediately following the fire. Pine-tree seeds can survive for as long a year in the open if they are not eaten or otherwise damaged.

A burnt tree. Photo: Ronit Svirski

The pine trees have seeded themselves naturally in all the areas of the forest that were burnt, in some places with great success, in others less so. The degree of success depended on the prevailing terrain conditions, the aspect (whether southern or northern), rainfall and the degree of erosion. In the Nahal Bustan area, baby trees are sprouting from beneath every rock, and KKL-JNF foresters will be thinning them out in the future as appropriate to the conditions of each individual location.

When following the walking route through the Nahal Bustan area we can see all the different types of natural regeneration getting underway alongside areas that have remained totally undamaged by the fire. The slopes of the ridge on which Kibbutz Nir Etzion is situated have remained as silent evidence of what was once a magnificent forest.

Dense deep green undergrowth and trees overlook the burned area that has opened like a wound in the very heart of the Carmel. The KKL-JNF fire trucks that operated in the region on the night of the great fire managed to halt the flames at Nahal Bustan and so saved the areas adjacent to the kibbutz itself.

The methods of dealing with burned woodland have changed over the years as a result of observations made in forests that have regenerated naturally, almost without human intervention or new planting. On Mount Carmel, in areas where the forest is having difficulty in renewing itself, KKL-JNF is planting new trees. In the Nahal Bustan area there are planting 200 dunam (approx 50 acres) with orchard and fruit trees such as olive, pomegranate, almond and carob. For the first few years these trees will be carefully watered, and the sparsely planted orchard will provide a firebreak between the different areas of coniferous forest and so delay the spread of any future fires.

Photo: Ronit Svirski

Another area of planted forest damaged by the fire was the Nahal Hayek gully, which winds its way along the western side of the Carmel Ridge at the northern entrance to the Druze village of Isfiya. Its waters flow through the Alon Valley until they reach the Oren River (Nahal Oren). The fire destroyed thousands of dunam of pine, oak, terebinth, mastic and arbutus (Greek strawberry) trees, together with groves of fig, almond and pomegranate. After devouring the trees and undergrowth along the banks of Nahal Hayek the blaze continued through Nahal Oren and climbed towards Mount Arkan and Mount Shokef. Today we can see how the reeds and other aquatic vegetation has revived, while terebinth, oak and arbutus have all grown new branches from their roots and the thousands of pine seedlings that now cover the ground are the harbingers of the magnificent forest that will grow here in the future once more.

Sites to Visit in the Forest

Keren HaCarmel Forest and the Cyclamen Trail

Keren HaCarmel (“the Horn of Carmel”) Forest is situated in the southeast of the Carmel between the Muhraka Monastery on the Carmel peak and the city of Yokneam and Elyakim Interchange. It consists of both robust native woodland and planted forests.

Photo: Yoav Devir

One of its most colorful sites is the Cyclamen Trail, which starts out from the northeastern corner of the Cypress Plaza and leads to the Horvat Hermesh Recreation Area. Some 200 meters from the beginning of the trail, on the left-hand side, is an ancient burial area where the arched entrances to six burial chambers can be observed hewn into the rock. Each cave contains a number of burial niches, and the site is presumed to have belonged to one of the wealthy Jewish families of the region. The Horvat Hermesh ruins lie to the west of this burial ground.

We skirt to the right of the burial caves and arrive at a recreation area where wooden picnic tables stand shaded by pine trees. Slightly to the north of the path to the tombs is an area where narcissi bloom in November and December. The forest has been freshly planted with Mediterranean woodland species including oak, terebinth, mastic, almond and Judas trees. The trail continues deeper into the forest into an area that springs into colorful bloom after the rain as it is full of cyclamen, narcissi and anemones. After winding further on, it leads us along a dirt road back to the recreation area.

We can make this walk longer if, instead of returning to the recreation area, we continue along the footpath and ascend the short, moderate incline up to the Muhraka Scenic Lookout. At the top we find ourselves on an observation platform provided by KKL-JNF and furnished with benches overlooking Deir al-Muhraka (“Monastery of the Place of Burning”), the Horn of the Carmel (Keren HaKarmel), the Jezreel Valley, the ridges of Lower Galilee, Ramot Menashe, Mount Gilboa and, on a very clear day, the summit of Mount Hermon. We return by the circular path from the Muhraka Scenic Lookout to the Cyclamen Trail (which is marked in red), and from there we continue westwards to the Hermesh Recreation Area.

How to get there:
At the Elyakim Interchange (where Route no. 70 meets Route no. 672) turn in the direction of Dalyat al-Carmel (Route 672). After the hitchhiking stop there, you will see a sign reading “Keren HaCarmel Forest – Horvat HaHermesh Recreation Area”. A surfaced dirt road suitable for all types of vehicle leads to a graveled parking lot.

KKL-JNF’s Nesher Park – The Hanging Bridges

This park in the town of Nesher, adjacent to Haifa, was established by KKL-JNF in conjunction with Nesher Municipality. The site includes green spaces, sports and exercise facilities, footpaths, scenic lookouts, picnic tables, a trail through dense thickets of varied vegetation and two hanging bridges.

Photo: Dror Artzi

These hanging bridges, whose seventy-meter steel cables are suspended across the gully of Nahal Katia, have proved very popular with visitors to the park. The bridges form part of a walking route that includes crossing the gully of the Nahal Katia river that flows only during the winter rains. The route departs from the sign-posted recreation area and winds its way through a pine forest before descending into the gully. Along the way we pass through a natural woodland of Israeli common oak, terebinth, and Greek strawberry trees (arbutus). We cross a stone bridge and continue down into the lower part of the gully where a short flight of wooden steps leads to an area of native Mediterranean woodland dotted with benches and scenic lookouts.

Several hundred meters to the west we arrive at the hanging bridge suspended between earth and sky. It is extremely narrow and swings as we walk along it, so it is best to cross in small groups. After the crossing we follow a marked trail that leads further into the woodland via another hanging bridge, until we reach a recreational area.

How to Get There:
Take the Nesher Highway in the direction of Haifa University and Ramot Yitzhak, and follow the signs to the JNF Park. Turn into HeHaruv Street (Rehov HeHaruv) and continue from there to Nesher Park.
Carmel Coast Forest and the Ofer Scenic Lookout

Photo: Michael Huri

Carmel Coast Forest, also known as Ofer Forest, covers an area of around 10,000 dunam (approx 2,500 acres) on the western slopes of Mount Carmel. Its central location, views, accessibility, cycle trails, recreational sites and well-shaded hiking paths combine to make it one of Israel’s favorite venues. As part of KKL-JNF’s policy of upgrading forest recreational facilities, the site is in the process of being equipped with new attractions in the heart of the woodland.

The Active Recreation Park

The most recent project, which was some ten years in the making, is the Yam Carmel (“Carmel Sea”) Active Recreation Park, which was inaugurated in September 2011 in Ofer Forest. The topography of the site is ideal for slides and zip lines through the woodland. Adjacent to the park there is a forest recreation area, and the scenic lookout provides a panoramic view of the Coastal Plain and the Carmel landscape. Green wooded hills, gullies, cliffs and a wealth of wild birds and animals – all these are on offer at the park.

The Carmel Sea compound begins with a calcareous sandstone (kurkar) road that blends into the natural landscape and leads us to a convenient and accessible parking lot. A large paved plaza takes us to broad wooden steps and from there to an enormous deck with an observation balcony at its right-hand side, surrounded by a green guard rail. The blue waters of the sea are visible at every turn, together with the green tints of the woodland, while all around the silence of nature is broken only by birdsong. Below the guard rail is the park: a vast expanse with a dry inner-tube slide painted in green and orange, a zip line that extends for 100 meters and a multi-storey tower with a different attraction at each level: rappelling, a climbing wall, and, for the adrenalin-challenged, four rope bridges suspended ten meters above the ground.

Photo: KKL-JNF Archive

On the other side there is a lookout tower, below which is a large amphitheatre with 500 seats and a large stage created from a dark brown wooden deck that blends in with the surrounding landscape. From the amphitheatre a few steps lead to a large illuminated indoor space enclosed by glass windows that seem to bring the green forest landscape indoors. The hall is divided into two parts, one of which is used for lectures and conferences, while the other houses a small café furnished in a style that combines modern with vintage.

The Observation Tower and Fire Watching

This region is covered with flowers for most of the year and is particularly spectacular in wintertime, when carpets of cyclamen and anemones cover the ground in company with narcissi, rockroses, spiny broom and various types of orchid. The Carmel Coast Forest Lookout stands on the topmost point of the ridge, and in its center is the KKL-JNF observation tower, which commands a view of the entire area: the Carmel landscapes, the communities of the Coastal Plain, farmland, banana groves and fishponds, with the blue waters and bays of the Mediterranean visible on the horizon.

The forest observation tower was built by KKL-JNF in the 1960s with the help of its Friends in Australia, and it enables staff to locate fires in the extensive surrounding forests and natural woodlands. All week long during the summer KKL-JNF operates a network of fire-spotters, fire trucks and on-call firefighters to prevent blazes before they can take hold and combat them instantly if they do. The observation balcony, which is accessed by a flight of steps, commands a panoramic view all the way from the Carmel Ridge and the Druze community of Daliyat al-Carmel to Zichron Yaakov, the Coastal Plain, Atlit, Dor Beach and Habonim Beach. The pine forests below the tower are abundantly equipped with picnic areas, benches overlooking the landscape, playground equipment, hiking trails and drinking fountains.

The Ron Trails

View from mizpor Ofer. Photo: Ronit Svirski

In one of the oldest sections of the forest, a series of footpaths called the Ron Trails has been created in memory of Colonel (res.) Aviel Ron and his two children, Ofer and Anat, who were killed by a suicide bomber at the Matza restaurant in Haifa on March 31st, 2002. Aviel Ron was one of the developers of the Merkava 3 tank and was awarded the Israel Defense Prize in 1992. Prior to his death, he was Director of the Ministry of Housing and Construction’s Survey and Mapping Department. An additional memorial initiated by his wife Carmit can be seen at the Horvat Kabir ruins northwest of Kerem Maharal.

Cycling Paths

Four intersecting marked cycle routes of varying levels of difficulty make their way through the forest. As the trails overlap one another, we can select either one specific route or a combination of two or more as we cycle along the shady forest paths. An easy trail for family outings is Route No. 2, which is eight kilometers long and marked in green on the touring map; it follows a flat dirt road for most of the way, and can be completed in two to three hours. Its starting point is the Atatürk Recreation Area near the Merav Center, and from there it takes us along narrow forest paths through a varied landscape amidst bushes, cypresses and pines, all the way to the heart of the Ofer Forest. Farther along the way, we arrive at the tomb of Sheikh Danun, which is named after an Egyptian soldier who fought here against the Crusaders before being killed and subsequently buried at the foot of the hill. As we cycle along, we have a chance to see something of the local wildlife, as deer, foxes, songbirds, mongooses and jackals are all found here. Farther down the route there is a scenic lookout over the sea, and if we are lucky enough to arrive there around sunset, we can stop and watch the sky turn red.

How to Get There
From Route no. 4, turn north at Furadeis Junction towards Route no. 7021, which leads to Ofer and Kerem Maharal, then follow the signs to the Ofer Scenic Lookout (Mitzpe Ofer).

The Carmel Scenic Trail

KKL-JNF has created a new dirt road suitable for all-terrain vehicles and others with high ground clearance. The twenty-five kilometers of this route offer magnificent views of the Jezreel Valley and the Galilean hills, and KKL-JNF has provided it with numerous roadside picnic areas. The route takes us from the Nesher Highway to the Carmelite monastery Deir al-Muhraka, which is situated in the area where, according to tradition, Elijah showed himself to be a true prophet, while prophets of Baal were discredited (1 Kings 18:19-46). The balcony of the monastery provides a magnificent view of the surrounding landscape; visitors are required to pay a token entrance fee.

The Recreation Areas of the Carmel Coast Forest

Opposite the entrance to Moshav Tzrufa on Route no. 4, KKL-JNF has created a scenic route that leads to the Carmel Coast Forest. This route begins at the Atatürk Recreation Area, and along the way eastwards towards Kerem Maharal KKL-JNF has created a large number of additional recreational sites and scenic lookouts, including the Migdal Ofer, HaTzomet, HaShluha, HaSusim and Shvilei Ron recreation areas.

Carmel National Park
Upper Mount Carmel has been designated a national park and it is well equipped with recreation areas for the convenience of visitors. The main tourist sites within the park are as follows:

• Carmel Hai-Bar Nature Reserve: Persian fallow deer, wild goats and sheep are all bred in this nature reserve in preparation for their ultimate release locally into the wild. There is an entrance fee for visitors.

• Nahal Mearot Nature Reserve: A sound and light show in one of the caves at the site shows how the Carmel’s prehistoric inhabitants are believed to have lived, and the tour route includes the caves where these early inhabitants made their homes. There is an entrance fee.

• Nahal Kelah (“Little Switzerland”): This area, which is considered one of the most beautiful parts of the Carmel Forest Ridge, is crisscrossed with footpaths and dotted with picnic sites.

• Daliyat al-Carmel and Isfiya: These two Druze communities in the green heart of the forest attract large numbers of visitors who come to enjoy the local food and purchase some of the attractive local handicraft items as souvenirs.

• Kedumim Quarries: Stone quarries dating back to the Byzantine period can be seen at the edge of the highway from Atlit to Beit Oren, about a kilometer to the south of the Beit Oren fork. The stone shelves are quite remarkable, and burial caves can be found at the eastern extremity of the site.

• Horshat HaArbaim: This small nature reserve located about half a kilometer to the south of Haifa University boasts some impressively large Israeli common oaks.
• The Mandate Paths: KKL-JNF has uncovered and restored a network of abandoned paths that were in use during the period of the British Mandate. Most of them are in the area of the Carmel Scenic Route, with one particularly attractive footpath leading down towards Kibbutz Yagur.

• The Shaar HaCarmel Recreation Area: This large recreation area slightly to the north of Elyakim Junction is situated amongst a mixture of planted forest and natural woodland and contains some interesting burial caves. KKL-JNF operates an information center at the site and has created a scenic trail that leads northwards from the recreation area in the direction of Horvat Hermesh, where there is another small recreation site that is carpeted with cyclamen in the winter flowering season. From Horvat Hermesh a path ascends to the Keren HaCarmel Scenic Lookout that overlooks Yokneam and the Jezreel Valley.

• The Haifa Rivers: A number of river gullies, including those of Nahal Lotem and Nahal Siah, are located within the city limits and their banks are thick with Mediterranean plants and bushes. The area offers springs and archeological sites, and provides a habitat for a variety of wild life. KKL-JNF has developed the areas adjacent to the gullies and provided them with convenient footpaths.

• Ein Hod: This picturesque village has a museum where the work of local artists is on display.

Article by Ronit Svirsky