Humphrey Road Recreation Areas
Access: Road 3866
Track Length: about 6 kilometers
Road 3866 is called Humphrey Road, and is named after the 38th Vice President of the United States Hubert Humphrey, who was a great friend of Israel. About 1.5 kilometers from the beginning of the road is the western entrance gate to the park. The place includes an overlook and a recreation area. About a kilometer further is another recreation area with a pergola and a guard shack-like structure.
About 1.8 kilometers up the road, a dirt path marked in black leads to the travel track in the Dolev Stream. Another kilometer further there is a short dirt road marked in green, leading to the Forester's House – a stone structure destroyed during the British Mandate. KKL-JNF rebuilt the structure and built a recreation area named after Rabbi Gershon Hadas and his wife Hannah, with playing facilities and pergolas, next to it.
The road reaches the "Challenger Junction", where travelers can turn east (right) to the Nes Harim recreation area, to the Nes Harim information center, and the rest of the park's site. The road left leads down to the parking lot of the Avshalom Reserve – Israel's impressive stalactite cave (admission fee is charged from visitors).
Ye'ela Mountain – from the Challenger Junction, a short dirt road (marked in green) leads up to Ye'ela Mountain (645 meters). Its geographic location, at the top of the escarpment going down west of the plain, provides a nice-looking view westwards of the Judea Plain and southern Coastal Plain, as well as the Hebron Mountains at the east. KKL-JNF has built a tower in this spot, used by firewatchers during the summer (climbing the tower is forbidden) and also installed several picnic tables in the site.
Scattered over the peak are the remains of the Arab Village Dayr al-Hawa ("The Place of the Wind") and the remains of an ancient village from the Byzantine period. During Israel's War of Independence, the mountain was under the control of the Egyptian army, whose forces reached Ramat Rachel. The area was taken during the Mountain Operation, from October 19 to October 22, 1948, which provided Israel with control of the Jerusalem Corridor. After the war, a transit camp for Jewish immigrants from Kurdistan was built in the site. The immigrants soon moved to the town of Nes Harim.
A View of Outer Space from the Challenger Junction
Somewhat west of the Challenger Junction, there is a memorial for Israeli astronaut who perished in the Columbia shuttle disaster in 2003. The memorial is located in a lovely overlook. Near it is a rock with the imprint of the map of Israel. Near the junction is another impressive memorial for the astronauts perished in the Challenger shuttle disaster in 1986. The steel statue of elliptic shape, made by sculptor Eli Ran, symbolizes the Earth.