Hikes by Car and by Foot in Horashim Forest

Level of strenuous effort:  Basic | Recommendable season: Throughout the entire year | Length of the route:  2 km | Classification by region:  Central Israel, Sharon region | Duration of the hike: 1-2 hours
Photograph: Yakov Shkolnik, KKL-JNF Photo Archive
Photograph: Yakov Shkolnik, KKL-JNF Photo Archive
A community forest at the outskirts of Samaria, which houses recreational camping sites, driveways and observation posts overlooking Samaria and the Sharon region.  

How Do You Get There?

Access to the Main Gate: From Horashim Interchange, turn east on Road 5233 and keep driving until the gate of kibbutz Horashim. Before the gate, turn north (left), and drive 750 meters to the main entrance to the forest (Waze: Horashim Forest).

Access to Hezi Sapir Camping Site: Drive on the access road to the locality of Nirit, and continue from the entrance gate about another 700 meters to the Camping Site , which is located to the right of the road (Waze: Hezi Spair camping Site ).

The Nature of the Forest

Horashim Forest spans an area of about 2,700 dunams in western Samaria, in an area where the mountain hills merge with the plains of the Sharon region. This is an important natural space, in a densely populated area.

KKL-JNF paved roads in the forest suitable for private cars, and built recreational sites and beautiful observation posts overlooking Samaria and the Coastal Plain.

The Samaria hills lying within the bounds of the forest are built mainly of hard chalk and dolomite rocks. The widespread chalk rocks, of the Bina formation, are marked by karst erosion that creates salient rocky ground.

The dolomite rocks, which form a landscape of grey rocky ground, are widespread in the area of Nirit and in the area between Oranit and Horashim. Kana stream crosses the forest. In the summer time, the shallow channel is completely dry, but vehement floods may flow in it during the winter.

The greater part of Horashim Forest is planted at middle and low density. The relatively large distances between the trees and the open spaces of the forest offer the opportunity of colorful flowering in the spring. In addition to common cyclamen, anemone (Anemone coronaria) and many other species, growing here are ogg (Rhus  tripartita) and bush jasmine – two markers typical of the wild vegetation of Western Samaria.

Major Sites

 Hurvat Zakhor
The highest point in the forest (157 meters above sea level) offers an extremely beautiful view overlooking western Samaria.

Hike in the Forest

By car on the main road to the forest
Drive from the main entrance on a gravel road that is partly paved, which is marked with blue trail marking. Accompanying us on the right is a slope, which is home to a forest mixed with natural vegetation. Growing on the left, beyond the channel of Kana stream, is an avocado plantation.

After about 600 meters, you reach a junction. To the north of the junction (on the left), in the shadow of Eucalyptus trees, is the Horses Camping Site where you will find picnic tables and a large circle for camp fires.

The remainder of the road follows the channel of Kana stream. Located at a distance of about 300 meters from the Horses Camping Site is a camping site across from the avocado plantation, which likewise lies in the shadow of eucalyptus trees, with picnic tables and a circle for camp fires. The channel of Kana stream is very shallow, and it is possible to cross it by a private vehicle and reach the picnic tables.

Keep on driving. The large square lying to the east of the camping site denotes the Meged 2 Drilling of the company Gvivot Olam. The attempt at finding oil here was a failure.

About half a kilometer drive will bring us to the junction. Whoever turns right, will arrive after about 900 meters at Oranit Camping Site - a camping site in the shadow of pine trees, where you will find picnic table and amusement installations.

We shall turn left. After about half a kilometer, cross Kana stream and start climbing on a paved road going up the slope of the mountain (the passage in Kana steam may pose a challenge for a private car). After about one kilometer, just before the locality of Nirit, stands a gate which lets only pedestrians and bikers pass through. Lying beyond the gate is Hezi Sapir Camping Site.

Hezi Sapir Camping Site and Hurvat Zakhor
Hezi Sapr Camping Site is easily reachable by car. The camping site is situated at the entrance to the locality of Nirit, about 700 meters after the yellow security gate of said locality.

Hezi Sapir Camping Site lies in the shadow of conifers. On site are picnic tables, some of which are accessible tables, as well as a faucet for drinking water and amusement installations. The camping site commemorates Captain Hezi Sapir (Starch), who fell in the line of duty with two other combatants at Netzarim Junction in the Gaza Strip, in a terrorist attack that took place on November 11, 1994.

From the camping site, you may go up by car on a good dirt road, and reach after about 300 meters the head of Hurvat Zakhor, which towers over the camping site. At the head of the hurva ("Ruin") lies Hezi Sapir Scenic Lookout, which houses an observation square overlooking in an easterly direction the spectacular view of Samaria Mountains.

The large locality on the south is Oranit, and lying behind it are Shaarei Tikva, Etz Efraim, and further behind it - Ariel.

At our feet - Olive groves planted in the valley of Kana steam. Visible beyond the security fence are Arab villages, including Azun Atm, the village Thulth and many others. Further north are Nirit and Alfei Menashe, Karnei Shomron, the village Azzun and many other Arab villages.

Situated a few steps from there is the western mountain lookout, which overlooks the Coastal Plain. You may easily see the high towers of Gush Dan (Central Israel), in Kfar Saba and Raanana, in Netanya, and even the chimneys of Orot Rabin Powerhouses in Hadera. In close proximity to this location you can see the localities Matan and Yarhiv, and the gilded dome lying beyond the security fence denotes the mosque in Qalqilya.

Near the observatory and at the top of the hill are the vestiges of ruined structures. Uncovered in the survey conducted in the Hurva in 1968 were remnants of a locality dating back to the early Israelite period (11th to 13th centuries BC).

It appears that after the destruction of the First Temple Samaritans lived in this locality. About half a kilometer to the north of the Hurva, two burial caves were unearthed which are home to remains dating back to the Early Bronze Age (approximately 3000 BC), to the Roman period and to the Byzantine period.

Going by Foot to the Head of Hurvat Zakhor
From Hezi Sapir Camping Site, go about 100 meters to the west, on a trail that was put in place there, up until a wide dirt road. Turn left on the wide road, walk about 100 meters, and you will see a signposted trail featuring wooden signs.

The trail runs up to the left, on the slope of the hill, goes through the "Snake Stairs" (this is how the place is called in the wooden sign) and through Carob trees, with one bench standing in their shadow. The trail runs to the western mountain lookout of Hurvat Zakhor, and from there Hezi Sapir Camping Site is easily reachable. The length of the road, from the starting point from the wide road, is about 250 meters.

Going by Foot to the Fire Scouts Tower of KKL-JNF
Running in an easterly direction from Hezi Sapir Camping Site, at the checkpoint of Nirit, a trail marked in blue, which reaches the Fire Scouts Tower of KKL-JNF. The trail, measuring about 400 meters in length, runs near a cistern, with its old stone chain link at its side.

On the way, you may become familiar with several Rhus tripartita bushes that grow here. Climbing onto the tower is forbidden for reasons of security, but the viewpoint from the edge of the hill is beautiful and impressive too.

Sites in the Surrounding Area

Ilanot Forest - Forest botanical garden housing a visitor center and a rare tree collection from all over the world. The hiking trail in the forest is accessible.
Map of the area>>



Writing: Yaacov Shkolnik
Photos: Yaacov Shkolnik, the KKL-JNF Photo Archive
Date: April 7, 2024