The ascent to the summit of Mount Avner, which is entirely covered in forest, is not difficult. Don’t expect a magnificent view when you reach the top – that will come later. Now the trail descends a gentle slope very close to the separation fence. At a woodland crossroads the path turns to the left then immediately turns uphill very steeply to the right, ascending by seventy meters as it climbs in a straight line to the summit. On maps it is marked as elevation point 552. According to a booklet by Yossi Buchman and the late Azaria Alon, the Arabic name of this spot is Umm Anza (“Mother of a Goat”).
The black-marked path meets up with a trail. After walking for just a few meters we reach a cattle grid. The path continues straight on, but we recommend turning right here and walking alongside the fence until we reach a pile of stones. From here we have a wonderful view of the southern Gilboa and the slopes descending to the gully of Nahal Bezek (“Bezek River”), which marks the geographical boundary between Mount Gilboa and Samaria. To the west of where we stand we can see the houses and checkerboard fields of the villages of Al-Mutila and Mugheyr, and on the far side of the river the peak of Mount Bezek (Jabal Raba) soars to a height of 713 meters above sea level.
Returning to the path, we continue with a flanking movement to the left along a leveled trail that appears to be a long-established village pathway. From now on, we shall be making our way through open batha (dwarf-shrub undergrowth characteristic of the Mediterranean region), where almost no trees grow. After about a kilometer, we see a nice little orchard with three cypresses beside it. The path turns left before it reaches them and descends southward down a steep slope. There is no obvious path here, but the route is clearly marked.
On the way down, we pass a small windblown carob tree. Just before the path reaches the gully at the foot of the slope, we encounter another path, marked in red. Here our route changes direction and turns gently towards the north-east at the foot of a low cliff. Ahead of us is a tall and imposing cliff that indicates the roof of the Meroz formation, which is composed of alternating layers of limestone, flint and chalk. At its foot lies Khirbet Bizra (“Seed Ruins” in Arabic), where cave mouths gape on every side.