Mount Turan Scenic Route

A panoramic view of Turan Ridge. Photo: Yaakov Skolnik
A panoramic view of Turan Ridge. Photo: Yaakov Skolnik

KKL-JNF has recently renovated the Mount Turan Scenic Route and has paved large sections of it, rendering it accessible to vehicles. The route provides a wonderful view of the landscapes of Lower Galilee.

The Turan (Tur‘an in Arabic) Ridge towers above the Turan Valley to the south and Beit Netofa Valley to the north, and this situation ensures a magnificent view. Two religious Jewish communities, Kibbutz Beit Rimon and Mitzpe Netofa, sit atop the ridge, while the Arab and Bedouin villages of Tur‘an, Rumat al-Heib, Rumana, Uzeir and Bu'eine Nujeidat cluster at its foot.

  • How to get there

    Turn northwards off the highway between HaSolelim Interchange and Golani Junction (Route no. 77) on to the road that leads to Beit Rimon. This road crosses the Turan Valley before climbing up to the ridge. The scenic route begins around 100 meters before the gate at the entrance to Kibbutz Beit Rimon.

    How to reach the western end of the route: From the road between HaSolelim Interchange and Golani Junction (Route no. 77) turn northwards on to the road that leads to Kibbutz Beit Rimon. This road crosses the Turan Valley and climbs up towards the ridge. The Scenic Route begins close to the entrance to Beit Rimon.

    How to reach the eastern end of the route: From the road between Golani Junction and Eilabun (Route no. 65), turn eastwards towards Mitzpe Netofa. Continue for about a kilometer, and then turn left following the blue trail markings. Because of the unbroken central line, the turnoff can be made only when approaching from the north.
  • Geographic location-

    Sea of Galilee - the valleys and lower Galilee,northern Israel - Lower Galilee
  • Area-

  • Target audience-

  • Length of the route-

    About 16 kilometers (from Route no. 77 to Route no. 65)
  • Track type-

    Walking path
  • Difficulty-

  • Season-

  • Duration-

    1-2 hours
  • Adaptation for people with limited mobility-

    Private cars can negotiate the route, but as the eastern section of the road is in poor condition it is not ideally suited for use by private vehicles. The Lowdermilk Scenic Lookout is accessible to people with disabilities.

    Before setting out we recommend that you call KKL-JNF’s Forest Hotline (Kav LaYaar) at 1-800-350-550 for any updates, such as closures due to extreme weather and any information that may be relevant to your route.
    Last update: march 2013

Projects and Partners Worldwide

The site was developed with contributions from friends of KKL JNF worldwide, including Israel and Canada.

Turan Ridge

The central part of Lower Galilee consists of tall ridges interspersed with gullies. Each of these ridges is a horst, i.e., a raised portion of the earth’s crust whose precipitous slopes lead down to areas where the land has dropped. Such landscapes are dramatic, and often very popular with hikers. The Turan Ridge, which is flanked by Turan Valley to the south and Beit Netofa Valley to the north, is thus typical of the scenery of the Lower Galilee.

The peak of Mount Turan (548 meters above sea level) is 350 meters higher than the valleys that surround it. The Turan Ridge is some ten kilometers long, and the hillside is covered with dense natural Mediterranean woodland and scrubland. The Israeli common oak (Quercus calliprinos) is the dominant variety of tree here, and it is accompanied in profusion by the other species generally found in its proximity. On the lower slopes (below 400 meters) carob trees (Ceratonia siliqua) predominate, while the peak is crowned with Tabor oaks (Quercus ithaburensis). KKL-JNF has planted part of the ridge, mainly with various types of pine; these include the stone pine (Pinus pinea), whose tasty seeds, known as pine nuts, are particularly good to eat. Although the British Mandate authorities declared Turan Ridge a woodland nature reserve, this did not prevent shepherds and other locals from grazing their flocks on its slopes and cutting down the trees to use as fuel for heating and cooking. Today the ridge is in better condition, and the woodland is being developed with the help of KKL-JNF’s Friends in Israel and Canada.

Cirques over Turan Valley

The tour begins before we reach the Scenic Route. If we stop the car at the turnoff from Route no. 77 in the direction of Kibbutz Beit Rimon and scrutinize the right-hand side of the slope leading up to the Turan Ridge directly opposite us, we can observe an interesting geological phenomenon: cirques, i.e. circular bowl-shaped depressions in which the different layers of rock can be plainly seen. How do such format ions come into being? When the ridge was in the process of being shaped, a dome formed. When this dome was eroded and its interior was worn away, the circular layers of rock of which it was constructed were laid bare. Had the interior of the dome not been eroded, we would not be able to see these circular rock layers. Tur‘an residents refer to this phenomenon as Abu Mudawwar (literally: “Father of the Circular”).

The women of Tir‘an (the official name of the site) were praised in the Midrash for not having agreed to contribute their jewelry (Shir HaShirim Rabba 6:9) to the golden calf (see Exodus 32:2-4). A Christian tradition considers the valley to be the site at which Jesus’ disciples picked ears of corn on the Sabbath because they were hungry, and he refused to reprimand them (Matthew 12:1-8). Hebrew tradition, on the other hand, regards the valley – or its western section, at least – as the Beit Rimon Valley, which is mentioned in Jewish sources as the site at which the Romans massacred the Jews during the Bar Kochba revolt. This is also the spot where seven of Rabbi Akiva’s followers convened after the rebellion in order to discuss the determination of the Hebrew leap year and the reorganization of the nation. The Bedouin communities of Rumana and Rumat al-Heib, which nestle at the foot of the Turan Ridge, may well have preserved something of the sound of the valley’s ancient name.

After some 6.5 kilometers the paved road brings us to the gate to Kibbutz Beit Rimon. Here, to the left of the gate, is the Lowdermilk Scenic Lookout, which marks the start of the Scenic Route.

The Lowdermilk and teh Netofa Scenic Lookouts

The Lowdermilk Scenic Lookout

The view is beautiful, especially to the north and west. The sixteen-kilometer length of Beit Netofa Valley, the largest valley in Lower Galilee, is spread out at our feet. On the far side are the hills of Yotvat, dominated by Mount Atzmon, and beyond them are the hills of Upper Galilee. In especially rainy winters the eastern part of the valley is flooded, and when viewed from the scenic lookout above, it has the aspect of a large lake. Poor drainage and the heavy soil are the main causes of the flooding. Once the floodwaters retreat, the entire valley comes under cultivation and it is renowned for producing especially sweet watermelons which are referred to by the Arabic name of the valley: Batuf.

The National Water Carrier flows across the valley in an open channel, and this explains why the scenic lookout is named after the American geologist and soil conservationist Walter Clay Lowdermilk (1888-1974). Lowdermilk arrived in the Land of Israel in 1938 and was so profoundly impressed by the Jewish settlement enterprise that he became an admirer of the Zionist movement. He believed the Netofa Valley had the potential to become the main reservoir for the waters of the Jordan River as they flowed south to the Negev, and this vision of his was eventually largely realized: the National Water Carrier’s Eshkol Reservoirs are located at the western end of Beit Netofa Valley, and from there the water flows down into southern Israel.

Near the Lowdermilk Scenic Lookout KKL-JNF has paved a short circular footpath that is accessible to people with disabilities. If we walk about fifty meters to the eastern end of this path we shall come upon a natural rockery outside the cattle fence. Among the rocks lives a curious but cautious family of rock hyraxes.

The Netofa Scenic Lookout

KKL-JNF has paved most of the remainder of the route eastwards that crosses the summit of Turan Ridge and offers magnificent views. Spaces at the side of the road allow the visitor to park and pause for a refreshing break in the heart of the countryside. After driving through the natural woodland and planted KKL-JNF forest for about five kilometers we reach a junction. Here we take the right fork, which is marked in green, and follow the road until we reach the scenic lookout.

On top of the ridge is a tower used in summer by KKL-JNF firewatchers who warn firefighters of any signs of a blaze in the forest. Entering the tower or attempting to climb it is strictly prohibited. Near the tower is a memorial to seventeen people who were killed in 1999 when their tour bus skidded and went off the road near Netofa Junction.

While driving back to the junction from the scenic lookout we can take either the right-hand fork, which is paved, or the left, which is a well-surfaced dirt road. Both routes meet further on. Now it remains only to continue downhill from Turan Ridge for another 3.5 kilometers, enjoy the views of Eastern Galilee spread out before us, as if on the palm of a giant hand, and join up with the access road that leads to Mitzpe Netofa. Here we turn right and find ourselves almost at once on Route no. 77, not far from Golani Junction.