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.