This section of the route is suitable for all types of vehicle.
In the large parking lot adjacent to the Pura Nature Reserve, in the shade of the tall eucalyptus trees, is Avi’s Shmura 215 mobile canteen, where cyclists can receive a copy of the pamphlet put out by KKL-JNF about the cycling trails of the Shikma area.
Pura Nature Reserve lies on the far side of the eucalyptus trees, with a large explanatory sign standing at the entrance. This reserve is actually no more than a small low hill that constitutes an island of natural vegetation amid the surrounding farmland. In February the hill is clothed in anemones and speckled with a multitude of other flowering plants, and in later months, too, visitors can enjoy the sight of blooms characteristic of the desert fringes, such as the wonderful pink sun-rose (Helianthemum vesicarium) and strigose bugloss (Anchusa strigosa), whose flowers range in color from cream to deep blue, and whose stem can be as much as a meter in height. The exceptionally fortunate may be lucky enough to come across a specimen of the rare herbaceous periwinkle (Vinca herbacea), whose bright blue flowers have five petals each.
The nature reserve is crossed by a footpath that forms part of the Israel National Trail. After about 600 meters it meets up with the Nahal Shikma Trail, and offers a way back to our vehicles.
After driving westwards for about 900 meters we come to a dam that blocks the Nahal Pura stream, which is one of the tributaries of Nahal Shikma. After a winter of decent rainfall, an attractive pool accumulates behind the dam. About 100 meters beyond the dam is a small recreation area shaded by conifers.
A footpath about two kilometers in length, indicated both by green markings and by Israel Trail markings, leads to the Turkish Bridge over Nahal Pura, on the way to Tel Nagila. Part of the route leads through a planted forest. Walkers will need to return to their vehicles the way they came, but the Turkish Bridge and Tel Nagila are also accessible by car, as described below.
From Pura Reservoir we travel along the scenic route for about 1.3 kilometers before stopping to park. If we go down to Nahal Pura on our right we will see the remains of an old stone bridge built by the Ottoman Turks during the First World War as part of their railway route to Beersheba and Sinai. The railway line was built very quickly, but the Turks were forced to cease construction in the area of Qasaimeh after their great defeat in Sinai, which obliged them to withdraw their forces and redeploy them along the Gaza-Beersheba line.
After continuing along the Nahal Shikma Trail for another 1.1 kilometers we arrive at Be'er Nagila, an old well beside Nahal Shikma, below the embankment that still indicates the route of the Turkish railway. Be'er Nagila is not the well’s official name; it has acquired it because of its proximity to Tel Nagila. Towards the end of the Ottoman era, and to a greater extent during the time of the British Mandate, the authorities were in the habit of digging wells as a focal point for local Bedouin where, among other things, they could meet up with officials of the regime. Be'er Nagila, which was dug and constructed during the Mandatory period, was one such well, though it is possible that in this case the British merely deepened and improved a more ancient waterhole at the site. Recently the well has been covered with concrete and a grating.
About 200 meters from the well, in one of the groves KKL-JNF has planted along the streambed, is an additional recreation area, which, like others along the riverbank, consists only of seats constructed from thick eucalyptus logs, unaccompanied by tables. These attractive and original seats, which were designed by landscape architect Tal Lotem, lend the recreation areas a romantic aspect.
We leave the well and continue for another 1.2 kilometers until we arrive at Tel Nagila looming high above Nahal Shikma, which descends here to groundwater level, as we can observe from the abundant reeds growing in the streambed. This water slaked the thirst of those who lived at the site in ancient times. The tel is easily identified by a single tamarisk growing on its summit, and it provides a wonderful view of the surrounding area. Settlement at the tel reached its height during the Middle Canaanite Period (around 3,500 years ago). During Israel’s War of Independence the site became a command post and played a role in the defenses against the invading Egyptians.