Mount Shchenya Scenic Promenade and the landscapes of Mount Manof

The western side of Segev Forest, viewed from Mount Manof. Photo: Yaakov Skolnik.
The western side of Segev Forest, viewed from Mount Manof. Photo: Yaakov Skolnik.

An excursion to the Mount Shchenya Scenic Promenade and the landscapes of Mount Manof. Wonderful views of Lower Galilee.

  • How to get there

    Turn westward off the road from Yiftahel Junction to Misgav Junction (Route no. 784) on to the road that leads to Koranit (Route no. 7933). The promenade starts at the junction of the two roads, but you can continue for another 1.5 kilometers or so and leave your car in the parking lot opposite the entrance to the communities of Koranit and Shchenya before setting out on foot and heading westward towards Manof.

    At the end of the route there is another convenient parking spot in the Manof Industrial Area, just a short distance before the gate at the entrance to the community of Manof.
  • Geographic location-

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

    north
  • Target audience-

    All
  • Track length-

    3 km
  • Track type-

    Walking path
  • Difficulty-

    Wheelchair adapted
  • Season-

    All
  • Duration-

    1-2 hours
  • Features-

    landscapes and views, accessible

    The Jewish National Fund built the promenade on Mount Shchenya primarily to serve residents of the local communities and provide them with a convenient and safe place to walk, apart from the road that links them together. However, the magnificent view from the promenade attracts visitors from all over Israel, and if you happen to be in the vicinity, it’s really worthwhile to go over and take a look.
  • Interest-

    Hiking and Walking Tracks

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.

Geography

Mount Shchenya is located at the northwestern tip of the Yotvat Ridge (the Yodfat Hills), which extends for some fourteen kilometers across central Lower Galilee all the way from Ilabun to the Segev region. The hill itself is named after the Shchenya mishmeret kohanim (“priestly watch”) that was exiled to Galilee and would appear to have settled in Kabul, today a large Arab community at the foot of the hill. Above, at the top of the hill, are the communities of Koranit, Shchenya and Manof, which were founded in the early1980s as part of the plan to establish Jewish outposts in Galilee. During this same period KKL-JNF began to plant Shchenya Forest in the nearby hinterland and on the southern slope of the hill. The Mount Shchenya Nature Reserve, which conserves the local natural woodland, extends over the northern slope.

The central plaza of the promenade is planted with Israeli common oak (Quercus calliprinos), carob, bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) and fig trees. Large rocks of different sizes and shapes form part of the design of the promenade, and stone tables and seats are scattered in the shade of the trees. Hyraxes (Procavia capensis) can sometimes be observed sunning themselves on the rocks.

The Shchenya Promenade

The Shchenya Promenade is a paved footpath that extends along the southern edge of the top of Mount Shchenya, parallel to Route no. 7933. If we start out from the junction of Route no. 7933 and Route no. 784, we make our way among trees that have been transplanted here from orchards and woodlands where they were endangered. KKL-JNF has added spice plants along the edges of the trail, and tables made from the local stone nestle in the shade of the trees. The route continues for about 1.6 kilometers without leading us to any notable sites, but if we proceed slowly and quietly we may come across a hyrax enjoying an outing.

The promenade, which was designed by landscape architect Hanna Livneh, was carefully constructed to conserve local trees and bushes and have as little impact as possible upon the route of the path. Because of this it blends well into the landscape and requires minimum maintenance.

Shchenya Cave

Beside the parking lot opposite the entrance to Koranit and Shchenya is the “official” gate on to the promenade – a stone wall decorated with ceramic plaques bearing an inscription that proclaims “Mount Shchenya Path.” This surfaced route is accessible to people with limited mobility.

After about 250 meters four large rocks indicate a turnoff to the left that leads to the Shchenya Cave, some 400 meters away from the promenade. The path dips downhill and meets up with a blue-marked trail. We make our way along it, bearing left slightly, then turn to follow the “transparent” markings (two white stripes) to the cave entrance, which is heavily shaded by the surrounding woodland.

This is a karst cave, i.e., one that has been formed by the dissolution of the chalk rock from which it is formed. Its entrance lies at the bottom of a large depression that collects and absorbs the water that drains into it from the surrounding terrain. The cave consists of a large central chamber, and it is dozens of meters long. Like most karst caves, it contains stalactites.

Because of the various species of bat that live inside it, the cave has been declared a nature reserve, and a Parks and Gardens Authority sign at the entrance informs us that we may not go inside. In 1990 the bones of Yisrael Ben Zeev Laufer, were discovered in this cave, and his story is recounted on a memorial stone further along Shchenya Promenade, at the lookout point established in his memory.

The Yisrael Ben Zeev Lookout Point

The plaza of this attractive site provides a view of the lower Western Galilee, the communities of Ibelin, Tamra, Kabul, etc., Haifa Bay, Mount Carmel and the Haifa University tower.

Yisrael Ben Zeev was born in 1905 in Yesud HaMaala and eventually became guard of the KKL-JNF lands in the Zvulun Valley, some of which he himself had helped to acquire. On August 15th, 1938, at the height of the Arab Revolt, he left his home and never returned. Later investigation of the incidents of that day revealed that four Bedouin had lain in wait for him and ambushed him not far from his home, close to the spot where the Tzur Shalom neighborhood of Kiryat Bialik is situated today. From there they took him to Mount Shchenya and murdered him, but his bones were not discovered in Shchenya Cave until 1990. They were buried in Petah Tikva’s Sgula Cemetery.

The Manof Scenic Lookout

Some 400 meters from the turnoff to the Shchenya Cave the promenade crosses a dirt road on the far side of which KKL-JNF has provided exercise equipment with adjacent parking spaces. The promenade continues for another 400 meters or so until it arrives at the Manof Industrial Area parking lot, where it ends. Our excursion, however, is not yet finished.

We continue for another 100 meters to the gate into the community of Manof before turning right into a large open space about another 100 meters further on. The view from the edge of the open space is magnificent: at our feet is the slope of the Mount Shchenya Nature Reserve, which descends into the deep valley of Nahal Segev, beyond it is Segev Forest and farther away are Mount Gilon and the communities of Tzurit and Gilon. The KKL-JNF scenic route can be clearly observed as it makes its way through the forest. We can see the communities of Atzmon and Rakefet on the edge of Segev Forest, with the high peaks of the Shagor Mountains – the northern ridge of Lower Galilee, together with Mount Hazon – in the background. More distant yet are the Tzurim Escarpment and the Mountains of Meron. If we have a map and sufficient patience, we can identify other sites, too.

Recreation areas in the vicinity

The Segev Recreation Area – the main recreation site in the forest – offers picnic tables and playground equipment for children. It lies to the south of Route no. 805, and is accessed around 1.5 kilometers to the west of Moshav Yaad.

The Yaad Recreation Area is a small wayside site with four picnic tables. It is situated at the junction at the entrance to Moshav Yaad, close to the main highway.

The Shchenya Promenade was built with donations from Friends of KKL-JNF in Switzerland. The Ben Zeev Lookout Point was established with the help of funds from KKL-JNF’s Friends in Germany.