Ayalon Canada Park - Biblical and Modern Israel

The pool at Ein Tamarim
The Ayalon-Canada park stretches across 3,000 acres between Latrun and Sha'ar HaGay. The park offers its travelers natural groves and orchard and fruit trees, streams and man-made pool, recreation areas, magnificent overlooks and fascinating historical sites. All these and other hidden spots can be reached through landscape roads, walking trails and cycling tracks that cross the park. Within the park is also the Ayalon Ruins that gave the large valley underneath and the park itself its name.
  • How to get there

    Most of the park is located east of Road 3. To get to the main entrance to this part of the park, travelers should drive from the Latrun interchange about 700 meters east and turn right. A smaller section of the park, which includes the Olives Recreation Area, the park's offices and the Amaus Wells is west of Road 3. The entrance to this part of the park is right in front of the main entrance, from the west side of the road. Electric Gates – on the park's main entrance are electric gates. The gates at the eastern and western entrance close at 19:00 and open again at 05:30. When the gates are closed, travelers are only allowed to leave the park.
  • Geographic location-

    Jerusalem - Judean highlands and surroundings
  • Area-

  • Special Sites in the Park-

    Ayalon Springs, the Maayanot Valley, the Ayub Well, Tel Ayalon, the Date Palm Spring, the Scenic Lookout Hill, Eked Antiquities, the Jordanian Burma Road, Emmaus Church, the Olive Tree Recreation Area, Roman Bathhouse.
  • Facilities-

    Picinic area, Lookout, Marked path, Archeological or Historic site, Easy access (close to road).
  • Other sites in the area-

    Yitzhak Rabin Park (Burma Road, Jeep Road, Command Post Road), Latrun Fortress, Latrun Monastery (Armored Corps Museum), Tzora Forest Sculpture Road (Hanassi Forest), Neve Ilan College Forest.
  • Type of parking-

    Accessible parks,Picnic parks
  • Interest-

    Hiking and Walking Tracks,Bicycle track,Lookouts,Archeology


The Ayalon Valley is located in a strategic crossroad, and history saw many battles for the control of the area. It is here, according to the bible, that Joshua made his famous cry: "Sun, stand still at Gibeon, Moon, in the valley of Ayalon!" (Joshua, 10:12). Judas Maccabeus fought the famous Battle of Emmaus (165 BC) in the area, beating the Seleucid forces commanded by Gorgias.
Relics from the Second Temple period were found at the park. It was the location of the ancient city of Emmaus, famous for its hot springs. One notable site from the period is the Akad Ruins, a fortified place found at the highest spot of the park.
During the Roman period, the area was known as Nicopolis, and gained fame for its bathhouses. Relics of bathhouses, an aqueduct and other structures remain in the site. Christian tradition recognizes Emmaus as the place where Jesus met two of his disciples after his resurrection.
During the early Arab period (639 AC) a plague known as Taun Amuas (Emmaus Plague) broke out in the city. 13th-century Muslim geographer Yakut reports the plague claimed the lives of 25,000 people.
During Israel's War of Independence (1948), Jordanian soldiers held into positions on the hills in the park. The IDF attacked the Jordanian fortifications five times to no avail. The site was finally liberated during the Six-Day War (1967).
The Roman Bathhouse

The Tmarim Spring

The pretty pool at the edge of the Springs Valley, the grass and the orchard trees come together to a gorgeous landscape that attracts many travelers. To reach the site, travelers should take the first left turn after the park gates, and drive on a short road marked in blue.
Near the pool is a small stone structure with an opening covered with crating that leads to a carved spring, which goes horizontally into a ground layer carrying the water. This is the Tmarim (figs) Spring. The water go into a room with a small pool. A high-quality stone dome covers the room from which the water came and flowed. Parts of the ancient pool have survived, and were completed with the pool built by KKL-JNF.
The Tmarim Spring
The road goes through the southern part of the park fits a private vehicle up to the Yud-Dalet Outpost. From there, a road goes eastwards down to Ein Ayub. To get to the southern landscape road, travelers need to get through the main gate to the park and turn westwards (right) in a black-marked road. After about 150 meters, travelers can park at a small parking lot from which a path leads to the Roman bathhouse, the first site on the road.
The following are the main sites along the road:
The Roman Bathhouse
A short path, marked by stones, goes between the forest trees to a stone structure with three domes, surrounded by a fence. According to Muslim tradition, this is the burial site of Sheik Obid, one of the generals in the Muslim army during the 7th century, who dies in the Emmaus plague. During the Roman period, it was one of the most famous bathhouses of Nicopolis. Entrance to the structure is forbidden for security reasons, but it provides an impressive enough sight from the outside.
The structure is well-preserved and parts of its walls and ceiling remain as they were. The bathhouse is built from three rooms: a cold room with cold water, a lukewarm room and a steam room. The steam room floor is built on low domes. Hot air came from the kiln at the corner into the space underneath the room, and from there in pipes that warmed the walls. Another room was used for massages.
Sheik Ibn Jabel
From the bathhouse, travelers should take another 500-meter drive on the black-marked road followed by a southern turn (right) in the junction to the southern landscape road. Another 700-meter drive will bring them to a structure with a white dome. The structure commemorates General Ibm Jabel, who according to the Muslim tradition perished in the Emmaus plague. Ibn Jabel is a mythical figure. An inscription in Arabic, found above the entrance, said that the structure was built in 1288 by Jashnchir Mancoresh, the Mamluk governor of Jerusalem. The site offer a splendid view of Latron, the Ayalon Valley and the coastal plain.
The Yod-Dalet Outpost
The Yod-Dalet outpost is about 300 meters from Sheik Ibn Jabel. A sign set by KKL-JNF shows the entrance to the site. From here, a round path of about 600 meters goes through the communication channels of the Jordanian outpost and reaches a spot overlooking the section between Gush Dan and Gaza. In this place, there is a panoramic sign and a commemoration board for the fallen.
From the overlook, the path comes a full circle back to the starting point. During the months of November and Decembers, beautiful crocus hyemalis and narcissus tazetta grow here; cyclamen can be seen at the site during March.
During Israel's War of Independence, the Jordanians made their stand at the Latrun compound. At the Yod-Dalet Outpost, in the back of the compound, they built a stronghold that overlooked the road to Sha'ar HaGay. On the opposite hill, a smaller overlook (the Yod-Gimel Outpost) was built. After two failed attempts at liberating Latrun, on May 1948, the IDF prepared for another attempt to take the Yod-Dalet Outpost, assuming that successful conquest will force the Jordanians out of Latrun.
Operation Yoram, as the attack was called, started on the night between June 8 and 9, two days before the ceasefire was about to start. Yigal Alon, commander of the attack, recruited soldier from the Yiftach unit the operated in the Galilee and from the seventh battalion of the local Harel unit. The battle plan called for an initial liberation of the Yod-Gimel Outpost, followed by an attack on the stronger Yod-Dalet Outpost.
Due to lack of time, the battle was not planned well. The fifth battalion attacked the stronger Yod-Dalet Outpost, instead of the weaker one. Instead of meeting few soldiers, the attackers faced a kilometer-long outpost with hundreds of trained Jordanian soldiers, well-equipped with armor and artillery. The main force had to retreat.
The fifth battalion kept fighting bravely, and lost many soldiers. At down, Jordanian defense collapsed, but the attackers were left without ready soldiers or equipment, and had to retreat. During the battle, 95 soldiers were hurt, and 16 of them died. Latrun remained under Jordanian control.
Sheik Ibn Jabel, a look from the inside
The Ayalon Road crosses the entire park, from the eastern entrance gate. It is 7 kilometers long and it ends in the meeting point the connects Mevo Horon and the Sha'ar HaGay gas station. The road is marked in green and it fits a private vehicle all the way to the Ayalon scenic lookout, close to the edge of the Springs Valley.
Most of the travelers go up on the road to the Ayalon Sceneic Lookout and returns to the Figs Lake and the park's gate through the Springs Valley Road (marked in blue). This track fits buses.
The following are the main sites along the road:
Springs Valley and the Aqueducts Trail
The Springs Valley is the main ravine in the park. It preserves aqueducts and evidence of springs that existed in the past. The Aqueducts Trail (marked in blue) runs through the valley. It is a trail for foot travelers, about 1.5 kilometers long, and it ends at the Tmarim (figs) spring. The trail runs between orchards and in certain sections runs along two aqueducts built during the late Roman period (3-4AD). The upper aqueduct starts at the foot of the Akad Ruins in a tunnel that penetrates water-carrying soil. This aqueduct is mostly built from stone links that are 0.5-2 meters long.
The lower aqueduct starts in a complex underground facility, which collects ground water to a small pool. From the pool, water flow in an aqueduct built from stone links. At some point in the past, the two aqueducts may have come together to a single aqueducts. At the heart of the trail is a large rock with a Roman-period burial chamber. Near the trail, KKL-JNF planted grapevines, along with almond and fig trees. The trail ends at the large pool near the Tmarim Stream.
Akad Ruins
The Akad Ruins are located at the top of a hill. This is the highest spot in the park (368 meters above the sea). The remains of a walled town from the Second Temple period were found in the area. This may have also been the site of the Emmaus Fortress built by the General Bacchides of the Seleucid dynasty, sent by the Seleucid ruler Demetrius the First to fight the Hasmonean rebels and conquer Jerusalem. During digs held in the 1970s and 1980s, few of the remains of the walled town were discovered, along with a cave containing the remains of building projects and ceramic findings from the Iron, Persian, Hellenistic and Roman periods. A hiding cave from the Bar Kochva rebellion (now filled with dirt).
The ruins are not fitted for travelers, and visiting them is forbidden.
Jordanian Bunker
The remains of a concrete bunker are located near the northern side of the road. The bunker marked the a-Zahar, known as the "Turrets Ridge" during Israel's War of Independence, since it was used for artillery fire by the Jordanians. During the seconds Ben-Nun Operation, held between the night of May 30 and 31 in 1948, a unit from the Harel division attempted to take the ridge as part of a large attack on the monastery and the Latrun police station. The Jordanians made their stand on the ridge. After artillery bombing, an attack was launched on the north-eastern part of the ridge. The force could not hold against the heavy Jordanian attacks, and retreated, losing 19 of its men.
Golani Engineering Corps Battalion Recreation Area
This small recreation area contains a large basalt rock commemorating the Golani Engineering Corps Battalion. The battalion's soldiers took part in many battles, including the dangerous battle over Al Fahr during the Six-Day War, the Hermon Battle during the Yom Kippur War, the conquest of the Beaufort during the first Lebanon War, and the Shuja'iyya Battle in Gaza. In 2018, after 40 years of fighting, the IDF closed the battalion. The recreation area is located in the section that goes down to the Train Bridge.
Akad Ruins
The road, 6 kilometers long, goes down the northern part of the park. Its first site, the Ayalon scenic lookout, is reachable by private vehicle. The rest of the way to Tel Ayalon and the Arches House fits 4X4 vehicles or foot and cycling trips.
The following are the main sites along the road:
The Ayalon Scenic Lookout
A splendid spot overlooking the Ayalon Valley, Modi'in Hills, the southern sloped of Samaria and the coastal plain.
"Jordanian Burma Road"
The Fig Road follows the "Jordanian Burma Road". The Jordanians paved this road during Israel's War of Independence to connect their outposts to their bases in the nearby villages. With this road, the Jordanian Legion soldiers sought to bypass the stand that the IDF made in the al Borj hills (today's Modi'in), which disconnected the main road from Latrun to Ramallah.
The Ayalon Tree
Near a junction south of Tel Ayalon, shaded by a carob tree, is a well-like stone structure. It is the spring house of Ein Ayalon. The stream's water flow down the ravine underground, and in the past were collected in a square pool built down the slope.
Tel Ayalon
The site is believed to be the biblical city of Ayalon, mentioned in the Book of Joshua (19:42). Ayalon was mention as Yelon in letters discovered at the Tel al-Amarna archive in Egypt (14th century BC) and in the list of cities destroyed by Egyptian King Shishak during his conquest of Israel (around 925 BC). Rehoboam, the King of Judea, fortified the city as part of his border fortifications (Book of Chronicles 2, 11:10). In the Roman and Byzantine periods, the site hosted a town called Alus or Yalo. Yalo is also the name of an Arab village built on the ruins of the ancient town.
The remains that can be seen in the site today belong to the crusaders' fortress known as Castellum Arnoldi. Crusader King Foulque V d'Anjou built the fortress during the 12th century to protect the main road from Jaffa to Jerusalem. In 1187, Salah al-Din conquered the fortress and destroyed it.
Visitors are not allowed in the site – which contains many pits and unstable structures.
The Arches House
This is an impressive stone structure built during the Roman period (3rd century AD). At its front are 3 complete arches. The arches support a ceiling made of heavy stone tablets. A fourth arch existed in the past but did not survive. During the Roman period, the structure had a second floor, which probably contained a pool. During the Byzantine period, the place became a water reservoir.
The structure is closed to visitors, due to the danger of collapse.
A view from the Ayalon Scenic Lookout
The Olives Recreation Area is located west of Road 3, near an olive grove. It is a large area, which enjoy extensive shading by pine and olive trees. Near the area are the park's offices. Between the recreation area and the offices are the remains of an olive press.
Emmaus Wells
A dirt road of about half kilometer, marked in black, descends from the recreation area, turns left, passes near the cemetary of the abandoned village Amoes and reaches a large covered well. Near it is another well and water-collecting pool. Fig and strawberry trees grow near the well.
Emmaus Church
The remains of the ancient churches are at the "Beit Shalom" yard – a large white structure with a front yard, located west of the park's main entrance. The house was built at the early 1930s by priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of Bétharram. From 1948 to 1967, the structure housed the UN staff, who supervised the ceasefire in the demilitarized zone of the Ayalon Valley. Today, it houses the Community of the Beatitudes, founded in France in 1973. The community takes care of the yard and the ancient churches site.
The ancient site contains the remains of a large church from the Byzantine period, probably built during the 5th century. The church is built on the remains of a Roman villa from the 2nd century. On the Capella south of the church, a mosaic floor was discovered, and parts of it are presented in the small museum of Beit HaShalom.
The crusaders' church, whose remains can also be seen in the area, was smaller, but its walls are still standing above the byzantine remains. The central apsis in the eastern wall was used by both churches.
A visit to the site costs a small fee.
Travelers at the park

The Park's Flora

The park is notable for its richness of orchard trees that are based in agricultural terraces. During the summer, early travelers can pick figs and grapes. Later, as the Sukkot holiday, the pomegranates turn red, and at the beginning of the winter, the almond trees are a beautiful sight. In the valleys between the hills, olive groves thrive.
Wild flora also has its place in the park. Common carob, common oak and pistacia lentiscus represent the grove trees. At the beginning of the winter, there is an impressive bloom of daffodils and colchicums, later followed by cyclamens and a wide variety of spring flowers.

Cycling Tracks

KKL-JNF has marked two bicycle tracks in the park, that can be joined into a single long track.
The Seventh Lot Track – a 9.5-kilometer circular track
Overall height: about 200 meters. Starting and ending point: the park's entrance. Level of difficulty: high. Marking: black.
The landscape revealed during cycling visualizes the biblical verse: "The seventh lot came out for the tribe of Dan according to its clans… and Shaalabbin, and Aijalon, and Ithlah (Joshua, 19: 40, 42).
Ayalon Track - a 9.5-kilometer track
Overall height: about 150 meters. Starting and ending point: the beginning of the streams trail. Level of difficulty: high. Marking: red.
The track passes through Jordanian outposts in the Turrets Ridge, and provides a splendid view of the Jerusalem Mountains. It crosses orchards, passes near the Arches House and returns to the starting point.
Cycling at the park


Photographs in this page are courtesy of Ya'akov Shkolnik, Ilan Schaham, Moran Har Yehezkeli, Yael Ilan, Adva Baram, Yossi Zamir, Avi Hayun and the KKL-JNF Photo Archive