Goren Park - Trees of Israel in the Western Galilee

Goren Park is situated in the heart of the Western Galilee woodland overlooking the gully of Nahal Kziv.  Established by KKL-JNF in 1963, it was the first large park in the country to consist entirely of native Israeli common oak woodland.


Geographic location: Galilee
Access: Special (adapted for the disabled)
Picnic
Archeologic or Historic site
Lookout

Identity Card



Photo: KKL-JNF Archive


KKL-JNF hs nurtured the park and its vegetation ever since, adding numerous footpaths and recreational spots. The site now covers an area of some 2,000 dunam (approx 500 acres), and footpaths lead from it to Nahal Kziv, the Ein Tamir spring and Montfort Castle. Goren Park itself offers footpaths suitable for all the family, magnificent lush green scenery and a variety of recreation options that have helped to make it one of Israel’s most popular venues.

• Region:  Northern Israel, Western Galilee and Mount Carmel

• Notable sites in the forest: Hurvat Dan'ila, Henion HaMitzpor (“the Scenic Lookout Recreation Area”), Montfort Castle, Henion HaZeitim (“Olive Recreation Area”), Ein Tamir Fort.

• Facilities: Picinic area, Lookout, Marked path, Archeological or Historic site, Water, Restroom, Accessible site.

• Additional sites in the area: Adamit Park, Hanita Forest, Yehiam Fortress National Park, Henion HaSranim, Nahal Sarakh, the Hila-Manot Scenic Trail, the Kabri Archeology and Woodland Center, the Horvat Manot ruins, Nahal Kziv Nature Reserve.

• How to get there?
The main route to the park branches off Israel’s Northern Road (Route no. 899, between kilometer markers 11 and 12). If approaching from Shlomi, proceed as if traveling towards Moshav Goren and, after passing Kibbutz Eilon, turn right (south) directly into the park. Access can also be gained from the narrow scenic route from Moshav Avdon, which enters the park near the Montfort Scenic Lookout.

Projects and Partners Worldwide
Goren Park was rehabilitated and developed thanks to a contribution from friends of KKL-JNF worldwide, including Canada, Italy and Israel.

About the Park

Along the way we can make the acquaintance of the variety of woodland trees found in the park. The dominant species here is the Israeli common oak (Quercus calliprinos), the principal component of this type of Mediterranean woodland, which grows multiple trunks and so often assumes the aspect of a low bush rather than a tree. For decades KKL-JNF foresters in Goren Park have invested great efforts in the care of these oaks, thinning, pruning and reshaping them until they have only one or two trunks and so grow to a greater height. The common oak’s companions in this type of woodland include the gall oak (Quercus infectoria), the Palestine pistachio, the spiny hawthorn, the carob tree and the mock privet (Phillyrea latifolia). Small bushes in the undergrowth include spiny broom (Calicotome villosa), thorny burnet (Sarcopoterium spinosum), Mediterranean buckthorn (Rhamnus lycioides), Spanish broom (Spartium junceum) and mastic trees (Pistacia lentiscus). The southern edge of the park provides a view of the meanderings of the Nahal Kziv stream and the impressive ruins of Montfort Castle.

The park is situated in the area of around 2,000 dunam (approx 500 acres) that lies between the nature reserves surrounding the two major rivers – Nahal Betzet to the north and Nahal Kziv to the south – and all around it are hundreds of thousands of dunam of magnificent Mediterranean woodland and scrubland. From the park footpaths descend to Nahal Kziv Nature Reserve, the Ein Tamir spring and Montfort Castle National Park. The park itself contains walking trails suitable for all the family, its lush green landscape offers endless possibilities for exploration and recreation – and that is why Goren Park is one of Israel’s best-loved tourist venues.   

The Scenic Trail

Goren Park’s Scenic Trail, which is around eight kilometers in length, is surrounded by magnificent woodland and winds its way majestically among the cliffs of Nahal Kziv. The route begins at the entrance to the park, at kilometer no. 11 of the Northern Road (Route no. 899), between Kibbutz Eilon and Moshav Goren. There is an information booth here, which is open on holidays, and nearby we find a map of the park and explanatory signs. Among the trees is a recreation area equipped with tables and water and toilet facilities. Around 300 meters further on, on our right, we come to a parking lot and a sign that reads Shvil HaBolanim (“The Sinkhole Path”). Here we can park our car and embark upon a short circular path around 500 meters long that encompasses a fine array of sinkholes, i.e., natural drainage pits created by the action of rainwater that dissolves the chalk rock.

The Path across the Park

As its name tells us, this path crosses the park from one side to the other – in this case, from north to south – and it begins at the sign-posted parking lot some 500 meters south of the main entrance. It can be reached on foot from the Sinkhole Path. For those who like to be active, this is where you get out of your car and get your feet moving. A short walk of around 1.5 kilometers leads us to the southern section of the park and the cliffs of Nahal Kziv. The path is marked in red and turns first south then west, providing impressive views of the Nahal Kziv canyon and Montfort Castle as it does so, leading us finally to Henion HaMitzpor (“The Scenic Lookout Recreation Area”).

The early part of the trail is notable for its large piles of stones, which are the remains of ancient buildings that once stood here; in Biblical times, this was the site of an Israelite settlement. As we walk along we can observe the trees that compose this natural woodland – Israeli common oak, terebinth, spiny hawthorn, mock privet – and the bushes that grow among them: spiny broom, thorny burnet, Mediterranean buckthorn, Spanish broom, etc. To complete the circle and return to our vehicle we choose the Main Scenic Route and, making our way carefully against the direction of the traffic, continue for around another 1.4 kilometers.

The Scenic Lookout Recreation Area

This is the park’s main recreation area, and it is equipped with picnic tables, water and toilet facilities, a campsite and an open-air theater suitable for outdoor events in this ancient landscape. From the recreation area, a disabled-accessible path leads to the observation point overlooking Montfort Castle. The campsite lies to the north and east of the recreation area, and it is the only site in the park where overnight stays are permitted. To coordinate group accommodation at the site and receive authorization, please call KKL-JNF’s Western Galilee office at 04-9950118 / 102.

For those who haven’t got round to getting out of their car yet, we recommend a short circular section of the Path Across the Park that links the Carob Recreation Area to the observation platform – a brief and easy scenic route that takes about 25 minutes from start to finish. Here is the route:

From the Scenic Lookout Recreation Area parking lot we make our way cautiously eastwards along the asphalt road until we reach Henion HeHaruv (“the Carob Recreation Area”) some 700 meters further on. Here we turn southwards, following signs to the right, until we reach the Scenic Lookout Recreation Area.

Montfort Castle
The Montfort Scenic Lookout


This observation point is perched on the very edge of the cliff, providing a rare panoramic view of Montfort Castle, the precipitous gully and riverbank vegetation of Nahal Kziv and the dense Mediterranean woodland all around. Nahal Kziv is the longest Galilean river to the west of the national watershed: from the Ein HaZaken spring on Mount Meron, where it rises, to its mouth at Akhziv where it spills into the Mediterranean Sea, it measures 41 kilometers, and it is one of the last rivers in the country that continues to flow all year round. Prior to the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, the river was home to a large number of water-driven flourmills. Today Nahal Kziv and its precipitous environs are a nature reserve characterized by well-developed Mediterranean woodland and scrubland and a wealth of riverside vegetation.

Montfort Castle

On a spur of rock to the south of the Kziv River stands Montfort Castle, one of the most impressive Crusader fortresses remaining anywhere in the country. Construction at the site was begun in 1226 by the German Teutonic Knights, who appear to have built on top of fortified remains dating back to the Roman period. Originally the castle had both an inner and outer wall. Today the ruined walls and watchtowers of this Crusader fastness emerge from amidst the woodland, and its most prominent remaining features are the tower at the northwestern gate and the fortified keep  to the east. Further east yet is a moat designed to protect the castle from attack from the rear of the spur.

The Mamluk Sultan Baybars laid siege to the castle in 1226, but his efforts to destroy it were in vain. Five years later, in 1231 he renewed his attempts, and this time made good his threats. Under the treaty of surrender they signed with him, the Crusaders were permitted to leave with their lives and their possessions intact; the fortress, however, was destroyed and never resettled.

The footpath to the Castle

To complete our own personal conquest of the castle we need to follow the red-marked footpath that leads from the scenic lookout. We descend briefly into Nahal Kziv and cross the river on to a steep dirt path that leads directly up to the fortress. The climb is taxing, but well worth the effort! We return by the same route. Down in the riverbed, we encounter the remains of a crumbling structure on the point of collapse, which we recommend observing from the outside only. These are the ruins of a 12th-century water-driven flourmill above which the Teutonic knights built a magnificent Gothic structure that would appear to have been used as an inn or hostel.

Opposite, on the northern bank, the remains of a wall are still to be seen. These are the last traces of a Crusader dam used to block the river’s flow and create a pool.
Vehicle Access

The one-way Scenic Route continues eastwards. Around 500 meters to the east of the Carob Recreation Area (Henion HeHaruv), the asphalt road turns north towards the Northern Road. If we wish, we can turn here and leave the park. Instead, however, we recommend continuing eastwards along the convenient paved road that skirts Moshav Goren’s perimeter security fence. To the south, the landscapes of Nahal Kziv, Mount Ziv and Mitzpe Hila are spread out below us, and this dark green expanse that stretches to the horizon offers one of Israel’s most attractive routes.

South of Moshav Goren a steep path marked in black descends to Nahal Kziv, which can also be accessed from the Kida Trail that begins near the Carob Recreation Area. Before we reach the Olive Recreation Area (Henion HaZeitim) we come to a dirt road that turns off to the north, and signs direct us to Horvat Galil. This is a site it’s well worth making the effort to see! After a short walk of around 500 meters we find ourselves at another hidden Galilean archeological site. Before us are the remains of settlement that began in the Neolithic Era, some 9500 years BCE, and has continued until the present day. Most of what we see above ground – i.e., a church, a reservoir and some buildings – is from the Byzantine period. From the top of the ruins we have a panoramic view of the Sullam Tzor (“Ladder of Tyre”) ridge and the hills of Meron. KKL-JNF has provided picnic tables near the site.

Note: While exploring, take care to avoid the numerous underground cisterns!

The Olive Recreation Area and Ein Tamir Fort

This small and attractive recreation area is situated in the middle of an olive grove above the cliffs of Nahal Kziv. It is the preferred departure point for a circular walking route through the Nahal Kziv Nature Reserve and the shortest, though steepest, way to get to Ein Tamir. The eastern edge of the recreation area conceals the remains of Ein Tamir Fort, a fortified palace from the Middle Bronze Age (17th-18th century BCE).

The paved road twists and turns eastwards and northwards from here until it joins the Northern Road at the entrance to Granot. Along the way additional vantage points provide views of the eastern section of the river canyon, with the cliffs of Mount Ziv rearing up to the south. Some 400 meters to the east of the Olive Recreation Area a dirt road splits off to the east, leading to Har HaGlili and Metzad Abirim (“Knights’ Fort”). It is suitable for walkers or four-wheeled-drive vehicles and leads also to Al-Jalila Cave and the rock that bears the Man on the Wall relief.

Persian Fallow Deer

If we walk very quietly as we follow the footpaths through the park, we have a good chance of encountering a Persian fallow deer. Until the 19th century these deer were an inseparable part of the fauna of the Land of Israel, but since then they have become extinct in the wild. From 1978 onwards, when a number of specimens were brought to Israel, the Nature and Parks Authority has been fighting to save this vanishing species and to return it to the wild.

Since 1996, when members of the species were successfully introduced in the Carmel area, the Nature and Parks Authority has been trying to introduce it in Nahal Kziv, too. Fortunately for visitors, many of the specimens can be seen wandering in the area of the park, and they are quite easy to identify. It is our civic duty to protect and conserve the Persian fallow deer, not just for our own sake, but for that of the generations to come.

Hurvat Dan'ila

In the course of your exploration of the park and its environs, we recommend a visit to the “hidden city” of Dan'ila, which lies to the north of Goren Park at the end of the access road to the Sarakh recreation area  and the Nahal Betzet Nature Reserve. The entrance is located on the Northern Road some 100 meters to the east of Granot Junction.

A short signposted woodland path leads us from the parking lot directly to the archeological site, where we can see remains of Roman, Byzantine and Mamluk settlement. Archeologist Rafi Frankel excavated the site between 1945-48, but it was uncovered and opened to the public only in 2003, thanks to a joint project on the part of KKL-JNF and the Israel Antiquities Authority. The streets have been rebuilt, walls have been repaired and, best of all, the olive presses have been conserved and restored.