About the Trip: a drive through a paved toad and a short walk to the Ben Gurion Cedar Tree. This is the main travel path in the Jerusalem forest. The drive is about 4 kilometers. Starting point: Herzl Montain, the access road to Yad Vashem. End of the trip: at Pirhei Hen street of the Har Nof neighbourhood. Note: if you wish to visit the Raul Wallenberg Memorial, you can park your car at Herzl Mountain and just walk there.
A Bench with a Landscape
Look for the bench overlooking the Jerusalem Mountains. It reveals the Hadassah Hospital and the "Onion Domes" of the Russian Monastery in Ein Kerem. Down below, at the Ein Kerem channel, the ancient terraces that KKL-JNF and the nearby communities rehabilitate can be seen. The Kiryat HaYovel, Har Ora, Har Eitan and the large channel of the Sorek stream can also be seen from here.
The Ben Gurion Cedar Tree
Park your car at the car park next to the Tzipori Center and walk about 200 meters up the Herzl Mountain axis until you see a trail marked in blue. Take the upward trail leading to a small yard with a 5-meter Cedar tree at its center. This tree was planted by David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister.
Today the tree is surrounded by other trees, but originally the slope was bare. Ben-Gurion, like President Ben-Zvi, planted the tree to emphasize the importance of maintaining open fields around Israel's capital.
If you look upwards, you'll see the Ein Kerem lookout. To reach it, don't take the steep slope, but keep going a little and find a more comfortable path leading to the site.
At the Kerem Overlook you'll discover the site of Hirbet Hamama, with the remains of terraces and a few orchard trees. The ditches here were dug by the Turks during World War 1. The British forces fought the Turks in the night between December 7 and 8 on the struggle to take Jerusalem.
The site also played an important role during Israel's was of independence. An Arab force held on to the ditches dug by the Turks, and the warriors of the Yonatan Company – the only company active in the Israeli Army during the war, whose members were less than 18 years old – fought them. The company commander, Oded Hai and his deputy Eli Zohar came to the company after participating in the convoy that broke the Arab blockade on Jerusalem in 1948.
On July 9, at the end of the first ceasefire, the company met at Sharfa (today, the Herzl Mountain site) and started its journey to the battle site in midnight, but it was discovered and the enemy opened fire. Oded Hai, the commander, was killed. Eli Zohar took his place and commanded the battle. Along with his company, he made his stand behind piled rocks all through the night.
In the morning, the company's fighters came under fire from the Arab force for several hours. When the Arab force was ready to storm them, Zohar ordered the bombardment of the force with 52-millimeter shells, which went on until the mortar broke down. The Arab force retreated, and Hirbet Hamam was conquered. In the battle, the company lost six of its fighters.
The company participated in other battles in Malha, Ein Kerem and Armon HaNatziv. The battles that the Yonatan Company participated in extended the borders of the state of Israel, but also led to severe losses among its ranks. In August 1948, the company was dismantled, and its fighters were assigned to different units in the IDF.
Lev HaYa'ar and Australia Recreation Areas
If you wish to hold a picnic, you can do it at the Lev HaYa'ar recreation areas near the Tzipori Ceter. KKL-JNF has brought dozens of picnic tables here. Another recreation area is also available; to get to it, drive on the road going upward of the Herzl Mountain road (marked in green) to reach the Australia recreation area near the Yefe Nof neighborhood.