Carmel Beach ("Hof HaCarmel") Forest

A recreation area at the Carmel Forests
The Carmel Beach Forest covers the western slopes of the Carmel Mountain, between the Meir Shfeya Youth Village in the south and the Me'arot ("Caves") stream in the north. The forest slopes, spreading on about 250 acres, overlook the splendid view of the coastal plain and the sea. It is a wonderful place to enjoy and travel, a space where the grove trees blend into the planted forest, with a wide variety of recreation areas, beautiful views, landscape roads, walking and cycling trails.
  • How to get there

    A wide road, with an eastern fork from Road 4 on the way to the towns of Ofer and Kerem MAHARAL divides the forest into two parts: The northern part – Carmel Beach landscape road, through which vehicles can pass, the main traffic route in the northern part of the forest. The road leads to the Ofer overlook, to foot walkers' trails, to many recreation areas and to a system of cycling tracks (the Ron Tracks). The southern part – the access road to Ofer is the main traffic route at the southern part of the forest. The road leads to the Zeitim ("Olives") and the Carmelim recreation areas, to the Shayetet trail and to a 4X4 road, leading to the Shimri Ruins, the Kasztner Grove and the Edna Rogers scenic lookout.
  • Entrance fee

    Entrance to the forest is free
  • Geographic location-

    Carmel Coast Forest
  • Area-

  • Special Sites in the Forest-

    Crater Scenic Lookout, Michal Scenic Lookout, Moti Sharon Monument, Ofer Scenic Lookout, Sheikh Amir Tomb, Shimri Ruins, Israel Kasztner Grove, Edna Rogers Scenic Lookout
  • Recreation areas-

    Mitzpe Ofer, HaShluha, HaTzomet, Ron Trail, Ataturk, Zeitim, Carmelim
  • Type of parking-

    Accessible parks,Picnic parks
  • Interest-

    Hiking and Walking Tracks,Bicycle track,Lookouts

About the Forest

Spreading on about 250 acres, the Carmel Beach Forest is at the heart of the Carmel, on the western slopes of the mountain. It is a splendid area where man-made forest comes together with Mediterranean trees. During the spring, a colorful flourishing of bushes, including cistus and calicotome villosa can be seen, along with the seasonal appearance of cyclamens, buttercups, and orchids. KKL-JNF has opened a beautiful landscape road in the forest, going through the sites and the main recreation areas, in a section unharmed by the great fire of December 2010.
The climate conditions in the Carmel area make it a Mediterranean grove. The nearby sea and moisture created a developed grove consisting of common oaks, pistacias, and common carobs.
The ridge turn to the sea slides to the coastal plain. The slope was created in a geological process which took place thousands of years ago, when the sea level was higher. The waves that hit the ridge collapsed parts of it and created cliffs and slopes. The area also contains tuff in different shades of black, yellow and green that can only be seen while driving on the dirt road from the beach to Kerem MAHARAL and the SHIR valley.
The tuff rocks are a result of volcanic eruptions that took place underneath the sea. The volcanic dirt came out of the water, and then sunk back. Since the tuff rocks are relatively soft in comparison to the Carmel chalk rocks, the where quickly carried by rains, and created valleys.
Photograph: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Carmel Beach Landscape Road

Getting there:
The road can be reached in two ways:
From the old beach road (Road 4, between the 182KM and 183KM markings) – turning east toward the MEIRAV Sports and Culture Center. Before the entrance to the center, a left turn goes up the road and connects with the landscape road.
From the old beach road (Road 4, between the 182KM and 183KM markings) – turning east at the Ofer Junction to the road to Kerem MAHARAL (Road 7021). The road uses the path opened by the MAHARAL Stream in the Carmel Ridge. Two kilometers later, before reaching the town, a north (left) turn brings travelers to the landscape road.
Notable Sites along the Landscape Road
The Crater Scenic Lookout
After the turn from Road 7021, the dirt road goes up the mountain. The lookout faces west and is located left of the road. After 750 meters, a dirt road goes right leading to the Ron Trails, made for cyclists.
The Michal Scenic Lookout
800 meters ahead brings travelers to a junction, where a 200-meter turn south (left) reaches the Michal Siton Scenic Lookout – a hidden spot offering three intimate benches.
The Moti Sharon Memorial
600 meters away from the Michal Scenic Lookout is a memorial for pilot Moti Sharon, who was killed in 1988 in a helicopter accident when trying to set a border stone at the Israel-Egypt border.
The road to the memorial is difficult, so walking is highly recommended. The memorial presents a part of a helicopter's propeller placed on stones that recall the border stones. The memorial, almost at the end of the branch, offers a beautiful view eastwards.
At the feet of the branch is the twon of Kerem MAHARAL, placed in the beautiful SHIR Valley. Most of the ridge is made of limestone, but the valley is located in a place that in the past was the center of volcanic eruption. The eruption created a high concentration of rock called tuff. Geologists claim that the eruption took place about 90 million years ago, when the Carmel was mostly underneath the sea.
In front of the memorial, the KKL-JNF foresters have placed a single table shaded by a pine tree. The table offers a view of the Carmel beach and the sea, and adds an extra dimension to this pretty lookout.
Ofer Scenic Lookout
From the junction at the landscape road leading to the Michal Scenic Lookout, turning west (left) leads to the Ofer Scenic Lookout. The road is paved with recreation areas, the largest, shaded by pine trees, contains an accessible table for people with disabilities. A smaller recreation area down the road overlooks the western Carmel and the beach.
About half a kilometer east is the Shluha Recreation Area, which is shaded by pine and old olive trees. The recreation area is equipped with playing facilities for children. From the recreation area a road south leads to an area used by youth groups and summer camps. 400 meters ahead on the landscape road is the Tzomet Recreation Area.
Ofer Firewatch Tower
About 300 meter west of the recreation area is the Ofer Firewatch Tower. Built by KKL-JNF in the 1960s, it is used to warn of fires. The scenic lookout is a tribute site to the Australian Jewish community. The place has a recreation area with playing facilities and restrooms.
Note: going up the in the tower is strictly forbidden – the tower is for the use of KKL-JNF and the fire department only.
From the recreation area, a road south leads to the area assigned to youth groups and summer camps.
To leave the Carmel Beach Forest, travelers need to drive back to the junction, and turn south on the road to the MEIRAV Culture and Sports Center, and from there to Road 4, next to the Ataturk Recreation Area.
Ron Path Recreation Area
This recreation area is a hub for cycling at the Carmel Beach Mountain. After a two kilometer drive on the road leading to Kerem MAHARAL (Road 7021), a turn north (left) on the Carmel Landscape Road followed by a right turn after additional 750 meters leads to the recreation area.  
The recreation area is dedicated to the memory of Colonel (res.) Aviel Ron and his two children Ofer and Anat, who were killed in a terrorist attack in 2002. Aviel Ron was one of the developers of the "Merkava" tank and he won the Israeli Security Award. In his last role, he managed the Israel Mapping Center.
The recreation area also contains a sign that describes the cycling tracks. The tracks offer a wide variety of possibilities for both beginning and veteran cyclists. The tracks are marked with signs. The recreation area and its trails are open not just for cyclists, but for all travelers.
Ataturk Recreation Area
The recreation area, near Road 4 (between the 184th and 185th kilometer road marks) is a starting point for cyclists. From the recreation area starts the landscape road marked in green, which ends on the entrance road to Kerem MAHARAL. From the recreation area, cyclists can go upwards through the Carmelim track to the Ron Path Recreation Area and other cycling tracks in the area.
Sheik Amir
A circular walking track of about two kilometers. From the Junction Recreation area, the red trail goes for about 100 meters, after which a left turn leads to a black trail which goes for a kilometer before connecting with the Israel Trail. The Sheik's tomb structure is about 100 meters down the Israel Trail. Surrounding the structure is a site that hosted the cemetery of the Jeva village. The structure remains intact, and was even renovated. Its dome was painted in pink-purple color. Looking at it from the outside, travelers can notice a pipe collecting rainwater that came down on the roof and were led to the pit at the bottom of the pipe.
Beyond the tomb site, the remains of the Jeva village can be seen. Along with the villages of Ein Ezal (on the southern part of the forest) and Ijzim (now Kerem MAHARAL), the area was known during Israel's Independence War as "the small triangle". The residents of these villages, probably backed by an Iraqi force, attacked Israeli vehicles on the Tel Aviv-Haifa Road and claimed lives. On July24, 1948, after two failed attacks, the IDF started what was later known as "Operation Officer", which, two days later, led to the conquest of the villages.
From Ofer Overlook to the Caves Stream
The Sheik Amir tomb site is also reachable from the Ofer Scenic Overlook, following the Israel Trail north for about 500 meters. The Israel Trail goes down the Carmel north about three kilometers, and reach the parking of the Caves Stream Reserve. Travelers should arrange for a vehicle to collect them at the reserve (the parking is free).
The Olives Recreation Area and the Magical Forest Trail
A circular track of about two kilometers. From Road 7021, a turn towards the town of Ofer and another 200-meter drive bring travelers to the Olives Recreation Area east of the road. Old and impressively tall ancient olive trees shade this magnificent recreation area.
A red trail goes from the recreation area through a blue-marked path and goes up the ravine at the heat of a grove. The many climber plants provide the site with magical atmosphere. A left turn leads to a road going west and back to the Olives Recreation Area.
Noam Trail
A circular track of about 2.2 kilometers. A 4-kilometer drive from Road 4 eastwards followed by a right turn leads to the parking compound of KKL-JNF's offices, and from there a west turn leads to a circle of stone pillars that commemorates donors to KKL-JNF. Neat the pillars is a gate for foot travelers. Beyond the gate is a trail marked in green, which zigzags in a forest of pine and oak trees. After a kilometer's walk, the trail descends and reaches a small stone step. Immediately afterwards, travelers reach the Israel Trail, and they can descend on it near old olive trees to a resting spot built in the memory of Noam Bhgon, who was killed on duty during his army service at the Gaza Strip in 2003. The trail then descends on steps that go down ten meters, all the way back to KKL-JNF's offices.

4X4 Trips

The Kasztner Grove
South of the Shimri Stream is the southern part of the Carmel Beach Forest. At the entrance to the forest road is a grove planted in the memory of Israel Kasztner, a member of the Aid and Rescue Committee in Budapest during World War II, and the organizer of rescue efforts as the "Kasztner Train". The grove planted in his memory was an initiative of the survivors and their families.
A 600-meter drive on the entrance road to Ofer, which branches out of Road 7021 and a south (right) turn leads travelers to the Kasztner Grove and the Edna Rogers scenic lookout. The road also passes parallel to Road 4. A little after the turn east (left) about a single kilometer from the road, the road meets "The Flotilla Trail". A few steps brings travelers to the Shimri Ruins.
Edna Rogers Scenic Lookout
About half a kilometer further, the road branches right. A 600-meter drive on this road brings travelers to a recreation area with a balcony overlook and two benches shaded by a carob tree. This is the Edna Rogers Scenic Lookout, a resting spot overlooking the plains of the Carmel Beach.
From the scenic lookout, a right turn back at the junction on the track marked blue goes up and after 800 meters reaches a black-marked tracks. A left turn here and another 800 meters bring travelers back to the entrance road to Ofer.
Photograph: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Cycling Tracks

The "Ron Tracks" complex includes three cycling tracks of changing difficulty that connect with one another. Cyclists can choose one of them, or a mix of two or three of them through the shaded forest.
Track #2, marked in green, is eight kilometers long, ranked easy, and a good fit for a family trip. It goes through a flat dirt line, and can be cycled through in two –to-three hours. The exist point is from the Ataturk Recreation Area next to the Meirav Center and from there to the heart of the Ofer Forest. During the ride, travelers can enjoys varied scenery of pines, oaks and bushes.
Further down the track is the archeological site of Sheik Danon's Tomb, built in honor of one of the Egyptian soldiers who fought the crusaders in the area and was buried under the hill. Different animals, among them deer, foxes, songbirds and jackals can be seen along the track. Even further down the track is an observation spot overlooking the sea, with a stunning view during twilight hours of the sky painted red.

Accessible Sites

The following facilities at the Carmelim Recreation Area have been made accessible:

  • Parking
  • Picnic tables
  • Trail
The following facilities at the Zeitim Recreation Area have been made accessible:
  • Parking
  • Picnic tables
  • Trail
The following facilities at the Ofer Recreation Area have been made accessible:
  • Parking
  • Picnic Compound
  • Picnic tables
  • Trail
  • Restrooms
The following facilities at the HaShluha Recreation Area have been made accessible:
  • Parking
  • Picnic tables
  • Trails
The following facilities at the Ataturk Recreation Area have been made accessible:
  • Parking
  • Picnic tables
  • Trails
  • Commemoration Center Compound
The following facilities at the Ron Trails Recreation Area have been made accessible:
  • Parking
  • Picnic tables
  • Benches
  • Water Taps
  • Trails
The following facilities at the Junction Recreation Area have been made accessible:
  • Parking
  • Picnic tables
  • Trails
The following facilities at the Sigi Recreation Area have been made accessible:
  • Parking
  • Picnic table compound
  • Trails
The following facilities at the Keren Carmel Forest-Itztrubal Corner have been made accessible:
  • Parking
  • Picnic tables
  • Trails

Other Sites in the Area

Keren HaCarmel Forest and the Cyclamen Trail
The Keren HaCarmel Forest is located at the southeastern Carmel, between the "Muhraka" monastery and the city of Yokne'am and Elyakim Interchange. The forest is rich with natural growth and planted trees.
One of the forest's most colorful spots is the Cyclamen Trail, which starts at the southeastern corner of the cedar compound towards the Hermesh Ruins Recreation Area. About 200 meters from the beginning of the track, on the left side of the road, the burial site with six arched openings can be seen. Each cave contains a few burial niches, and it is speculated that the site was a burial grounds for one of the rich Jewish families that lived in the area.
After bypassing the caves from the right, travelers reach the recreation area. Shaded by pine tree are wooden tables used for picnic. Further north of the burial trail is a section where travelers can see the wonderful blooming of daffodils from November to December. The forest contains new plating of Mediterranean grove trees, including oaks, terebinth, rosebuds and almonds. The trail continues into the forest, to an area that is covered with different flowers after the rains: cyclamens, daffodils and early anemones. The trail leads through a dirt road back to the recreation area.
Those who wish to extend the trip can continue on the trail and go a short way up to the Muhraka Scenic Lookout. The site is equipped with benches overlooking the panoramic view that offers the sight of the Muhraka Monastery (Keren Carmel), Jezreel Valley, the lower Galilee Ridges, Ramat Menashe, the Gilboa, and on sunny days also the peak of Mount Hermon. The circular road leads from the scenic lookout to the Cyclamen Trail marked in red, and then west back to the Hermesh recreation area.
How to Get There
On the Elyakim interchange (where Road 70 meets Road 672), a turn toward Daliyat al-Carmel (Road 672) brings travelers to the hitchhiking station with a sign directing to "Keren HaCarmel Forest – Hermesh Ruins Recreation Area". A dirt road leads to a recreation area.
KKL-JNF Park at Nesher – the Hanging Bridges
KKL-JNF Park at Nesher near Haifa was built by KKL-JNF in collaboration with the Nesher municipality (park maintenance is under the municipality's responsibility). The park contains green fields, sport facilities, walking trails, scenic lookouts, picnic tables, and two hanging bridges.
The bridges are made of 70-meter long steel cables, and are a major attraction for park visitors. The bridges stretch over the Katia Strea, which is mostly a seasonal stream. The track starts at the parking lot, goes through a pine tree grove and goes down to the stream. On the way, travelers pass through a grove of common oaks, pistacias and arbutus. After crossing a bridge and getting to the lower part of the stream, several stone steps lead to a Mediterranean grove with benches and lookouts. A few hundred meters west, travelers reach the handing bridge and can cross above the treetops on a narrow, rocking bridge. A marked trail continues into the grove through another hanging bridge and reaches the parking lot.
How to Get There
Travelers should drive on the Nesher Road toward the Haifa University and from there according to the signs leading to KKL-JNF Park. Then, a turn to the Carob street leads to the Nesher Park.
Carmel National Park
The Upper Carmel area was given the status of a national park, with recreation areas for travelers. Notable sites in it include:
Carmel Nature Reserve
Used to house wild sheep, wild goats and fallow deer in order to bring them back to nature (entrance fee required).
Caves Reserve
A reserve which demonstrates, using a light show in one of the caves, the lives of the caveman in the Carmel (entrance fee required).
Kelah Stream ("Little Switzerland")
This area brings together walking tracks and a picnic recreation area in one of the most beautiful sites of the Carmel Forests Ridge.
Daliyat al-Carmel and Isfiya
Two Druze towns at the heart of green forests that draw many visitors and offer popular dining spots and souvenirs.
Kdumim Strip Mines
Stone strip mines from the Byzantine period are at the side of the Atlit-Beit Oren road, about one kilometer from the Beit Oren Fork. The stone beds create a unique site, along with the burial caves at the eastern edge of the site.
Grove of the Forty
A small reserve about a kilometer south of the Haifa University. Within the reserve are large, impressive common oak trees.
"The Mandatory Trails"
KKL-JNF reopened a wide system of abandoned trails covered in grove and used during the British Mandate period. Most of the trails are located around the "Carmel Landscape Road". An exceptionally beautiful trail goes down to Kibbutz Yagur.
Haifa Streams
Within the city of Haifa are several streams, including the Cistus and Bush streams, with Mediterranean growth at their banks, archeological sites and springs. KKL-JNF maintains the areas near the streams, and created walking trails along them.
Ein Hod
A picturesque artists' village with a museum presenting their works.