Aminadav Forest - Cycling amongst Woodland

Shalmon Ridge lies to the west of Jerusalem between the Sorek and Refaim gullies. On this ridge KKL-JNF planted Aminadav Forest, an area of some 1,700 acres. This forest forms an addition to the site’s natural woodland, and together the two compose the largest open space for Jerusalem.



Geographic location: Jerusalem, Judean highlands and surroundings
Difficulty: Medium cycling
Target audience: All
Season: All
Track length: Long - 15 km; Short - 8 km
Duration: Long - 2 hrs; Short - 1 hr
Track type: 2

For Your Information:

Starting and finishing point:  The Kennedy Memorial (Yad Kennedy). Turn south from the Tel Aviv - Jerusalem highway (Route 1) at the Harel interchange and drive to the Sataf roundabout. Turn left at the roundabout, drive towards Hadassah Ein Karem and from there to the entrance to Moshav Ora. Continue on to Moshav Aminadav, drive round it and continue for another 500 meters until you reach the Kennedy Memorial.
 
Note: You can park your vehicle at Khirbet Saadim and shorten your route by 1.2 kilometers, thereby avoiding having to cycle up the steep hill on the way back to the Kennedy Memorial.

Background


View of from Aminadav Forest. Photo: Yaakov Shkolnik, KKL-JNF Photo Archive.

Shalmon Ridge lies to the west of Jerusalem between the Sorek and Refaim gullies (Nahal Sorek and Nahal Refaim). On this ridge KKL-JNF planted Aminadav Forest, which occupies an area of some 7,000 dunam (approx 1,700 acres). This forest forms an addition to the site’s natural woodland, and together the two compose the largest significant open space available to residents of Jerusalem.

Description of the Route


Kennedy Memorial. Photo: KKL-JNF Archive

A steep road descends from the junction with the road to the Kennedy Memorial, and, after 600 meters, leads to the Khirbet Saadim Nature Reserve parking lot. This is a good spot to pause and explore, as the reserve is home to a number of impressively large carob and common oak trees. Three hundred meters further on, at the edge of the KKL-JNF forest, you will arrive at the Cairo Martyrs Recreation Area. Here you turn right and follow the yellow (no. 52 for the long route) and green (no. 51 for the shorter version) cycle-trail signs until, after 200 meters, you reach a path that descends to the right and takes you down to Ein Saadim whose spring waters gush out of two conduits hewn in the rock. In the past these waters flowed into two collection ponds, which can still be seen at the site.
 


Ein Az collection pool. Photo: Yaakov Shkolnik, KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Now you can enjoy a pleasant downhill ride among the trees to the forest’s main crossroads, which KKL-JNF foresters refer to as Fisher Junction. Cyclists who reach this point are faced with a choice. If you want to go back, turn left and go up trail no. 51 (marked in red), and after 3.5 kilometers you will find yourself back at the Khirbet Saadim parking lot.
 
If, however, you want to cycle the full route, you should continue downhill on trail no. 52, following the red markings, until you meet up with a trail marked in black. Here you continue downhill for another two kilometers or so – and then its payback time: you’ve got to gird your loins, grit your teeth and toil your way uphill again. After another two kilometers you will pass a blue-marked route that leads to Kobi Bridge. Another kilometer of uphill toil will bring you to Fisher Junction, where you turn right along a red-marked trail that leads to the Khirbet Saadim Nature Reserve parking lot. From here the way to the Kennedy Memorial is short – but steep!

To the Wine Press Farm


Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

If you want a route that’s hard going physically but presents no technical difficulties, you are invited to test yourself on the trail that ascends to the Wine Press Farm. From the Fisher Junction, you take a green-marked trail that leads uphill to the south. After 900 meters you will pass a dirt road  and another 1.1 kilometers after that, beyond the sharp right-hand bend in the trail, you will come upon the remains of a limekiln that can be clearly observed to the left. Five hundred meters further on the trail forks. Take the right fork, which climbs for some 400 meters up a steep incline.
 
Your reward: benches below the Wine Press Farm provide an ideal spot to rest and enjoy the magnificent view. If you want to stretch your legs, you can take a walk along the circular path that climbs the hill to the west, passing among ancient agricultural devices hewn into the rock. Then you can cycle back to Fisher Junction and continue along the route as described above.

A Useful Tip

(For cycling fanatics only!)

 
Trail no. 53, which is marked in red, is a two-kilometer route fraught with technical difficulties, and it should be attempted only by cyclists with a high degree of technical skill. If this means you, take the red-marked dirt road that descends westwards from the Cairo Martyrs’ Recreational Area, then after 500 meters take the paved road on the right that ascends to the Aminadav Forest parking lot. A dirt road blocked off to vehicles by boulders departs from the parking lot. At first it presents no problem, but you will soon reach a difficult single trail that takes you over rocky shelves and switchbacks. This route, which is suitable only for highly skilled cyclists, descends from the Aminadav parking lot to Fisher Junction, and riders attempt it at their own risk!