Goren Park must be one of the best places for hiking in Israel. While you're there, don't miss the ruins of Montfort Castle which are situated on a rocky ridge 180 metres above the Kziv Stream. There's a steep path to reach it but it's worth the climb just to enjoy the amazing view from the top.
Goren Park is my favourite place for hiking - the views over the wooded mountains are spectacular and unlike anywhere else I've been in Israel.
There are marked trails which take you through the park and nature-lovers can enjoy seeing a wide variety of wild flowers in late Winter and early Spring. If you're lucky, you may catch a glimpse of some Fallow-deer which have been reintroduced into the park. In Summer, walk along the shady banks of the Kziv Stream (Nahal Kziv) - take a picnic, relax in the shade and paddle in the cool water. There are also natural pools where you can swim at certain times of the year.
How to get there: Take route 70 from Kabri junction or the 899 from Batzet junction in the direction of Shlomi. From there continue eastwards on the 899 until you see a sign to Park Goren on your right.
The castle's history goes back to Crusader times but the site was originally an agricultural farm owned by an aristocratic French family who bought the land in the 11th century. Although Montfort is French for "strong mountain", it wasn't used as a fortress until the beginning of the 13th century when it was sold to the German Teutonic Knights. They fled here from Acre because of bitter disputes with the Templars and Hospitaller Knights. After receiving financial help from the Pope, they fortified the buildings at Montfort.
The struggle for power in the area between the Moslem Mamluks and the Christian Crusaders was still going on and in 1266 the Mamluks, led by Baibars, waged an unsuccessful attack on the fortress. After several battles, it was finally conquered in 1271 and the Teutonic Knights were forced to return to Akko (Acre).
You can start your hike to Montfort Castle from three different locations:
- From Goren Park: See directions above.
- From Mitzpe Hila: From route 89, turn north towards Meilliya and Mitzpe Hila. Near the entrance to Mitzpe Hila, you will see a dirt road which will take you to a car park on your left.
- From Ma'alot-Tarshiha: From route 89, turn north towards Ma'alot-Tarshiha. Park next to the Mekorot pumping station next to Ein Ziv.
Click here for more of my favourite walks and hikes.
Other cool places to visit in Western Galilee:
Old City of Akko (Acre) - Historical city with plenty to see.
Uri Buri - Gourmet Fish and Seafood Restaurant in Akko Port.
Arnold's - Kosher chef's restaurant in a rustic setting.
Bait VeKait Guesthouse - For the best Israeli breakfast in the Galilee.
Land of Genesis - Recommended romantic zimmer (log cabin) in Mattat.
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