All out Adventure: A hike through the irises

Passover is the perfect time to visit the iris reserve on Mount Gilboa.

April 1, 2012 18:52
2 minute read.
Mount Gilboa

Mount Gilboa 370. (photo credit:


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Tourist Israel is Israel’s "cool" travel guide.

One of Israel’s hidden gems is the iris reserve on Mount Gilboa in the Lower Galilee.

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This easy hike passes along the Gilboa Ridge, through the iris reserve on Mount Barkan and what is certainly some of the most beautiful scenery in Israel.

In Spring time, when the irises are out in bloom, this walk is even more beautiful, and over Passover this is a popular place for families to come for a hike and picnic.

Mount Gilboa is an 18km long string of mountains which tower over the low valleys below, the Jezreel Valley and Bet Shean Valley. The ridge was formed by tectonic activity due to its proximity to the great African Rift Valley. This activity also accounts for the steep sides of many of the mountains making up the ridge.

A scenic road, the "Mount Gilboa Scenic Road" passes across the Gilboa Ridge marking the numerous peaks (all of which are named after famous Biblical characters and events). The iris found at Gilboa is a unique variety, purple in color and especially beautiful.

Starting from the car park at the peak of Mount Barkan, this is a 2km easy hike perfect for families to take over the holiday period. From the car park head south on the red marked trail. This trail actually draws almost a full circle around the peak of Mount Barkan (famous for its observation tower which you will see). The trail leads down into the iris reserve where you will hopefully see the famous Gilboa Iris which blossoms here. 

When the red trail meets the green trail, turn southwards onto it. This will lead you into the heart of the iris reserve on what is known as the iris trail. The trail continues to the parking lot at the Iris Reserve. At the end of the trail, near the parking lot, is a picnic area so either carry your food with you on the hike, or take two cars, park one at the start, and the other at the end with the food.

• The reserve is open to all with no entry fees or opening times.

• Hiking trails are all marked although it is recommended to take a map with.

• This hike begins at the parking lot at Mount Barkan and ends at the parking lot for the Iris Reserve. Driving along the Gilboa Scenic Road (details below), these are marked.

• Driving from the center of the country to Gilboa along Route 65 (from the Caesarea Interchange), continue past the Megiddo Junction, and turn right at the following junction (Hasargel Junction), onto Road 675. Continue along 675, pass over the Yisreel Junction and the Gilboa Scenic Road will be marked as a turning on the right (also numbered as Road 667).

• Driving from Jerusalem through the Jordan Valley on Route 90, turn left onto Road 667 just before you reach Sdei Trumot. This is not the Gilboa Scenic Road, but will turn into this after about 15km.

Tourist Israel provides ideas for what to do in Israel, Israel tours, hotels in Israel, and events. It aims to be a resource for everyone whether they are planning their first visit to Israel or are a seasoned resident.

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