Hike of the Month – Mount Arbel

The mountain has a very long human history. In the northern cliffs, the Arbel fortress is carved into the cliff.

Mount Arbel (photo credit: ELAD SAPORTA CREATIVE COMMONS)
Mount Arbel
(photo credit: ELAD SAPORTA CREATIVE COMMONS)
Mount Arbel’s height is only 180 meters but is one of the most famous mountains in Israel. It rises very steeply, 380 meters above the Sea of Galilee and is probably the best view-point on the lake.
From the top, there is an amazing vista that includes most of the Galilee mountains, the Golan Heights and famous landmarks like Tiberias, Safed and the Horns of Hattin.
But it’s not only the views. The mountain has a very long human history. In the northern cliffs, the Arbel fortress is carved into the cliff. The fortress was built by the Galilean Jews, who barricaded themselves at Arbel, against the Roman emperor Herod in 37 BCE. Herod managed to defeat the rebels only after he had his warriors lowered to the caves in cages suspended by ropes, from which the rebels became convenient targets.  About two kilometers west of the summit, you can find the beautiful ruins of an ancient synagogue that dates to the 4th century and severed the ancient Arbel village.
There are 2 main options to visit the mountain. The 1st and most common, is to go through the main entrance of the Arbel national park. From there, starts a nice 2.5 Kilometers circular trail that passes though the view-point and the fortress.
The 2nd and more rewarding option, is to start near the sea of Galilee, Climb to the summit via the fortress. From there, continue to the ancient synagogue, and descend back through the deep Arbel wadi.
Starting point: Near Hamam  village (GPS 32.827694, 35.492278)
Admission: Adult 29 NIS / Child 15 NIS.
Distance: 8 Km.
Climb: 330 m.
Difficulty: Medium, but some sections are steep and exposed.
Go to "Israel By Foot" website for a full and detailed description of the Mount Arbel Hike
Start by following the Red markers and climb steadily until reaching a junction with a Black marked trail. At the junction make a short detour to visit the Arbel fortifications. When done, continue climbing on the Black marked trail. At the end of the climb, you will spot a single Carob tree near the edge of the cliff. Head there, for what is probably the most photographed views of the Sea of Galilee, and justly so!
Continue walking on the same trail until the main entrance to the national park and pay the entrance fee upon exiting. Continue straight on the paved road until the sight of the ancient synagogue.  Explore this interesting and beautiful landmark and descend into Wadi Arbel on the Green marked trail. Continue walking down-stream to get back to the starting point.
Hikes courtesy of Israel by Foot.