When on vacation in Israel, most tourists tend to visit Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea and Eilat, which is perfect for first time travelers. However, once you’ve seen all the must-see sights, it’s time to go somewhere different, like Mount Gilboa, which has enough activities to keep visitors busy for weeks.
Mount Gilboa is actually a ridge, not one single mountain. Flowering season is in February and March and the carpets of red and purple irises, orchids and anemones are absolutely breathtaking. One of the most spectacular is the black-purple Gilboa Iris.
If you can’t make it during flower season, the Gilboa area is equally famous for its history, views, hiking and biking trails and natural springs.
“It’s a day of fun out in Israel’s nature,” said Shlomy Gabay, a tour guide. Located in the Lower Galilee region, 650 meters above sea level, there’s always a breeze.
The Gilboa Scenic Road is the best path to follow when exploring this area. The scenic road follows the ridges of Mount Gilboa and all along the route are amazing lookout points of the Jezreel Valley below.
Visitors can view fishponds, the birds they attract, Mount Tabor, the mountains of the Jordan Valley and, on a clear day, Mount Hermon at the northern tip of Israel. There are many biblical sights and historical points as well.
According to the Bible, King Saul and his sons Jonathan, Avinadav and Melchishua died fighting the Philistines there. Today, the Gilboa peaks and communities nearby are named in their memory—Mount Saul, Mount Jonathan, Har Giborim (Heroes Mountain), Mount Avinadav and Mount Melchishua, but don’t be put off by the history. These places are full of life today. Mount Saul, and Saul’s Shoulder nearby, are the main areas of recreation options including trails, picnic spots, playgrounds, hang-gliding, and archaeological finds.
As you continue along the Scenic Road, you’ll come to The Vinya Overlook which offers more picturesque landscapes. You’ll also see the Hill of Moreh where the Philistines assembled to fight Saul; Harod Valley and Mount Tabor.
Bring a swimsuit and take a dip in the Harod Spring that bubbles in Gideon’s Cave on the slopes of Mount Gilboa; or the always-warm natural springs at Gan HaShlosha National Park.
Another point of interest is the ancient synagogue at Beit Alpha National Park at the foot of the northern slopes of the Gilboa ridge, boasting an amazing mosaic floor.
Mount Gilboa ridge is accessible to everyone, old and young. Whether you’re interested in exploring nature or history, Gilboa is the place to be.