Outdoor Exploration in the Judean Hills

September 13th 2012

Surrounding the holy city of Jerusalem, the lush Judean Hills are a paradise for lovers of the outdoors. With options for hiking, cycling, ATV excursions and more, the area is well worth a stop during your tour to Israel. The region is also featured prominently in the Bible, and visitors can combine a day in the great outdoors with stops at important biblical sites.

Just outside of the Jerusalem city limits, the Jerusalem Forest is a favorite location for all manner of outdoor activities. Swimming fans will enjoy the large outdoor pool in the center of the forest that is suitable for both kids and adults. Besides the usual hiking and biking trails, even paintball experiences can be arranged to take place in the forest!

Avid cyclists will enjoy a bike ride through the picturesque and hilly region. Start in Jerusalem and head down the bike-friendly roads through cute towns, historic ruins, boutique wineries and family-run farms. Go out on your own or with an organized tour, for a full or half day of bicycle fun. Beit Guvrin National Park is a popular biking destination and is also home to Roman and Byzantine ruins, including some 800 caves that are connected by underground passageways. 

If biking isn’t your thing, then take a seat on an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) instead. From short hour-long jaunts to half-day treks, feel the wind in your hair as you drive through desert and forest, across streams and into canyons.

For a hike combined with archeology, head to the Atari ruins at Adulam Park. Near Beit Shemesh, a short stroll to the top of a hill will lead you to the remains of an ancient village, including homes, ritual baths, wine presses and even secret underground passageways.

The Nahal Sorek Nature Reserve is another beautiful location in the Judean Hills, and also where Samson originally met Delilah, and eventually told her the secret of his strength, according to the Bible. Hike along the windy trails to arrive at an underground stalactite cave, brimming with gorgeous rock formations.