The Carmel Beach - Ofer Forest is one of Israel's most enchanted places. A vast forest with plenty of secret magical hideaways.
The enchanted forest:
A natural hiking path around 1.5 km in length, starting from and coming back to the HaZeitim parking lot, named for Moshe Koller. The site is dedicated to the memory of Moshe Koller of the KKL Afforestation Department.
We will walk along the dirt track marked in blue in the Wadi Zeitim, which will be marked in red inside the forest. The path winds between dense woodland tress and provides a viewpoint over the sea and the Hof HaCarmel coast. The path was laid out by youth from the Bnei HaMoshavim movement as part of the Yossi Yafeh Project (2004). The path goes through thick woodland and bee hives situated between the tall eucalyptus trees. Very much an ‘enchanted forest’ from a fairy tale. Where the paths meet, there is a huge and shady carob tree. Later on and towards the end of the trek, there will be a beautiful blue view over the sea. The path comes full-circle and returns to the HaZeitim parking lot where it started.
The Noam path:
A short and narrow rock canyon, located within dense forest, with a wide variety of trees surrounding the path. The path climbs up the mountain and joins the Israel Trail. We will continue on a circular path until we reach the narrow canyon. Shortly before it is the ‘Bikat Shir’ rest stop, in memory of Cpl. Noam Bahagon (Baggy), who was killed in February 2003 in the Gaza Strip. The memorial area was set up by his friends and family. You can sit on wooden logs which have been set up in a circle, and enjoy the shade from the dense pine trees. After a short rest, we will go down into the narrow, rocky canyon, and return to the dirt track we came on.
The Ron path:
Located among the ruins of Kabir in the Ofer Forest, north-west of Kerem Maharal. In the centre of the car park, in memory of Colonel (Res.) Aviel Ron and his two children Ofer and Anat. Aviel Ron z”l was one of the developers of the Merkava tank, and was awarded the Israel Defense Prize in 1991. At the time of his death he was manager of the Survey of Israel Centre (MAPI). He was killed together with his two children in a suicide bomb at the Matza restaurant in Haifa on 31/3/2002. The memorial site was set up by their wife and mother Carmit.
At the heart of 1,300 dunams of woodland growth, KKL set up a 1.2 km circular hiking trail, suitable for both walking and cycling. There are guiding marks, botanical, geographical and historical explanations along the route, as well as six mountain viewpoints looking over the view, picnic tables and a rest area. The organisation set up in memory of Aviel’s family holds an orienteering competition for cyclists every year, together with a community of cyclists from Israel and abroad. The paths cross many pine groves, which are enjoyed by cyclists and hikers alike. In the forest you will come across common oaks, Jerusalem pines, terebinths, carob trees, mastic trees, Syrian olive trees and more. The site’s main car park provides benches and guiding signposts. The road passes through fabulous scenery, covering Kerem Maharal and the coast.
Green spots for a picnic
Anybody looking for green spots for a picnic can turn to Mizpe Ofer. Parking spaces and picnic tables are spread along most parts of the road. At the top of the mountain is a fire lookout tower, surrounded by a breathtaking park overlooking the Carmel and the coast. The lookout tower was put up in the 60s in order to warn people about forest fires. When it was built, they did not realise how much the trees would grow, and as a result a few years ago they had no choice but to add a storey. The tower can be climbed, but at the hiker’s own responsibility.
From the tallest tower you can see the Carmel Range, from Daliyat al-Karmel to Zichron Yaakov, the coast from Atlit in the south and to the treetops of the pine grove in the Australian Jewry Forest.
Photo - Israel Sinai, KKL, Pikiwiki Web