Mount Arbel is a stunning mountain in the Lower Galilee that overlooks the Sea of Galilee. And oh boy, does it provide some amazing vistas of the area!
Its wonderful cliffs are seen for miles around, but actually being at the top of the cliffs is one of those must-do moments – it truly is a magical place to catch some amazing views of the Golan Heights, and even of Mount Hermon. And not only the views are mouth-watering, there are some spectacular hikes in the area, including access to part of the Jesus Trail.
The national park that is located here also includes remnants of an ancient community that once inhabited this mountain top, and you can explore ancient ruins of a synagogue, and even hike down to some trails in the cliff-face that reveal an amazing cave fortress in the cliff. Not amazingly easy to get to, so if you have a mobility problem you’ll probably want to skip that little detour…
You won’t find many trees on Mount Arbel (the lone carob tree can be seen for miles around), but watch out for some interesting wildlife, including kestrels, wolves, and bats. Perhaps not surprisingly, the park grounds close before darkness kicks in…
The highest point of the cliff at Mount Arbel is some 181 meters above sea level, and some 390 meters above the Sea of Galilee. The cliff itself was created as a result of the Syrian-African Rift and the geological faults that produced the valleys.
Today there are actually four villages that live on the mountain top (Kfar Zeitim, Arbel, Kfar Hittim, and Mitzpa) but, to be honest, they’re of little interest if you’re on a tight schedule.
Things to see at Mount Arbel
Don’t miss the synagogue ruins, and the cave fortress (which is about a 3 hour hike), as well as the various stunning lookouts, including the Carob lookout (alongside the lone tree on the mountain summit) and Kinneret lookout, which provides you with those stunner Sea of Galilee shots like the one above – don’t forget your camera!
Hiking at Mount Arbel
As we mentioned, there are some terrific hikes at Mount Arbel, especially for the more adventurous of you. We’ve listed some of the better ones for you below.
Make a mental note: The “red” trail descends from the entrance area to the Cave Fortress. It is recommended to walk UP this trail. The “black” trail descends from the Carob Tree Lookout to the Cave Fortress, which is highly recommended to walk DOWN.
To the Carob Tree Lookout: A loop trail, accessible for walkers, marked in black. The trail starts at the parking area, reaches the Carob Tree Lookout (don’t forget to get wowed by the views!) and returns to the parking area. Length of hike: 30 minutes
To the Cave Fortress: A loop trail with a steep descent and ascent, best suited for experienced hikers. We recommend taking this trail as follows: leave the parking area to the Carob Tree Lookout (marked in black). From there, continue east, down the cliff, using the hand and foot-holds in the rock. Join up with the “red” trail and continue westward to the Cave Fortress, and from there back to the parking area. Length of hike: 3 hours.
To the Arbel Spring: A one-way trail down a steep slope, using those tricky hand and foot-holds in the cliff. The “black” trail leaves the parking area and continues to the Carob Lookout, from there to the Cave Fortress, and on down the slope to the Arbel Spring. Length of hike: 2-3 hours. Note that it is recommended to have a vehicle pick you up near the village of Wadi Hammam.
To the Synagogue: A quick and easy trail; the trail leaves a small parking area by the side of the road bypassing Moshav Arbel. It reaches the synagogue in the Talmudic village of Arbel and returns to the parking area. Length of hike: 30 minutes.
From the Synagogue to the Arbel Spring: The trail leaves the small parking area near the road that bypasses Moshav Arbel, reaches the synagogue in the Talmudic village, and returns to the parking area. Length of hike: 1.5-2 hours.
Visiting Mount Arbel
Opening hours are limited to the park; during the summer it’s open from 8am–5pm, and closes at 4pm during the winter.
It will cost you some 22 shekels per adult and 10 shekels per child (prices correct in 2014) to gain entry to the park, although if you are a Galilee resident you can get in for free. For further information, try giving them a call: 04-6732904.
To get to Mount Arbel by car, on the Tzomet Golani – Tiberias road (Road 77), turn at the Kfar Hittim junction to Road 7717. Turn right at Moshav Arbel, and just before entering the moshav, take a left and follow the road until you get to the park entrance.