For my birthday this past Sunday, we decided to take a hike. We had no idea where to go, and unlike San Francisco where I'd just log onto bahiker.com and find a suitable hike, we had nothing to go by but a trail map of the Jerusalem Forest. So, we found a park in the forest that looked nice, and went. The park was called Har Ha Tayasim, which means "The Pilot's Mountain." We also decided we have to write down where we hike so that we and others can enjoy an English language online guide to nice hikes in Israel.
The mountain is located a thirty minute drive outside of Jerusalem, just past Kibbutz Tsuba on 395. The ride is gorgeous, with sweeping views and cliffs on either side. At the mountain, you can first drive over to a lookout that has an incredible view of the Jerusalem forest and surrounding area, and a nice tree to sit under for a picnic lunch.
There is a groomed park area with walkways made out of Jerusalem stone, a few benches, some shade, and a memorial to the fallen pilots in the War of Independence. We had lunch on the benches in the park because the clean ground was perfect for a baby crawling at our feet.
From the park, you can descend into the valley below via two different trails. One, the blue trail, leads you along a winding dirt road. The other, the black trail, leads you on a steep, narrow path directly down the mountain. Both end up at the base where there is an ancient, well-kept spring and ruins of an overlooking stone home. The area by the spring has flat, grassy fields - another good place for a rest or a picnic.
We took the black trail, and it was really fun. Be forewarned that there is a lot of climbing up and down rock faces. We joked that the trail was a 4.8 in climber's terms. We did it with a baby on our back, so it's not that difficult, but be prepared with the right type of shoes. The blue trail is much easier, but doesn't have the shade and the surrounding greenery that you get on the black trail. Not sure exactly how long the trail was because it went straight down, but probably about a mile down and a mile back up. It took us about a little over an hour round trip.
Next time we hike, I'll remember to take some photos.