Walk The Scenic Route Around Mt. Tabor, In The Shadow Of The Transfiguration
Walk the scenic route around Mt. Tabor, in the shadow of the Transfiguration.
The first scholar to seriously study flora and fauna in the Holy Land was Henry Tristram Baker, a 19th-century English clergyman with a penchant for natural science. On a journey to the land of the Scriptures in 1863, Tristram passed through the spectacular oak forest of Beit Keshet, in the Lower Galilee. “Finally. . .a forest worthy of its name” he wrote later, “the ground covered with shrubs, lentisk terebinth, wild almond, strawberry and bay trees, and masses of wildflowers…” (The Land of Israel, 1976)
Only a few decades after Tristram’s visit, however, the Turkish rulers of Israel needed wood for railway ties and ruthlessly chopped down Beit Keshet’s splendid trees. Fortunately, salvation wasn’t long in coming: In 1944 the Jewish National Fund (JNF) hired unemployed Lower Galilee settlers to restore the region’s sadly denuded forests.
Over the years Beit Keshet was returned to its natural state and is once again a flourishing woodland replete with magnificent trees and colorful wildflowers. A little over a decade ago, the JNF officially opened a delightful scenic route through the forest, complete with breathtaking lookout points and delectable woodsy paths.
Early on the route you reach a stupendous overlook named for Winston Churchill, a gift from the Jews of Britain. Then continue on, to a grove full of Canary pines, tall straight trees that resist forest fires. The British, who ruled Palestine at the time, planted this part of the denuded forest in 1926. Declaring Beit Keshet a Nature Reserve, they also added Jerusalem pine, Stone pine, and several species of oak and terebinth to the natural foliage.