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Hurshat Tal National Park *

Hurshat Tal 1963 Photo: Hoshvilim

Hurshat Tal (חורשת טל) is a national park and nature and recreation resort and reserve in the northern Israel. The lawns and campgrounds of Hurshat Tal National Park cover 250 dunams (about 62 acres) of the total 700 dunams (about 170 acres) of this national park. The Hurshat Tal National Park was declared a nature park in 1968.

From Sacred Grove to National Park

A proposal to convert this ancient grove, a sacred site for Muslims and the sole remnant of an ancient forest of Tabor oak that once extended over the country’s northern region, into a recreation resort highlights the profound differences between the desire to “beautify” and “improve” the landscape and the commitment to preserve natural and cultural remnants of the past.  As you can see, those in favor of beautification succeeded.

Hurshat Tal brook Public Domain

National Park

Hurshat Tal is located on Highway 99, east of Kiryat Shmona, in the northern part of the Hula Valley. There are broad stretches of natural grass for recreation and camping grounds offer bungalows and cabins. A stream branching from the Dan River crosses the site, feeding a swimming pool with water slides. A fishing park is also open to visitors.

Hurshat Tal pool Photo: צצילמתי

One of the tributaries to the Dan River cuts through the park, flowing through a large man-made pool with freezing cold water. The water is 12 degrees C (55F) all year round. The pool is sectioned into a shallow area and two deep areas, and lifeguards are in attendance.

Hurshat Tal Photo: סוזן כהן גלמן
Hurshat Tal Photo: Avnernir
A colorful carpet of anemones and other wildflowers blooms here in the spring.

Camping in the Park

There is also a well kept camping ground at Hurshat Tal, with the stream running through. Entrance to the campground includes entrance to the National Park. Bungalows and rooms are also available for rent.

The Name of the Park – “Dew Grove”

The Hebrew name of the site is taken from Psalms 133:3 referring to the “dew of Hermon”.

It is as if the dew of Hermon
    were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
    even life forevermore.

Nature Reserve

Some 200 dunams (50 acres) at Hurshat Tal have been declared a nature reserve, mainly thanks to approximately 240 huge, centuries-old Tabor oaks –  which are claimed to be 700 years old. The reserve was declared mainly to protect the 240 old Valonia oak trees (Quercus macrolepis). 

 Old Oak trees (Quercus ithaburensis) in Horshat Tal, Hula Valley, north Israel
Photo: Ram.eisenberg
This Quercus macrolepis tree was born in the XII century. This tree is found in the Balkans, and in the southern and eastern Mediterranean, including the Greek Islands, Turkey, Israel, and Morocco.

The cups, known as valonia, are used for tanning and dyeing as are the unripe acorns called camata or camatina. The ripe acorns are eaten raw or boiled.

אוסף מוזיאון טולוז  
Acorn of vallonea oak.

These trees in Hurshat Tal survived for many years as part of a local Muslim holy site. Some of the trees are 350–400 years old. Local folklore tells that 10 of Muhammad’s cohorts stopped nearby to rest, but could not find trees to which to tie their horses. They stuck their sticks into the ground, which became the origin of the trees in the area. The story is reflected in the Arabic name for the site, Sejrat el-Ashara (“Grove of the Ten”).

Guards on horseback 1939 Photo: The Galil Elion Archive

How to Get There

On road 99 (northeast of Kiryat Shmona) about 5 km east of the Metsudot junction. In Waze, type: Horshat Tal National Park

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Cameling in the holy land since forever
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