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Karnei Hittin National Park - battle site and views

Karnei Hittin (Horns of Hittin) are the remains of a very ancient volcanic crater that collapsed inwards leaving horns on its northern and southern sides. This is where the Crusaders were defeated by Saladin in the Battle of Hattin in June 1187. With few knights left after this defeat, this was the end of almost 90 years of Crusader rule over their Kingdom of Jerusalem. This circular hike climbs up to the top of the crater, from where there are wonderful views of Wadi Arbel and the top of the cliffs of Arbel.

There was a Canaanite fortress on the southern horn of Karnei Hittin, and following its destruction by Joshua this was replaced by a Jewish settlement. It has been suggested that this may be the site Mei Merom mentioned in the Book of Joshua as being where the northern Canaanite kingdoms were defeated (Joshua 11:7). Prior to 1948, there was an Arab village, Hittin, at the base of the hill. Many Christians believe that this hill was the site of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.



Time: About 1½ hours.

Type of hike: Circular.

Difficulty: This hike is slightly difficult as you will be climbing up and down the sides of the crater on rocks, but it is not at all dangerous.

Directions: Enter into Waze “Karnei Hittin” and click on “Karnei Hittin National Park.” The turn off is on the right side of Route 65 coming from Tiberias. In theory, there may be a tunnel under the road if you are coming in the other direction, but I was unable to find it. You will therefore need to do a U-turn several kilometers past the turning to get to the other side of the road. Be careful when you turn off Route 65, and follow the Waze directions slowly and carefully, especially at the beginning of the turn-off . If you make a wrong turning it's difficult to turn back for quite a long distance.

Starting point: The starting point is slightly before the Waze destination provided. You will see on your right a gravel path leading to some wooden steps. Just before this are three signs, including the green sign of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. Park your car in the open space by this path.

AdmissionThis site is run by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, but there is no ticket office, no admission charge and no brochure. There are, however, helpful signs along the trail with explanations.

Public transport: Enter "Karnei Hittin National Park" into Moovit. There are a number of buses that stop at Kidmat Industrial Path. From here it is about a 3.0 Km/37-minute walk. Coming from Tiberias it is a bit less of a walk, as you do not have to go under Route 65.

Battlefield from Karnei Hittim.jpeg

View of the battlefield from Karnei Hittim

View from top.jpeg

View of Wadi Arbel, the tops of the cliffs of Arbel and Lake Kinneret from Karnei Hittim.

The Battle of Hattin

The Kurdish leader Saladin had been planning this battle for many years. The Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem had lasted for almost 90 years because of the inability of Muslim leaders to coordinate. However, by force, bribery and persuasion, Saladin united the Muslim princes, and in 1187 CE he assembled an army of 12,000 cavalry men and 30,000 volunteers to confront the Crusaders. The Crusaders had no option but to also gather their forces from throughout their kingdom and they assembled an army of 1,200 knights and 18,000 infantry. This was the largest Crusader force ever assembled, although it was heavily outnumbered. 


The Crusader army assembled in the Crusader city of Saffuriya (now known as Tzipori). This was close to Nazareth and had a Crusader fortress. Saladin’s strategy was to induce the Crusader forces to leave Saffuriya and advance into the open countryside. He therefore besieged the Crusader fortress in Tiberias, on the eastern outskirts of the Christian kingdom, where a wife of one the Crusader leaders was living. Her husband Raymond of Tripoli urged the other leaders to remain in Saffuriya, but King Guy was persuaded that this would be cowardly and the Crusader forces left the city and advanced towards Tiberias. They had fallen into the trap Saladin had prepared for them.


Saladin now brought most of his forces back from Tiberias. He guarded all the springs in the area, including the spring at Hittin. He also blocked their path to water sources in Tiberias and Lake Kinneret so that the Crusader army lacked water. He now began harassing the moving Crusader army. The Crusaders were unable to progress forward and were forced to pitch camp in an open defenseless area. The next day Saladin allowed the Crusader force to move and waited for the heat of the day before attacking. He set fire to the surrounding shrubs and dry summer grass so that the air was filled with smoke. At around noon he bombarded the Crusaders with arrows, aiming particularly at the horses. Guy’s infantry either perished, fled or surrendered. The cavalry reached higher ground on the ruins of the fort on Karnei Hittin where they prepared their last stand. They attempted several cavalry charges from Karnei Hittin but were unable to break through Muslim lines. Eventually their position was overrun.


Following this defeat, Jerusalem surrendered, as did most of the Crusader fortresses throughout the country since they had inadequate forces to defend them. There were only two knights left in Jerusalem.


A Third Crusade was attempted by the Christians between 1189 to 1192 under the leadership of Richard Lionheart, but he was unable to capture Jerusalem and reestablish the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Nevertheless, he was able to maintain Acre and Jaffa and establish a Christian state along the Mediterranean coast; this would last for 100 years.


For a short YouTube movie about the Battle of Hattin and its atmospherics click here:

Map of the trail around Karnei Hittin


To follow your location on your smart phone, click on Now click on the black box with a cross at the top left of the map and it should change color to green. Unless you wish to there is no need to download the free application.


  • Ascend the blue-marked path and steps. You will soon come to a monument erected by the Church of God.


  • The trail continues up a rocky path.  At the top of this trail is a path on the left for viewing the site of the battle. After this, return to the blue-marked trail to encircle the crater.


From the top of the crater, you have wonderful views of Wadi Arbel, the top of the cliffs of Arbel, Lake Kinneret, and in the distance on the other side of Lake Kinneret the Golan. There is a helpful sign for identifying these landmarks.


  • You will soon pass a path on your left. If you found the ascent difficult, you may wish to return on this path as it does not involve any climbing on rocks, but it does shorten the hike. After this descent, turn left on the jeep trail towards your car.

  • Otherwise continue on the blue-marked trail until you meet a green-marked trail on the left. On the map on the sign at the beginning of the hike this is marked in red – but this is in error. This path will take you down the side of the crater climbing on rocks. When you come to the jeep trail, turn left towards your car.


[For a longer same-way there and  back hike, it is possible to start on a path by the cowsheds at Kibbutz Lavi. This trail passes by the fields of the kibbutz to Karnei Hittin].



The tomb of Yitro

The main temple of the Druze that contains the tomb of Yitro, the father-in-law of Moses, is a short distance from Karnei Hittin and can be easily reached by car. Enter קבר יתרו״" into Waze. The blue-marked trail also descends from the top of Karnei Hittin to the road to the temple. To enter the temple, you will need to be modestly dressed, including pants for males. There is no danger in going to this site as the Druze are very friendly to Israelis. There are also no Rabbinic prohibitions on entering the site of this tomb. The attendants may explain to you what you are viewing. Yitro is considered the main prophet of the Druze and this is a holy site to them. You will also see a footprint of the prophet. If you are hiking from Karnei Hittin, to get back to your car you will need to either walk back up to Karnei Hittin or you can try and hitch a ride. There is a good chance you will get a ride from the temple to route 65, but the road to Karnei Hittin may be more problematic and you may need to order a taxi on Gett.

Kever Yitro.jpeg

Outside the tomb of Yitro

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