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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 aspects. The Crusaders were defeated here by Saladin in the Battle of Hattin in June 1187 CE. With only a few Crusader knights left in the Kingdom of Jerusalem, this was the end of almost 90 years of Crusader rule over Jerusalem. This circular hike climbs to the top of the crater and from here there are wonderful views over 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 although this is speculative (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 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 probably 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. Follow the Waze directions slowly and carefully, especially at the beginning of the turn-off. If you make a wrong turn, 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. 

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View of the battlefield of the Battle of Hattin from Karnei Hittin Karnei Hittim.jpeg

View of the battlefield from Karnei Hittim

View from the top of Karnei Hittin

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 any opposition. By force, bribery and persuasion, Saladin united the Muslim princes and in 1187 CE 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. It was the largest Crusader force ever assembled, but still heavily outnumbered. 


The Crusader army assembled in the Crusader city of Saffuriya (now known as Tzipori), where they had a 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 of 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 the Crusader’s path to water sources in Tiberias and Lake Kinneret so that their army lacked water. He 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 a 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, the Crusaders in Jerusalem surrendered, as did most of the Crusader fortresses throughout the country as they had inadequate forces to defend them. There were only two knights left in Jerusalem, for example.


A Third Crusade was attempted by the Christians between 1189 to 1192 under the leadership of Richard the Lionheart, but he was unable to capture Jerusalem and reestablish the Kingdom of Jerusalem. However, he was able to reconquer Acre and Jaffa and establish a Christian state along the Mediterranean coast. This would last for 100 years before being conquered by the Mamlukes.


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


  • 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 the Arbel Plateau, Wadi Arbel, the top of the cliffs of Arbel, Lake Kinneret, and in the distance on the other side of Lake Kinneret the Golan. A helpful sign identifies 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 climbing on rocks. However, it does shorten the hike. After the 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 trail 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 reach the west side of Karnei Hittin].

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.



Jethro's tomb:

The most revered figure for the Druze is the prophet Jethro (Shu’ayb), the father-in-law of Moses, and his tomb is considered a holy site. Ziyarat al-Nabi Shu’ayb is a religious holiday and pilgrimage to this site that is celebrated in April for several days for spiritual reflection and communal gathering. It is also a public holiday in Israel.


Jethro’s tomb is only a short distance from Karnei Hittin and can be easily reached by car. It can also be reached by foot from Karnei Hittin. The blue-marked trail descends from the top of Karnei Hittin to the road to the tomb.


Visitors to the tomb are welcome. Enter קבר יתרו״" into Waze. To enter, you will need to be modestly dressed, including pants for males. There is no danger in visiting this site as the Druze are very friendly to Israelis. There is no Rabbinic prohibition on Jews entering the tomb. The attendants may provide you with information about the place. You will see a footprint of the prophet within the tomb.


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 tomb to Route 65, but the road to Karnei Hittin could be more problematic. It is a long way to walk and you may need to order a taxi on Gett.

The tomb of Yitro is holy to the Duze.

Outside the tomb of Jethro.

Who are the Druze and what do they believe?


There are Druze communities in the Galilee and Golan and also in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. About 149,000 Druze live in Israel.


The Druze religion is a branch-off from Islam. However, although the Qur’an is one of their foundational texts and they regard Muhammad as a prophet, he is not considered the ultimate prophet. Their theology is also very different from Islam and the Druze are not considered Muslim.


Their religion began in 1014 or 1016 CE when a mystic and scholar, Hamza ibn Ali, arrived in Fatimid Egypt from Persia and began preaching a new doctrine. Like the Alawite religion, the Druze are very secretive about their religion, probably because of the risk of persecution, although its basics are known.


Their religion is syncretic and includes elements of Islam, other religions such as Christianity, and the philosophy of the Hindus and Neoplatonism of the Greeks. They are strictly monotheistic and believe God is both immanent and transcendent. He is not above the physical world but comprises the entirety of existence. They also believe in the theophany of God whereby God manifests in human form and has appeared in different prophets throughout history. Incarnation is a major aspect of their faith. It is impossible for a soul to exist without a body. The number of souls is finite, and a Druze cannot reincarnate in a non-Druze body. Druze are divided into two groups – about 80% do not have access to their holy writings and do not attend religious meetings, although they do strive to lead virtuous lives. There is also a learned minority, male or female, who adopt a more stringent dress code, study the holy texts, such as the Epistles of Wisdom, and who may become religious leaders.


The Druze marry only among themselves. They place considerable emphasis on social cohesion and solidarity. The have a strong sense of community and support each other in their close-knit villages. They have considerable loyalty to their country and are fully involved in Israeli society. They serve in the Israeli army. They have become prominent in the Israel Defense Forces, the Knesset and the professions.

Links to the HOME PAGE and best family activities, hikes and historic sites in the GOLAN, EASTERN GALILEE, UPPER GALILEE, LOWER GALILEE, JORDAN VALLEY & LAKE KINNERET, the SHEFELAH, TEL AVIV-YAFFO and surroundings, NORTH of TEL AVIV, and SOUTH of TEL AVIV.

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