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Nahal Kziv and the ruins of Montfort Castle

This popular and stunningly scenic circular hike visits the ruins of the Crusader fortress of Montfort and then continues along the flowing stream Nahal Kziv. It is mainly easy going, except for the last section which involves usually easy climbing on a somewhat steep and long incline. This hike is therefore suitable only for families with somewhat older kids. 

THE HIKE

 

Time: About 4-4½ hours.

Distance: About 9 Km.

Type of hike: Circular.

Difficulty: This hike is slightly difficult, in that a return section is quite steep, rocky and long, although the rock climbing is not difficult. Walking sticks can be helpful for this, as well as maneuvering on the 6 stream crossings. Alternatively, accept that on at least one of the crossings your feet may get wet and bring appropriate footwear.

Directions: Enter “Mitzpe Hila” into Waze, but do not enter this settlement but continue on route 8837 past its entrance. You will pass a parking area on your right with a Keren Kayemet LeYisrael sign. Alternatively use the Waze link https://waze.com/ul/hsvc5cz1ps. Continue past this sign to a fork with a blue-marked paved road on your left and a gravel red-marked road on your right. Drive down the red-marked road for a short distance and you will see a large grass parking area on your right. If it is closed, park on the side of this road.

Montfort Castle.jpeg

Why was Montfort Castle built in such an out of the way place?

 

Montfort Castle was the principal castle of the Teutonic Knights, a monastic Catholic German military order. This fortress was built not so much for its military significance, but as the main administrative center for the order. This accounts for its rather isolated location on a spur of a hill on the south bank of Nahal Kziv.

 

The Teutonic Knights were not the first to build here. A French family, de Milly, established a farming estate here after it was captured from the Muslims in 1099 during the First Crusade. Saladin defeated the Crusaders at the Battle of Hittin in 1187 and this brought their Kingdom of Jerusalem to an end.

 

However, some of this territory was reconquered from the Muslims during the Third Crusade (1189-1192) under the leadership of King Richard I of England, often know as Richard the Lionheart. This territory was much smaller than the previous Kingdom of Jerusalem. Its capital was Acre and it encompassed only the Coastal Plain and the Galilee, and not Jerusalem.

 

The Teutonic Knights order faced competition from the two other military monastic orders, the Knights Hospitaller and Knights Templar. The Teutonic Knights decided, therefore, to leave Acre and fortify this property which they had purchased from the de Milly family. It was eventually captured by the Mamelukes in 1271 after a previously unsuccessful siege 5 years earlier, and they were the ones who destroyed much of the castle.

Nahl Kziv IV.jpeg
Nahal Kziv III.jpeg

THE HIKE:

 

  • Walk down the red-marked trail in the opposite direction to which you came with your car. You will soon come to a fork in the road with a green Israel Nature and Park Authority sign. Turn right in the direction of the red arrow to Kziv Stream Montfort. (It is also possible to take the path straight ahead, but this is a rocky path and slightly difficult, although it is a bit quicker).

 

  • Continue on this initially easy, well-marked red trail. Take a short break for a stop at the observation area.  After about an hour, you will arrive at the fortress of Montfort. There are two sets of wooden steps on your left, one after the other, to sections of the fortress. There is nothing much to see at the top of the first one and it can easily be given a miss.  The next one, however, is worth ascending for the view over Nahal Kziv.

  • You will soon come to more fortress ruins. Go to the far end of the ruins to another observation area for more fantastic views. Take the nearby red-marked metal steps as this path descends around the fortress.

 

  • A bit past the fortress, go under a gate and continue on this trail until you come to the stream. 

 

  • Cross over the stream on the stones. [The crossing may be a bit easier further down the stream, but there is a sign by the path that says do not enter].  Turn right on the other side of the stream onto a green-marked trail in the direction of the signpost to “Tamir Spring and Abarim Fort.”

  • There are 5 subsequent stream crossings. They can all be done without getting your feet wet by balancing on the rocks. Alternatively, walk through the water, as it is usually quite shallow.

 

  • After crossing the stream for the fourth time continue on the green trail to Ein Tamir. [It is also possible to skip the spring and go directly onto the black-marked trail up the bank of the wadi]. There are often a lot of people by the crossing resting on the concrete bridge.

  • Turn back along the green-marked trail the way you came and eventually you will see a black-marked footpath with a sign to Mitzpe Hila going up the bank of wadi.

  • As mentioned, this path is somewhat steep, long, and involves some climbing, but is otherwise not excessively difficult. On 2 occasions you will meet a blue-marked trail on your right. Be sure to continue on the black-marked trail and not on these blue trails. This will eventually lead you back to your car.

Trail to Montfort and Nahal Kziv. To follow your location on your smart phone, click on https://israelhiking.osm.org.il/share/wdS6aqYlx2. Click on the black box with a cross at the top left of the map and it should change color to green. It is not necessary to download the free app unless you wish to.

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