From Rakefet Stream to Muhraka

The views from the Horn of the Carmel at the southern part of the Carmel are breathtaking, they include the landscapes of the Jezreel Valley and the Galilee. From this observation point you could easily envision the picturesque story of the “duel” between Elijah and the Ba’al prophets, which according to tradition, happened here. In the same vein, you could simply have much more fun from the Horn of the Carmel, or Muhraka, if you take the 5-km trail [3 miles] through the Rakefet Stream, which cuts through the virgin forest of the Carmel.
Updated at: 17/12/2015

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8.6
22

Duration


Day

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Moderate, 8 Km

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All year

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In the same vein, you could simply have much more fun from the Horn of the Carmel, or Muhraka, if you take the 5-km trail [3 miles] through the Rakefet Stream, which cuts through the virgin forest of the Carmel. 

Although this trail is not circular it is suitable for all seasons because most of its parts cross through shadowed tunnels in the forest. Strenuous hikers can end this trail by descending to the valley, through some of the most beautiful landscapes of the country.

How to Get There

On Route 70 turn north at the Elyakim Junction [1] toward Daliyat al-Karmel (Road 672). After driving for about 3 km [1.8 miles], near kilometer stone no. 26, you’ll see access to a dirt-road on your right, marked red in the footpath marking system. This point is the beginning of the trail.

alternative Options for Completing the Trail

  1. The shorter option of a 5-km trail [3 miles] ends at Muhraka where you'll leave a second vehicle. For that purpose, after unloading your passengers at the beginning of the trail, continue with two vehicles north along the road by which you will have arrived, toward Daliyat al-Karmel. At the northern entrance to the town you’ll come to a traffic circle. Turn right [3] and follow the signposting to Muhraka (the Horn of the Carmel) [4]. Leave one vehicle there and return by the other to the beginning of the trail.
  2. For those who prefer to continue downhill east from the Muhraka (tantamount to 7 km [4.3 m]). After unloading your passengers, return with 2 vehicles toward the Elyakim Junction, continue east on Route 70, and then north toward Haifa. The trail ends at point no. [8] on the map, about one km north [0.6 m] of the HaTishbi Junction; however you will need to make a U-turn in order to leave a car there, so continue from the HaTishbi Junction north toward the HaAmakim Junction (6 km, 3.7 m) and make a U-turn there. On your way back southward, after about 5-km [3.1 m] you’ll come across a right turn toward a dirt-road [8] with a red-marked column at its beginning. Leave one vehicle there. With the other one return to the beginning of the trail. These arrangements might take about 20 minutes.

The Trail

The beginning of the trail [2] is at a dirt-road that passes among olive orchards and is marked red in the footpath marking system. Proceed with the road that soon becomes a footpath downward and northeast toward the Rakefet Stream. Among the streams of the Carmel, the Rakefet [cyclamen] Stream is the only one that flows from north to south. Its estuary is at the Yokneam Stream –a tributary of the Kishon Stream. Continue about 0.75 km [0.466 mile] until meeting with the bed of the Rakefet stream [5] near the northern gate of the Soltam premises. At this point there is a dirt-road that turns right downstream and toward the Elyakim Stream that continues for 2 km [1.2 m] at the eastern slope of the stream to the Rakefet Cave where remnants of a prehistoric settlement were discovered, amongst which were even some skeletons. The richness of an arrayal of flint stoneware that was used for domestic and hunting chores bears witness to the everyday lives of these primordial people, as well as discoveries of various animal bones, such as those of wild cattle, rams, gazelles, wild boars and more. Being located in a military area, a permit is needed in advance to visit there.

Don’t follow the stream downstream; instead continue upstream along the red-marked trail. At this phase the trail climbs up the stream virtually at the streambed. The shadowed beautiful canopy of vegetation will make you feel secluded from civilization. The Hike is not always easy and every now and then you’ll bypass shallow waterfalls, which were created by differences in rock hardness. You’ll actually be surrounded by evergreen Mediterranean flora. Enjoy the shadows of the Palestine oaks, terebinth trees, and eastern strawberry trees with their reddened trunks, true laurel, and spiky common hawthorns with their edible fruits. In March the Juda’s trees glow with their pink blossoms and depending on the season, everything flourishes with a lush of cyclamen, anemone, corn poppy, and the blossoming of bellflowers.

After a moderate 2 km [1.2 m] climb the footpath intersects with a wide black-marked dirt-road [6]. This is the Nof HaCarmel [the Landscape of the Carmel Road], which starts one kilometer north of the starting point on Road 672, and along most of its parts is suitable for all vehicles, but occasionally only for all-terrain ones. Encircling the Carmel’s eastern ridge to Haifa, driving on it is advisable and enjoyable with its many observation points, and you can do so after completing this trail.

In proceeding along the Rakefet Stream along the red-marked trail for another 1 km [0.6 m], you’ll finally come to the Khirbet Kerah [7] which is easily identified by its many caves and huge stone cubes along the roadsides.

Khirbet Kerah Ruins

Today the Kerah Ruins is at the outskirts of the Druze town Daliyat al-Karmel that can be distinguished easily by its colorful houses. This place persevered in the past, during the Roman and Byzantine Periods (click here for historical timeline), as an agricultural settlement, which is easily evident from its remnants. If you stroll around its houses at the head of the hill right to the trail (south of it) you'll come across a cistern of a wine press, where people literally pressed the grapes by walking barefoot on them. On the other side of the trail notice some huge stone cubes which served in the wine press in making  olive paste from the olives. This product was laid in baskets and an immense weight was exerted on it in order to squeeze the oil from it . One of the methods to generate this weight was by a wooden beam and a massive stone that pressed it, like the stone you'll see here. In addition, look for the two wide plastered water reservoirs nearby.

If you walk around this area you'll come to some caves, some of them were used as burial caves but long ago they are looted. After exploring the ruins, follow the red-marked trail eastward to the Horn of the Carmel. It will take about a 2 km [1.2 m] hike in the forest to reach the monastery that sits on the peak of the Horn of the Carmel [4].

The Horn of the Carmel

The Horn of the Carmel is one of the Carmel’s summits that rises to a height of 474 meters. Though some may think it’s the highest peak of the Carmel, this is not correct. At the top of the hill is a monastery that belongs to the Catholic religious order of the Carmelites and it is called Elijah the Prophet. Based on remnants of an ancient church, this abbot was built in 1883; the order holds that it was on this point that Elijah challenged the prophets of Ba’al (Kings I, 18). To refresh hazy memories of your Bible lessons, the ba’al prophets vied with Elijah on whose God could ignite a fire to sacrifice the bulls that were tied to a wooden altar. After a whole day of failed trails by the Ba’al prophets, Elijah manifested to them the Divine power and a fire  dropped down from heaven and devoured the offering:

21And Elijah came near unto all the people, and said: 'How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.' And the people answered him not a word.

22Then said Elijah unto the people: 'I, even I only, am left a prophet of the LORD; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men.

23Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, and put no fire under; and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on the wood, and put no fire under.

24And call ye on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD; and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God.' And all the people answered and said: 'It is well spoken.'

25And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal: 'Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under.'

26And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying: 'O Baal, answer us.' But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they danced in halting wise about the altar which was made.

27And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said: 'Cry aloud; for he is a god; either he is musing, or he is gone aside, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.'

28And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with swords and lances, till the blood gushed out upon them.

29And it was so, when midday was past, that they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening offering; but there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.

30And Elijah said unto all the people: 'Come near unto me'; and all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was thrown down.

31And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying: 'Israel shall be thy name.'

32And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD; and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.

33And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid it on the wood.

34And he said: 'Fill four jars with water, and pour it on the burnt-offering, and on the wood.' And he said: 'Do it the second time'; and they did it the second time. And he said: 'Do it the third time'; and they did it the third time.

35And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.

36And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening offering, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said: 'O LORD, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that Thou art God in Israel, and that I am Thy servant, and that I have done all these things at Thy word.

37Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that Thou, LORD, art God, for Thou didst turn their heart backward.'

38Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt-offering, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. (Kings I, 28)

 

The place was named Muhraka, a place of burning, in light of this story: after the descending of the fire Elijah took the prophets of the Ba’al, and there, on the slopes of the Carmel, near the Kishon Stream, he slaughtered them, and  tradition attributes the place to Tel Kashish. The Carmelites further believe that the biblical phrase “there ariseth a cloud out of the sea, as small as a man's hand.“(Kings I, 18: 44) symbolizes the Blessed Virgin Mary, and hence the place is sanctified twofold. The tradition of the Horn of Carmel is common to all three Abrahamic faiths. It is warmly recommended to visit the monastery and enjoy the amazing views from the top of the mountain. The panoramic view from the south to the north is of Ramot Menasheh, Umm el-Fahm, the Samaria Mountains, Gilboa, Jezreel Valley, Gilead, Galilee, and Mount Hermon. A statue of Elijah was erected on the premises of the abbey and it replaced a former one which was damaged and removed to Nazareth.

The opening hours of the monastery: all weekdays except Sunday: 8:00 – 12:30 AM, 2:30 - 4:30 PM. Tel.: 0528-779686.

For those who w have left their vehicle at this point, your trail ends here; those who have left their car down in the valley, continue from the monastery along the red-marked trail next to the gate and eastward through a relatively steep descent at the beginning toward the Kishon Stream.

You will be descending about 430 meters via a curved 2 km [1.2 m] road.  The sharp change in altitude allows you to see how the oak species change: at the top you'll see the boissier oaks, Palestine oaks and true laurels; at the bottom, the kermes oaks, the Tabor oaks and  terebinth trees. All throughout the descent you will enjoy the spectacular views of the Lower Galilee and Jezreel Valley.    

After some 400 m [1,300 f] you will come to the blue-marked dirt-road again, the same Nof HaCarmel Trail that you’ll cross at the beginning, at the Rakefet Stream.

Upon your way downward be aware that sometimes the trail is undefined due to a few stones with red markings which have rolled down the mountain. You needn't worry about it because you can navigate your way back based on the car park which is visible below.

Continue with the red-marked trail to the car park [8] near Route 70.  

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