Mount Gilboa is part of the lower Galilee’s eastern gateway between the Jezreel Valley, Israel’s breadbasket, and the Jordan Valley. One of the Galilee’s most scenic regions, this 500-meter-high ridge is the site where King Saul and his sons, Jonathan, Abinadav and Malkishua died after a battle with the Philisitines (1 Sam. 31:2-7). This moving story is commemorated by the names of some of the communities and peaks along this 18-kilometer-long mountainous stretch.
The view from Gilboa takes in many visitor sites, including Mount Moreh (Judges 7:1), where Gideon’s army assembled; Tel Jezreel, home of Ahab and Jezebel; and the national parks of Ein Harod, where Gideon chose his soldiers (Judges 7:4); Beit Alfa, with its ancient synagogue mosaic and Bet Shean, one of the country’s most significant biblical tels, whose Roman-Byzantine ruins are a highlight. Also in the area is Sachne National Park, with a warm spring where you can go swimming.
You’ll find the Mount Gilboa scenic route – along road 667 south of Beit Shean, from Malkishua to Kibbutz Yizrael – studded with magnificent views in all directions, forests, picnic areas and hiking trails. Some Gilboa communities offer bed-and-breakfast accommodations so you can take full advantage of hiking, cycling and other activities in the region.
The mountain’s normally mild winter days offer the clearest panoramas, but the greatest attraction in March and April is the blooming of the magnificent Gilboa, a gorgeous purplish blossom so significant that it became the logo of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel.