Mount Tabor in the Lower Galilee region of Northern Israel rises with its distinctive shape from the flat and fertile Jezreel Valley. Mount Tabor is important as a Biblical site from both the Old and New Testaments, and today, as a place of leisure, with awesome hiking trails and as one of the most important paragliding locations in Israel.
Where is Mount Tabor?
The beautiful Mount Tabor by Vad Levin
Mount Tabor is in the far east of the Jezreel Valley (otherwise known as the Valley of the Armageddon) in the Lower Galilee region of northern Israel. About 15km west of the Sea of Galilee, Mount Tabor stands alone, and is therefore particularly striking, despite its relatively low height of about 600m. It is probably for this reason that Mount Tabor has played an important role throughout history, in particular in Biblical times.
Mount Tabor in Religion
References to Mount Tabor can be found in both Jewish and Christian texts. In the Old Testament, it is mentioned as the border of the tribes of Zebulun, Issachar and Naphtali, probably due to its height and therefore the strategic control it provides of the east-west route through the Jezreel Valley, and north-south route through the Galilee. Mount Tabor continued to have significance in the period of the Second Temple as the site of settlement and battles.
For Christians, Mount Tabor is believed to be the place of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ, where Jesus began to radiate light and conversed with Moses and Elijah. The result is that the site long-ago became a site of pilgrimage. Two churches – the Roman Catholic Church of the Transfiguration and nearby the Eastern Sanctuary of the Orthodox Church – sit atop Mount Tabor and draw pilgrims from around the world every year.
Leisure and Hikes at Mount Tabor
In the past 100 years massive efforts have been undertaken to reforest Mount Tabor (much of the mountain was cut down during the Ottoman Period), and today it is covered in lush pine forest. An access road was built up the mountain, greatly improving accessibility (and replacing the need to climb about 4,500 steps which was necessary in the past.) It is the accessibility, combined with the beauty and flat surrounding plains, which make Mount Tabor one of the most popular locations for paragliding in Israel.
There are three major hiking trails at Mount Tabor
- The long trail begins at the Bedouin village Shibli which is set at the foot of Mount Tabor. The trail is about 5km long
- The short trail is a 2.5km nature trail at the summit.
- The Israel National Trail traverses Mount Tabor as it passes on its route from Metulla in the far north of Israel, to Eilat in the far south.
- Furthermore, there are beautiful trails in the woodlands surrounding the mountain.
As well as hikes, there are 4×4 trails in the forested areas of the mountain – see more about jeep tours in the Galilee for more details.