Sataf located in the the Jerusalem Hills, is famed for its hiking trails and natural beauty, set in one of Israel’s most incredible and powerful landscapes. Pine forests line the hillsides providing a powerful entry to the powerful city of Jerusalem. Just off the road are a large number of amazing places, within breathing distance of the city. These include the village of Abu Ghosh, Israel’s hummus capital, the village of Ein Kerem, famed for its Biblical importance, and a large number of beauty spots of which Sataf is definitely one. With a great walking or hiking trail, amazing views, and a great cafe, its a great place to escape the city and enjoy some shaded beauty.
Sataf by Yosef M., on Flickr
Sataf is just a ten-minute drive from the outskirts of Jerusalem through hairpin windy roads of the Jerusalem Hills. Sataf was first settled some 6,000 years ago during the Chalcolithic Period. Some 1,500 years later, the inhabitants began terracing the steep slopes of the hills to create land which could be used for agriculture, moving large amounts of the rocky earth to create small platforms upon which they grew grapes, olives, figs, and pomegranates.
The village, correctly known as Ein Sataf was originally settled in by North African Jews after Israeli independence, and was then taken over by an Israeli paratrooper unit. The hillside aside the village was taken control of by the Jewish National Fund (an organisation responsible for loads of the forests and nature in Israel) about twenty years ago. They began to manage the pine and cypress forests, terraced the slopes, and began cultivating olives, figs and pomegranates using ancient methods, as well as carving out of the reserve, some great walking trails. For more information
Sataf is an incredibly popular spot with hikers, runners and families out for a barbecue. The New York Times described their visit:
Goat Cheese from Sataf by Jamie Lynn Ross, on Flickr
Hikes at Sataf
There are in total, five hiking trails at Sataf which work in unison to provide visitors with various options or a circular walk starting from the main entrance and car park.
For a circular walk, head out on the blue trail passing through olive groves, past the well, and a cave that was once inhabited. You will see the excavations of a Chalcolithic site which has the oldest traces of agriculture in the region, and the plots which are being used today to grow organic vegetables and herbs. As you continue along the hillside you will pass an ancient olive press and enter a pomegranate orchard, eventually reaching Ein Sataf and Ein Bikura, which are ruins of ancient and more modern settlements here.
Road through the Wadi by Yosef M., on Flickr
Continue onto the green trail back up the hill (you can take the green trail in the other direction, down towards the Soreq Stream), passing cultivated plots, ancient forests, and other sites of beauty, before arriving back at the start point and the upper car park.
Getting to Sataf
Turn south from the main road to Jerusalem (Route 1) at the Harel Interchange, and from there to head south through Ma’oz Tzion in the direction of Kibbutz Tzuba (Route 3965).
From Jerusalem you can take Route 395 from Ein Kerem.
Coming from the coastal plain you can take the same road, but from the opposite direction, from Eshtaol Junction through Kissalon, Ramat Raziel, and Tzuba.
Relaxing in the restaurant at Sataf by Or Hiltch, on Flickr
You enter the site from the Sataf Junction, where the roads that come from Mevasseret Tzion, Tzuba, and Ein Kerem intersect.
Sataf is free to enter and open during daylight hours. There is a great café at the site, a great place to cool off and relax after your hike. Alternatively if you prefer, there are benches along the trails for picnics. At weekends and during holiday periods Sataf can become busy, although this is the price of beauty.