The Gospel Trail

He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled: ‘Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations!      (Matthew 4:13-15)
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The Gospel Trail provides an opportunity for anyone on foot ,as well as by bike, to enjoy the physical and spiritual experience of following in the footsteps of Jesus through the beautiful, historical landscape of the Galilee. The trail begins in Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown, and leads to Capernaum on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, by way of rustic roads and pathways that have been trod upon since ancient times by shepherds, farmers and villagers, merchants, pilgrims, armies, kings and prophets, by Jesus in his day…. and now by you.

The route is about 62 km in length but can be broken into segments to make it more suitable to personal abilities and preferences. The route  is divided into 4 segments, allowing visits to nearby historic and religious sites located off the main trail.

Segment 1: Nazareth to Devorah Mountain

  • Start at Mt. Precipice, where the panoramic view of the Jezreel Valley will help you grasp why the Kingdom of Israel was so prosperous and why many of the biblical stories occurred in this region. According to tradition, this is the site where the Nazarenes drove Jesus away and attempted to throw him off the cliffs. The view extends to the Samaritan mountains further to the south, Mt. Tabor, to the east and Megiddo and the Carmel Ridge to the west.
  • Descend the path to the south, turning northeast by the side of the ridge. Below is the Arab village of Iksal.
  • Continue along the slope towards Upper Nazareth (Nazareth Elite).
  • Before turning into Churchill Forest Park, an alternative route descends into the ravine and then turns north, following Nahal Barak, until it rejoins the main trail, just north of Mt. Devorah.
  • Continue on the main trail, circling around Mt. K’sulot and then continuing north along Nahal Barak.
  • Pass via Mt. Devorah, named for the prophetess Devorah, in memory of Barak’s defeat of the Philistines. (Judges 5:2-31)
  • Cross the ravine and continue along the north side of the mountain where a short climb takes you to the hilltop of the Mt. Tabor Lookout.
  • Continue the main trail east to Beith Keshet Forest or take a side trip and ascend Mt Tabor (a physically challenging and rewarding hike).

Segment 2: Beit Keshet Forest to Tur’an Valley

  • Start at the Beit Keshet Mediterranean Forest, turning north where the Beith Keshet Oak Lookout extends an excellent view to the east. The surrounding countryside is covered with colorful anemones and pink cyclamens in spring and although the flowers are absent in summer, the trees provide wonderful shade.
  • From Tel Govel, another vista a bit farther on, the trail passes along the western edge of the Beit Keshet Oak Reserve established to protect the rare Mt. Tabor Oaks.
  • A sidetrip to the nearby village of Kfar Cana, the location of the first miracle of turning water into wine (John 2:3-9) can be made by following the trail branching off to the west. The path follows a circular route (approx 10 km) returning to the same spot on the main trail.
  • Continue north, viewing the Valley of Tur’an to the northwest, as the trail turns east, parallel to Highway 77.
  • Cross under Highway 65, near Golani junction and continue east for 2 km.
  • Turn north, crossing under Highway 77 to avoid the busy traffic at the junctions, to Kibbutz Lavi and Horns of Hattin.

Segment 3: Arbel Valley

  • Continue east of Golani Junction and north of Kibbutz Lavi near the ancient Roman road, passing a few carob trees and an ancient wine-press.
  • After about 4 km. the rocky terrain changes into expanses of cultivated crops and wheat fields, associated with the stories of the New Testament of the grain picked by Jesus and his disciples on the Sabbath (Mark 23:2). which is why the area is called from the name “wheat field”.
  • A glance to the northeast and the extinct volcano of Horns of Hattin comes into view, where the Muslim forces of Salah A Din defeated the Crusader armies in 1187.
  • A circular route (counter clockwise east, north, then west) branching off from the main route leads to the Druze Shrine of Nabi Shuaib, (shrine and burial site of the Prophet Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law’). Follow the path westward to rejoin the main trail.
  • Continue the main trail down from Horns of Hattin, following Nahal N’merim, passing ancient olive groves till it joins Nahal Arbel which flows east towards the Sea of Galilee.
  • Turn right following the meandering waterway. A view to the south shows openings to ancient caves on the face of the Arbel Cliffs.
  • Approach the Bedouin community of Wadi Hamam, passing Vradim ruins, a Roman and Byzantine site with architectural remains of what may have been a synagogue.
  • A few steps brings you to a parking lot with a shady rest area and the trail follows the access road that leads out of the village and crosses Highway 807 towards the fields of the town of Magdala (Migdal).

Segment 4: Gennesaret Valley and the Sea of Galilee

  • Before heading off from the main trail, a side trip to Magdala (Migdal), location of the traditional home of Mary Magdalene, where a unique first century synagogue was uncovered in 2009 and a pilgrimage center is under construction.
  • Continue on the main trail along the Plains of Gennesaret, where since biblical times, this has been a lush agricultural area with orchards, wild plants, including reeds, Castor-Oil Plant, Crist’s Thorn Jujube and mustard plants. The trail passes the main entrance to the Migdal tourist facilities and continues north past the spring at Ein Nun, where you can freshen up in its waters.
  • Continue along the trail till Nahal Amud.
  • Turn east, continuing along the waterway and pass under Highway 90.
  • A side trip is recommended to visit the “Man in Galilee Museum” at Kibbutz Ginosar, where a fishing boat from the time of Jesus is on display.
  • Next, head north along the east side of Highway 90, climbing Tel Kinrot, and then following the turn off into Tabgha Valley and the Church of Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes.
  • A path on the far side of Road 87, leads through open fields to Mt. of Beatitudes and the Church of the Sermon on the Mount, where the view, tranquility and surrounding landscape, are familiar from Jesus’ ministry.
  • Return to Road 87, to continue north along a paved promenade, which many believe to be the area where Jesus taught a crowd on the beach from aboard a boat (Luke 5:3) “The Bay of Parables”.
  • Continue along the trail to the final destination at Capernaum, know as Jesus’ town. (Matthew 9:1).