Located in the Lower Galilee region, overlooking the Jezreel Valley, Mount Gilboa is one of Israel’s most beautiful sites. With its gentle, rolling hills carpeted with wildflowers in the springtime, and its breathtaking overlooks, Gilboa makes an excellent stop off, particularly during the hot summers. No matter when you visit, it’s a veritable mountaintop experience.
Gilboa, which means “bubbling spring” in Hebrew, stands at over 1,600 feet in elevation. Famous for its freshwater spring, Ein Harod, much of Israel’s early history came to life in the shadow of the mountain. The spring featured prominently in the story of Gideon and his 300 warriors, who defeated the Midianites in battle (Judges 7:1-8), while the mountain itself was where King Saul, his sons, including David’s close friend Jonathan, met their end during the battle against the Philistine army (1 Samuel 21:1-6). In his grief, King David cursed the mountain (2 Samuel 1:21), leaving it barren of trees or crops, even to this day.
Fast forward through the centuries and you will also find that Gilboa was also a strategic battleground against Saladin’s army during the Crusades.
Today, Mount Gilboa bears the scars of history on its rocky ridges, and thousands flock to this site every year to enjoy its nearby nature reserves, springs, and recreation areas. Hiking enthusiasts will find ample challenges in Gilboa’s numerous trails. Birdwatchers and paragliders find equal thrill in the steep cliffs on the mountain’s northern and eastern sides, as well as endless vistas over the Jezreel Valley.
Those who prefer a bit more terra firma can drive the Gilboa Scenic Road, dotted with scenic overlooks and featured attractions, like the Gilboa Iris Nature Reserve. The winter and spring rains ensure a thick carpet of purple iris and other varieties of flowers.
Many visitors to the area decide to extend their stay at Mount Gilboa, and there are a number of accommodation options available, particularly near the foothills. Mount Gilboa provides a glimpse into Israel’s biblical past and its glorious present.