Mount Hermon is the tallest mountain in Israel and also the northernmost mountain. In geographic terms Mount Hermon is in the Golan Heights. Three nations share sovereignty over Mount Hermon: Israel, Syria, and Lebanon. The highest point on the mountain is 2814 meters above sea level. The highest ground is controlled by Syria and is called Jabal al Sheikh in Arabic.
The highest point under Israeli control is 2224 meters above sea level and is called Snow Peak. The ski resort ranges from 1600 meters above sea level (the bottom of the ski lift) to 2100 meters above sea level (the top of the ski lift). Parking for the resort is at 1450 meters above sea level. The military gate to the mountain is at Majdal Shams, 1210 meters above sea level. The Mount Hermon ski resort operates year-round but is open for skiing only in the winter months December to February depending on the presence of snow. Aside from skiing, you can snowboard and slide down the mountain in a sled. On the extreme slide, speeds up to 45 km per hour are possible.
In the summer you can ride the ski lift for a fee. There are free nature tours of the ski resort twice daily, at 11:00 and at 13:00. On these tours you can learn about the flora and fauna in the Mount Hermon area. The resort itself covers 600 acres and is operated by residents of Neve Ativ. The highest Jewish village in Israel is actually Nimrod at 1100 meters above sea level.
Until the last decade the average number of ski days was 45; with global warming that number has decreased to a mere ten days. Thus far in 2011, there have been only three ski days.
The resort is open daily from 8:00 A.M. until 4:00 P.M. The parking area is closed to arriving vehicles at 3:30 P.M.
For information call 03-6060640. This is a 24-hour recording.
Or call Neve Ativ: 04 6981333.
Or call the resort: 159 9550560.
The climate on Mount Hermon and the Golan Heights
Until the past decade, most of the precipitation on Mount Hermon fell as snow. Daytime high temperatures in the winter were approximately 0° Celsius. The last decade has seen a dramatic rise in temperatures even on Mount Hermon. The number of snow days has fallen and now most precipitation falls as rain. This is the case in the area under Israeli control. Above 2300 meters above sea level, most of the annual precipitation is still snow.
Summertime high temperatures can reach 30° Celsius. Humidity in the summer is very low while, in the winter, fog is nearly a permanent feature of the weather.
Rainfall amounts vary greatly between the northern Golan Heights and the southern. To a large degree, altitude determines the amount of precipitation. Mount Hermon receives about 1600 mm of precipitation annually; the northern Golan Heights receive 1000-1200 mm; the central Golan Heights receive 700-900 mm; and the southern heights receive 400-600 mm. At www.israelweather.co.il/English/week forecast you can find forecasts for Mount Hermon; for Merom Golan representative of the northern Golan Heights; and for Katzrin representative of the central and southern regions.
Water sources in the Hermon and Golan Heights
Rain that falls on Mount Hermon flows into three main rivers: the Snir (also known as the Hazbani), the Dan, and the Banias. These rivers, and their tributaries, flow into the Jordan River, contributing about 25% of its water. The Banias flows strongly year-round. It alone supplies 125 million cubic meters of water. The temperature of the Banias ranges from 12-18° Celsius. The low range of temperatures is caused by snow melt.
Vegetation on Mount Hermon
Altitude plays a major role in the amount and type of vegetation on Mount Hermon. As the altitude increases, vegetation thins. Above 1900 meters above sea level, the vegetation is short and unique to this area alone in Israel. Such vegetation can be found elsewhere in the world at high elevations. Between 1250 and 1900 meters above sea level there are conifers, mostly deciduous, but their number is not large. Below 1250 meters above sea level we find typical Mediterranean vegetation, similar to that found in the low mountains of the Galilee and the center of Israel.
Settlements and villages in the northern Golan Heights
Majdal Shams is the highest settlement in this area at 1300 meters above sea level. Other prominent settlements and towns are Neve Ativ, Merom Golan, Nimrod, El Rom, Bukata, Ortal, Odem, and Mount Bental. Our website gives the forecasts for Merom Golan at 1000 meters above sea level.
The Golan Heights are in the northeastern corner of Israel. Most of the heights are flat but there is a significant difference between north and south. The northern heights reach 2224 meters above sea level at Snow Peak whereas, in the south, Katzrin is only 350 meters above sea level. There can be temperature differences of as much as 10° Celsius between north and south. Precipitation varies from 1600 mm on Mount Hermon to 600 in the southern heights. There are 12 man-made reservoirs on the heights that capture rain water and run-off which are then used for irrigation. Most rain that falls on the Golan Heights eventually reaches the Sea of Galilee. Some flows eastward into Syria.
Tourism in the Golan Heights
Mount Hermon is the only place in Israel where skiing is available. There are also many nature preserves near Mount Hermon.
Lake Hula is located between the Hula Valley, the Golan Heights, and the Naftali Mountains. The lake is 100 meters above sea level. A daily forecast for Lake Hula can be found at www.israelweather.co.il/English/week forecast/north valley. The site is suitable for the entire family. The site is open daily. Entrance is free. The hiking path is 8.5 km long. Telephone to the visitor's center: 04 6817137.
The Banias, or the Hermon River, is one of the sources of the Jordan River. There are waterfalls and springs in the site. There are several places to enter the cold water of the Banias. The hiking path is two kilometers long. It goes through thick Mediterranean forestland. There are also archeological sites along the path. The hiking path is rated easy, suitable for the whole family. The hiking path begins on road 99, at the entrance to the Banias Nature Preserve, and ends at the entrance to Kibbutz Snir. Summer hours are 8:00 to 17:00. Winter hours are 8:00 to 16:00. On Fridays and holiday eves the site closes one hour earlier. A daily forecast for Banias can be found at: www.israelweather.co.il/English/week forecast/north valley.
Dan Nature Preserve
The Dan River is the largest and most important of the three rivers that flow into the Jordan River. The river is fed by snow melt from Mount Hermon; therefore, the water of the Dan is cold year-round. Springs that also feed the river, and are located within the reserve, provide 250 million cubic meters of water annually, about half of the volume of water of the Jordan River. There are three hiking trails all of which are suitable for the whole family. A daily forecast for the Dan Nature Preserve can be found at: www.israelweather.co.il/English/week forecast/north valley.
The distance between the Dan Nature Reserve and the Saar waterfall is about 10 km.
The Saar River is seasonal so hiking in the area is recommended for the winter and spring. The trail from The Good Fence to the waterfall is 3.5 kilometers. The trail is rated easy to moderate and is considered suitable for families. The source of the Saar River is Mount Hermon so the water is cold. This area is 250 meters above sea level near Kibbutz Dafna and Kiryat Shmona. A daily forecast for the Saar Waterfall can be found at: www.israelweather.co.il/English/week forecast/north valley.
Hamat Gader is home to natural hot springs and serves as a medicinal bathing site. It is located at the bottom of the southern end of the Golan Heights. Near Hamat Gader a scenic road winds up into the Golan Heights. Temperatures of the hot springs range from 28-50° Celsius. There are a hotel and spa on-site. The site covers nearly 40 acres on which there are a bird sanctuary and an alligator preserve. The site is 150 meters below sea level. A daily forecast for Hamat Gader can be found at: www.israelweather.co.il/English/week forecast/tiberias.
Gamla Nature Preserve
Gamla is located in the southern Golan Heights, 300 meters above sea level. The Gamla River and Daliyot River flow through the preserve. The highest waterfall in Israel, 51 meters high, is here. Several types of birds of prey can be observed here, including an eagle unique to this area. The hiking trail is 3.5 km long, mostly flat, easy to moderate in difficulty, and suitable for families. Winter and spring are the best seasons for hiking. A daily forecast for Gamla Nature Preserve can be found at: www.israelweather.co.il/English/week forecast/katzrin.
The Odem Forest reserve is located in the north Golan Heights at 1000 meters above sea level. It is between the villages of Bukata and Mas'ada. The hiking trail is easy. A daily forecast for Odem Forest can be found at: www.israelweather.co.il/English/week forecast/merom golan.
Mount Bental lookout point and Kofi Anan restaurant
Mount Bental is a dormant volcano in the north Golan Heights, 1171 meters above sea level. From the top of the mountain you can see the entire Hermon Range, the Syrian city of Kuneitra, the Upper and Lower Galilee, and the Hula Valley. Kibbutz Merom Golan is at the base of the mountain. A daily forecast for Mount Bental can be found at: www.israelweather.co.il/English/week forecast/merom golan. The Kofi Anan Restaurant is located at the top of Mount Bental. The name of the restaurant is a play on words between Hebrew and the name of the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Anan. The word "anan" means cloud in Hebrew and the mountain peak is covered by fog most of the time.
Yehudia River Nature Preserve
The trails begin and end in the parking area. There is an entrance fee to both the trails and parking area. There are deep pools throughout the hikes. The trails are for strong hikers only. Most of the trails are suitable for children above 12 years of age. Hikers are advised to take at least four liters of water per hiker.
There are two circular trails. The shorter one is four hours long and has two deep pools. The longer is 6.5 hours long and has five pools. Hikers must be able to swim as they must traverse the pools with all their equipment. The reserve is 300 meters above sea level. A daily forecast for Yehudia River Nature Preserve can be found at: www.israelweather.co.il/English/week forecast/katzrin.
From April to September the preserve is open from 8:00-17:00.
From October to March it is open from 8:00-16:00.
Entrance to the preserve is closed two hours before the official closing time.
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