Horshat Tal National Park

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Horshat Tal (Dew Grove) is a 700 dunams nature and recreation resort, with broad stretches of natural grass and a large lake for swimming in, fed from cool streams of water originating from the Dan Stream. 

Over all these rises the tall Mt. Hermon which inspired the name of this place, as is written in Psalm 133, v. 3:  "Like the dew of Hermon, that comes down upon the mountains of Zion".  The place is attractive to lovers of water sites and people who want a comfortable place to stay in the bosom of nature. 
Nature lovers will also find great interest in Horshat Tal.  There is a grove of oak trees in the reserve where Mount Tabor oaks (Quercus ithaburensis) grow to impressive sizes.  Nearby is the Orchids Reserve, presenting a rare range of types of orchid that exist nowhere else in Israel.

Points of Interest

  • Tour of the ancient Oak Tree Grove and observation of Mesopotamian fallow deer (Dama mesopotamica), 
  • Recreation and bathing in the lake fed by the waters of the Dan Stream
  • Spectacular winter flowering of anemones (Anemone coronaria)
  • Tour of the Orchids Reserve
  • Parking for overnight camping
  • Caravan parking

 

Details of the Points of Interest:

  • Tours of the Oak Tree Grove containing ancient Mt. Tabor oaks and observation of Mesopotamian fallow deer brought into the place to graze.
  • Recreation and bathing in the lake fed by the waters of the Dan Stream
  • Spectacular winter flowering of anemones
  • Tours of the Orchids Reserve - located south-west of the Horshat Tal National Park. It contains a remarkable variety of plants, including 13 species of orchids.
  • Parking for overnight camping - a well-cared-for overnight camping site, including toilets and hot/cold water showers, a lake for swimming and fishing, electricity and lighting (24V), a cafeteria and refrigeration lockers (for a fee).  It is possible to sleep in tents under the stars.  There are also wooden guest houses and bungalows (straw huts).
  • Caravan parking lot - at the southern part of the National Park there is a caravan parking lot.  The caravan stands are separated by fences, to provide privacy for vacationers, with electricity, gas and water connections at each stand. 

Observation Points

  • Observation point towards snowy Mt. Hermon from the overnight camping area.
  • Observation point from the site towards the slopes of the Golan Heights and the Hills of Naftali.

Identity card

Status:

Horshat Tal was declared a National Park in 1968.  The Horshat Tal Nature Reserve containing the Oak Tree Grove was declared in 1968.

Reasons for the Declaration:

  • Preservation of the grove containing about 240 ancient Mt. Tabor oaks.
  • Preservation of the batha growing on rare rock formations among watery channels, rich in varieties of orchids and rare species belonging to this moist habitat.
  • A place of vacation and recreation amid flowing streams.
  • An area set aside for raising a breading nucleus of Mesopotamian fallow deer.
  • A place for raising a recovery nucleus of the black kite (Milvus migrans)

Location in Israel: Horshat Tal is located to the north of the Hula Valley, east of and adjacent to Kibbutz HaGoshrim.

Activities of the Nature and Parks Authority​​

  • Preservation of the ancient Mt. Tabor oaks growing in the Oaks Grove and encouragement of woodland re-growth.
  • Collecting the water flowing from the Tal brook, originating from the Dan Stream, in a lake intended for swimming.  Building-up water channels, thus creating rivulets for the pleasure of vacationers.  The water then continues to flow into the Jordan River.
  • Creating a breeding nucleus for the Mesopotamian fallow deer, as "back-up" for the breeding nucleus on the Carmel.  The grazing of the fallow deer will open up the dense vegetation, so as to enable the many species of orchids growing in the region to flourish.
  • Long-term monitoring of 13 species of orchids growing in the fenced-in area.  This is the highest concentration of a large number of orchid species.
  • Preservation of the grasses batha with an abundance of species and especially preservation of rare species, such as St. John's wort (Hypericum hircinum) and Greek silk-vine (Periploca graeca), which grow on travertine rocks.  The rock itself is unique, since it covers an extensive area.

Fauna

Part of the reserve is dedicated to the raising of a breeding nucleus of Mesopotamian fallow deer, a large herbivore that became extinct in Israel and has now been returned.  The original breeding nucleus of this rare large deer lives in the Carmel "Hay Bar", and some individuals from there have even been released into the wild.  At Horshat Tal the Nature and Parks Authority maintains an additional herd of Mesopotamian fallow deer as back-up for nature and also as a method of restraining the vegetation in the region.

Otters have been observed in the brooks of Horshat Tal in the past.  Otters are very rare mammals in Israel, they are 60 cm long and covered with brown fur.  They spend their time in mainly the water, and feed on fish and other species it finds in the water.

At Horshat Tal there is a population of Liometopum microcephalum - a rare species of ant existing in Israel only in Horshat Tal and the Banias region.  It is a small ant, between 4 and 6 cm long, with a dark-brown body.  A prominent characteristic is the velvety layer of hairs on its abdomen.  The ant is active during the day, mainly on oak trees, but also on plane trees and willows. Liometopum microcephalum preys on insects and reptiles that live on trees, thus protecting the trees from pests.  The ant builds its nest in tree hollows of sawdust it collects from the tunnels left by beetle larvae.

Many species of birds find their way to Horshat Tal, among them the cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis), the little egret (Egretta garzetta), the spur-winged lapwing (Vanellus spinosus), the European bee-eater (Merops apiaster), the hooded crow (Corvus cornix), and the black kite.

Flora

Horshat Tal boasts a range of habitats rich in unique plant species:

  • The Mt. Tabor oaks - about 240 ancient Mt. Tabor oaks grow in Horshat Tal. The grove is all that remains of a large forest of Mt. Tabor oaks which, in the past, covered the northern part of the Hula Valley.  Other remnants of this forest can be seen as single trees that have survived here and there all over the valley.  The grove at Horshat Tal was apparently preserved due to the sanctity of the place.  The age of the trees is estimated at over 100 years.  Among the trees grow tall stems of horse parsley (Smyrnium olusatrum) of the Umbelliferae family.
  • In shallow, fast-drying soil grow many species of annuals, the most common of which are hop clover (trifolium campestre) and fringed fescue (Vulpia ciliata Dumort).
  • Deeper and moister soil is completely covered with annuals, the most prominent of which is chamomile (Anthemis bornmuelleri).  Rare species typical of moist habitat also grow here, such as the Phoenician rose (Rosa phoenicia), spurge (Euphorbia berythea), Greek silk-vine (Periploca graeca), yellow-wort (Blackstonia perfoliata), fen-sedge (Cladium mariscus), St John's wort (hypericum), great horsetail (Equisetum telmateia),.water germander (Teucrium scordium), Jointleaf Rush (Juncus articulatus) and  broad-leaved speedwell (Veronica lysimachioedes).
  • Spanish Cane (Arundo donax) grows on the embankments between the pools.
  • Travertine rocks - travertine is a limestone rock deposited where water flows.  Exposed travertine is rare in Israel.  The travertine areas in Horshat Tal served in the past for fish pools, and that is why there are depressions and raised areas.  Hardly any annual plant species grow on the exposed travertine (lacking the hard crust).  Yellow-wort (Blackstonia perfoliata), centaury (centaurium) are unique to this habitat.  13 species of orchids were found on the travertine areas, a range that is non-existent anywhere else in Israel.  The orchids growing here are:  the woodcock bee-orchid  (Ophrys scolopax), the yellow bee-orchid (Ophrys lutea), the omega bee-orchid  (Ophrys omegaifera), the early spider-orchid (Ophrys sphegodes), the bee orchid (Ophrys apifera), the small-dotted orchid (Orchis punctulata), fan-lipped orchid (Anacamptis collina), the bug orchid (Anacamptis coriophora), the Anatolian orchid (Orchis anatolica), the butterfly orchid (Anacamptis papilionacea) , the loose-flowered orchid (Anacamptis laxiflora), Eastern serapias (Serapias orientalis) and the  Helleborine (Epipactis veratrifolia).
  • Flow channels - both natural and man-made - criss-cross the area.  In the channels where there is regular water flow, willow trees grow here and there.  The banks of all the channels are covered with raspberries and reeds.  On the flat areas adjacent to the channels, which are partly flooded in water, there are remnants of meadow vegetation, typified by Hypericum hyssopifolium, the small-dotted orchid (Orchis punctulata) and the loose-flowered orchid (Anacamptis laxiflora). 

History and Archaeology

The oak tree grove is all that remains of a large forest that covered the Hula Valley in the past.  The place is known to the local inhabitants as Sejerat al Ashara (the Grove of the Ten).  It is assumed that the trees were preserved in the place due to their sanctity and their proximity to the nearby grave of Sheikh Ali.

A local legend tells of ten horse-riders of the "aṣ-ṣaḥābah" (the first disciples or companions who recognized Muhammad as a prophet) passed by the place.  They were tired from their journey but found not even one tree to give them shade.  They jammed their staffs into the ground and tied their horses to them.  When they awoke in the morning they discovered to their surprise that their staffs had turned into large trees.

At the western side of the reserve, burial caves cut into the rock were discovered, with impressive findings of glass vessels from the Byzantine period.  These objects are displayed in the Glass Hall at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

In Horshat Tal there are remains of the fish ponds that were operated by Kibbutz Dafna until the 70s.  In order to create the pools, presently 0.5 to 2 meters deep, the original infrastructure of the rock was removed.  The site is crisscrossed by channels, both natural and man-made. 

Geology and Geomorphology

Two streams - the Horshat Tal stream and the She'ar Yashuv stream - define the reserve from the north, west and south.  The eastern side borders on Road 918 leading to Kfar Sold.

Horshat Tal lies on level ground sloping slightly southwards.  The area is covered in hard limestone crusts developing on travertine bedrock.  The travertine was created from limestone that was dissolved by the waters of the springs and deposited over the area.

Apparently, water used to well up in various places in the region, but was sealed off from time to time.  This phenomenon can also be observed in the present.  The Holy Spring, the Dry Spring and the Fig Spring flowed in the 70s, but have not been seen since.

Human intervention can be seen on the crust plains, in the form of quarrying, dumping waste, erecting bee hives and laying roads.  The soil is similar in character to Rendzina.  It is a light brownish-gray, and its depth varies from one place to another.  Due to human intervention, no clear soil profile can be seen today and the transition from soil to bed-rock is not gradual but sharp.

Hydrology

The pools and streams in Horshat Tal are fed by the waters of Nahal Dan. The water arrives via Nahal Tal, a stream that splits off from the Nahal Dan north of Kibbutz Dafna.  It may be that Nahal Tal is nothing but an ancient artificial channel from the Byzantine era (5th century BC), which served to transfer water for irrigation.  Nahal Tal is a declared nature reserve, which continues a sequence of nature reserves up to Road 99.

Nahal Tal drains an area of only one square kilometer.  It collects run-off and drainage water from the fields and plantations close to it in the area west of Kibbutz Dafna, as well as from the part of Road 99 close to Horshat Tal.  Rain water collected within the national park drains into streams that flow into the central channel of Nahal Tal, which continues from Horshat Tal southward and returns to Nahal Dan.

The capacity of Nahal Tal is at least 1,260 cu.m./hr.

How to get there:
By Road 99 (north-east of Kiryat Shmona), about 5 kms east of HaMetsudot Junction.


Recommended season:
All year round (bathing in summer, nature and wild-life during rest of year)


Insist on:
A tour among the oaks.


What else is there?
Guest rooms, bungalows, showers, picnic areas, cafeteria, rescue services

Opening hours:

The reserve is closed about one hour before the times given below:


Summer Time (July-August):
Sundays thru Thursdays and Shabbat:  08:00 - 17:00
Fridays and eves of religious festivals:  08:00 - 16:00

winter Time:
Sundays thru Thursdays and Shabbat:  08:00 - 16:00
Fridays and eves of religious festivals:  08:00 - 15:00

On the eves of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Pesach: 08:00 - 13:00

 

Entry hours for night camping

14:00 - 23:00
Departure time by 12:00 the next day (beyond that time 50% extra payment will be charged up to 18:00).
The camping area is active only between the day after the first night of the Pesach festival and the end of the Succot festival.
Night camping for groups after the Succot festival - requires prior coordination.

Communication:

Telephones: 04-6942440,  04-6942360 

Fax: 04-695-9360

e-mail:  shulap@npa.org.il

Entrance Fees

Single: Adults NIS 39;  Children (up to age 14): NIS 24;
Students:  NIS 33
Nature and Parks Authority Subscribers: NIS 20
Group (over 30 persons):  Adults:  NIS 35;  Children (up to age 14):  NIS 22

Night camping fees in the Horshat Tal Camping Site (closed in winter)

Open-air camping with your own equipment:

Adults: NIS 63;  Chldren (aged 3-12) NIS 53
Subscribers:  Adults NIS 48;  Children (aged 3-12):  NIS 43
Students (groups of over 100 students): NIS 50

Mattresses are not available for rental.

 

Bungalows/guest rooms/wooden huts:

Bungalow (4 persons
) NIS 300 per night
Bungalow Shabbat / religious festival): NIS 400 per night (minimum 2 nights)
Guest rooms (4 persons): NIS 450 per night
Guest rooms Shabbat / religious festival): NIS 650 per night (minimum 2 nights)
Wooden huts - weekdays:  NIS 700 per night
Wooden huts - Shabbat / religious festival): NIS 1,000 per night (minimum 2 nights)

 

Payment for entry into night camping is from 14:00 to 12:00 noon the next day
Before 14:00 and after 12:00 noon - 50% extra will be charged.

For the information of the visiting public:

The water slides will not be in operation until further notice
The entry of dogs is forbidden!
It is forbidden to bring in glass bottles and generators.


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    Horshat Tal