The Jerusalem Forest is a favorite by locals and has many playgrounds and picnic areas in it, along with a hiking trail.
It is filled with pine and cypress trees, as well as Palestine oak, terebinth, carob, olive, fig, pomegranate, and other species that used to cover the slopes of the Judean Hills.
On many of the slopes there are agricultural terraces, burial caves, wine-presses, and cisterns from ancient times.
Gazelles often run in the area and and you can hear the sounds of the the many songbirds who live in the trees.
The Cedar Trail
The Cedar Trail is a located in the Jerusalem Forest which has loop footpath about 4 km long and it takes 2 to 3 hours to complete.
The trail climbs a flight of stairs and proceeds on a forested slope passing surrounded by rockrose and thyme. In spring you can also see orchids there.
Further along the trail is an agricultural terraces with olive trees, cedars and other orchard trees.
The trail descends and reaches a eucalyptus grove, where there are playground facilities and picnic tables.
From here, you can digress slightly from the trail and climb the slope to see the ruins of a hut and a pool of spring water.
Back on the trail there is a cave in which a magnificent fig tree is growing and near it is the Ben Gurion Cedar.
To the left of the trail there is a small clearing where David Ben Gurion, the first President of Israel, planted a cedar in 1958.
The trail ascends from there to Mitzpe Kerem, where there are trenches that were dug by the Turkish army.
During the Israel War of Independence, Arab forces were positioned there until the area was conquered by the Yonatan Brigade of the Gadna (the Youth Battalions).
From the Mitzpe there is a great view of the mountains and a dirt road from the Mitzpe to Mount Herzl.
Once you walk through cypress trees, you might find a nest of a Eurasian Sparrowhawk, one of the few couples that nest in the forest.
The Eurasian Sparrowhawk builds its nest at the top of a tall tree and makes sure to keep it at a distance of 100 meters from inhabited areas.
It is possible that the Sparrowhawk preys on birds that live in residential areas. Along the trail there are ancient winepresses.
In order to return to the starting point, cross the road that descends to the Har Nof neighborhood and Moshav Beit Zayit, and continue on the trail, which climbs back up to the Yefe Nof neighborhood.
The Nations Grove
Below Yad Vashem, in the heart of the Jerusalem Forest, is the Nations Grove.
World leaders on state visits to Israel, who go to nearby Yad Vashem, plant a tree afterwards in the earth of Jerusalem, which symbolizes life and continuity.
Since its creation, many leaders and heads of state from all over the world have planted trees here, adding diversity to the trees in the forest, including olive trees, carob, fig and terebinth.
The first olive tree in the grove was planted in 2007 to support the world effort to create a green belt of a billion trees, as announced by the UN for combating global warming.