Little Switzerland at Carmel Nature Reserve (with Map and Trails)


Little Switzerland

At Little Switzerland, in Mount Carmel Nature Reserve, you can find a variety of lovely trails. There are family-oriented loop trails and longer paths for experienced hikers. Let’s begin exploring!

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Map

Little Switzerland is located in Mount Carmel Nature Reserve near Hai-Bar Carmel National Park. The easiest way to reach it is by entering its name into Waze. And it will take you Little Switzerland parking lot.

Interactive map of the area:

Entrance Fee

Free.

Parking

Free parking.

Little Switzerland Parking Lot
Little Switzerland Parking Lot

Opening Hours

You can visit this place during the daytime. After dark, visitors to mount Carmel nature reserve are allowed only in authorized campgrounds.

Trails

There is a variety of trails at Little Switzerland and Carmel Nature Reserve. The trails range from short loop trails to full-day one-way paths. Let’s go over the most popular trails.

Here is an interactive map from israelhiking.osm.org.il, where the trails are marked:

And here are the details of the most popular trails:

#NameColor of the Trail on the Map aboveDescriptionDistance (km)Total climb and descent (meters)Notes
1Little Switzerland short loop trailRedTake the red trail from the Little Switzerland parking lot and then return to the parking using the green trail.1.1118This is a short and lovely circular trail, and you can walk it the other way around. You can find additional information about this path below.
2The Cliff ViewpointBlueTake the blue trail from the Little Switzerland parking lot, and then switch to the colorless way.0.7898You can also reach the cliff viewpoint from the cliff parking lot.
3Oranit Cave loop trailBlackTake the red trail from Tirat Carmel to Oranit cave. Then descent towards Ein Kedem. From Ein Kedem, use the black and blue trail to return to the starting point.3.5370
4Upper Galim Stream and Kelah StreamGreenIt starts near road #672 and using the green trail to reach road #721.5.3572
5Kelah Stream and Lower Galim StreamOrangeStart at the top of the Carmel mountain near the intersection of roads #721 and #672, and using the red trail, reach Tirat Carmel.7.1670

Note: “flooding is a danger in winter, spring, and fall. Follow weather reports and do not walk in streambeds or cross them in cloudy weather. On rainy days be careful of slipping.”

Picnic

Near the Little Switzerland parking lot, you can find restrooms with picnic tables. Also, as you can see in the following sign: “fires are permitted only at designated sites and only within a stove or a barbeque.” And this is one of those places. So many people have barbeques here.

Mount Carmel Nature Reserve
Mount Carmel Nature Reserve

Because this is a popular place, you should arrive early to find a free table on Saturdays and holidays.

Picnic table
Picnic table

The Short Loop Trail

And now we will take trail #1 from the trails table. This is a short loop trail that starts with the red path, which leads to the Kelah stream.

The Red Trail to Wadi Kelah
The Red Trail to Wadi Kelah

The Carmel range was created from a geological fault and creates a steep, cliff-like landscape. Dense Mediterranean woodlands, groves of planted pine, and naturally occurring Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) — all evergreens — create an “evergreen mountain.” Species of rare plants grow on the Carmel, including Madonna lily and glandular celsia, and wildlife species make their home here, including salamanders, vultures, and wild boars.

There are antiquities sites in the Carmel dating from prehistoric to Ottoman times.

Source: sign on site.

In the beginning, the red trail includes an easy walk down. And from time to time, you can see the Mediterranean sea to your right.

Tirat Carmel and the Mediterranean sea
Tirat Carmel and the Mediterranean sea
The red trail at Little Switzerland
The red trail
Haifa University
Haifa University

By the way, have you visited Haifa University Viewpoint? If you are hiking in the middle of the week, you can make a short stop there. See Haifa University Viewpoint for additional info.

Madonna lily

Lilium candidum, also know as the Madonna lily is a rare flower that grows at Kelah stream. And after five minutes of hiking, we saw the following sign. As it turns out, Israel Nature and Parks Authority decrease vegetation to increase the number of Lilium candidum flowers.

Madonna lily sign

You can see the Madonna lily in May. And since this hike was in March, we did not see the Madonna lily. But later in this post, I will mention where you can see them if you are hiking from the end of April till the middle of May.

Kelach Stream is also known as one of the last sites in the country where the Lilium candidum can be seen. Every year in May, Nahal Kelach is filled with flower lovers who will hike the slopes of the creek in search of the rare flower. Madonna lily symbolizes for Christians the virginity of Miriam, the mother of Jesus, and it appears in many religious paintings made in medieval Europe. This flower is also part of the ancient Jewish culture and is found on coins from the Second Temple period.

The flower was rediscovered in Israel only in the 1930s after many Lilium candidum tubers were uprooted and taken to Europe during the Crusader period. Today, the white lily blooms in Israel at three sites in the Galilee and in the Nahal Kalach gorge in the Carmel, which forms the southern distribution limit of the species.

Source: Israel Nature and Parks Authority

Little Switzerland at Carmel Nature Reserve
The red trail at Little Switzerland
The red trail at Little Switzerland

After about twenty minutes of hiking, you exit from the woods, and on your right side, see the following view.

Little Switzerland at Carmel Nature Reserve

At the bottom of the previous image, you can see a geological feature called: notch. But since it is hard to see it from this angle, we will return to it later.

Little Switzerland at Carmel Nature Reserve
Little Switzerland at Carmel Nature Reserve

After a while, you will reach the junction of the red and green trails. And even if you choose the short loop trail, I suggest continuing along the red trail for several minutes (and then returning).

Red and green trails at Little Switzerland
Red and green trails at Little Switzerland
The beginning of the green trail at Little Switzerland
The beginning of the green trail

Notch

If you continue with the red trail, you can get the following view of the notch and the Mediterranean sea.

Notch at Little Switzerland
Notch

A notch is a concave cliff.

This form appears in Carmel, Samaria, Judea, and the coastal plain (Caesarea area).

There are several opinions as to how a notch is formed. Some argue that the rock underwent Karst and was worn mainly in the area of ​​weakness between two geological strata. Others believe that it was the destruction of sea waves (marine fencing). And a third version claims that the melting is a result of the flow of stream water and that in the mechanical erosion, the stones and the alluvium material carried in the water also acted.

Source: Wikipedia

And after several minutes, you will reach the intersection of the red and the blue trails. Near this intersection, you will see a stone bridge over Wadi Kelach.

Galim Stream
Galim Stream

The bridge indicates that it is an old car road, and indeed it was used by the residents of the isolated settlements of Beit Oren and the Carmel forests in the late 1930s. At the bridge, you meet a blue marked path that comes from the Damon junction and descends with Nahal Galim to Tirat Carmel. If you are hiking at the end of April or the first half of May, you should continue for another 100 meters on the path marked in red (in the direction of Beit Oren) and discover a cluster of Lilium candidum, one of the most beautiful and rare plants in our country!

Source: Israel Nature and Parks Authority

The Green Trail

From the stone bridge, we returned to the green trail. And following it, you return to the Little Switzerland parking.

The green trail at Little Switzerland
The green trail

So far, the red trail was easy. But the green trail involves a steeper climb. And younger children might need some help. Also, as you climb, you will see a trail marking. If you take it, then it will lead you to another Notch.

Another thing that is worth mentioning regarding the green trail is that it is narrow. We were stuck after a big group and had to wait for a while. Thus, if you plan to visit on a Saturday or during holidays, I advise starting the hike early.

The green trail at Little Switzerland
The green trail

Completing the short loop trail took us a little more than an hour. Since we wanted more, we decided to hike to the Cliff Viewpoint.

The Cliff Viewpoint

The blue trail from Little Switzerland parking leads to the cliff viewpoint (marked #2 in the trails table).

The blue trail at Little Switzerland
The blue trail

We followed the blue trail until it meets the uncolored path. And the uncolored path was not marked clearly. And at some point, after following several paths, we did not find the way and returned to the parking.

The blue trail at Little Switzerland
The blue trail

And here are several people who found the way:

The Cliff Viewpoint from Little Switzerland parking
The Cliff Viewpoint from Little Switzerland parking

Summary

Little Switzerland at Carmel Nature Reserve offers various lovely trails that can be visited all year round. We enjoyed the hike, and we will definitely return. And maybe next time, we will see the bloom of Lilium candidum.

Have you ever visited Little Switzerland at Carmel Nature Reserve? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

That’s all for today and I’ll see you in future travels!

Stay Tuned!

   

Additional Resources

Here are several resources that I created to help travelers: And if you have any questions then check out Useful Information For Tourists To Israel.  

Lev Tsimbler

Lev from israel-in-photos.com. You can contact me at hi@israel-in-photos.com

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