Section 16: Hecht Park and Shikmona Nature Reserve - Experience the Beauty of the Sea | 3.2 Km
Starting point: Corner of HaHagana Blvd. and Etzel St., Gas Station | 10m above sea level
Ending point: Hubert Humphry St., Cable Car Station, Bat Galim | 5m above sea level
This easy, flat section of the trail, passes beside the coast and is, unsurprisingly, popular with the Haifa residents who take their daily exercise here.
Head north from the gas station and parking lot to reach Hecht Park. The park was established with funds from the Hecht Foundation and designed by the landscape architects Greenstein-Har-Gil. It is comprised of lawns, which are the most expansive in Haifa, along with typical Mediterranean vegetation, a promenade, playground and benches.
Walk north for approximately a kilometer and shortly after another gas station beside the park pass underneath the rail tracks and head in the direction of the sea. This part, which hugs the coast, is the Shikmona Nature Reserve, the loveliest part of Haifa’s coastline. This stretch of the coast was declared a nature reserve in 2008 partly due to its unique reef made up of a kind of gastropod that acts as a habitat for sea creatures and is unique to the eastern Mediterranean. Plant species, some of which are rare, grow on the coast, such as the evening primrose, which blooms just before sunset, and the limonium that covers the coastline in a carpet of purple in the spring.
Tel Shikmona, one of the most interesting archaeological sites in Israel, is situated in the northern part of the nature reserve. Settled during the 15th century BCE, the site consists of ruins and a mosaic floor. Findings from the site are on display in the National Maritime Museum located a little further north.
Towering over the tel is the massive structure of the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute. Pass beside it and continue along Hubert Humphrey St., named after the former Vice-President of the United States who was a friend of Israel. To the right is the place where the Carmel ridge “spills down” towards the water at the foot of Stella Maris, which is also known as Rosh HaCarmel and mentioned in the Bible: "like Carmel by the sea (Jeremiah, 46:18)".
The coastline here, named Bat-Galim coast after the nearby coastal neighborhood, is unique in Israel because it faces north, and together with the structure of the reef and the directions of the wind the waves here are significantly higher. All these factors transform the Bat Galim coastline into a paradise on an international level for all sorts of water sports – surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, kayaking, boating and more.
This section concludes at the lower station of the cable car to Stella Maris beside the Allenby intersection and a small bus terminus.
From here, the trail may be continued in Bat Galim in Section 17 or back to the Carmel through Stella Maris via Section 18.
English translation by Roberta Neiger sponsored by the social hub for community & housing, Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, The Technion