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Cedars Backcountry, Snow as far as the eye can see.

Cedars, known for its millennia old tree, is also an amazing snow getaway.

Overview

Simply known as «The Cedars», this resort settlement in Lebanon's highest range is one of the most dramatically beautiful spots in the country.

Just below The Cedars is the town of Bsharre, birthplace of Gibran Khalil Gibran.

The most exciting way to get to The Cedars is from Deir al Ahmar in the Beqaa valley. The road snakes up the bare eastern slopes of Mount Lebanon presenting marvelous views at every turn. As you get higher, at the crest you look down the other side into a gigantic bowl where the ski resort, the cedar grove and the Qadisha gorge lie before you in a wide-angle panorama.

The Cedars is a resort for all seasons. In summer, the high elevation makes it a wonderful escape from the humid coast while in winter skiing is the favorite activity to do there.

The cedar Tree itself

Of the immense forests of history only isolated patches of cedars are found in Lebanon today. Growing at high elevations, often in craggy difficult-to-reach locations, these majestic trees still stir the imagination.

More inaccessible are the trees near Hadeth al-Jubbeh, whose shape has been changed by trimming, and the cedars near Tannourine.

In Jaj near Laqlouq isolated specimens of cedars are still scattered on the rocky peaks above the town. These trees, which are in pristine condition, can be easily admired from outside the protective wall.

The most famous cedars, known as Arz el Rab or Cedars of the Lord, are those of Bsharre. Only in this grove, the oldest in Lebanon, gives an accurate idea of the stature and magnificence these trees attained in antiquity. About 375 cedars of great age stand in a sheltered glacial pocket of Mount Makmel.

Also among the inhabitants of the forests are some thousand young trees, planted in recent decades to ensure the future of this national resource. The slow-growing cedar, with its long-life span, requires at least 40 years before it can even produce fertile seeds. Like any other treasure of great antiquity, the Bsharre cedar grove requires special care and protection. More recently, a «Committee of the Friends of the Cedar Forest», organized in 1985, is attempting to deal with the damage and disease - brought by both man and nature - that afflicts the trees. To improve the general health and appearance of the forest, the Committee has removed tons of dead wood and fertilized the soil. Various pests and diseases are being treated and lightning rods have been installed for further protection.

What You Can Do

Skiing and snowboarding

The scenery and the quality of the snow make The Cedars an exceptional skiing venue. The slopes form a natural amphitheater, and the high elevation between 2320 and 2850 meters above sea level means the season usually lasts from December through April.
The oldest chair lift, installed in 1953, is no longer in use but the main runs are equipped with five T-bar lifts along with newer chairlifts.

There are six lifts and is a paradise for beginners, but for more professional ones, chairlifts can take you to the top of the mountain for off-piste skiing and snowboarding. There are multiple places for renting full ski and snowboard equipment, with cost ranging between 5 and 12$ a day. And ski pass is 30$ during weekdays and 40$ during weekends and 30$ half day.

The cedars Forest

The entrance of the forest is located opposite the huge cedar tree where the road is lined with souvenir stands and small eateries. To get there coming from Bcharre, just continue driving until you see a light green sign on your right, indicating the entrance of the forest and from where a road will take you to a large parking area. The forest is closed on Mondays.

Qadisha Grotto

Qadisha Grotto, not as large as Jeita Grotto, is the source of the Qadisha River and reveals a dazzling collection of stalactites and stalagmites in beautiful colors. Although the opening hours are irregular, it is worth a visit. Admission is 5,000 LBP. The cave is marked both from the main road and from the old road between Cedars and Bcharre.

Climb Lebanon's Highest Peak

You can walk to Qornet es-Sawda, at an altitude of 3088 meters, or take a bumpy road suitable for all-wheel drive vehicles.

If you want to do the entire climb and return on foot, wait for a full day. From here, you take another hour of hiking from the hill to the north. Look for patches of passing winter snow and hedgehog feathers along the way.

From the summit marked with a large metallic tripod, you get a westward panoramic view of the Lebanese coast. It is said that on a clear day the island of Cyprus can be seen.

Some History

As remote as they are, the cedars are not untouched by history. The grove we see today descends from an immense primeval forest of cedars and other trees such as cypress, pine and oak that once covered most of Mount Lebanon including part of its east facing slopes. The Cedar is an historical entity mentioned often in the Bible and other ancient texts and it played an important part in the culture, trade, and religious observances of the ancient Middle East. The Phoenicians themselves made use of the cedar, especially for their merchant fleets.

Solomon requested large supplies of cedar wood, along with architects and builders from King Hiram of Tyre to build his temple.

Today over 200 such markers have been recorded, allowing scholars to make an approximate reconstruction of the ancient forest boundaries. Two of these markers, carved in abbreviated Latin, can be seen at the American University of Beirut Museum. The Ottomans in the 19th century destroyed much of the forest cover and during World War II British troops used the wood to build railroad between Tripoli and Haifa.

Trip Overview
  • Trip profile
    Hiking, Skiing/Snowboarding
  • Type
    Extreme, Nature/Eco-tourism, Food, Hiking, Ski/Snowboard, Adventure
  • Available Activities
    Hiking, Parkour, Biking, Sightseeing
  • Time to Arrive (from Beirut)
    2 hours
  • Adventure Duration
    4 hours
  • Difficulty (for a non-athlete)
    Extreme
  • How to Arrive
    Car, Bus

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