Many claim that Ramot Menashe, known in English as the Menashe Heights, is one of the most beautiful regions in Israel. Spread between Mount Carmel and Mount Amir, this area is full of flowers and endless meadows, natural water springs, and streams. Just before Passover, at the peak of springtime, my friends and I decided to go hiking on the Ramot Menashe Regional Trail. This trail is quite young, as it was marked only in 2013. Maybe that is why it’s not so established. It’s not always clear where you can set up your camp, and water is a big problem if you don’t have water purifying equipment. But nevertheless, it’s a stunning trail at springtime. I would recommend hiking it only in springtime.
The trail stretches to a length of about 65 km, from Ofer to Binyamina. which means you can complete it within 3 to 4 days if you keep a good pace. We took the 4-days option, but added a few kilometers of the Israel National Trail, which connects to the trail from the north. So, at the end of the day, we didn’t really reduce the number of kilometers we had to hike each day. In this post, I’m going to break the trail down into days, so you can understand how it goes. You can divide the days differently, according to your hiking pace.
Before I begin, here are some important things to note:
*The hike is under your full responsibility, so please be careful while hiking.
*Drinking water taps are limited along the trail. You can bring water purifying equipment or pack more water bottles on your back. Take into account that many grocery stores are closed during Shabbat, from Friday eve to Saturday eve, so there’s no way to buy water at that time.
*There aren’t many designated camping areas along the trail. In general, you can camp anywhere as long as it isn’t a nature reserve or a military training zone. Just keep in mind that Jeep, ATVs, and motorcycles might drive on the trails during the night, so keep away.
*There’s a military training zone south of Bat Shlomo, on Mount Horshan. Usually, there’s no problem hiking there on the weekend (Friday-Saturday), but it’s always best to get in touch with the headquarters and ask them if it’s safe to hike. Their phone number is – (+972) 04-9538506.
*Many parts of the trail go along or nearby bike singles, so be careful not to get ran over by an extremely fast biker.
*Not all areas of the trail have good network connection. For example, when we camped near HaShofet Stream, we had no connection at all and couldn’t talk with anyone on the phone. Keep that in mind.
*Make sure you hike with good hiking shoes, have at least 3 liters of water for each day (and 5 on hot days), and wear a hat. Also, make sure to bring a garbage bag as well and take your garbage with you, including toilet papers.
*Don’t go on the hike when it is too hot (over 30 degrees Celsius), because it’s not enjoyable and can end with a heatstroke. Many parts of the trail are completely exposed to the sun. Also, it’s not recommended to hike after rainfall, because the trail could be muddy and slippery. There are some places where there are very steep climbs and descends.
*Pay attention to sunset hours (in Summer around 6-7 PM, in Winter around 4-5 PM). Try to begin each day hike before 6 AM so you will have time to rest a bit during the hot hours of the afternoon and still get it to the end of the trail.
*Before you begin the hike, make sure you have a good trail map. Many parts of the trail are poorly marked. In springtime, the vegetation grows a lot and hides the trail marks. If you have a good mobile battery for your phone, it might be best to use a navigation app such as the Israel Hiking Map or Amud Anan. With GPS, you can see where you are exactly. Though, remember that wherever you do see a trail mark – this trail mark is superior to what’s shown on your map. The apps and maps are not always updated.
*The Ramot Menashe Regional Trail is marked by an orange stripe or an orange dot (if it overlaps another trail color).
*If you need any further help with planning your hike, you are welcome to contact me through firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to get to the head of the trail?
The official starting point of the trail is moshav Ofer. To get there, you need to get to Ofer Junction and from there, get on bus number 693, which will take you directly to the moshav. From the bus station in Ofer, you will need to walk about 1.2 km to the trail, located south of Ofer.
We didn’t start from moshav Ofer. We started from Ofer Junction. From there, we walked about 1.5 km, along road number 7021, to the Israel National Trail (1).
Day 1 – From Ofer Junction to Bat Shlomo:
Short overview: On this day we hiked half on the Israel National Trail and half on the Ramot Menashe Regional Trail. It was a pleasant and beautiful hike, which passed by lots of flowers, trees, and cows.
Trail length: About 10.5 km, including the 5 km from Ofer Junction to the start of the Ramot Menashe Regional Trail. You can also hike it from the other direction.
Trail duration: About 5-7 hours, depending on your pace.
Difficulty level: Easy.
Water along the way: You can get water at the Ofer Junction gas station, and some people say there’s drinking water at the Forestry Offices of Carmel Alonim (about 1.6 km from Ofer Junction). Next, if you really need water, you can get off the trail and go to the grocery store at moshav Ofer (it’s about a 1.5 km detour from the trail, near the start of the Ramon Menashe Regional Trail). You can also get water at the end of the segment, at Bat Shlomo.
Stay options at the end of the trail: We stayed at Bat Shlomo.
We started our day around 10:30 AM, from the gas station at Ofer Junction (1). Here, we used the restroom, bought some bread and spreads, and sat down next to one of the picnic tables to eat a late breakfast.
Then, about an hour later, we started making our way to the head of the trail, which was located about 1.5 km away. We had to walk along the side of the road until we reached the right turn to the Israel National Trail (2). Yeah, we had to hike a bit on the Israel National Trail to reach the Ramot Menashe Regional Trail. The wooden sign pointing to the right said: “The Forestry Offices Carmel-Alonim”.
A few steps after the turn, we reached a site connected to the Fire on the Carmel in 2010. It seems like the Christians for Israel community in the Netherlands donated money for the rehabilitation of a forest park after the fire, and their names are honored here.
We continued and passed by the forestry offices (3). People say there are some drinking water taps next to them, but we didn’t look.
We continued about 250 meters until we reached a memorial site for Staff Sergeant Gal Bason (4), who fell in battle during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014. Gal loved exploring Israel’s nature, so his family decided to build the memorial site here, on the Israel National Trail, which Gal hiked before his recruitment. Unfortunately, the buttons which are supposed to play the soundtracks weren’t working.
From this point, the trail turns right and starts climbing up huge boulders through the charming forest. It was quite a challenging climb, which required some hand climbing, but it was over after a very short while.
Then, the trail became mild and quite easy. We could see the tall trees all around us, and started seeing the beautiful bloom of flowers, which were at that point mainly yellow mustard flowers.
At some point, there was a weird sign, which we probably didn’t understand, because we accidentally shifted off the Israel National Trail. When we didn’t find any new trail marks, we opened Amud Anan and saw that we’ve strayed a bit, so we made our way back on track. Soon enough, we started seeing the Mediterranean Sea in the distance, a stripe of beautiful blue in the horizon. There was also a grove of impressive olive trees.
A lone man was walking toward us from the other direction, with a small backpack on his back. “Hello,” he greeted us with a smile, “Doing the Israel National Trail?”
“No, we’re doing the Ramot Menashe Regional Trail,” we replied, “What about you?”
“I’m on the Israel National Trail, came all the way from Eilat,” he replied, “Just left my big backpack at my friends’ house. In this area you don’t need to carry so much.”
“Wow, that’s really impressive!” we told him, talked a bit more, and continued on our way.
A short while later we reached the access road to moshav Ofer (5), crossed it, and opened the gate that led to the continuance of the trail. There was a barcode next to it, saying “Ofer Forest – Junction between the Israel National Trail and the road to moshav Ofer”. But we decided not to scan it. Let me know if you do! (;
From the access road, we continued on quite an easy trail. We stopped after about 10 minutes in a grove of olive trees, made coffee, and ate some snacks. Then, we started making our way down on an easy to moderate descend. After a short while it became easy and mild again.
We hiked for a while more and then met our first cows on the trail. Cows are almost everywhere on the trails of northern Israel, so we weren’t surprised to see them. Nitai made some cow noises, and one of them replied to us, which kind of made us nervous. It even started walking after us. So, if you don’t want to mess around with the cows, don’t make any noises and just walk past them with confidence. We’ve never had a cow harm us.
About 1.8 km from the access road to Ofer, we finally reached the left turn to the Ramot Menashe Regional Trail (6). The sign next to the turn says “Ofer” and there’s a green mark on it, although it’s marked in red on the map. The Ramot Menashe Trail is marked by an orange dot or stripe, but at this point overlaps the red-marked trail.
We turned left and hiked on the wide, open dirt trail for a while until we stopped for shade under a tree. Then we understood that we’ve gone too far, and that we missed the right turn onto the trail. We retraced our steps and found the trail mark, about 870 meters from the start of the Ramot Menashe Trail (7). You can barely see it, because the color is faded, and there’s a lot of vegetation. So, make sure to look closely to the right to find it.
Now, the trail starts going through the green fields and colorful flowers. It’s a celebration for the eyes. It goes on an easy and pleasant path for about 2.4 km. Just make sure to keep an eye out for the trail markers. Then, we arrived at an area full of yellow mustard flowers, that overlooks the moshava of Bat Shlomo (8).
Bat Shlomo was one of the first Jewish residents in the Land of Israel, established in 1889, during the Ottoman Empire. It was funded by the Baron Rothschild, a Jewish philanthropist, who funded many Jewish residents these days. It is named after Rothschild’s mother, who was the daughter of Shlomo (“Bat Shlomo” means “the daughter of Shlomo”).
From there, we continued down the trail to the outskirts of Bat Shlomo (9), turned right and then right again, and started walking through its streets. We stopped by the local grocery store, which is situated on the trail, to get some fresh bread and supplies. Then, we crossed the main road to the other side of Bat Shlomo, which is the older side, and made our way to the organic farm at the outskirts of the moshava (10). We have already been to the farm when hiking the Israel National Trail, so we decided to stop there for the day. But please note that it’s possible to stay there only if you make pre-arrangement.
A short while after Bat Shlomo is a nature reserve and military training zone, so if you plan to stay overnight in the area, try camping a bit before Bat Shlomo.
Day 2 – From Bat Shlomo to Nahal HaShofet
Short overview: It was a long hike. We passed through a few forests, but mostly was exposed to the sun. There were many points along the way, where we could see the beautiful surroundings from above, and we also got to cross some streams.
Trail length: About 21 km. You can also hike it from the other direction.
Trail duration: About 8-11 hours, depending on your pace.
Difficulty level: Easy.
Water along the way: You can get water at Bat Shlomo. The next point is the compound of the Regional Council of Megiddo (about 15 km from the start of the trail). There’s a drinking water tap next to the offices. Next, some people said that you can fill water in Emek HaShalom Farm (about 18.5 km from the start of the trail). That’s the last point for filling water on this segment.
Stay options at the end of the trail: We stayed near Nahal HaShofet. There are all kinds of options here – you can camp near Ein Faror or further on, in the Haruvim Parking Site. If you want to stop after 15 km, you can camp outside the compound of the Regional Council of Megiddo.
We started our day early and made our way towards Mount Horshan, which is a nature reserve and a military training zone. We called the army a day before to make sure that it is ok to hike there on Friday, and after nagging them a bit, they replied that there is no problem.
A few steps from the organic farm of Bat Shlomo (1), we reached a water crossing of Nahal Tut, the “Strawberry Stream”. The whole path was flooded, and we didn’t want to get our shoes wet or to take them off, so we used the pipeline at the side of the path and grabbed it as we passed over some stones to the other side of the stream. A short while later, we reached another water crossing, this time of Nahal Dalia, the Dalia Stream (2). This is one of the main streams, that take the water of Ramot Menashe to the Mediterranean Sea. There was no pipeline here, so we prayed that the water won’t penetrate our shoes and ran through the shallow water to the other side of the stream.
From the Dalia Stream, the trail takes a slight turn left and makes its way into Park Alona. In the distance, we could see the impressive Mount Horshan, which we were to climb soon. After a short while, we reached a junction of the red, blue, and green marked trails. Here, we continued on the green-marked trail, which also had the orange Ramot Menashe trail dot above it. This led us very soon to a sign about the Mount Horshan Nature Reserve and a huge concrete block saying “Danger. Firing Zone. Entrance is forbidden.” Because we had already coordinated with the army, we continued into the firing zone.
About 100 meters after the trail junction, there’s a right turn up to Mount Horshan (3). The marking isn’t so visible, so just make sure to keep your eyes to the right. The climb up also doesn’t look so sympathetic, but don’t worry – after about 80 meters of steep climbing, you turn right onto a much milder trail, marked in blue color. This trail makes its way through the charming forest of Mount Horshan and occasionally, there’s an opening in the forest and you can gaze down on the landscape below. We could see Bat Shlomo again, this time from the south.
After about 1 km, we reached another trail junction, and turned left onto the red-marked trail (4). From here, there’s a mild climb to the peak of Mount Khorshan, and then the trail starts mildly descending until it reaches another trail junction (5). The red-marked trail led to the right, and the orange-marked trail led to the left, so we continued on the orange-marked trail.
We continued on the trail for about 390 meters. On the way, we passed by some beautiful cows. Then, we reached a junction with a black-marked trail (6), where we stopped to make coffee and eat breakfast. Afterward, we turned left onto the black-marked trail and tried to follow it through the lush vegetation, but the trail marks were no where to be found. I opened the Amud Anan app and saw that we have strayed off the trail and that we were extremely near the red-marked trail, which also went in the direction that we needed. “We can get on the red-marked trail and then rejoin the Ramot Menashe Trail later,” I told the group. At the end, we decided to split up. Some of us decided to try and find the right track, and some of us decided to go on the red-marked trail. I went on the red-marked trail, which led to another trail junction of the red, green, black, and orange trails (7). There, we waited for the other part of the group. They arrived about 10 minutes after us and claimed that the trail was charming.
From this point, the trail continues through a beautiful forest and after crossing the black-marked trail, starts mildly descending for about 550 meters, until it reaches a dirt road (8). Beyond the dirt road, there’s a lone tree and next to it, a cattle gate. We crossed the cattle gate and then started ascending upwards. Everything around us was green. The vegetation was so high. There was also no shade at all. And then, we reached a point where we could see the whole surroundings beneath us.
We continued on the trail, which wasn’t so clear, jumped over a gate, and started descending through the greenery. A short while after passing a lone Alon tree, we reached another cattle gate and turned left onto the trail, which at this point overlaps a green-marked trail (9).
We stopped for late breakfast about 200 meters later, at the crossroad between the green and the blue marked trails. From this point, the trail overlaps the blue-marked trail and the whole trail is exposed to the sun. We hiked on for about 650 meters and then reached a cattle crossing, which is supposed to block entrance to cows. Here, there was a weird mark on a pole, which seemed to be pointing into the lush vegetation. We thought that it made no sense, so we continued straight on the blue-marked trail. Looking back, we were supposed to turn into the lush vegetation. But it didn’t really matter, as the blue-marked trail reconnected to the Ramot Menashe Trail later (10).
We arrived at a sign talking about the “Ramot Menashe Biosphere Park”. Next to it, a huge group of motorcycles were getting ready for their Friday motorcycle ride. We waited for them to start driving away, and then hiked below the bridge of road number 6 (11). From down below, it didn’t seem too impressive, although it’s one of the most famous roads in Israel. It is the longest highway in Israel, stretching to a length of over 200 km.
There are tons of yellow mustard flowers over here. We hiked on the flat trail for about 820 meters, and then turned left (12) and started climbing upwards. On the way, we saw a cute crab, that somehow got here. We continued for about 1.3 km until we reached a water crossing (13). Looking back, we weren’t supposed to cross it, because the trail bypasses it, but we were so tired and yearning for a piece of shade, that we crossed it without thinking twice. At the other side of the stream was a pleasant area with trees, which gave lots of shade. We sat down on the ground, ate an apple, and relaxed for a while. Behind us, we could here the croaking of the toads or frogs in the stream. After a while, a group of children and their parents arrived. Their tour guide told us that they were on a plant-picking tour. There are a lot of edible plants in the region of Ramot Menashe, amongst them mustard flowers, asparagus, and malva, what makes the region a paradise for plant gatherers.
We continued right on a blue-marked trail for about 200 meters, turned right with the trail, and then reunited with the Ramot Menashe Trail. Then, there’s a long 3-km hike on a segment that overlaps the blue-marked trail. There were a few times that we had to leave the main route, because Jeeps were driving there, and then we walked next to the lovely cyclamen that grew along the right side of the route. There are supposed to be two water springs near the end of the 3-km, but we didn’t see them.
At the end of the 3-km, we reached road number 672 (14). Carefully, we crossed to the other side of the road, where there was a long asphalt path that went northward. We continued with the path for about 1.3 km and then crossed another road (15) to the compound of the Regional Council of Megiddo.
It was afternoon when we got there, and after walking for so long under the sun, we had to stop for an afternoon nap. Since it was Friday, there was no one at the regional council offices, so we used the opportunity to nap on their lawn. Afterward, we filled our bottles from a drinking water tap, that was in the inner yard of the offices and continued our way.
We exited the compound from its northeastern edge and descended for about 1 km, until we reached a right turn onto a blue-marked trail (16). From there, the trail is very wide, easy, and exposed to the sun. After about 1.2 km, we climbed a few meters to the left, and then turned left, and continued on the trail for another 1 km, until we reached the right turn towards a red-marked trail (17). Don’t expect to see the Ramot Menashe trail mark over here, because we didn’t find it. If you don’t turn right and continue a few steps ahead, you’ll reach the Emek HaShalom Farm, where some people say you can fill water.
We continued on the red-marked trail for about 580 meters, with lots of stinging nettles all around us. To the right, you can see the trees next to Ein Faror, if you plan to camp there. After 580 meters, we reached a place where lots of families were doing BBQ and picnics, next to the flow of Nahal HaShofet (“the Stream of the Judge”) (18). The stream is called after the United States Circuit Judge, Julian William Mack, who also happened to be Jewish and served three years as the head of the Zionist Organization of America.
We went on for about 1 km, with fields of crops and the HaShofet Stream flowing to the right and tall trees growing to the left. Then, we decided to stop in a place that seemed suitable for camping, right next to the stream (19). Because it was Friday evening, we figured that the nearby Haruvim Parking Site (“Carobs Parking Site”), which was less than a kilometer away, might be crowded and noisy. Was it legal camping where we camped? I’m not sure. It’s not so clear if the specific spot is part of the nature reserve of HaShofet Stream. I recommend being on the safe side and camping at Haruvim Parking Site. It’s a picnic area, but I guess you can also camp there (and correct me if I’m wrong!)
If you want to leave the trail after this segment, you can only do it by hiking another 2 km to Hazorea and taking a bus from there.
Day 3 – From Nahal HaShofet to Joop Westerweel Parking Site:
Short overview: It was also a long hike, but it felt a bit more shaded, at least at the beginning. We began our hike along HaShofet Stream, with its charming waterfalls and pools, and then hiked through a beautiful forest, where there were some steeps climbs and descends. Actually, there were several steep climbs along this segment, and that’s why I rated it as an easy-moderate trail. Most of it is easy, but there are some challenging parts. The most interesting place, in my view, is the Mishmar HaEmek Monument, which also has a fantastic viewpoint over the Jezreel Valley.
Trail length: About 19 km. You can also hike it from the other direction.
Trail duration: About 8-11 hours, depending on your pace.
Difficulty level: Easy-moderate.
Water along the way: If you really need water, you can try to buy some from the grocery store at HaZorea (about 2 km from the start of the trail). The next option to fill water is at the cemetery of Mishmar HaEmek (about 8.5 km from the start of the trail). Finally, there should be water at Ein HaShofet (about 14.5 km from the start of the trail). You’ll need to make a 700-meters detour into the kibbutz. We couldn’t find a water tap, but we asked some foreign workers for water and they gave us.
Stay options at the end of the trail: We camped at Joop Westerweel Parking Site. I’ve also heard of people who camped near the Raz Reservoir, about 1.5 km away from our parking site.
We started early from our camp site (1) and hiked for about 600 meters until we reached the entrance to Nahal HaShofet Trail (2), an established paved route that goes along HaShofet Stream. It was fairly dark,but we were still able to see the small and charming waterfalls, hear the flow of water, and stand next to the beautiful pools that formed here and there. “Too bad it’s not hot,” we said, because if it was, we might have dipped a bit.
After about 720 meters, we left the side of the stream and started ascending upwards (3). We could see the houses of Hazorea in front of us. After another 600 meters, we were already on the road of the kibbutz. A few steps afterward, we returned to a dirt path and stopped there for coffee and snacks. When we were done, we had to climb down some rocks to reach the road again, because the trail overlapped it. They were super slippery, and I accidently slipped down them. So, be careful, especially after rain!
We continued about 500 meters on the road, passed by a horse range, and arrived at the entry gate to the kibbutz (4). There, we met an early jogger, exchanged a few words, and turned right onto the trail, that continues down an asphalt route, aligned by yellow mustard flowers and trees with yellow flowers, which my friends suggested were orange wattles.
After about 450 meters, we turned right and started climbing upwards on a curvy trail (5). At some point, the trail turns extremely steep, but it doesn’t go on for too long. At the top, we got to appreciate the fantastic view of the Jezreel Valley. From there, the trail is extremely beautiful. It passes through the forest, with a large variation of trees and flowers, crosses a few asphalt roads and a stream, includes some descends and ascends, and after about 3.8 km it reaches road number 6953 (6). Not all the trail marks on the way are visible and clear, so make sure to keep your eyes out for marks and keep your map at handy.
We crossed the road towards Mishmar HaEmek, another kibbutz in Ramot Menashe. At the entry gate, we turned right and continued on an easy, shaded dirt path along Mishmar HaEmek Stream. After about 420 meters, we turned left (7) and started climbing a very steep climb up through the forest. A few meters after the steep climb, we reached the Mishmar HaEmek Cemetery and a memorial site to Irma Lindheim (8), who was an American Zionist fund-raiser and educator, who moved to kibbutz Mishmar HaEmek at the late stages of her life. At this point, we found a water tap, where we were able to fill water.
The trail continued upwards through the forest, but there weren’t any major climbs. After about 1 km, we got out of the forest, although there were still some trees in the area, and hiked alongside a road. We hiked for about 400 meters more and then turned left and continued hiking on the road all the way to the Mishmar HaEmek Kibbutzim Memorial (9).
To get to the Mishmar HaEmek Kibbutzim Memorial, you need to stray a bit off the trail, but it’s worth it. This memorial was built in memory of the kibbutz members who fell in the battles of Israel. It is made of a concrete tower, overlooking the kibbutz of Mishmar HaEmek and the Jezreel Valley. Though, you don’t have to climb up the tower to enjoy the view. In the distance, you can even see Mount Tabor!
After appreciating the memorial, we continued on quite an easy trail, that overlaps a black-marked trail, for about 1.2 km. Then, there was another steep climb up to Hurvat Ha-Ras (10). This site sits on the top of a high hill, which was used as a strategic point by the Israeli forces during the Independence War, when there was a need to protect Mishmar HaEmek. There are supposed to be some archeological remnants over there, but we only saw a lot of vegetation. We circled the top of Hurvat Ha-Ras and then started descending downwards on a moderate descend, which later turned into a flat Jeep route.
About 2.5 km from Hurvat Ha-Ras, we reached the back entrance to kibbutz Ein HaShofet (11). At this point we already needed water, although we still had some water till the end of the day. According to our research and the map, there was supposed to be water in Ein HaShofet, but to get there we had to walk at least 700 meters forth and back. Because we weren’t sure that there was water and because we were already quite tired, we decided to send only one of us, Ayelet, to check if there was water over there.
She went and after about 15 minutes called us on the phone: “There wasn’t a water tap where we thought, but there was a hut with a few foreign Thai workers. I told them I need water, so they let me fill from their water tap. I told them you might come, too.”
We decided that we didn’t want to waste time, as the sunset was close. Instead, we asked Paz if she could ask her parents to bring us some water to the camping site. They live in the north, and they planned to pick her up anyway. After they approved that they would bring us some bottles and jerricans of water, we continued on our way.
From Ein HaShofet, the trail continues straight to the west. For some reason, we turned left and continued to the south. Only after a few minutes, we realized that we left the trail completely, and had to cut through the fields of vegetation to get back on track. The trail is fully exposed to the sun, but it’s extremely easy, so we were able to hike it very fast. About 3.8 km from Ein HaShofet, we reached road number 672 (12) and turned left. Then, we walked along it in a woody area for about 700 meters until we saw the Joop Westerweel Parking Site in front of us (13). It’s a bit off the trail, but very close by.
Joop Westerweel was a schoolteacher, who became a Dutch World War II resistance leader and helped save hundreds of Jews during the Holocaust by organizing an escape route for them. He was caught by the Nazis, who executed him. For his actions, he was named Righteous Among the Nations. The place where we camped was a memorial site for him and other Dutch people, who helped save Jews during the Holocaust. It’s actually a picnic area, but we found a quiet spot to place our sleeping bags for the night. Just make sure not to camp under one of the Eucalyptus trees over there.
If you want to leave the trail after this segment, you need to walk about 2.5 km northward to Dalia Junction and catch a bus from there.
Day 4 – From Joop Westerweel Parking Site to Binyamina:
Short overview: This day was full of water and was overall super easy! Though, it was almost always exposed to the sun, which was hard, especially near the end of the segment, when it was already afternoon.
Trail length: About 17.5 km. You can also hike it from the other direction.
Trail duration: About 6-8 hours, depending on your pace.
Difficulty level: Easy.
Water along the way: The only place where you can fill water is at the Alona Cemetery (about 10 km from the start of the trail).
Stay options at the end of the trail: The trail ends at Binyamina.
We woke up super early because we really wanted to reach Binyamina this day. We left the Joop Westerweel Parking Site (1) and carefully crossed road number 672. We walked in the darkness for a while, but luckily the trail was very flat and easy. After about 1.4 km, we decided to stop above the Raz Reservoir (2) for coffee and sunrise. This beautiful reservoir is a natural one, that fills up every winter.
When the sun rose, we continued on the easy trail through breathtaking landscapes, that included sweeping fields of green, hills, and agricultural crops. After about 1.4 km, we reached the water crossing of Nahal Taninim (“the crocodile stream”) (3). Then, we climbed up about 400 meters to a fenced station, turned around to appreciate the view of the fields below, and continued right along the station and right onto an asphalt route.
We continued another 330 km until we turned left (4) onto a dirt path and started making our way downwards. After about 750 km, we reached Ein Nili (5). This amazing water spring is a great place to rest and enjoy some refreshing water. We stayed there for a while before heading on.
The trail continues through an agricultural area for about 1.3 km, until it turns right back into the wilderness (6). After about 300 meters, we turned left, passed a cattle gate, and started climbing upwards to the top of a hill that overlooks the surroundings. We rested up there for a few minutes and then started climbing down, towards the crossing underneath road number 6 (7).
The trail continues through lush vegetation, trees, and flowers for about 3.6 km, with some easy climbs and descends. and then comes out of the forest and arrives at the banks of the Nahal Taninim (8). There were a lot of people splashing around over there. We turned left, passed by the Alona Cemetery, where it is possible to fill water, and walked all the way to road number 6533 (9). There, we turned right, crossed a small bridge above the stream, and turned left back to the trail, which continued along the stream, now on its other bank.
Nahal Taninim, by the way, is called after the crocodiles, that were spotted in its waters until 1912. It seems that the crocodiles were present here from the 5th-4th century BCE. A local legend says that they were brought here by the ancient Egyptians. According to the legend, two Egyptian brothers wanted to rule over Caesarea. One of them brough the crocodiles in hope that they will eat his brother, who had to wash in the waters of the stream regularly because of his medical condition.
It was quite a hot day and we were starting to melt from the heat. The path was completely unshaded, because all the shade from the trees was going to the other direction. We knew that there should be a water spring soon, so that motivated us to continue. We hiked on for about 1.4 km until we finally reached it – Ein Aviel (10). We were amazed from how stunning it was. The spring was partly shaded by the trees and reeds around it, there were all kinds of small hideaways where you can sit and chill out, and there was plenty of room in the water. When we arrived, it was full of kids, who were enjoying their early Passover break. But they left after a while.
Ayelet decided to cut off from the trail at Ein Aviel. There’s a passage, that connects the water spring to moshav Aviel. It’s a short walk to the nearest bus station. So, if you’re tired of the trail or your short on time, you can stop here. A lot of people do it. Actually, the rest of the trail till Binyamina is quite boring.
Although we’ve heard that the rest of the trail is boring, we decided to do it anyway, because if we’re already there, why not see if the reviews are accurate? After splashing around in Ein Aviel, we got back onto the unshaded trail and walked for about 5.3 km until the first spot of shade (11). These 5 kilometers are devastating, especially when it’s hot. You just walk and walk next to the stream, hear the buzz of the insects, see some agricultural fields to your right, and yearn to reach Binyamina, which can be clearly seen up ahead.
The first spot of shade on these 5 kilometers were two massive trees, which provided plenty of shade next to what seemed to be a horse farm. We sat there for a while, gathered our last drops of energy, and then set off to Binyamina. We crossed the small bridge over the stream, turned right and continued for about 1 km till the access road to Binyamina (12). All the way, we sang the song of the acclaimed Israeli poet, Ehud Manor, “The Days of Binyamina“. This song depicts Manor’s yearning to his childhood in Binyamina. Binyamina was another settlement funded by the Baron Rothschild back in the Ottoman days.
We turned left, entered the moshava of Binyamina, and made our way to one of its fantastic restaurants, to finish the hike with a good taste.
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Hiked the trail on March 2021.
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