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Free things to do Hiking in Israel Israel National Trail

Hiking the Israel National Trail: From Beit Meir to Ein Karem

We woke up at Beit Meir and started our final day on the Israel National Trail. When we started this journey, our goal was to reach Jerusalem. The trail continues beyond Jerusalem, but we didn’t have the time to hike it all at once. So, one month of hiking was enough.

The segment from Beit Meir to Ein Karem passes above and through the Forest of the Martyrs. The forest was planted in memory of those who were perished in the Holocaust. After a slightly steep decline comes a short ascent and the trail continues on an easy route with splendid views. We passed through a kibbutz, next to an ancient fortress, and made our way to Ein Karem. There, we got the first glimpse of Jerusalem, dipped in the water spring, and walked by ancient agricultural terraces. Then, the trail continues to Ein Karem, one of the most charming neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

Trail length: About 22 km. You can also hike it from the other direction.

Trail duration: About 10 hours, depending on your pace.

Difficulty level: Moderate to hard.  

Best season: Fall (October-November) and Spring (February-April).

Water along the way: You can get water in Beit Meir, near the starting point. Next, there’s a drinking tap near the entrance to Tzova (about 12.3 km from the start). There’s also a drinking tap in Ein Karem, near the public restrooms, at the endpoint.  

Stay options at the end of the trail: We finished our hike in Ein Karem, so we didn’t need to look for places to stay. There are some trail angels in Ein Karem and the area. You can also take advantage of the opportunity and stay a few days in Jerusalem to explore the city. Check out my full Jerusalem travel guide for budget travelers. Israel National Trail hikers can also enter the Israel Museum for free if they show their backpacks at the entrance.

Read about the previous segment: From Mahal Memorial to Beit Meir.

Table of contents:

Safety instructions and general notes

How to get to the head of the trail?

The hike from Beit Meir to Ein Karem

Leaving the trail

Read more

Safety instructions and general notes:

· The hike is under your responsibility, so please be careful.

· Make sure you hike with good hiking shoes, have at least 3 liters of water, and wear a hat. Pack food and snacks for a full day of hiking. Also, make sure to bring a garbage bag as well and take your garbage with you, including toilet paper.

· Don’t go on the hike when it is too hot (over 30 degrees Celsius) because it’s not enjoyable and can end with heatstroke. After rainfall, this segment could be a bit slippery, so be careful!

· Pay attention to sunset hours (in Summer around 6-7 PM, in Winter around 4-5 PM). It’s best to start hiking around 6 AM. This way, you will have time to rest in the hot hours of the afternoon and get to the end of the trail before sunset. 

· The phone signal is good throughout most of the trail.

· Before you begin the hike, make sure you have a good trail map. The trail isn’t always well marked, so it’s good to have a map. You can also use a navigation app such as the Israel Hiking Map. With GPS, you can also 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. You can also download the trail map in English (created by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel). For this segment, you will need to download this map. The map is extremely basic but gives you a general sense of the trail. The first part of the segment does not appear here. Unfortunately, couldn’t find it.

· The trail is marked with the Israel National Trail colors, orange-blue-white.

· If you need any further help planning your trail, I recommend posting on the Israel National Trail forum on Tapatalk. Of course, you can also talk to me through lior@backpackisrael.com.

To reach the trailhead, you will need to get to Beit Meir. From Jerusalem, take bus 186 that leaves from the Jerusalem ICC Station. The station is on the road to the south of the Yitzhak Navon Railway Station. From Tel Aviv and Haifa, you will need to first reach Jerusalem and then take bus 186 to Beit Meir. Anyway, it’s best to use a navigation app like Google Maps or Moovit to find the best route for you.

The hike from Beit Meir to Ein Karem:

Taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/

From Beit Meir to the Bnei Brit Cave:

We left Beit Meir and went down the access road to the Israel National Trail (1). There was a big sign next to the road explaining the upcoming segment. The segment started on a blue-marked route, but after 350 meters, continued on a black-marked one. To our left, we could see the stunning view of the Forest of the Martyrs. It was planted in memory of the people who were perished by the Nazis in the Holocaust. They say there are six million trees in this forest, symbolizing the six million Jewish victims, but I haven’t counted.

The view at twilight

After about 1.2 km, we turned left to a blue-marked route (2). The trail curved down a steep decline between the trees and bushes. Then, after about 1.2 km, we reached the Bnei Brit Cave (Martyrs Cave) and the Anne Frank Memorial (3). There were picnic tables nearby, so we stopped for a coffee break.

The Bnei Brit Cave is a natural cave that was expanded. “Bnei Brit” means “allies.” It’s supposed to be a place where people go to connect to the memory of the Holocaust victims, but it’s closed with a gate. The communion is done only on special occasions. A few steps away is the Anne Frank Memorial. The memorial is made from a set of signs, on which appear quotes from Anne’s journal. There is also a sweet chestnut tree. In her journal, Anne Frank wrote about a sweet chestnut tree she saw from her hideout. That tree was her only connection to the outer world.

Down the blue-marked route…
Near the Bnei Brit Cave
1 – Map taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
2 – Map taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/

From Bnei Brit Cave to Tzova:

We turned to the east on a red-marked asphalt road. The road continues right and upwards on a blue-marked route.

As we climbed up the road, an enormous truck passed by us. A short while later, we saw it up high on another road, facing another truck. The road was so narrow that the two couldn’t pass each other. One of the trucks had to do a reverse, and only then the other one could pass.

We continued up the curvy road until it got flat. Now, we were hiking on the Southern Scenic Route of the Forest of the Martyrs. There was a splendid view of a green forest to our left, many bikers rode past us, and everything was pleasant.

The Southern Scenic Route

The Scenic Route continues for about 9.5 km. Near the end of the route, we could see the houses of Givat Yearim to our left. Givat Yearim is a semi-cooperative moshav, founded in 1950 by Jewish Yemenite immigrants. When we got off the scenic route, we reached the access road to Givat Yearim (4). There, we also found a pavilion with some benches and a drinking water faucet.

We filled water, passed the access road, and continued straight on a dirt path. We passed through a charming plantation with apple trees and exited through a small opening in a gate.  About 730 meters from the access road, we reached the front entrance to Kibbutz Tzova (5).

Tzova, also called Palmach Tzova, was established in October 1948 by a group of Palmach veterans. Today, the kibbutz’s main income comes from its glass factory, which produces tempered, laminated, and bulletproof security glass. But they also get money from agriculture and the hotel that the kibbutz operates.

The small opening
3 – Map taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
4 – Map taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
5 – Map taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
6 – Map taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/

Around Kibbutz Tzova:

We entered the kibbutz and passed by its silo tower, which had nice artwork on it. We continued straight on the first roundabout. After a few hundred meters, we reached the back exit of the kibbutz (6). At this point, there was a sign next to the gate barrier, talking about the Battle of Tzova.

The silo tower in Kibbutz Tsova

Before 1948, there was a Palestinian village here called Suba. It was located on top of the ruins of an ancient Crusader-era fortress called Belmont. The village overlooked the road leading to Jerusalem, and its residents often attacked Jewish convoys that made their way from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. So, to ensure the safety of the convoys, the Palmach soldiers conquered Suba in the early stages of the 1948 Independence War. Most of the village’s residents fled before the forces even got here. Some of the residents have moved to nearby Ein Rafa, where they live today as Israeli citizens.

We continued about 430 meters to the base of Tel Tzova (7). This is where the Crusader-era fortress and the Palestinian village stood. If you have time, you can climb up to the top of the mound and explore the ruins.

Next to the road, we saw a row of letters, forming the words “the agriculture will win.” Israel is famous for its developed agriculture, but the truth is that local agriculture is in decline. More and more vegetables and fruits are imported into the country, which means we’re laying aside the locally grown ones. Today, it’s not so profitable being a farmer in Israel. And that’s sad because it seems we’ve lost our connection to the land. Instead of encouraging people to cultivate the land, we’re encouraging them to work in hi-tech. Let’s hope agriculture will win soon.

“The agriculture will win”
7 – Map taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/

From Tel Tzova to Ein Sattaf:

We continued about 450 meters on an asphalt route and then turned right with the green-marked trail (8). A short while later, we reached HaYovel Picnic Area. The map says there’s a drinking faucet there, but I couldn’t see one.

From there, we continued downwards through the forest for about 1 km until we reached a big roundabout on road 395 (9). Here, we went straight towards Sattaf. We left the road and arrived at a stunning picnic area overlooking the Jerusalem Hills. In the distance, we could see Ein Karem and Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital. “We’re almost done,” we said, “We’ve almost reached our target.” We stopped to eat some apples. Nearby, there was also a café on wheels. 

View of the Haddasah Ein Karem Hospital

Then, we started our way downwards toward the Sattaf. This place was also a Palestinian Village, which was abandoned during the 1948 Independence War. Today, many people come here to see the ancient agricultural techniques that were preserved. The agricultural terraces were first developed about 4,500 years ago. There are also two water springs, which are a highlight in the hot months.  

We continued about 570 meters on a green-marked route and then turned left (10), went down a set of stairs, and continued towards Ein Sattaf (11). This is one of the water springs in the park. We took off our shoes and socks and entered the narrow water tunnel. It’s a short tunnel, that leads to a small and shallow pool. Kids probably love it. I felt it was too dense, knocked my knees, and got some back pain. But at least I tried it. 

The spring. You can’t swim here. There’s a small tunnel nearby
8 – Map taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/

From Ein Sattaf to Ein Karem:

After drying our feet, we put back our socks and shoes. Then, we continued down a long-long set of stairs to the lower parking lot of Sattaf (12). From there, we turned left and walked on a green-marked route through a pleasant forest. At first, it was really stinky, but then the air felt cleaner. After about 1 km, we left the green-marked route and continued on the Israel National Trail only. In the distance, we could see the buildings of Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital.

Walking towards Ein Karem

About 2.6 km from the lower parking lot, we reached a small bridge over the Sorek River (13). This river is one of the largest and most important drainage basins in the Judean Hills. In the Bible, it is mentioned as the border between the Philistines and the Israelite Tribe of Dan. Some believe that “sorek” means “special vine,” referring to the grapes grown in the area.

We crossed the bridge and continued another 670 meters to a roundabout connecting road 386 with road 395 (14). At the roundabout, we turned left and continued on a dirt path parallel to the road.

After about 750 meters, we started entering the neighborhood of Ein Karem. I have never entered the neighborhood from this side, so it was even more exciting. The houses were above us, and we climbed towards them. They surrounded us from all sides. When we reached the paved street of Sorek, we turned right, and started climbing up a long set of stairs. At the end of the climb, we found out that they are called the Gan Eden Staircase (Heaven Staircase).

The staircase is connected to the Jewish Yemenite immigrants, who were brought here in the early years of the state. The authorities promised them a house in Jerusalem, but took them here, to an abandoned Arab village at the outskirts of Jerusalem. At first, they refused to leave the buses. But then, one of the Yemenites went off the bus, stood next to the staircase, and said: “It’s not so bad. We are still close to Jerusalem. Look, this is the Heaven Staircase leading to Jerusalem.” Ever since, those stairs are called the Heaven Staircase.

I could understand the connection between heaven and those stairs. When we reached the top, I was so excited. We did it. We reached Jerusalem after a month on the trail! It wasn’t an easy task, but we made it.

9 – Map taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
10 – Map taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/

In Ein Karem:

Ein Karem is one of the most charming neighborhoods in Jerusalem, but it wasn’t always part of Jerusalem. Back in ancient days, it was a separate village in the Jerusalem Hills. According to Christian tradition, it is where John the Baptist was born. (Read more about John the Baptist in Ein Karem). Before 1948, it was a Palestinian village. Now, it’s a neighborhood full of artisans and craftsmen who are influenced by its beauty.

We continued straight from the stairs and walked a short while to a coffee house and confectionery on the main road of Ein Karem (15). There, we stopped to drink coffee and summarize our hike. It was a hike full of natural beauty and interesting history, but also full of mental and physical challenges. There were ups and downs, but we were able to stick together as a group, and overall, we had amazing fun!

We split up. Until next time.

Leaving the trail:

If you want to leave the trail after this segment – You can take bus number 28 from Ein Kerem/ HaMa’ayan Station to Mount Herzl Light-Rail Station. From there, you can take the light-rail to the central station and take a relevant bus or train from there. The whole ride to the central station shouldn’t take more than half an hour. It’s best to check the best route for you by using Moovit or Google Maps. 

Read more:

Get ready for the trail by reading my post – The Israel National Trail: Ultimate Preparation Guide.

And check out previous segments of the Israel National Trail.

Looking for a guide on the Israel National Trail?

Contact me at lior@backpackisrael.com or read more here

Save this pin for later!


Hiked the trail in November 2020.

If you liked this post or found it useful, would really appreciate a like, a share and a comment (: Also, feel free to update about trail changes!

If you need any help with planning this hike, feel free to contact me at lior@backpackisrael.com. I also offer guided hiking tours on several segments of the Israel National Trail.

Also, feel free to follow this blog and like my Facebook Page – Backpack Israel.

And plan a great trip to Israel using my app – Travel Israel by Travelkosh for Android and iOS

Yours,

Lior

Categories
Free things to do Hiking in Israel Israel National Trail

Hiking the Israel National Trail: From Mahal Memorial to Beit Meir

After a rainy night at Mahal Memorial, we woke up to a rainy morning. We pondered if we could hike that day because the forecast said the rain should stop a bit later. But maybe it would be too muddy and slippery? We also have a rather serious ascent ahead. In the end, we decided that we’ll hike only a short while to Beit Meir, about 5.6 km from Mahal Memorial.

The segment from Mahal Memorial to Beit Meir is short and beautiful. We enjoyed some stunning views of the surrounding Jerusalem hills and stopped by strategic points used by our forces in the 1948 Independence War. We arrived at Beit Meir early and got to work a bit in our trail angel’s farm.

Trail length: About 5.6 km. You can also hike it from the other direction.

Trail duration: About 2 hours, depending on your pace.

Difficulty level: Moderate.  

Best season: Fall (October-November) and Spring (February-April).

Water along the way: There is a drinking water tap at Mahal Memorial, the starting point. You can also get water at Beit Meir.

Stay options at the end of the trail: We stayed at a Trail Angel’s house in Beit Meir. You can search for trail angels here. If you prefer camping, there’s a small camping area near the access road to Beit Meir, called HaMasreq.

Continue to the next segment: From Beit Meir to Ein Karem.

Table of contents:

Safety instructions and general notes

How to get to the head of the trail?

The trail from Mahal Memorial to Beit Meir

Leaving the trail

Read more

Safety instructions and general notes:

· The hike is under your responsibility, so please be careful.

· Make sure you hike with good hiking shoes, have at least 3 liters of water, and wear a hat. Pack food and snacks for the two-hour hike. Also, make sure to bring a garbage bag as well and take your garbage with you, including toilet paper.

· Don’t go on the hike when it is too hot (over 30 degrees Celsius) because it’s not enjoyable and can end with heatstroke. We hiked after rainfall and the trail was a bit slippery here and there, so be careful!

· Pay attention to sunset hours (in Summer around 6-7 PM, in Winter around 4-5 PM). Make sure to start hiking early, so you will get to the end of the trail from sunset. 

· The phone signal is good throughout most of the trail.

· Before you begin the hike, make sure you have a good trail map. The trail isn’t always well marked, so it’s good to have a map. You can also use a navigation app such as the Israel Hiking Map. With GPS, you can also 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. You can also download the trail map in English (created by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel). For this segment, you will need to download this map. The map is extremely basic but gives you a general sense of the trail.

· The trail is marked with the Israel National Trail colors, orange-blue-white.

· If you need any further help planning your trail, I recommend posting on the Israel National Trail forum on Tapatalk. Of course, you can also talk to me through lior@backpackisrael.com.

To reach the trailhead, you will need to get to Mesilat Zion Junction. From there, take a taxi or walk 3.4 km to the Mahal Memorial. If you are coming from Tel Aviv, bus line 412 leaves from the Savidor Center Railway Station. From Jerusalem, bus line 417 leaves from the ICC, near the Central Station. Line 415 leaves from Central Station Jerusalem. There are also other options, so it’s best to use a navigation app like Google Maps or Moovit to find the best route for you.

The hike from Mahal Memorial to Beit Meir:

From Mahal Memorial to Post 21:

So, we woke up at the Mahal Memorial (1) and waited for the rain to stop. It stopped around 10 AM, and then we started the hike. We hiked on a flat, red-marked route for a bit. Then, we started climbing the ascent on a green-marked trail. Water was still flowing down the slope between the rocks. At first, there were small rocks. As we climbed further, they became bigger and bigger. The climb itself was a bit steep but overall moderate. The views that surrounded us were definitely worth it! In the distance, we could see our target – the religious moshav of Beit Meir.

Climbing on the green-marked route
Beit Meir in the distance

After about 1.8 km, we reached a trail fork with a blue-marked trail (2). We turned left and continued climbing on the green-marked route, which follows the Israel National Trail marks.

About 420 meters afterward, we reached Post 21 (3). This point is connected to the 1948 Independence War. Actually, the mountain ridge which we were hiking on is dubbed “the Convoys Ridge.” It was a strategic ridge to the south of the road that led to Jerusalem, road number 1. The Jewish forces used it to protect the convoys which made their way to Jerusalem. Many of our soldiers died while trying to grasp the strategic points along the ridge, amongst them Post 21.

Our forces captured Post 21 on May 10, 1948. A day afterward, hundreds of Arabs from the neighboring village, Bayt Mahsir, came to attack the place. We were able to repel them and keep hold of this point, with six of our soldiers dead.

Map 1 – Taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/

From Post 21 to Post 16:

We continued for another 1.1 km and reached a lovely viewpoint over road number 1 (4). This point was also a strategic post on the ridge. Our soldiers probably stood here and kept an eye on the route to Jerusalem. There’s a big tree here, which means a lot of shade. There’s also a wooden bench, so we took advantage of the place and stopped to rest. It’s a good place for a coffee break.

The shaded viewpoint over road number 1
The view itself. Imagine how it looked in 1948

After about 450 meters, we reached another post, this time Post 16 (5). Here, there’s a memorial for the Palmach forces. The Palmach was the leading Jewish fighting force before the establishment of the State of Israel. It was established with the help of the British. They wanted to train the Jewish people so that they could help them during World War II. In the end, the Nazis didn’t get to the Land of Israel, but we gained a trained fighting force. During the Independence War, which began in November 1947 as a civil war, the Palmach were recruited. Later, in May 1948, when we established the IDF, they were integrated into the different units.

The Palmach memorial consists of three stone columns, each depicting a different period in the Palmach. The first column is dedicated to the operations against the Nazi forces, which the Palmach performed outside of the Land of Israel. It is also dedicated to the operations against the British authorities between 1946 to 1947. The second column is dedicated to the first part of the Independence War, until May 1948. The third is dedicated to the rest of the war, until 1949. On each column, you can see the number of fallen Palmach soldiers.

The Palmach Memorial
Map 2 – Taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/

From Post 16 to Beit Meir:

From Post 16, the trail begins a slight decline. We continued on the decline for about 850 meters and then turned left onto a red-marked route. After a short while, we were on road 3955, the access road to Beit Meir. Right next to the road, there’s a camping site called HaMasreq (6).

More views on the way to Beit Meir

We left the Israel National Trail and turned right onto the access road to Beit Meir (7). The religious moshav was established in 1950 on the ruins of the Arab village, Bayt Mahsir. It is called after Meir Bar-Ilan, an Orthodox Rabbi who was one of the leading religious Zionist leaders.

When we entered the moshav, a large van stopped by us. A young man jumped out and asked: “Are you hungry?” We were used to people who wanted to feed us, but this was surprising. He said that he has a catering company. He prepared some food packages, but they weren’t eaten. “It’s a shame to throw away,” he said, “So please take some.” And he gave us the food packages, which we later ate for lunch.

Our trail angel was a religious man with a farm, so we spent the afternoon helping him with the farm errands. We cleaned the livestock stalls, gathered freshly laid eggs, and chopped an enormous pile of wood logs. The jobs he gave us were a bit thick, but we had a roof over our head and were protected from the rain outdoors, so we couldn’t really complain.

Map 3 – Taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/

Leaving the trail:

If you want to leave the trail after this segment – You can take bus number 186 that leaves from Beit Meir to Jerusalem. To get to Tel Aviv, you can change to the train in Jerusalem or change to another bus on the way. To get to Haifa, take bus 186 to Jerusalem and then switch to bus number 960 to Haifa. It’s best to check the best route for you by using Moovit or Google Maps. 

Read more:

Get ready for the trail by reading my post – The Israel National Trail: Ultimate Preparation Guide.

And check out previous segments of the Israel National Trail.

Looking for a guide on the Israel National Trail?

Contact me at lior@backpackisrael.com or read more here

Pin this post for later!


Hiked the trail in November 2020.

If you liked this post or found it useful, would really appreciate a like, a share and a comment (: Also, feel free to update about trail changes!

If you need any help with planning this hike, feel free to contact me at lior@backpackisrael.com. I also offer guided hiking tours on several segments of the Israel National Trail.

Also, feel free to follow this blog and like my Facebook Page – Backpack Israel.

And plan a great trip to Israel using my app – Travel Israel by Travelkosh for Android and iOS

Yours,

Lior

Categories
Free things to do Hiking in Israel Israel National Trail

Hiking the Israel National Trail: From Moshe Shaiyah Lookout to Mahal Memorial 

We woke up to a new morning at Moshe Shaiyah Lookout. This day, we planned to get to Mahal Memorial as early as possible. We were getting nearer to Jerusalem, and it was still the weekend. So, we thought it could be an excellent opportunity to call some of our families and arrange a BBQ meet-up.

The segment from Moshe Shaiyah Lookout to Mahal Memorial is easy and fascinating. On the way, we passed through Latrun and got a short glimpse of the monastery. Then, we walked through beautiful orchards and forests. And near the end, we also got to walk a bit on Burma Road, a makeshift bypass road built during the 1948 Siege of Jerusalem.

Trail length: About 15.5 km. You can also hike it from the other direction.

Trail duration: About 6 hours, depending on your pace.

Difficulty level: Easy to moderate.  

Best season: Fall (October-November) and Spring (February-April).

Water along the way: There is a drinking water tap at Moshe Shaiyah Lookout. Then, there are water taps at Latrun (about 5.3 km from the start). Next, you can fill water at the Latrun Monastery (about 6.6 km from the start). There is also a water cooler at the spiritual center in Neve Shalom. It’s the building with the dome (about 9 km from the start). To reach it, you will need to make a short diverge from the trail. There are drinking water taps at the Mahal Memorial, the endpoint.

Stay options at the end of the trail: We camped near the Mahal Memorial. There are also trail angels in the area.

Continue to the next segment – From Mahal Memorial to Beit Meir.

Table of contents:

Safety instructions and general notes

How to get to the head of the trail?

The hike from Moshe Shaiyah Lookout to Mahal Memorial

From Moshe Shaiyah Lookout to Latrun

The memorials of Latrun

An interesting encounter at the gas station

At the Latrun Trappist Monastery

From the monastery to Neve Shalom

From Neve Shalom to Burma Road

From Burma Road to Mahal Memorial

At the Mahal Memorial

Leaving the trail

Read more

Safety instructions and general notes:

· The hike is under your responsibility, so please be careful.

· Make sure you hike with good hiking shoes, have at least 3 liters of water, and wear a hat. Pack food and snacks for the whole day, BUT 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. Also, it’s not recommended to hike after rainfall, as the trail could be muddy and slippery.

· Pay attention to sunset hours (in Summer around 6-7 PM, in Winter around 4-5 PM). Try to begin the 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. 

· The phone signal is good throughout most of the trail.

· Before you begin the hike, make sure you have a good trail map. The trail isn’t always well marked, so it’s good to have a map. You can also use a navigation app such as the Israel Hiking Map. With GPS, you can also 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. You can also download the trail map in English (created by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel). For this segment, you will need to download this map. The map is extremely basic but give you a general sense of the trail.

· The trail is marked with the Israel National Trail colors, orange-blue-white.

· If you need any further help with planning your trail, I recommend posting on the Israel National Trail forum on Tapatalk. Of course, you can also talk to me through lior@backpackisrael.com.

To reach the trailhead, you will need to get to Modi’in and take bus 18 from there to “Takhanat Kemach” station in Sha’alvim. From there, you need to walk about 1.7 km to Moshe Shaiyah Lookout, the start point. There are also other options, so it’s best to use a navigation app like Google Maps or Moovit to find the best route for you.

The hike from Moshe Shaiyah Lookout to Mahal Memorial:

From Moshe Shaiyah Lookout to Latrun:

We began our hike from Moshe Shaiyah Lookout (1) and walked on a comfortable route for about 2 km. To our left, we could see the houses of the religious kibbutz, Sha’alvim. Then, we arrived at an underpass beneath the Israeli railway (2). We continued another 370 meters or so and passed beneath road number 1 (3). This road is one of the leading transportation routes in Israel, connecting Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It follows an ancient path that linked Jaffa to Jerusalem hundreds of years ago.

Crossing the railway

After crossing underneath the road, we turned left and continued parallel to the road for about 1.5 km. Then, the trail started turning right towards Latrun. The path was easy and passed by beautiful orchards and agricultural fields. Then, after about 970 meters, we started the ascent to Latrun.

We climbed through the woods and the high grass. On the way, we passed by some outdoor fitness equipment. About 320 meters from the start of the climb, we reached a memorial to the 188th “Barak” (Lightning) Armored Brigade (4). It is one of many memorials scattered over Latrun, part of the Armored Corps Formations Park. The plan is to have 52 memorials in the park.

Climbing through the woods
The memorial to the “Barak” Armored Brigade

The memorials of Latrun:

We passed the memorial and turned right onto a paved route. A short while later, we saw another memorial to our right (5). It was for the 217th “Sus Doher” (Galloping Horse) Armored Brigade. The symbol of the brigade, a galloping horse, appeared on the monument stone.

The “Galloping Horse” memorial

We continued another 180 meters or so and arrived at a huge parking lot in front of Yad La-Shiryon (6). It is officially known as the Armored Corps Memorial Site and Museum at Latrun. If you have time, it’s worth a visit! The prices are reasonable. In the outer courtyard, you’ll find one of the largest collections of tanks and armored vehicles in the world. You can also enter the main building, a Mandate-era Tegart fortress, and visit the memorial to the fallen soldiers of the Israeli armored corps. Over 5,000 fallen soldiers are commemorated at this site.

Latrun was the site of one of the fiercest fights in the 1948 Independence War. That’s why the memorials and museum are located here. Latrun was a strategic point on the route from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Jordanian Arab Legion captured this point in May 1948. The Israeli forces tried to capture Latrun five times but were unsuccessful. 168 Israeli soldiers were killed, and Latrun remained under Jordanian control until the 1967 Six-Day War.

The Jordanians threatened the convoys that made their way between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. So, to continue the supplement of essential supplies to the Jewish population of Jerusalem, we had to find a new road. This is when we started using the Burma Road, a makeshift bypass road to Jerusalem.

An interesting encounter at the gas station:

From the entrance to Yad La-Shiryon, we left the trail and went to the nearby gas station (7). There’s a convenience store over there, with picnic tables and shade. We thought it could be a great place for breakfast.

Sapir and I sat down next to one of the tables, and the rest went to make coffee somewhere. Then, a guy with white braided hair asked if he could sit with us at the table. “I’m waiting for a friend,” he told us. We welcomed him to our table and even offered him waffles.

Then, he asked us a lot of questions. Where were we from, how was the Israel National Trail, and what are our professions. He also told us a bit about himself, that he was a gardener and loved to travel. All this talking isn’t unusual because people in Israel like to talk, especially with hikers on the Israel National Trail. But there was some kind of charm around him.

A few minutes later, the whole group came back, and he started talking to them, too. Nitai said that he knows him from somewhere, and then he said that he appeared in “One Out of a Million” (in Hebrew: “אחד למיליון”).

“Really?” Nitai was excited.

I didn’t know at the time about the TV show. Only later, when I came back home and accidentally stumbled upon “One Out of a Million,” I understood why Nitai seemed so excited. It’s a documentary show that showcases people who have experienced miracles. In this case, the man we met was Lior, an adopted man who miraculously met his biological brother on the street. They became best friends and only after many years discovered they were brothers.

At the Latrun Trappist Monastery:

We said farewell to Lior at the gas station and linked back to the Israel National Trail. It goes down through a set of parking lots and then arrives, after about 350 meters, at road number 424 (8). We crossed according to the traffic lights and continued about 300 meters alongside the road. Then, we turned left and arrived after a short while at the Latrun Trappist Monastery (9). The monks who live here don’t talk a lot, which is why we call them “the silent monks.”

The monastery is named after the ancient Crusader-era fortress situated atop the hill. It was called “Le Toron des Chevaliers”, which means “the Tower of the Knights.” “Le Toron” turned into “Latrun.” Following this mistake, a Christian tradition was born, claiming that the Good Thief (“Boni latronis” in Latin) was born here.

In the 1870s, a road inn was built here, on the route between Jaffa and Jerusalem. Those days, the journey between the two cities took about two days. The inn was sold in 1887 to a Trappist monk who established the monastery. Why here? Because it’s close to Emmaus Nicopolis, believed to be the place where Jesus appeared after his death and resurrection. During World War I, the monastery turned into an Ottoman military camp. Only in 1919, the monks came back to the place and expanded it.

We left the trail to take a deeper look at the monastery. Because of the weekend, there were stalls selling stuff outside the building. When we asked to look inside, the monk in charge said that they were closed because of coronavirus.

The Trappist Monastery from a distance
A short glimpse inside….

From the monastery to Neve Shalom:

We exited the monastery and continued on the trail. In the garden next to the trail stands a high monument, that looks like an Indian totem (10). Three faces appear on the monument – the faces of Rashi, Bernard of Clairvaux, and Saladin. Those all come from different religions, but according to the abbot of the monastery, all of them represent tolerance.

From there, the trail continues uphill towards Le Toron des Chevaliers, the Crusader-era fortress. We foolishly cut through the olive grove and didn’t climb up to the remains of the fortress. But if you do want to reach it, it’s only a short 400 meters climb from the monastery.

We cut through the olive grove and reconnected to the Israel National Trail, where it overlaps a red-marked trail. Now, we descended to a beautiful vineyard. In the distance, on the hill, we could see the houses of Neve Shalom. In translation to English, the name of the village means “an Oasis of Peace.” It was founded as a cooperative village by Jews and Arabs, who wanted to prove that the two people can live peacefully together.

Neve Shalom in the distance
The trail leading to Neve Shalom

We went for about 600 meters and then crossed over the dry wadi of Nahal Nahshon (11), which flows only in winter and spring. Then, we continued upwards for about 1 km until we reached the outskirts of Neve Shalom. From here, we could see the dome of their spiritual center.   

From Neve Shalom to Burma Road:

We continued the ascent for about 210 meters and then turned left onto a black-marked trail (12). Some people, who sat next to the picnic tables at the turn, asked us if we want Coca Cola. When we said “no,” they asked if we want waffles. We didn’t want the waffles because we had enough of them, but Nitai went up to them anyway and took some. Just to be polite.

We accidentally took a wrong turn right and downwards. But soon enough, we were able to get back to the black-marked trail. The trail continues straight for about 890 meters. Then, it arrives at a shaded picnic area and a trail junction. We rested for a while and then took the right turn onto a green-marked trial (13).

We continued down the green-marked trail for about 730 meters and then reached the junction of Peru Forest (14). Here, we turned right and continued on the green-marked trail. After about 420 meters, we arrived at another trail junction. This time, we turned left onto a red-marked trail. It led us to the serpentine descend along the historical Burma Road.

Peru Forest

There are informative signs and reddish reliefs of the convoys that made their way down this road. Burma Road was the makeshift bypass road used by the Jewish convoys to bypass the Jordanian post at Latrun and reach Jerusalem. It was active for only six months, starting June 1948. The Israel National Trail goes on the most challenging part of the Burma Road, where the engineers had to deal with a very steep decline.

The convoy going down the Burma Road

From Burma Road to Mahal Memorial:

After about 440 meters, we arrived at the bottom of the decline. There, we saw a rusty pipeline, which was part of Hashiloach Pipeline. They laid the pipeline within only 30 days! Like the Burma Road, it also bypassed the Jordanian post at Latrun. It rejoined the mandatory-era line at Shaar Hagai. 

The rusty pipeline

We continued left on the red-marked trail (15). It still follows the Burma Road, but now it was much milder. There were no major ascents or declines. Though, there’s almost no shade. We went on the red-marked trail for about 1.2 km, passing dry vineyards on the way. Then, we turned left onto a trail that was marked as the Israel National Trail only. After 770 meters, it returns to the red-marked trail.

Then, we started walking into the boundaries of Eshtaol Forest. Like many forests in Israel, this one was planted by the KKL in the 1950s and consists mainly of Aleppo pine. There’s supposed to be a water spring in the area called Ein Mesilla, but we didn’t notice it. After about 1.3 km, we reached a short tunnel underneath road number 38 (16).

To the right, there’s a gas station with a convenience store, which we visited later. We crossed through the tunnel and then continued with the road left to Mahal Memorial (17).

Crossing to Mahal Memorial

At the Mahal Memorial:

Mahal is an acronym of “Mitnadvei Hetz LaArtez,” which means “volunteers from abroad.” They came from abroad to fight alongside the Israeli forces during the 1948 Independence War. There were about 4,000 volunteers, most of them Jews but some of them non-Jews, too. The memorial is made of three letters that make up the Hebrew acronym “Mahal.” There are also boards explaining the group and showing the names of those who fell during the war.

Around the memorial, there’s a vast picnic area. When we arrived, it was full of people. Ayelet’s and Nitai’s families were there, too. They brought meat and salads, and we had a great picnic. A girl who we met at the beginning of the trail appeared near the end and joined us for the night. She said that her group had kicked her out.

It was supposed to rain that night, so we also asked the families to bring some coverage against rain. At first, we tried to tie them to some trees and create a shelter from the rain. But it wasn’t too successful. So, we chose Plan B – to sleep under the picnic tables. We placed the coverages on top of the picnic tables and affixed them with rocks on the ground.

It really rained that night. There were even thunders. And most of us stayed quite dry.

The Mahal Memorial. You can’t see all the letters, but they are there!
The shelter we built for the night

Leaving the trail:

If you want to leave the trail after this segment – You will need to walk about 3.5 km to Mesilat Zion Junction and take bus 417 or 415 from there to Jerusalem. If you want to go directly to Tel Aviv, you can take bus 412 from Mesilat Zion Junction. It’s best to check the best route for you by using Moovit or Google Maps. To get to Mesilat Zion Junction quicker, you can order a taxi.

Read more:

Get ready for the trail by reading my post – The Israel National Trail: Ultimate Preparation Guide.

And check out previous segments of the Israel National Trail.

Looking for a guide on the Israel National Trail?

Contact me at lior@backpackisrael.com or read more here

Pin this post for later!


Hiked the trail in November 2020.

If you liked this post or found it useful, would really appreciate a like, a share and a comment (: Also, feel free to update about trail changes!

If you need any help with planning this hike, feel free to contact me at lior@backpackisrael.com. I also offer guided hiking tours on several segments of the Israel National Trail.

Also, feel free to follow this blog and like my Facebook Page – Backpack Israel.

And plan a great trip to Israel using my app – Travel Israel by Travelkosh for Android and iOS

Yours,

Lior

Categories
Free things to do Hiking in Israel Israel National Trail

Hiking the Israel National Trail: From Shoham to Moshe Shaiyah Lookout

After a cozy night at Shoham, we woke up and traced our tracks back to the Israel National Trail. Then, we started making our way to the next destination – the Moshe Shaiyah Lookout near kibbutz Sha’alvim.

The segment from Shoham to Moshe Shaiyah Lookout is a pleasant one. It passes through the Ben Shemen Forest and offers some beautiful viewpoints along the way. Because we hiked on Friday, the forest was full of families, hikers, and bikers, and there were also food stalls near the Modi’in Lookout watchtower.

Trail length: About 18 km. You can also hike from the other direction. If you’re coming from Shoam, it’s an additional 2 km to the start.

Trail duration: About 10 hours, depending on your pace.

Difficulty level: Easy.

Best season: Fall (October-November) and Spring (February-April).

Water along the way: If you have stayed in Shoham, you can fill water at your host’s place. If not, the nearest drinking tap is at Modi’in Lookout, near the watchtower (about 6.5 km from the start). Then, there’s a drinking tap at the Neve Yosef picnic area (about 17.5 km from the start). There’s also water at the endpoint, at Moshe Shaiyah Lookout.

Stay options at the end of the trail: We camped at the Moshe Shaiyah Lookout. There’s a space with grass at the top of the small mound. It is also possible to camp at the Neve Yosef picnic area, located about 500 meters back.  

Continue to the next segment – From Moshe Shaiyah Lookout to Mahal Memorial.

Table of contents:

Safety instructions and general notes

How to get to the head of the trail?

The trail from Shoham to Moshe Shaiyah Lookout

Leaving the trail

Read more

Safety instructions and general notes:

· The hike is under your responsibility, so please be careful.

· Make sure you hike with good hiking shoes, have at least 3 liters of water (and 5 on hot days), and wear a hat. Pack food and snacks for the whole day, BUT 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 heatstroke. Also, after rainfall, parts of this segment could be muddy.

· Pay attention to sunset hours (in Summer around 6-7 PM, in Winter around 4-5 PM). Try to begin the hike before 8 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. 

· The phone signal is good throughout the trail.

· Before you begin the hike, make sure you have a good trail map. The trail isn’t always well marked, so it’s good to have a map. You can also use a navigation app such as the Israel Hiking Map. With GPS, you can also 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. You can also download the trail map in English (created by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel). For this segment, you will need to download this map and this map. The maps are extremely basic but give you a general sense of the trail.

· The trail is marked with the Israel National Trail colors, orange-blue-white.

· If you need any further help with planning your trail, I recommend posting on the Israel National Trail forum on Tapatalk. Of course, you can also talk to me through lior@backpackisrael.com.

This segment starts near Shoham. If you’re coming in a car, you can park in Shoham and walk about 2 km to the start of the segment. Pass through the tunnel underneath road number 444. Then, turn right and continue for about 500 meters and turn left. Continue for about 800 meters until you reach the Israel National Trail.  

By public transportation:

It is best to take a bus to Shoham. From Tel Aviv, you can catch bus number 500 or 506 from Ha’Hagana Train Station. From other places, you will need to use at least two buses to reach Shoham. It’s best to use Moovit or Google Maps to find the best route for you.

The trail from Shoham to Moshe Shaiyah Lookout:

Taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/

From the start to Tel Hadid:

We arrived at the point where we left the other day (1). Then, we went on an easy trail for about 660 meters and reached an underpass beneath road number 6 (2). After crossing it, we started climbing upwards, above the road. The climb is a bit steep but short, so it wasn’t too bad.

Walking to the underpass beneath road 6

At the end of the climb, the trail becomes quite plain with rock surfaces here and there. About 2.2 km from the underpass, we reached another point of contact with road number 6 (3). Though, this time we pass underneath it. We turned left and continued parallel to the road. Then, we turned right and continued on the Israel National Trail for about 340 meters until we reached a charming olive grove (4). There, we rested, made coffee, and ate some waffles. 

The olive grove where we rested

We continued westward on the trail, which at this point merges with a blue-marked trail. Many bikers were biking on the singles. After about 400 meters, we reached the lookout at Tel Hadid (5). The site was excavated when construction started on road number 6. Archeologists found very ancient findings but assume that the town was at its peak during the 7-8th century BCE. Until 1948, an Arab village by the name of Haditha existed here, preserving the name of Hadid.

The lookout is incredible. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Tel Aviv. The lookout was built in memory of Roi, who lived in nearby Beit Nehemia.

Tel Hadid lookout

From Tel Hadid to Modi’in Lookout:

From the top of Tel Hadid, we began a gradual and easy descend. We continued for about 1.9 km. Then, we stumbled upon a group of young people who were hearing loud music and picking up garbage. They seemed like a large and organized group. “Are you doing this as part of an organization?” we asked one of them.

“Yes,” he replied, “We’re part of Bahim La’Arim. It’s a Facebook group. If someone sees somewhere filthy, they can call for a group clean-up, and whoever is free can come and help.” Bahim La’Arim, by the way, means both “coming to the mountains” and “coming to pick up.”

We were happy to hear that someone cared about cleaning up nature. They had a lot of bags full of garbage. We’re a small country, and many people have no awareness of preserving the environment. So, there’s a lot of garbage in natural places, on hiking trails, and in picnic areas.

The Bahim La’Arim

“You’re doing great work!” we told them and continued on our way.

We passed by a parking lot, and 460 meters afterward reached an underpass beneath road 443 (6). After 360 meters, we arrived at a place with lots of food stalls, families, and bikers. It was a kind of happening that probably happens every Friday at the Modi’in Lookout (7). This place is already Ben Shemen Forest, one of the largest forests in Israel. We sat next to one of the picnic tables and then took turns in checking out the different stalls. I bought natural squeezed apple juice, but the others bought actual food like kanafeh.

Before leaving the place, we went up to the watchtower to fill water. The water tap is next to the wall that encircles the tower, beneath a large carob tree. It was scary to use it because there were bees all around it, but we managed. 

From Modi’in Lookout to Moshe Shaiyah Lookout:

There’s not a lot to say about the next 5.6 km. We just followed the trail marks. The trail is easy and shaded at the beginning but less at the end. We passed by picnic areas, saw many bikers, and had to dodge some ATVs on the way.

Through the forest

Then, we reached Hurbat Ragav (8). There’s a beautiful 360 degrees viewpoint over there. We could see the city of Modi’in as well as the Coastal Plain.

From there, we continued downwards on the Israel National Trail. A while later, we reached a sign on a tree that said: “Shalom hikers, Due to construction works at Aneva Junction, we have marked a 2-km long bypass for the Israel National Trail. Go after the trail marks. The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel.” So, we turned onto the bypass. After a short while, we reached a roundabout. We crossed it and continued for about 1.6 km until the end of the bypass (9). It ends at a cattle bridge.

The sign on the tree

We continued about 660 meters and reached a commercial area of Modi’in (10). Instead of going inside the complex, we turned right and walked on a dirt route that overlaps a green-marked trail. We continued on the green-marked route for about 1.3 km until we reached the access road to Sha’alvim (11). Here, we turned left and went on the Israel National Trail, parallel to the road. After about 330 meters, we turned right, crossed the road, and continued on the marked trail.

The commercial area from afar

We hiked another 500 meters and then reached Neve Yosef picnic area (12). We originally planned to sleep there, but there were a bunch of teenagers. Because we were afraid that this place would be noisy, we continued another 370 meters to Moshe Shaiyah Lookout (13).

At the Moshe Shaiyah Lookout:

The Moshe Shaiyah Lookout stands on a small mound, surrounded by grass and palm trees. It was built in memory of Moshe Shaiyah, a Jewish construction worker who fell to his death from a scaffold in his early 20s. 

We spent long minutes trying to understand where we’ll put our sleeping bags. At first, we thought to place them on the grass below the lookout, but the grass was too high and itchy. Then, we thought to place them next to the palm trees, but they seemed too close to the dirt roads. We didn’t want an ATV or motorcycle running over us at night.

It started getting dark, Ayelet lost her glasses, and we were all frustrated. In the end, we decided to camp at the top of the mound. There’s a small open space beyond the picnic tables.

The lookout is beautiful and well maintained. There’s a swing chair towards the view, a place for a bonfire, and several picnic tables. There’s also a drinking water tap, which was one of the best ones I’ve seen on the trail. The problem is that all this beauty attracts people who want to hang out, especially on weekends. And since it was the weekend, we had two groups of teenagers that came to make a bonfire, eat, and talk over the night. Ayelet and Nitai left to the palm trees in the middle of the night. The rest of us slept so-so.

That’s all for now. I wish you a fantastic hike on the Israel National Trail!

The Moshe Shayiah Lookout

Leaving the trail:

If you want to leave the trail after this segment – Don’t walk to Moshe Shaiyah Lookout. Stop on the way, at the commercial area of Modi’in (number 10). From there, you can catch bus 56 to the center of Modi’in. Then, take a bus relevant to you. It’s best to check the best route for you by using Moovit or Google Maps. If you need to get to Tel Aviv or Haifa, you can take bus 56 to the Modi’in train station and get on a train. 

Read more:

Get ready for the trail by reading my post – The Israel National Trail: Ultimate Preparation Guide.

And check out previous segments of the Israel National Trail.

Looking for a guide on the Israel National Trail?

Contact me at lior@backpackisrael.com or read more here

Pin this post for later!


Hiked the trail in November 2020.

If you liked this post or found it useful, would really appreciate a like, a share and a comment (:

If you need any help with planning this hike, feel free to contact me at lior@backpackisrael.com. I also offer guided hiking tours on several segments of the Israel National Trail.

Also, feel free to follow this blog and like my Facebook Page – Backpack Israel.

And plan a great trip to Israel using my app – Travel Israel by Travelkosh for Android and iOS

Yours,

Lior

Categories
Free things to do Hiking in Israel Israel National Trail

Hiking the Israel National Trail: From Tel Afek to Shoham

After sleeping next to the railway at Tel Afek, we woke up to another day on the Israel National Trail. We planned to hike to Shoham and stay at a relative’s house. It isn’t exactly on the trail, but it’s a small detour away.

The segment from Tel Afek to Shoham is quite boring. One interesting spot is an ancient mausoleum. The other is an impressive memorial for the fallen soldiers of an Israeli armored corps brigade. But the highlight of this segment was the ice cream factory store in Shoham Industrial Park. They sell ice cream at ridiculously cheap prices! 

Trail length: About 20 km. You can also hike it from the other direction. If you want to go to Shoam, it’s an additional 2 km back and forth. 

Trail duration: About 10 hours, depending on your pace. 

Difficulty level: Easy to moderate. 

Best season: Fall (October-November), Winter (December-January), and Spring (February-April). 

Water along the way: There is a drinking tap at the Yarkon National Park Overnight Campground, at the beginning of the segment. Next, there’s a water tap at the “Water Corner” (about 4.2 km from the start). You can also fill water at the ice cream store in the Shoham Industrial Park (about 16.2 km from the start). 

Stay options at the end of the trail: There are many trail angels in Shoham. Check the list here.

Continue to the next segment – From Shoham to Moshe Shaiyah Lookout.

Table of contents:

Safety instructions and general notes

How to get to the head of the trail?

The trail from Tel Afek to Shoham

Safety instructions and general notes:

· The hike is under your responsibility, so please be careful.

· Make sure you hike with good hiking shoes, have at least 3 liters of water (and 5 on hot days), and wear a hat. Pack food and snacks for the whole day, BUT 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 heatstroke. There are many parts without shade on this segment. Also, after rainfall, parts of this segment could be muddy.

· Pay attention to sunset hours (in Summer around 6-7 PM, in Winter around 4-5 PM). Try to begin the hike before 8 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. 

· The phone signal is good throughout the trail.

· Before you begin the hike, make sure you have a good trail map. The trail isn’t always well marked, so it’s good to have a map. You can also use a navigation app such as the Israel Hiking Map. With GPS, you can also 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. You can also download the trail map in English (created by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel). For this segment, you will need to download this map. The maps are extremely basic but give you a general sense of the trail.

· The trail is marked with the Israel National Trail colors, orange-blue-white.

· If you need any further help with planning your trail, I recommend posting on the Israel National Trail forum on Tapatalk. Of course, you can also talk to me through lior@backpackisrael.com.

This segment starts in Yarkon National Park Overnight Campground. It’s possible to reach the spot by car, but there’s no organized parking lot there. From road number 486, you will need to turn onto the road that merges with the Israel National Trail. It will take you to the campground.

By public transportation:

In any case, you will need to reach Afek Junction (in Hebrew: צומת אפק). The trail crosses the junction. So you can skip the first 1.5 km of the segment and join it there. No matter where you come from, you’ll need to change buses in the middle. It’s best to use Moovit or Google Maps to find the best route for you.

The trail from Tel Afek to Shoham:

From Tel Afek to road number 6:

The first part was quite uninteresting. We woke up early and left Yarkon National Park Overnight Campground (1). We walked a while parallel to the railway and then continued on a flat road to Afek Junction (2). There, we carefully crossed road 483 and then continued on a straight dirt route between the agricultural fields. After about 1.5 km, it turns left toward road number 6 and the railway. We stopped a short while later for coffee and waffles.

Then, after taking a group selfie, we continued a few steps and turned right. Now, we were parallel to the road and the railway. After about 600 meters, we reached an old bridge from the Ottoman era (3). This bridge was part of the Eastern Railway. It crossed the Sharon Plain and the eastern Negev to Sinai. The Ottomans used it to transfer soldiers and resources during World War I. Later, the British expanded it to Haifa. Following the establishment of the Coastal Railway, we stopped using it in 1969.  

Ben Gurion International Airport is nearby, too, so we got to see some airplanes flying over our heads. You might see some, too.

The Ottoman era bridge

We continued another 1.9 km and reached a tunnel underneath the railway (4). We passed through it, turned right, and continued for another 840 meters. Then, we crossed a bridge over road number 6. We stopped in the middle of the bridge to take another group selfie. We also took a few moments to watch the cars rushing beneath us.

Road number 6 from the bridge
1 – taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/map
3 – Taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/map
4 – Taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/map

From road number 6 to Mazor Mausoleum:

We left the bridge and turned right onto a small dirt route that went along the agricultural fields. There, we met an old man in a Jeep, who stopped by us. “I’m proud of you,” he said. It wasn’t uncommon because many people have stopped to tell us how proud and impressed they are. It seems that a lot of people dream of hiking the Israel National Trail. Not many do it. We took it as a challenge, and we were doing quite well. So, we were proud of ourselves, too. 

We continued by the fields for about 900 meters and then climbed up to road number 444 (5). The road passes near Elad, a city established for the Ultra-Orthodox and Religious Zionist Jewish populations. We crossed the road and continued on the trail that goes parallel to it, to the south. Make sure to walk beyond the road railing.

After about 680 meters, we reached the Mazor Mausoleum (6), one of the most preserved Roman buildings in Israel. It was built for an unknown couple in the 3rd century CE. They must have been important or wealthy because not many got the honor to get buried in a mausoleum. Later, Muslims added a prayer niche to the southern wall of the building. It was used as a mosque and was called Maqam en Neby Yahyah, “Shrine of the Prophet John.” Prophet John is John the Baptist. Because of its sacredness, no one harmed it over the years. When we were there, it was under repairments.   

Mazor Mausoleum
5 – Taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/map

From Mazor Mausoleum to Shoham Industrial Park:

We continued another 460 meters and reached a big wooden sign with a map of Giv’at Koah Forest (7). The forest, which is also known as Qula Forest, was planted by KKL in the 1950s. From the sign, we continued straight on the peeling asphalt route. Very quickly, it turned to a wide and easy dirt path.

The signpost of Giv’at Koah Forest
Walking through the forest

The trail curves through the forest for about 1.6 km until it reaches road 465 (8). We carefully crossed the road and got to an impressive memorial for 147 fallen soldiers of the 27th Brigade (9). This Israeli armored corps brigade is also known as the “Fist and Lance Brigade.” It was founded in 1952 as the first reserve brigade in the IDF. They took part in many battles, including the Sinai War, the Six-Day War, and the Yom Kippur War. The memorial site includes one tank and two half-tracks which were damaged by the Egyptians during the Six-Day War. There’s also a large explanation sign, but it’s in Hebrew.

The trail continues through the forest on an easy path for about 1.5 km. Then, we reached a moderate climb that led us to a large electricity pole connected to an electricity line. A short while later, we stopped for one of our “conversation circles.” During “conversation circles,” we sat down to talk about various topics. This time, someone put a horrible song about rape and murder and asked what we feel about it. Is hurting someone else part of human nature? I’ll keep it as a point of thought.

From the electricity pole, we went on for about 850 meters. Then, we reached a tunnel underneath road 6 (10). Then, we walked through a large quarry and entered the boundaries of Shoham Industrial Park.

6 – Taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/map
7 – Taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/map

In Shoham Industrial Park:

Shoham Industrial Park is a compound full of industrial headquarters. We walked south on the main road. After about 800 meters, we spotted a gas station to the right of the road. Every time we saw a gas station on the trail, we thought about the popsicles and ice creams sold there. So, we almost went over there. But then, we spotted a large statue of an orange-haired baby, the trademark of Bamba (11). Bamba is one of Israel’s most beloved snacks. It’s made from peanuts and corn. We hurried over to the statue to take another group selfie.

Then, we noticed a small ice cream store nearby. It was the factory store of Nestle. When we entered, we were amazed by the prices. They were so good that each of us bought two and even three ice cream bars. The seller was also friendly. We sat down on the small porch of the store and chatted with him a bit. The store is open Monday to Thursday from 1 PM to 6 PM and on Friday from 9 AM to 2 PM. If you love ice cream bars, it’s a great place to visit!

Ice cream!!!
8 – Taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/map

From Shoham Industrial Park to our endpoint:

After eating all the ice cream bars, we continued about 260 meters and then turned left onto a dirt path (12). Very quickly, it became an asphalt route that went up the hill. Now, we entered the boundaries of Shoham Forest.

At the top of the hill, we reached Horvat Tinshemet, “the Owl Ruins” (13). Most of the ruins are not accessible to the public. But there is an impressive mosaic floor that was part of a Byzantine-era church called St. Bechachus Church. There are even signs in English, which explain what you can see on the ancient floor. One of the fascinating findings in the church is the Tyche Medallion, which shows the pagan goddess of fortune and fate.

The church at Horvat Tinshemet

From the church, we continued on a paved route for about 670 meters until the base of Saflulim Hill (14). In Hebrew, “saflul” is the outer casing of the acorn. Just before we started climbing the hill, a man got out of his car and asked us: “Excuse me, do you know what’s a saflul?” My friends explained to him, and I continued up the hill.  

There’s a nice view from the top, but nothing too impressive. Then, the trail starts descending. About 1.4 km from the top of the hill, we decided to stop for the day (15). This endpoint is in the middle of nowhere, but there’s a trail that leaves the Israel National Trail and turns right toward Shoham. It has no specific color mark.  

Shoham is one of the wealthiest towns in Israel. It is named after one of the 12 stones on the Hoshen, the sacred breastplate worn by the Jewish high priest.

9 – Taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/map
10 – Taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/map

How to get from the trail to Shoham?

From the endpoint, we turned right onto a trail that went in the direction of Shoham. After about 800 meters, we turned right. Then, after about 480 meters, we turned left to a tunnel underneath road 444 (16). From there, we went into Shoham and walked for about 20 minutes to the commercial center. There, there’s a supermarket and some restaurants. It’s near Edmond Safra Square on Emek Ayalon Street.

We got some supplies, bought something to eat, and then contacted our relative. We were lucky to stay at her place because it rained that night.

That’s all for now. I wish you a fantastic hike on the Israel National Trail!

If you want to leave the trail after this segment – You can catch bus number 500 from Shoham. To all major places, you will need to change buses, so it’s best to check the best route for you by using Moovit or Google Maps.

Read more:

Get ready for the trail by reading my post – The Israel National Trail: Ultimate Preparation Guide.

And check out previous segments of the Israel National Trail.

Looking for a tour guide on the Israel National Trail?

Contact me at lior@backpackisrael.com or read more here.

Pin this post for later!


Hiked the trail in November 2020.

If you liked this post or found it useful, would really appreciate a like, a share and a comment (:

If you need any help with planning this hike, feel free to contact me at lior@backpackisrael.com. I also offer guided hiking tours on several segments of the Israel National Trail.

Also, feel free to follow this blog and like my Facebook Page – Backpack Israel.

And plan a great trip to Israel using my app – Travel Israel by Travelkosh for Android and iOS

Yours,

Lior

Categories
Free things to do Hiking in Israel Israel National Trail Tel Aviv

Hiking the Israel National Trail: From Tel Aviv to Tel Afek

The previous day, we arrived in Tel Aviv and had an interesting night at the Roof Farm. We woke up early to catch the bus to this day’s segment and got off on road 482. Then, we walked off the road to Yarkon Park and continued east on the Israel National Trail. By doing this, we actually skipped about 3.8 km of the trail. I think we missed all the interesting spots in the park. But… That’s what we did.

The segment from Tel Aviv to Tel Afek is easy and fun. It goes along the meandering Yarkon River, the largest coastal river in Israel. In the end, it reaches the Yarkon National Park, where the sources of the river are located.

Trail length: About 20 km. You can also hike it from the other direction.

Trail duration: About 6-10 hours, depending on your pace.

Difficulty level: Easy.

Best season: Fall (October-November), Winter (December-January), and Spring (February-April).

Water along the way: There are drinking water taps close to the starting point of the segment, in Yarkon Park. Then, after you leave the park, the next drinking tap is only next to the Baptist Village (about 17.5 km from the start). There’s also a drinking tap at the campsite at the end.

Stay options at the end of the trail: There is a free campsite at the end, with a drinking tap. The campsite is called Yarkon National Park Overnight Campground. I also know you can stay at the nearby Baptist Village. You can find the contact details in this list.

Table of contents:

  1. Safety instructions and general notes
  2. How to get to the head of the trail?
  3. A bit about the Yarkon River
  4. The trail from Tel Aviv to Tel Afek

Safety instructions and general notes:

· The hike is under your responsibility, so please be careful.

· Make sure you hike with good hiking shoes, have at least 3 liters of water (and 5 on hot days), and wear a hat. Pack food and snacks for the whole day, BUT 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 heatstroke. There are many parts without shade on this segment. Also, after rainfall, parts of this segment could be muddy.

· Pay attention to sunset hours (in Summer around 6-7 PM, in Winter around 4-5 PM). Try to begin the hike before 8 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. 

· The phone signal is good throughout the trail.

· Before you begin the hike, make sure you have a good trail map. The trail isn’t always well marked, so it’s good to have a map. You can also use a navigation app such as the Israel Hiking Map. With GPS, you can also 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. You can also download the trail map in English (created by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel). For this segment, you will need to download this map and this map. The maps are extremely basic but give you a general sense of the trail.

· The trail is marked with the Israel National Trail colors, orange-blue-white.

· If you need any further help with planning your trail, I recommend posting on the Israel National Trail forum on Tapatalk. Of course, you can also talk to me through lior@backpackisrael.com.

This segment starts in Yarkon Park, next to road number 482. It’s hard to find parking in Tel Aviv, so it’s best to come by public transport. If you still want to come by car, you can park at the Yarkon Park Parking Lot and continue on foot to the start point.

By public transportation:

From Tel Aviv, it depends where exactly are you coming from. It’s best to use Moovit or Google Maps to find the best route for you. Type in the search “Raoul Wallenberg” (in Hebrew: מבצע קדש/ראול ולנברג). This is the station we got off.

From Haifa, it is best to take a bus or train to Savidor Center Station in Tel Aviv. From there, take bus number 142 or any other bus that arrives at “Raoul Wallenberg” station (in Hebrew: מבצע קדש/ראול ולנברג). It takes about an hour and a half to arrive.

From Jerusalem, go to the Central Station and get on bus number 480 to Savidor Center Station in Tel Aviv. From there, you can take bus number 143 or any other bus that arrives at “Raoul Wallenberg” station (in Hebrew: מבצע קדש/ראול ולנברג).

A few words about Yarkon River:

f

Since this segment goes parallel to the Yarkon River, let’s learn a bit about it. The Yarkon River spreads to a length of about 27.5 km. It meanders all the way, which gave it its Arabic name, “al-Auja”, which means “curving”.

The river was a source of water for many settlements, that were established on its banks. One of those settlements was Tell Qasile, founded by the Philistines in the 12th century BCE. Another settlement was Tel Afek, which was established as a city in Herod’s time, in the 1st century BCE. He called it Antipatris in honor of his father, Antipater.

Today, the river looks ridiculously small and not at all threatening. But long ago, this river was flowing with a lot of water. People had to go to the river’s sources to be able to pass it. That is why it was a natural obstacle in both ancient and modern times. During World War I, the Turks established a line of defense along the northern bank of the river. They tried to block the British but were unsuccessful. Later, when the British ruled the Land of Israel, they transferred the water of the Yarkon to Jerusalem.

When Israel was founded in 1948, we started using more and more of the water. The flow got terribly slow, and the river shrunk. We also started draining sewage into the river. In the 1970s and 1980s, it was a river of sewage, filled with toxic substances, organic garbage, flies, and more. Following the Maccabiah bridge collapse in 1997, we understood how dangerous the water is and started working on rehabilitation of the river. Still, the water isn’t suitable for swimming.    

The trail from Tel Aviv to Tel Afek:

From road number 482 to road number 5:

The trail map, taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
The trail map, taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
The trail map, taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/

We took the bus to “Raoul Wallenberg” station (1). From there, we got off the bridge of road number 482 and entered Yarkon Park. Before starting the hike, we stopped for coffee and cookies on a stone picnic table.

After the refreshments, we continued on our way. People were jogging, walking, and bicycling in the park. We continued for about 1.7 km on the asphalt trail until a right turn onto a dirt route (2). The route goes right next to the Yarkon River. We couldn’t see the flow because of all the water plants growing next to it, but you can sense it. The humidity was terribly high.

The righ to turn to the dirt path

After about 540 meters, we reached the bridge of road number 4 (3) and passed underneath it. We continued on the trail for about 2.5 km and arrived at a big sign talking about a stone dam (4). It said that the stone dam is supposed to help mix the water and clean them. There are several dams like this along the Yarkon. From there, we continued another kilometer to the bridge of road number 5 (5).

Orchards on the way

From road number 5 to Abu Rabah mill:

The trail map, taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/

The trail continues on quite a boring route along the river. Most of the way, you can’t see the river because of the water plants. Then, after about 5.2 km, we reached a charming point where the trail is shaded by an archway of reeds. This shading archway continues for a while. When we got out of it, we could see Tel Qana to our left, in the distance (6). There was once an ancient settlement there, on the banks of the Yarkon River. Today, it’s a small mound.

We crossed an old bridge above Nahal Hadar (7), a small seasonal river that flows to the Yarkon. Afterward, we turned right with the trail, passed through another archway of reeds, and reached another bridge (8). This time, it was a small bridge of the Yarkon River. We crossed it to the other side of the Yarkon and slowly left the side of the river.

The shaded passage
Tel Qana in the distance

At some point, we took a wrong turn, that brought us nearer to the river. Then, we thought we lost the trail because it seemed the trail was on the other side of the river. So, we thought about crossing the Yarkon River, but the flow was too hard. Nitai crossed it by passing over some stones. But the rest of us didn’t want to take the chance. So, we retraced our steps and reconnected to the Israel National Trail. It went far away from the river, on a wide Jeep route. Then, it returned to the river and reached Abu Rabah mill (9).

The mill was built in the 1880s by Sheikh Abu-Rabah. It ceased working as a flour mill in 1948. In 1950, it was used to irrigate the citrus groves of an agricultural contracting company. Today, it’s no longer functional.

The Abu Rabah mill

From Abu Rabah mill to the Baptist Village:

The trail map, taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
The trail map, taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/

Next to the Abu Rabah mill, there was an easy way to cross the river. Then, we continued for about 900 meters until the bridge of road number 40 (10). We crossed beneath it, although it was super muddy. Then continued for a bit until we reached an old, crumbling building. This is where we met our friend, Oria, who wanted to join us for a day and a half.

We met Oria over here

Then, we continued together for about 1.5 km and reached the Lea House (11). We didn’t look inside because it looked like an old and crumbling building, too. But we did stop next to the bank of the Yarkon River and took an afternoon nap. Lea House was built in the 19th century, in the heart of the orchards. There was a pumping facility on the first floor, that was used to pump water from the river to the nearby orchard. The second floor was built later and was most likely a vacation house for the orchard owners.

After the nap, we continued for another 350 meters and then passed by a shaded sitting area (12). There was a big sign there, saying that hikers and bikers were welcome to sit over there. They just asked to keep the place clean and quiet.

A rooster next to Lea House
The shaded sitting area

From there, we continued another kilometer until we reached the bridge of road number 5 (13). Here, the path underneath the bridge was completely muddy and part of it was flooded. So, we walked on the concrete sidestep, at the side of the tunnel.

230 meters afterward, we reached a bridge that crossed to the other bank of the river. We crossed it and then continued 840 meters to the Baptist Village (14).

Below road number 5

From the Baptist Village to Yarkon National Park Overnight Campground:

The trail map, taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/

We stopped to fill water at the drinking tap next to the Baptist Village. The Baptist Village was established in 1956 by a group of Christian Baptists from the USA. At first, it functioned as an orphanage and then turned into a school. Today it functions as a hostel and church for the Baptist community. Next to the drinking tap, there was a sign explaining the place. They also organize educational conferences for teenagers and soldiers who are part of the Messianic Jewish community. We opened the drawer next to the sign and found a lot of books connected to Jesus and Christianity.

The Baptist Village

Then, we continued for another 600 meters and crossed underneath the railway (15). From there, we walked another 500 meters to the back entrance to Yarkon National Park (16). There were no entrance fees. Right next to the back entrance, we saw the “Pillbox”. This circular structure was built by the British in 1936 to guard the railway from Arab rioters. The railway line that passes next to the “pillbox” was constructed in 1921. It was built to connect Petach Tiqva to Rosh Ha’Ayin. This way, the citrus fruit growers of Petach Tiqva could transfer their fruits more easily to Jaffa Port.  

We continued parallel to the railway for a short while and then turned right toward the Water-Lilly Pond (17). It’s a short detour off the trail. There’s a lovely pond over there, covered with yellow water lilies, also known as Nuphars. We stopped to rest nearby the pond and talked about jealousy, especially among women. Then, another hiker joined us, and we talked to him for a bit before continuing to the campground, which was 800 meters away.

The Pillbox and a train that went by

The Yarkon National Park Overnight Campground:

The campground is quite basic, with a flat area to place a tent and a drinking water tap. Beyond the fence is Tel Afek, which is part of the Yarkon National Park. According to archeological excavations, it seems that it has been settled continuously for about 5,000 years, from the Copper Age. A city and a fortress were built here by Herod the Great in the 1st century BCE.  I’m not sure if you can enter that area for free, because the trail doesn’t pass near the fortress.  

A bit south to the campground is a small pond, which is beautiful at sunset. There are also some herb plants that grow around it. The problem is that it draws mosquitos. This was one of the only places on the trail that we used our mosquito repellent. Oh, and there’s the train that passes nearby almost all night long.

That’s all for now. I wish you a fantastic hike on the Israel National Trail!

Continue to the next segment – From Tel Afek to Shoham.

If you want to leave the trail after this segment – You will need to walk about 1.6 km to road 483 and catch a bus from the station called “Afek Park/483”. You will probably need at least 2 buses, so it’s best to check the best route for you by using Moovit or Google Maps.

Read more:

Get ready for the trail by reading my post – The Israel National Trail: Ultimate Preparation Guide.

And check out previous segments of the Israel National Trail.

Looking for a guide on the Israel National Trail? Contact me at lior@backpackisrael.com or read more here.  

Save this post for later!


Hiked the trail in November 2020.

If you liked this post or found it useful, would really appreciate a like, a share and a comment (:

Also, feel free to follow this blog and like my Facebook Page – Backpack Israel.

And plan a great trip to Israel using my app – Travel Israel by Travelkosh for Android and iOS

Yours,

Lior

Categories
Free things to do Hiking in Israel Israel National Trail

Hiking the Israel National Trail: From Herzliya to Tel Aviv

After hiking from Poleg Beach to Herzliya, we woke up for another day on the Israel National Trail. This time, we planned to hike a short segment from Herzliya to Tel Aviv, only about 13 km. This is because we wanted to take half a day off in Tel Aviv.

The segment from Herzliya to Tel Aviv is extremely easy because it goes mainly along the coastline. On the way, you’ll pass through Herzliya Marina, walk on the seaside promenade, and stop by the Tel Aviv Port. We proceeded a bit beyond the port and also walked a bit in Yarkon Park. Expect to see lots of people jogging, running, and bicycling around you.

Trail length: About 13 km. You can also hike it from the other direction.

Trail duration: About 5 hours, depending on your pace.

Difficulty level: Easy.

Best season: Fall (October-November), Winter (December-January), and Spring (February-April).

Water along the way: There are drinking water taps all along the beach and Yarkon Park, so don’t worry about it.

Stay options at the end of the trail: There are a lot of stay options in Tel Aviv. We stayed at Roof Farm, which is a shared eco-harmonic community and urban roof farm. They offer cheap accommodation for INT hikers, though we’ve had better stays with trail angels. If you prefer some extra comfort, there are great hostels in Tel Aviv. I recommend Abraham Hostel Tel Aviv, Roger’s House, and Little Tel Aviv Hostel.

Some safety instructions and general notes:

· The hike is under your responsibility, so please be careful.

· Make sure you hike with good hiking shoes, have at least 3 liters of water (and 5 on hot days), and wear a hat. Pack food and snacks for the whole day, BUT 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 heatstroke. There is no shade on this segment.

· Pay attention to sunset hours (in Summer around 6-7 PM, in Winter around 4-5 PM). Try to begin the hike before 8 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. 

· The phone signal is good throughout the trail.

· Before you begin the hike, make sure you have a good trail map. The trail isn’t always well marked, so it’s good to have a map. You can also use a navigation app such as the Israel Hiking Map. With GPS, you can also 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. You can also download the trail map in English (created by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel). For this segment, you will need to download this map. The maps are extremely basic but give you a general sense of the trail.

· The trail is marked with the Israel National Trail colors, orange-blue-white.

· If you need any further help with planning your trail, I recommend posting on the Israel National Trail forum on Tapatalk. Of course, you can also talk to me through lior@backpackisrael.com.

How to get to the head of the trail?

This segment starts at Zebulun Beach in Herzliya, also known as Sea Scouts Beach (in Hebrew: חוף צופי ים). By car, you can reach Ramat Yam Street in Herzliya and park above the Sea Scouts compound. The parking lot is called Nine Beach Parking (in Hebrew: חניון ניין ביץ’). If you want to leave a car at the end of the segment, you can park at The Tropic Garden Parking (in Hebrew: חניון הגן הטרופי). This parking lot is situated in Yarkon Park.

By public transportation:

By public transportation, it is easier to reach the Herzliya Marina, which is also part of the Israel National Trail. So, instead of reaching Sea Scouts Beach, you can reach the marina.

From Tel Aviv, take bus number 90 or 91 from Savidor Center Station. Get off at “Arena Mall” (in Hebrew: קניון ארנה). Here, you can connect to the Israel National Trail, which passes through Herzliya Marina, right next to the station.

From Haifa, it is best to take a bus or train to Savidor Center Station in Tel Aviv. From there, take bus number 90 or 91 to the “Arena Mall” (in Hebrew: קניון ארנה). Connect to the trail at Herzliya Marina.

From Jerusalem, go to the Yitzhak Navon Train Station and take the train to Herzliya. From the Herzliya Train Station, take bus 39 to “Arena Mall” (in Hebrew: קניון ארנה). Connect to the trail at Herzliya Marina.  

You can use Moovit or Google Maps to find the best route for you.

The trail from Herzliya to Tel Aviv:

Map of the trail, taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il

From the Sea Scouts to Herzliya Marina:

Map of the trail, taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il

We woke up early and started walking from Sea Scouts Beach (1) to Herzliya Marina (2). It’s a short distance of about 1.2 km. The trail took us into the marina, so we got to see the boats anchored there. There was also a man, who was seated in an electric wheelchair in front of the sea. He was singing “Praise Jerusalem” (in Hebrew: שבחי ירושלים). It was early morning, the sun was barely up, so it was a very moving and surreal moment. He explained that he was singing in honor of Yitzhak Rabin, our fifth prime minister, who was killed by a Jewish assassin in November 1995. Rabin tried making peace with the Palestinians, but there was a lot of opposition against the Oslo Plans.

Hear the song sung by Daklon on Youtube:

Herzliya Marina was opened at the end of the 20th century, following a lot of resistance. The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel protested against the vacation houses, that were built in the marina right next to the water. There were also other reasons to believe that the marina will cause harm to the environment. As you can see, that didn’t stop anyone from building it.

The Herzliya Marina

From Herzliya Marina to Tel Aviv Port:

Map of the trail, taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il
Map of the trail, taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il
Map of the trail, taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il

We exited the marina and got onto the beach again (3). Now, we were entering the boundaries of Tel Aviv. Many people were on the beach, jogging, running, walking. There were also people in the water with their surfboards and SAP boards. It was amazing to see how active the beach is at such an early hour.

People on the beach near Herzliya Marina
Walking on the beach and in the distance, the tower of Reading Station

We continued on the beach for about 4 km until we reached Tel Baruch Beach (4). There, we left the sand and got onto the seaside promenade. After about 2 km, we reached a bridge (5), from which we could see the tower of the Reading Power Station.

The first power station in Tel Aviv was built in 1923 in one of the city’s neighborhoods. But as the city grew and developed, there was a need for more electricity. So, the Reading Power Station was established in the 1930s, on an empty area north of the Yarkon River. It was named after Rufus Isaacs, 1st Marquess of Reading, who was a Jewish-British politician and judge, who served as Lord Chief Justice of England. He was also an active Zionist, who helped in the establishment of the power stations in the Land of Israel. Today, the power station operates on natural gas.

We crossed the bridge and after about 450 meters reached another bridge, called Wauchope Bridge (6). This bridge leads to the Tel Aviv Port. It was built in 1937 as a service bridge to the construction site of Reading Power Station. Originally, it was called Reading Bridge, but somehow it got the name Wauchope Bridge. Sir Arthur Wauchope was the High Commissioner for Palestine during the British Mandate. He was present at a cornerstone ceremony of another bridge nearby.

After crossing the Wauchope Bridge, we reached Tel Aviv Port (7).

The Wauchope Bridge to Tel Aviv Port

From Tel Aviv Port to Yarkon Park:

Map of the trail, taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il

We sat down on a bench next to the bridge and ate some snacks. Then, we went to look for a restroom in the area. We asked for directions and found it after a while.

Following an Arab strike in Jaffa Port, the Jewish people of Tel Aviv understood that they had to have their own port. That’s how the first Hebrew port in the world was established in 1936. When Ashdod Port was opened in 1965, the Tel Aviv Port and Jaffa Port stopped receiving cargo ships. Today, Tel Aviv Port is one of the leading recreational, commercial, and entertainment districts in the city.

From Wauchope Bridge, the Israel National Trail turns left (south) along the Yarkon River. There’s a lovely promenade, where people jog, walk, and bike. The Yarkon River is the largest coastal river in Israel, at a length of 27.5 km. In Arabic, it is called “al-Auja”, which means “the meandering”, because it meanders and twists to the Mediterranean Sea. In ancient times, many settlements were built next to the river. Today, its water is polluted and therefore is not suitable for human beings.

After about 330 meters, we crossed another small bridge (8) to the other bank of the river. Then, we continued through the pleasant Yarkon Park for about 3 km, passing underneath some more bridges on the way. A short while after passing under Highway 20 (9), we decided to stop for the day.

Reading Station from the small bridge over the Yarkon River
Walking next to the Yarkon River

We turned left onto one of the park’s trails and made our way to Rokach Avenue. There, we got on a bus to the Florentine neighborhood, where our accommodation was located.

Our day off in Tel Aviv:

A few words about Roof Farm:

Before we began venturing Tel Aviv, we wanted to leave our bags at Roof Farm, where we planned to stay. The place is located in an old, unmaintained building in Florentine. We had to climb up a lot of stairs and then were greeted by one of the house residents. He showed us the rooftop, where we were to sleep. It was full of mess and there were two dogs, that barked non-stop. It was a bit terrifying, but we decided to give it a go anyway. The guy brought us some mattresses, which were terribly dirty, and we told him that we will come back later. We left our stuff, took only our valuables, and went back to the street.  

Later, when we talked to some other people at Roof Farm, we figured that it was a temporary residential place for people with problems. There was a guy with some leg injury, who couldn’t work much. There was someone who left the Orthodox Jewish community and couldn’t stay at his parent’s home. Most of the people were Anglos, aka people who speak English in Israel. We even found out that the dogs had problems because they had some sort of trauma.

What we did in Tel Aviv:

So, the first stop after Roof Farm was the Carmel Market. This is the most popular market in Tel Aviv, with lots of food options. Each of us ate at a different place. I stopped at “Challah” (in Hebrew: חלה), a small booth selling only one thing – schnitzel in challah bread. It costs only 35 ILS and is delicious!  

Challah with schnitzel – delicious!

After eating lunch, we sat down at the entrance to the market and enjoyed the street shows. On one side, there was a man singing old songs, and on the other side, a woman belly-dancing. The man got angry at the woman because she came a bit after him and turned the music on at full volume. That made it hard for him to sing. But in the end, they got to some sort of agreement.  

Afterward, we got on a bus to a travel equipment shop because some of us needed some additional stuff. And after waiting a long time in line and getting what we wanted, we returned to Roof Farm.

That’s all for now. I wish you a fantastic hike on the Israel National Trail!

Continue to the next segment – From Tel Aviv to Tel Afek.

If you want to leave the trail after this segment – You can easily find relevant buses in Tel Aviv. Use the navigation apps to find the best route for your destination.

Read more:

Get ready for the trail by reading my post – The Israel National Trail: Ultimate Preparation Guide.

And check out previous segments of the Israel National Trail.

Looking for a guide on the trail?

Contact me for a guided tour on the Israel National Trail

Pin this post for later!


Hiked the trail in November 2020.

If you liked this post or found it useful, would really appreciate a like, a share and a comment (:

If you need any help with planning this hike, feel free to contact me at lior@backpackisrael.com. I also offer guided hiking tours on several segments of the Israel National Trail.

Also, feel free to follow this blog and like my Facebook Page – Backpack Israel.

And plan a great trip to Israel using my app – Travel Israel by Travelkosh for Android and iOS

Yours,

Lior

Categories
Free things to do Hiking in Israel Israel National Trail

Hiking the Israel National Trail: From Poleg to Herzliya

The restaurant deck didn’t help us much. We still woke up with lots of sand in our sleeping bags and clothes. But things could have been worse. We got our things ready and started making our way to our next destination on the Israel National Trail. This time, it was Zebulun Beach in Herzliya, lso known as the Sea Scouts Beach.

Check out the previous segment – From Bet Yanai Beach to Poleg Beach

The segment from Poleg to Herzliya was one of the most beautiful ones on our trip! At some point, we climbed up to the cliffs above the Mediterranean Sea and got a fantastic view of the stunning turquoise water.   

Trail length: About 16 km. You can also hike it from the other direction.

Trail duration: About 6-8 hours, depending on your pace.

Difficulty level: Easy.

Best season: Fall (October-November), Winter (December-January), and Spring (February-April).

Water along the way: There’s a water tap near Poleg Beach, on the promenade that leads to the neighborhood. Next, there’s a gas station near road number 2, where you can get water (about 3.9 km from the start). You can also ask for water at the entrance to the Apollonia National Park (about 13 km from the start). At the endpoint, you can fill water from the cooler at the Sea Scouts’ compound in Herzliya, after you’ve asked for permission.

Stay options at the end of the trail: We stayed at the Herzliya Sea Scouts compound because they are Trail Angels. Keep in mind that you NEED to prearrange your stay. You can find the full list of Trail Angels here. In the list, Herzliya is spelled “Hertzlia”.

Important to know:

Before we begin, let’s go over some safety instructions and general notes:

· The hike is under your responsibility, so please be careful.

· Make sure you hike with good hiking shoes, have at least 3 liters of water (and 5 on hot days), and wear a hat. Pack food and snacks for the whole day, BUT 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 heatstroke. There is barely any shade on this segment, therefore it could be dangerous. After rainfall, parts of the trail might be muddy and that could be frustrating.

· Pay attention to sunset hours (in Summer around 6-7 PM, in Winter around 4-5 PM). Try to begin the hike before 8 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. 

· The phone signal is good throughout the trail.

· Before you begin the hike, make sure you have a good trail map. The trail isn’t always well marked, so it’s good to have a map. You can also use a navigation app such as the Israel Hiking Map. With GPS, you can also 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. You can also download the trail map in English (created by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel). For this segment, you will need to download this map and this map. The maps are extremely basic but give you a general sense of the trail.

· The trail is marked with the Israel National Trail colors, orange-blue-white.

· If you need any further help with planning your trail, I recommend posting on the Israel National Trail forum on Tapatalk. Of course, you can also talk to me through lior@backpackisrael.com.

How to get to the head of the trail?

This segment begins at Poleg Beach, which is located on the southern side of Netanya. To reach Poleg Beach from Jerusalem, you can get on bus number 930 from Jerusalem Central Bus Station and get off at Hasharon Junction (in Hebrew: צומת השרון). From there, you can catch bus number 138 to Ramat Poleg station (in Hebrew: רמת פולג) and then walk about 10 minutes to the beach. It will take you about 2 hours to reach Poleg Beach from Jerusalem.

From Tel Aviv, you can catch bus number 623 from Derech Namir (in Hebrew: דרך נמיר) and get off at Ehud Manor/ Menahem Begin station (in Hebrew: אהוד מנור/ מנחם בגין). From there, it’s a short 15 minutes walk to Poleg Beach. Overall, it will take you about one hour to reach from Tel Aviv to Poleg Beach.

From Haifa, you can get on bus number 947 from Hof HaCarmel Central Station and get off at Netanya Central Station. From there, you can catch bus number 15 to Ramat Poleg station. It will take you about 2 hours to reach Poleg Beach from Haifa.

Anyway, it’s best to use a navigation app like Google Maps or Moovit to find the best route for you. If you’re having trouble, you can contact me through Facebook or lior@backpackisrael.com.

The hike on the Israel National Trail:

Map of the trail, taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
Map of the trail, taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
Map of the trail, taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
Map of the trail, taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
Map of the trail, taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
Map of the trail, taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
Taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/

We woke up early, before the restaurant opened, and left Poleg Beach (1). About 1.2 km from the beach, we reached a passage underneath road number 2 (2), passed it, and then turned right onto a small bridge that crossed the Poleg Stream. Then, we went parallel to the stream on a lovely route that went on for about 600 meters before it turned right towards two small buildings. I have no idea what those buildings are, but they look like a wreck.

The lovely route on the Israel National Trail
The buildings on the trail

We passed the buildings and saw a group of soldiers sitting around a picnic table that stood behind the buildings. A few steps afterward there was a memorial stone (3), that was placed there in memory of three men from moshav Udim. They guarded a construction site in Udim and were killed in 1948 by Arabs, who wanted to steal their weapons. We stopped to rest there for a while.

While we were resting, a large group of soldiers arrived and asked us if we could help them navigate. They were young recruits, who were practicing navigation. We tried to help them, but then their commanders appeared, and they quickly pretended that they haven’t asked us anything, as it isn’t allowed.

Afterward, we continued on the trail for about 1.7 km. The trail passed through lush vegetation, beautiful orchards, and we also walked alongside a small asphalt road. Then, we reached the shopping center at Yakum Junction (4). There are lots of restaurants and shops over there, so you can stop to eat something, get supplies, or fill water.

We didn’t stop at the Yakum Center and continued on the trail, that crosses road number 2 on a pedestrian bridge. After crossing the bridge, we turned right (north) onto the red-marked trail, which overlaps the Israel National Trail for a short while. A few steps afterward, at the line of trees, we left the red-marked trail and turned left with the Israel National Trail.

The pedestrian bridge over road number 2

We continued on the trail for about 800 meters and reached an opening in a fence (5). There was a large sign on the fence, saying “If you put your litter in the garbage – you’re a pro! If you littered the beach – you ruined the view!” It sounds better in Hebrew. But it seems that the sign doesn’t help, because there was plenty of garbage right next to it. Next to the opening in the fence, there were two signs, one welcoming you to Hof HaSharon National Park and one with instructions for surfers.

The opening in the fence… and the trash

Hof HaSharon National Park is in my opinion one of the most beautiful parks in Israel, with impressive kurkar cliffs over the Mediterranean Sea. The kurkar is an aeolian quartz sandstone with carbonate cement, that is typical of the Israeli coastline. Apart from the fantastic views of the sea, there is also a variety of sea-side plants and flowers, that cover the dunes of this splendid national park.

We passed through the narrow opening and started walking on the dunes. Here and there, the Mediterranean Sea peeked in the horizon. The trail marks weren’t so clear, but we knew the general direction, so we made our way southward. The trail continued through the dunes and on the edge of the kurkar cliffs for about 2.8 km. On the way, there was a stunning viewpoint, with two white benches overlooking the sea. We stopped there for a few minutes, relaxed in front of the view, and took some photos.

Walking through the dunes
Beachside plants on the way
Benches with a view!
The view of the Mediterranean Sea

After 2.8 km, we made our way down to Gaash Beach (6). A short while later, we hiked up again. We continued on a dirt trail for about 1.4 km and then reached a small road and a roundabout (7). Next to it stood a blue sign that said “Shfa’im” (שפיים) and pointed to the left. But we didn’t go to Shfa’im. We continued straight on the roundabout and returned to a dirt trail.

We walked on the dirt path for about 660 meters and then arrived at a dirt parking lot, where there were a few cars (8). Then, we turned left and cut right, through a dry field. Looking back, we weren’t supposed to cut through the field. The trail continues straight and later turns right. But it didn’t matter because we rejoined the trail a few minutes later when we got to an asphalt road (9).

Next to the road, we saw several interesting sculptures, which are part of Park Dina, a sculpture park in the middle of nature. The sculptures were made by both local and international artists, who were inspired by the power of Mother Earth.

At that point, we also met a dreadlocked man, who stopped by us with his Jeep. “Do you need water?” he asked us, “I can go down to the beach with the Jeep and fill your bottles.”

We took advantage of his offer and handed over all our bottles to him. Then, he drove away. We settled down beneath a large tree that stood to the side of the road and waited. The minutes passed by, and I was starting to think that he might never return. But then he appeared with his Jeep, stopped next to the tree, and brought us our bottles full of cold water.

Under the tree, waiting for our water bottles

Nitai talked to him a bit. It turns out that he lives close by, in an old bus.

“Do you want to smoke something?” he asked us after a while, and my friends, who are addicted to smoking, took advantage of the offer. Till then, they didn’t get many opportunities to smoke on the hike. So, they sat down under the tree and smoked together.

I went aside because I wasn’t feeling so good, and just wanted to continue. I hoped that they’ll stop smoking soon. But they smoked on and on. Only after 15 minutes or so, they were ready to go. It was too long for me, but once we started walking, I felt much better.

We continued on the Israel National Trail for about 2.2 km until we reached the parking lot of Apollonia National Park (10). This lovely national park lays on a kurkar cliff above the Mediterranean Sea. It includes the remains of an impressive Crusader-era fortress. The trail doesn’t pass through the national park, but if you want to visit, it’s possible. Just remember that it costs 22 Shekels per adult.

The entrance to Apollonia National Park

From the parking lot of Apollonia National Park, we continued about 500 meters and then reached Sidna Ali Mosque (11). This mosque is located on the cliff as well. It was once the mosque of the Arab village, Al-Haram, which was depopulated during the Independence War.  Since 1990, the building returned to the hands of the Muslims and is functioning as a mosque again. In the center of the mosque is a tomb of a local Muslim saint called Ali bin Olim, who was a great scholar and miracle maker.

There were two elder people on a bench near the mosque, who offered us chocolate. If you plan to hike with a big backpack, chances are that people will be nicer to you and might even offer you tasty food. We ran across a lot of people, who for some reason thought that they needed to give us something tasty to eat or drink. Maybe we looked exhausted.

From the mosque, we continued down to Sidna Ali Beach (12). We stopped there for a while and then I decided to continue to the endpoint on my own. I wasn’t feeling well and just wanted to reach the end of the day. From Sidna Ali Beach, the trail continues for about 1.4 km until it reaches the Sea Scouts compound on Zebulun Beach (13). On the way, you pass by lots of shops, restaurants, and outdoor training areas. As I passed by a training area, someone shouted at me: “You’re doing the Cross-Israel Trail? The trail crosses you!” Yes, there are weirdos here and there.

Sidna Ali Beach

We have talked to the Sea Scouts about two days before we arrived, so we were welcomed there by the manager. Though, it didn’t feel too safe sleeping there because the compound is open, and anyone can sneak in at night. Yeah, anyone could have sneaked in when we were camping in the middle of nature, but somehow, it felt safer sleeping in nature than on the city beach of Herzliya.

Anyhow, we bought some food supplies in a nearby grocery store, made dinner, and went to bed early as usual. Till the next day.

That’s all for now. I wish you a fantastic hike on the Israel National Trail!

Continue to the next segment – From Herzliya to Tel Aviv.

If you want to leave the trail after this segment – It’s quite easy to get from the endpoint to Tel Aviv. You’ll just need to walk another 1.5 km or so to the Herzliya Marina and from there, catch bus number 90 to Tel Aviv. For other destinations, it’s best to check the public transportation navigation apps.  

Get ready for the trail by reading my post – The Israel National Trail: Ultimate Preparation Guide.

And check out previous segments of the Israel National Trail.

Pin this post for later!


Hiked the trail in November 2020.

If you liked this post or found it useful, would really appreciate a like, a share and a comment (:

If you need any help with planning this hike, feel free to contact me at lior@backpackisrael.com. I also offer guided hiking tours on several segments of the Israel National Trail.

Also, feel free to follow this blog and like my Facebook Page – Backpack Israel.

And plan a great trip to Israel using my app – Travel Israel by Travelkosh for Android and iOS

Yours,

Lior

Categories
Free things to do Hiking in Israel Israel National Trail

Hiking the Israel National Trail: From Bet Yanai Beach to Poleg Beach

After a fantastic night at our Trail Angels’ house at Kfar Vitkin, we woke up early and started walking towards Bet Yanai Beach, our starting point for our day on the Israel National Trail. The walk took us about 20 minutes. As we came closer to Bet Yanai Beach, we noticed a large pool of water, situated right next to the beach. This pool of water, called Bet Yanai Lake, was formed following construction works in the 1990s. A huge pit was dug into the ground, and the sweet groundwater penetrated it.  To fight the flies that came to the pool every summer, the regional council brought mosquitofish, which got rid of them.

Check out the previous segment – From Sdot Yam to Bet Yanai Beach

The segment from Bet Yanai Beach to Poleg Beach is very pleasant and easy. It starts on the beach and then passes through the marvelous city of Netanya, known as the capital of the Sharon plain. Most of the way includes fantastic views of the Mediterranean Sea.

Trail length: About 14.5 km. You can also hike it from the other direction.

Trail duration: About 5-7 hours, depending on your pace.

Difficulty level: Easy.

Best season: Fall (October-November), Winter (December-January), and Spring (February-April).

Water along the way: It’s possible to fill water at Bet Yanai Beach. Next, there are some water taps along the Netanya Promenade (about 8.5 km from the start). You can also get water at the end point, at Poleg Beach. There’s a restaurant over there, and there is a water tap on the street that leads to the neighborhood.

Stay options at the end of the trail: The people at the restaurant at Poleg Beach granted us permission to sleep on the deck of the restaurant. You can also ask them if you can do the same.

Before we begin, let’s go over some safety instructions and general notes:

· The hike is under your responsibility, so please be careful.

· Make sure you hike with good hiking shoes, have at least 3 liters of water (and 5 on hot days), and wear a hat. Pack food and snacks for the whole day, BUT make sure to bring a garbage bag as well and take your garbage with you, including toilet papers.

· This segment passes through a city, so you will be able to get supplies or water fairly easily.

· 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. There is no shade on this segment.

· Pay attention to sunset hours (in Summer around 6-7 PM, in Winter around 4-5 PM). Try to begin the hike before 8 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. 

· The phone signal is good throughout the trail.

· Before you begin the hike, make sure you have a good trail map. The trail isn’t always well marked, so it’s good to have a map. You can also use a navigation app such as the Israel Hiking Map. With GPS, you can also 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. You can also download the trail map in English (created by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel). This map is extremely basic but gives you a general sense of the trail.

· The trail is marked with the Israel National Trail colors, orange-blue-white.

· If you need any further help with planning your trail, I recommend posting on the Israel National Trail forum on Tapatalk. Of course, you can also talk to me through lior@backpackisrael.com.

How to get to the head of the trail?

To reach the head of the trail, you will need to reach Bet Yanai Beach (in Hebrew: חוף בית ינאי). There isn’t a direct bus from Jerusalem, so if you’re arriving from there, it’s best to use a navigation app like Google Maps or Moovit to find the best route for you. If you’re coming from Tel Aviv, there is a direct bus from Tel Aviv Savidor Central railway station (number 704). You will need to get off at “Hadassah Neurim Boarding School” (in Hebrew: פנימיית הדסה נעורים) and from there continue on foot to the beach. If you’re coming from Haifa, there is a direct bus from Hof HaCarmel Central Station (number 910). You will need to get off at “Yanai Junction” (in Hebrew: מחלף ינאי). If you’re having trouble finding the right route, feel free to contact me through Facebook or lior@backpackisrael.com.

The hike on the Israel National Trail:

Map of the segment, taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
Map of the segment, taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
Map of the segment, taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
Map of the segment, taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
Map of the segment, taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
Map of the segment, taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
Map of the segment, taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
Taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/

We started our hike from the large wooden sign that stood above the beach (1). This sign talks about Welus, the first Jewish immigrants’ ship that left Europe and reached the Land of Israel as part of the Ha’apala. The ship reached this beach in July 1934, with 350 Jewish immigrants on board. The Ha’apala, which means “ascension”, went on until 1948. Thousands of Jews reached the Land of Israel this way, which was illegal at the time because of the British restrictions regarding the number of immigrates that were allowed to enter. Most of the immigrants were refugees escaping from Nazi Germany and Holocaust survivors.

The wooden sign on Bet Yanai Beach

Then, we went down to the beach and started walking southward. The sky had lovely pinkish colors and the weather was fantastic. After a while, we passed through some construction site on the beach itself. About 3.3 km from Bet Yanai Beach, we reached Tzukei Yam Beach (2). Here, there’s a monument for Amnon Pomerantz, who was killed by a terrorist while on reserve duty in the Buriej camp in Gaza in 1990. The monument is in the shape of a surfboard because Amnon loved the sea and was one of the first people to surf on this beach.

The surfboard monument to Amnon Pomerantz

We continued for another 3.7 km and passed several beaches until we reached Sironit Beach (3). On the way, we saw a lot of people who were jogging, walking, or doing some other sports activity. Some of them seemed surprised to see us, with all of our hiking gear, and asked what we were doing. “Are you doing the Sea-to-Sea Trail?” someone asked us. “No, we’re doing the Israel National Trail,” we replied. The Sea-to-Sea Trail, known in Hebrew as the Yam Le’Yam Trail, doesn’t pass here at all.

At Sironit Beach we got on the Elevator to the Sea. While there was a sign that said that there was an entry fee to the elevator, there was no one who asked for payment, so we got into it and took it up to the Netanya Promenade.

The Elevator to the Sea

Today, Netanya is known as the capital of the Sharon plain. It was established in 1929 as a moshava, which was a Jewish rural form of settlement. Many of its residents made a living from orange orchards, that were grown in the area. As the city expanded, these orchards were later covered by new buildings.

We followed the trail marks and continued on the promenade. The views of the Mediterranean Sea are breathtaking. There were places where we left the promenade for a while, but most of the way was full of beautiful sea views.

The Netanya Promenade

Then, after about 3.7 km, we reached the Victory Monument in Netanya (4). This magnificent monument marks the Red Army’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. Originally, the monument was supposed to be placed in Jerusalem, but because of the great number of Holocaust survivors and former fighters in the Red Army who live in Netanya, they changed their minds and placed it here. It was made by Salavat Scherbakov, Vasiliy Perfiliev, and Michail Naroditsky.

The first thing we saw were the huge white wings, that look like an angel’s wings. These wings are supposed to resemble peace and hope. Then, we walked through a dark tunnel with all kinds of reliefs that tell the story of the Jewish people. There’s also an option to hear audio guidance. Next to the monument, there’s also the building of Yad LaBanim, an organization that works to commemorate the fallen soldiers of Israel.

The Victory Monument in Netanya

We continued to Ben Gurion Road, one of the main roads of Netanya, and walked along with it for about 1 km until we reached the left turn to the Winter Pond Park (5). The pond is one of the last remaining ponds in the Sharon plain, as most of the ponds were dried up in the early 20th century. The pond is also called Dora Pond after the military camp that existed here during the Independence War. We didn’t see the pond, maybe because we weren’t there in the right season or because we didn’t look enough, but the park was very pleasant. We stopped under one of the trees, closed our eyes, and enjoyed a few minutes of rest.

The Winter Pond Park

After resting a bit, we exited the park and continued a short way to a bridge over Ben Gurion Road (6). We passed over the bridge and then got a bit confused because we couldn’t find the trail mark. But soon enough, we were able to get back on track. A bit southward to the bridge, there’s a turn into the dunes.

The bridge over Ben Gurion Road

This sandy area is called the Iris Nature Reserve. It’s full of beautiful beach plants and flowers, that grow very well in the sandy dunes. Nearby, we could see the skyscrapers of Netanya. I was really impressed that they kept this little piece of nature in the middle of the city.

We continued through the nature reserve for about 1.3 km, on a trail that overlaps a blue-marked trail, until we reached the beach (7).  Then, we continued southward for another 600 meters until we reached Poleg Beach, where there was shade and a restaurant (8). Some of us went to cool down in the sea, while some of us went to get some refreshments in the restaurant. There’s an incredibly fun vibe over there, with nice music and places to sit. Though, the prices for food and drinks are quite high.

When we asked the person behind the counter if it’s allowed to camp on the beach, he said: “If you’re Israel National Trail hikers, you can stay on our deck.” We were happy to accept the offer, as it’s not so fun sleeping in sleeping bags on the sand.

That’s all for now. I wish you a fantastic hike on the Israel National Trail!

Continue to the next segment – From Poleg to Herzliya.

If you want to leave the trail after this segment – There aren’t any direct buses from Poleg Beach to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, so you’ll need to switch somewhere. You will need to enter the neighborhood of Ramat Poleg to catch a bus there. It is a 10 minutes’ walk from the beach. If you want to get to Haifa, you can catch bus number 910 from Udim Junction, which will take you directly to Hof HaCarmel Central Station in Haifa. The Udim Junction station is about 2 km from Poleg Beach.

Get ready for the trail by reading my post – The Israel National Trail: Ultimate Preparation Guide.

And check out previous segments of the Israel National Trail.

Pin this post for later!


Hiked the trail in November 2020.

If you liked this post or found it useful, would really appreciate a like, a share and a comment (:

If you need any help with planning this hike, feel free to contact me at lior@backpackisrael.com. I also offer guided hiking tours on several segments of the Israel National Trail.

Also, feel free to follow this blog and like my Facebook Page – Backpack Israel.

And plan a great trip to Israel using my app – Travel Israel by Travelkosh for Android and iOS

Yours,

Lior

Categories
Free things to do Hiking in Israel Israel National Trail

Hiking the Israel National Trail: From Sdot Yam to Bet Yanai Beach

After a pleasant night at Sdot Yam, with a few drops of rain, we woke up early and started making our way to our next destination, Bet Yanai Beach. My boyfriend joined us the other day, so it was nice having another person in the group. We needed the diversity, after being with each other for over two weeks.  

Check out the previous segment – From Beit Hanania to Sdot Yam

The segment from Sdot Yam to Beit Hanania was easy and fun, with diverse landscapes. We walked on sand dunes, walked next to streams, walked through the city of Hadera, and walked through the Hadera Forest. We even got to see the making of a video clip next to the Hadera West Railway Station.

Trail length: About 23 km. You can also hike it from the other direction.

Trail duration: About 8-10 hours, depending on your pace.

Difficulty level: Easy.

Best season: Spring (February-April).

Water along the way: It’s possible to get water at Sdot Yam. About 720 meters from Sdot Yam, you can also get water at the cemetery to the left of the road. There are some more water taps along the way, but they didn’t work when we tried them. The next point is at the Hadera West Railway Station (about 11 km from the start), where you can ask to fill water inside the train station. There is also a water tap next to the Turtle Beach over Alexander Creek (about 19 km from the start). There is a water tap at Bet Yanai Beach.

Stay options at the end of the trail: Since 2020, it is not allowed to camp at the Beit Yanai Beach. I know that some people continued a bit further and camped on one of the beaches ahead, but not sure if it’s legal. We stayed at a Trail Angel’s house at Kfat Vitkin. You can check the list of Trail Angels here. Relevant places are Kfat Vitkin, Beit Herut, and Hofit.

Want a guided tour? Check out my guided tours on the Israel National Trail.

Before we begin, let’s go over some safety instructions and general notes:

· The hike is under your responsibility, so please be careful.

· Make sure you hike with good hiking shoes, have at least 3 liters of water (and 5 on hot days), and wear a hat. Pack food and snacks for the whole day, BUT 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. There is barely any shade on this segment. Also, some parts of the trail might be muddy after rainfall.

· Pay attention to sunset hours (in Summer around 6-7 PM, in Winter around 4-5 PM). Try to begin the hike before 8 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. 

· The phone signal is good throughout most of the trail.

· Before you begin the hike, make sure you have a good trail map. The trail isn’t always well marked, so it’s good to have a map. You can also use a navigation app such as the Israel Hiking Map. With GPS, you can also 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. You can also download the trail map in English (created by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel). This map is extremely basic but gives you a general sense of the trail.

· The trail is marked with the Israel National Trail colors, orange-blue-white.

· If you need any further help with planning your trail, I recommend posting on the Israel National Trail forum on Tapatalk. Of course, you can also talk to me through lior@backpackisrael.com.

How to get to the head of the trail?

To reach the head of the trail, you will need to reach Sdot Yam (in Hebrew: שדות ים). There isn’t a direct bus from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, so it’s best to use a navigation app like Google Maps or Moovit to find the best route for you. If you’re having trouble finding the right route, feel free to contact me through Facebook or lior@backpackisrael.com.

The hike:

Map taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
Map taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
Map taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
Map taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
Map taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
Map taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
Map taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/
Data taken from israelhiking.osm.org.il/

We got out of Sdot Yam (1) and continued eastward on the road for about 800 meters. Then, we turned right onto the sand dunes (2). There’s a trail mark that points to the right direction. It was quite tough walking on the dunes, as the sand is not solid, and every step was a bit of a challenge. In the distance, we could see the chimneys of the Orot Rabin power station, the largest one in Israel.

The chimneys of Orot Rabin in the distance

We continued through the dunes for about 570 meters and then the trail became easier. We left the dunes and started walking on a plain trail, that led us to a small road (3). There’s a sidewalk at the side of the road. We walked westward on the sidewalk for about 430 meters and then turned left (4). Now, there was no sidewalk, but there was a margin. About 700 meters from the left turn, there was a gas station at the side of the road (5). If you’re short of supplies, you can purchase some at the gas station.

On the sidewalk, just before the left turn

A bit after the gas station, there’s the entry gate to Orot Rabin power station. The station was established in 1981 and supplies about one quarter of the country’s electricity. In recent years, the power station is undergoing changes to operate on gas instead of coal.

We carefully crossed the road and started walking on a path, that bypasses the power station. At the point where the trail turns slightly to the right, there’s an impressive monument with the Ten Commandments (6). The sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not murder” is more noticeable than the rest. This is connected to Israel’s fifth prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, who was murdered by a Jewish extremist during a peace rally in 1995. The Orot Rabin power station is named after him.

The monument next to Orot Rabin

The trail continues for about 670 meters parallel to the road and then turns right and continues for another 700 meters along the Hadera River (in Hebrew: “Nahal Hadera”). Then, we reached a beautiful harp bridge, which connects the two banks (7). We crossed the bridge and stopped for breakfast and some rest next to the southern bank of the river. There is a lovely promenade and benches next to the water. You can also see the Orot Rabin chimneys from up close. I think the Nahal Hadera Park is one of the most beautiful parks in Israel.

The harp bridge at Nahal Hadera Park
The chimneys from up close

After some rest, we continued along the promenade towards the beach, which was nearby. If you want to stick to the trail, you need to turn left into the park. But because we were excited to be next to the sea, we chose to walk along the beach for about 1.4 km and then turned left and got back to the trail (8). We continued southward down a tiny asphalt road. After about 600 meters, we turned left onto another road. There was a small patch of green lawn further ahead (9), where we stopped to eat some more food.

Then, we continued on the trail through the city of Hadera. It is well-marked. Keep your eyes out for trail marks on electricity poles and traffic lights. Hadera was first established as a moshava in 1891 and was one of the first modern Jewish settlements in the Land of Israel. After a while, we reached the bridge over the railway (10). It was Saturday, and the road underneath the bridge was full of cars. It seemed that something was happening over there, so we stopped on the bridge and peered down. We realized that the cars were all parking and that there were people, who were filming some sort of clip.

The filming set next to Hadera West Railway Station

The trail took us down to the Hadera West Railway Station, so we could ask the people what they were doing. It turns out that they were filming a new music clip for Bar Tzabary’s song, Hadera“. Tzabary isone of Israel’s rising singers, best known for his song “Johnny“.

We passed the filming set, continued parallel to the railway, and then turned left into the Hadera Forest (11). This is the largest eucalyptus forest in Israel, spreading over 1,500 dunams. The people of Hadera planted these eucalyptus trees starting 1896, in hope that they would dry the swamp that existed here and caused many diseases. They thought that the trees consume a lot of water from the ground and therefore can dry it completely, but that was wrong. The swamp was dried up only in the 1930s when drainage channels were dug and carried the water of the swamp to Alexander Creek.

The ecalyptus trees of Hadera Forest

We stopped to rest around one of the picnic tables, which stood next to the park’s entrance and searched for a drinking water tap, but there was no water tap in the area. We continued for about 2.5 km along the edge of the forest and then turned slightly left (12) and left the side of the forest. The trail does a kind of half-circle here, along agricultural fields. In the winter, there’s supposed to be a winter pool nearby, known as Birket Ata (Ata Pool). This pool is a relic from the swamps which existed here in the past.

Soon enough, we started walking on sand dunes again, which slowed us down. We also stopped to help a family, who got stuck with their car in the sand. We tried lifting their wheel, but with no success. “You’ll have to call your insurance,” we told them after a long while, and then continued our way through the rough dunes. It’s important to keep your eyes out for the trail marks because the trail doesn’t really look like a trail. There’s sand everywhere.

Sand everywhere!

After about 650 meters of walking through the sand, we arrived at Emek Hefer Industrial Park (13). We got a bit lost here because we couldn’t find the trail mark, so we simply continued straight ahead until we got united with the trail again. But what you need to do is turn left onto the outer road of the industrial park and continue on this road until the last roundabout. At the last roundabout, turn right and connect to the dirt path, that continues southward.

We continued for about 1 km on the dirt path and then turned right and went a short way to the Turtle Bridge over Alexander Creek (14). It is one of the most important and beautiful streams in the region and is home to a population of soft-shell turtles, that can weigh up to 50 kilograms each. Starting from the 1960s, this stream suffered from pollution from nearby settlements and agricultural actions, which harmed the soft-shell turtles that lived here. A clean-up project began in 1995 and today, it is quite clean again.

There was a lot of commotion around the Turtle Bridge because it was Saturday, and many families were out and about. We could barely move around all the people. But we had to cross the bridge to fill water at the tap that existed on the other side. Then, we crossed again and turned left (northwestward) to the trail.

The view from the Turtle Bridge

The trail crossed underneath the railway and continued parallel to the tracks for about 390 meters until it turns left back towards Alexander Creek (15). At this point, there was lots of mud, which we had no way to avoid. And then we started walking along the channel of the Alexander Creek.

After about 1 km, we reached the Samara Ruins (16). The building on top of the hill was built by Abdallah Samara at the end of the 19th century. Samara was a resident of Tulkarm, but he had land in this area, which he wanted to look after. Later, the Ottoman authorities turned the building into a customs station, where they took taxes on watermelons that grew in the Hefer Valley and were imported to the entire empire. The watermelons were carried along the stream on top of rafts, to a port on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The trail took us up to the building for a beautiful observation point and then came back down to the side of the creek.

Samara Ruins

We continued for about 1 km and reached an area under construction. We crossed underneath road number 2 (17) and then arrived at a huge parking lot full of cars. The map tells to cross the creek on a bridge somewhere, but we couldn’t find the bridge, so we simply went straight and parallel to the creek until the point where it spills into the Mediterranean Sea. Then, we took off our shoes, crossed the small channel, and started walking along the beach to our final destination for the day – Bet Yanai Beach. 800 meters and we were there (18).

When we arrived, we found out that it is not allowed to camp on the beach. They have changed the rules. So, we quickly picked up the phone to Trail Angels in the area and luckily, found a Trail Angel who was willing to host us at short notice. We were so happy. Before going to the Trail Angel’s place, we stopped to eat something at the shopping center just across the road. There’s also a supermarket there, so you can get supplies if needed.

That’s all for now. I wish you a fantastic hike on the Israel National Trail!

Continue to the next segment – From Bet Yanai Beach to Poleg Beach.

If you want to leave the trail after this segment, you can catch relevant buses from the bus station at Yanai Junction. There aren’t any direct buses from there to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, so you’ll need to switch somewhere. If you want to get to Haifa, you can catch bus number 910 from Yanai Junction, which will take you directly to Hof HaCarmel Central Station in Haifa.

Get ready for the trail by reading my post – The Israel National Trail: Ultimate Preparation Guide.

And check out previous segments of the Israel National Trail.

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Hiked the trail in November 2020.

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Yours,

Lior