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.
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.
The hike on the Israel National Trail:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Hiked the trail in November 2020.
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