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

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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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If you need any help with planning this hike, feel free to contact me at lior@backpackisrael.com.

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Yours,

Lior

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