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.

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.

· 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

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 descent. 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

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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.



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