Hiking the Israel Trail is a unique and fantastic experience.
Besides its diverse natural beauty ranging from stark desert scenery -
green mountains and fields -
and the Mediterranean shore,
what makes walking the trail so special is how it immerses you in the incredible history and culture of the land of Israel. The trail passes by many historical, biblical and holy sites.
In fact, National Geographic includes the Israel National Trail as one of the top twenty epic hikes in the world.
The definitive guide book to the trail, and the only one in English is Jacob Saar's Israel National Trail.
Saar's guide book is a must-have if you are planning to hike the trail. Besides excellent planning and logistics information, you will refer to the book on a daily basis as you walk the trail!
It is well worth the price.
For every day's hike, the book provides clear instructions and interesting historical and current background on the region. The book is geared for hiking from north to south, but you can use it in either direction.
It includes all the English maps you need, so there is no need to purchase separate maps (although get your glasses on!). You will aso find camping and lodging tips for each section of the trail.
Here is a map of the entire Israel National Trail. The map wasn't drawn by me but by someone who walked the trail from south to north.
The Israel Trail is 940 kilometers long.
You can choose to hike it all at once, or in sections. If you want to walk the trail at a go, you will need between one to two months, depending on your pace. There are a lot of beautiful side hikes, to Masada, Jerusalem hills and the Golan Heights, to name just a few.
The best hiking seasons in Israel are in the spring between March and May, and in the autumn between October and December. It is possible to walk some parts of the trail during the mild winters of Israel, but be careful. The mountain regions of Israel get cold and even snowy. In the southern Negev deserts, flash floods caused by winter rains are unpredictable and dangerous.
During the fall, most hikers begin in the north to avoid the wet season in the mountains. In the spring, you may prefer to walk from south to north to avoid the extreme heat of the desert as the days get longer.
The Israel National trail (INT) blazes are white, blue and orange stripes.
The white stands for the snowy Hermon Mountain in the north and the orange symbolizes the desert in the south. So usually, when you are walking south to north, the white strip is on top, and vice versa. You may pass on the way trail markers with other color combinations since the INT crosses other nature trails.
Probably the best part of the Israel trail are the volunteer network of 'angels' who help Israel Trail hikers.
The angel network is an amazing Israeli phenomenon. The angels truly open their hearts and sometimes even their homes!
They can help you cache water in difficult sections of the trail (especially in the desert), help with equipment, show you the best place to set up a tent, or they might bring some hot coffee and sometimes even offer a warm bed, and a shower.
Click on the link for an updated list of Israel Trail Angels. (After clicking on the link, page down. There are instructions on who and how to contact the angels, and then the list of individuals with contact details.)
There are many hotels, guest houses (zimmers) and hostels near most parts of the trail. You can get up-to-date recommendations for each section in Jacob Saar's Israel National Trail Guide Book.
Camping is possible too. When you are in a national park or reserve, you can camp in the official camp grounds. Outside of the national parks, you can set up tents in open areas. If you are not sure, check with the local trail angel.
The Israel National Trail is divided into 44 sections which we have categorized by 8 geographic regions of Israel
The 8 regions from north to south are:
Below is a brief overview of each of the 44 sections of the trail, from North to South.
Kibbutz Dan, Osishkin House to Tel Hai, the Roaring Lion Statue
Tel Hai to Metzudat Koah
Mezudat Koah to Nahal Dishon stream
Nahal Dishon stream to Mount Meron summit
Mount Meron summit to Mount Meron base, Nahal Amud stream
Mount Meron base along the Nahal Amud Stream
Lower Nahal Amud Stream to Upper Tiberias
Tiberias to Yardenit at the Jordan River
Jordan River to Mount Tabor in the Lower Galilee
Mount Tabor to Mashhad
Mashhad via Tsipori (and its ancient mosaics) to Yiftahel Junction
Yiftahel Junction to Kibbutz Yagur on Carmel mountain range
Kibbutz Yagur to Oren Campground near the prehistoric Etzba Cave
Oren Campground near the prehistoric Etzba Cave to Mount Horshan
Mount Horshan to Jisr a-Zarqa
Jisr a-Zarqa to the Hadera Train Station
Hadera to Netanya's Green Beach
Netanya to Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv to HaYarkon Stream Source (Tel Afek / Antipatris)
Tel Afek / Antipatris to Mitzpe Modi'im in Ben Shemen Forest
Ben Shemen Forest to Latrun Station
Latrun Station to Sha'ar HaGai
Sh'ar HaGai to Kibbutz Zova
Kibbutz Zova to Horvat Hanut (Caesar Way)
Horvat Hanut to Mitzpe Messuah
Mitzpe Messuah to Beit Govrin Caves
Beit Govrin to Tel Keshet
Tel Keshet to Dvir Junction
Dvir Junction to just shy of Kramim
Kramim to Har Amasa
Har Amasa to Arad Park
Arad Park to Mezad Tamar
Mezad Tamar to HaMakhtesh HaGadol
HaMakhtesh HaGadol to Ma'aleh Zin
Ma'aleh Zin to Ein Shaviv
Ein Shaviv to Mitzpe Ramon
Mitzpe Ramon to Har Saharonim
Har Saharonim to Sapir Park in the Arabah Desert
Sapir Park to Neot Smadar (Shizafon Junction)
Shizafon Junction to Timna Park
Timna Park to 2 kilometers north of Be'er Ora
Be'er Ora to Shehoret Canyon in the Mountains of Eilat
Shehoret Canyon to Ein Netafim and Mount Yoash
Mount Yoash to the border of Taba, Egypt!
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