Israel National Trail – Central Highlights

| July 22, 2012 | 0 Comments
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Israel National Trail: Caesarea Maritima Thermae

Israel National Trail

Of the tens of kilometers and several sections of the Israel trail, hugging the Mediterranean coastline, the walk past Caesarea is a central highlight of the Israel National Trail.

Starting off in Beit Hananya, a small village just off Route 4 near Caesarea, you will have the Carmel Mountains behind you as you head westward across the narrow coastal plain towards the sea. Along the beach you will soon reach the Roman aqueducts, and shortly after, the amphitheater, as well as a whole selection of ancient ruins and mosaic flooring.

If you choose to sample the fine cuisine in one of the restaurants in the Archaeological Park, you can actually get a refund off most of the price of the entrance to the Park. Gasp at the contrast between the Roman architecture behind you and the sprawling Hadera power plant, which you will make your way past, home of the three tall chimneys, which dominate the coastal skyline. Past the power plant, the trail takes you through the tranquil Hadera Park, boasting tall, calm eucalyptus trees, and the gentle Hadera River, before heading back inland towards central Hadera.

Bukoved  CC BY 3.0Casearea Aquaduct

Bukoved  CC BY 3.0
Casearea Aquaduct

Israel Trail -Latrun to Bet Meir

If you’ve ever driven on Route 1 to Jerusalem you have most probably noticed a tank or two overlooking the road at the Latrun junction – this is the Tank Museum, and the starting point of this demanding section of the trail. You’ll pass by the Latrun Monastery and the ruins of a crusader fortress before heading across a vineyard-filled valley towards Neve Shalom, a mixed Arab-Jewish village dedicated to peace education. Next you will ascend the steep Serpentine Road, part of the Burma Road built during the 1948-9 War of Independence, to break the blockade of Jerusalem.

There are memorial plaques and pictures along the route, commemorating the efforts of those who fought so valiantly to keep the supply route to Jerusalem open. You will be amazed at the transformation of this area, documented by the pictures of the lush, forested hills, which 65 years ago were no more than barren desert. There are water pools in which you can take a refreshing dip before visiting the village of Mesillat Zion, after which the trail takes you over Route 38 near its intersection with Route 1. You can get provisions at the gas station before the 300 meter climb up Mount Arna, next to Bet Meir. From the summit you can see the Sharon Plain to the west and Route 1 far beneath you to the north.

צילום:ד"ר אבישי טייכר  CC BY 2.5Relief of Burma Road in Rabin Park

צילום:ד”ר אבישי טייכר  CC BY 2.5
Relief of Burma Road in Rabin Park

Israel Trail – Bet Shemesh to Beit Guvrin

This 18 km walk begins, just outside Ramat Bet Shemesh on the intersection of Route 3855 and Route 375. You can enjoy visiting the vineyards and wineries which line the trail, as it winds alongside Route 375, heading southwest towards Kibbutz Netiv Ha-Lamed-Hey, where you can see a monument to the fighters who fell in the history of the tragic battles which occurred there.

After climbing over the hill facing Moshav Zecharia and crossing Route 38, you will reach Tel Azeka, which is assumed to be the site of King Saul’s army encampment against the Philistines, as well as the location of Goliath’s challenge (as mentioned in Samuel I, chapter 17). From the top you can see all of the Elah Valley and enjoy a 360-degree unimpeded view, which on a clear day allows you a glimmer of the Mediterranean Sea in the distance to the west, and the Judean Mountains to the east.

The trail then continues south through Park Brittania, a large forest planted with the assistance of the British, towards Kibbutz Serigim on Route 353. From there the trail will take you parallel to Route 38 across the valley towards Tel Goded, an archaeological site, including; ruins and cave complexes dating back to the time of the Bar Kochba rebellion nearly 2000 years ago. If you bring your flashlight you can enter and explore the intricate cave structures. One last attraction on your way to Beit Guvrin is the water pool further down Route 38, which some claim to be “Ein Hakoreh” – the location of Samson’s slaying of 1000 Philistines (mentioned in Judges Chapter 19, 115-119).

Chai  CC BY-SA 3.0Bell Cave at Beit Guvrin

Chai  CC BY-SA 3.0
Bell Cave at Beit Guvrin

Israel National Trail – Central Highlights: Did You Know?

  • The highest of the three chimneys of the Orot Rabin power station reaches 300 meters in height and is currently the tallest structure in Israel?
  • The “Serpentine Road” took three days of around-the-clock construction to complete
  • The most ancient iron workshop in the world, discovered in 2003, is at Tel Bet Shemesh


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Category: Activities, Hiking, Historical, Touring

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