Erez Speiser
Getting more tourists to explore Israel by Foot
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4 long distance hiking trails in Israel

Israel's National Trail made National Geographic's top 20 epic hikes in the world -- don't you want to see for yourself?
(Courtesy)
Hod Akev on the Israel National Trail. (Erez Speiser)

Despite its “miniature” size, Israel is blessed with several amazing and diverse long-distance hiking trails. The most well-known is the 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) “Israel National Trail” that crosses the whole country from north to south. However, there are also a few others, not as long, but not less attractive. In this post, I will try to cover the most distinguished ones.

Israel National Trail:

Quick Facts

  • Length: 1,025 kilometers (637 miles)
  • Typical duration: 45-50 days
  • Recommended month to start:
    North to South direction: October–December
    South to North Direction: February-March
  • Trail blazes: Orange / Blue / White.
Eilat Mountains by Erez Speiser

The trail is considered by many to be one of the world’s best epic hiking trails. It was included in the National Geographic list of the top 20 epic hikes in the world.

So, what makes the INT (Israel National Trail) so attractive?

  • Diversity of scenery: Over a relatively short distance, you will pass the green and forested Galilee mountains, walk along the Mediterranean coastline, and cross breathtaking desert scenery. You will visit three famous seas: the Sea of Galilee, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Red Sea.
  • History: In no other trail in the world will you explore along the way historic sites from so many different periods. Roman cities, Crusader fortresses, Nabataean desert towns, and many more ruins from all periods of history.
  • Religious sentiment: The trail passes near Judeo-Christian sites, such as Mount Tabor and the Valley for Elah (just a small sample).
  • City breaks: Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are also on the route — two amazing cities that could not be more different, each of them compelling in its own way.

For more details you can check the Israel National Trail Guide

The Golan Trail:

Quick Facts:

  • Length: 125 kilometers (some 78 miles)
  • Typical duration: 6-8 days
  • Recommended month: March – April
  • Trail blazes: Green / Blue / White
Golan Heights. (Erez Speiser)

If you don’t have the time or stamina to tackle the Israel National Trail, The Golan Trail could be a great alternative. It’s a true adventure that will give you the feeling of an epic trail, but it can be squeezed into a week of hiking. The trail starts on Mount Hermon (The highest mountain in Israel) at the northern tip of the Golan Heights and ends in the south of the Golan, at Ein Taufik (near the Sea of Galilee). The Golan is full of streams, rugged landscapes, and wildlife. It is especially beautiful in spring when wildflowers blossoms are at their peak. Another great feature of walking the Golan Trail is the fact that it passes through a variety of villages. They not only provide nice lodging options, but they also let you encounter different Israeli populations and settlement forms. The trail passes through (or very near) Druze villages, kibbutzim, moshavim, and religious communities. The area is also full of culinary delights. You can make a stop in a boutique winery, chocolate factory, or a micro-brewery to spice-up your trip. For more detail,s you can check the Golan Trail Guide.

The Jesus Trail:

Quick Facts

  • Length: 65 kilometers (about 40 miles)
  • Typical duration: 4-6 days
  • Recommended month: March – April
  • Trail blazes: White / Orange / White
Above the Sea of Galilee. (Erez Speiser)

The Jesus Trail crosses the Lower Galilee from Nazareth to Capernaum, on the shore of Lake Kinneret. It connects important sites from the life of Jesus, as well as other historical and religious sites. It appeals to Christian believers who also love nature and wish to follow in the footsteps of Jesus in a way that is authentic, adventurous, and educational. Although the trail passes some beautiful terrain, it falls short in pure natural beauty, compared to the other trails described in this post. The main attraction here is the religious sentiment and the historical sites that you pass along the way. The list is long and diverse: Zippori National Park, Horns of Hattin, Mount Arbel, Mount of Beatitudes, Nebi Shueib, and many more. More details here, and a more personal traveler’s experience on the Jesus Trail.

Yam le-Yam:

Quick Facts:

  • Length: 60 kilometers (37 miles)
  • Typical duration: 4-5 days
  • Recommended month: March – April
  • Trail blazes: Mixed.
Kziv Stream. (Erez Speiser)

“Yam” in Hebrew means sea. “Yam le-Yam” means from Sea to Sea. The “Yam le-Yam” is not a formal trail, but a connection of several local hiking trails that connect the Mediterranean Sea to the Sea of Galilee, crossing the Galilee mountains. Although it is not formal, it has been a very popular route for Israeli hikers for decades. The trail passes through beautiful terrain and interesting landmarks. The main ascent from the Mediterranean coast is though the Kziv Stream. Following, there are several variations to cross the Galilee ridge and the descend to the Sea of Galilee is along the Amud stream. Around midway, the trail passes near the historic and picturesque town Safed and its highly recommended to make a short detour and visit the city. More details in this Yam le-Yam Guide.

About the Author
Erez Speiser, born 1966 in Israel lives in Rakefet in the Galilee. By education a mechanical engineer. For the last decade he holds a marketing position in a multinational metal cutting tools company. Erez is passionate about nature and the outdoors, enjoys hiking, mountain biking & surfing. Erez loves Israel and tries to promote hiking tourism in the country. He is the founder & manager of www.hike-israel.com
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