The 850km Israel Bike Trail runs from north to south from Mount Hermon to Almog Beach, Eilat. It is generally based on the Israel National Trail. The trail winds its way through the countryside, passing areas of great natural beauty and sites sacred to the great religions. The INT serves as the backbone for many of other marked trails, an integrated nation-wide network, designed to foster nature conservation and to preserve the special character of each geographical region.
The second section of the IBT runs 30 km from Hagoshrim to Ramot Naftali. The previous section was all about the joys of descending, now we will sample the different pleasures of climbing ! The Israel Bike Trail delivered us into the Hullah Valley and now it takes us out by ascending on the opposite side.
After leaving Hagoshrim and crossing over Nahal Snir with its kyaking-center (worth it if you have the time) the climb is gradual at first, on a mixture of roads and farm tracks. It is much steeper once we hit the twisting road that ascends the escarpment next to Tel Hai and Kfar Giladi. Leaving this road for the trail above Kiryat Shemona, is exhilerating, as we continually gain height and the Hullah Valley becomes spread out like a carpet below us. This is one of the most panoramic sections of the whole Israel Bike Trail, so take your time !
The trail is on undulating forest tracks which follow the INT in its entirety. The great views below are complimented by the dramatic rock formations above. There is under the Ramim Cliff, a well marked out Geological Trail that tells the story in terms of rocks and fossils of the Rift Valley . The trail passes directly under the latest tourist attraction, the cable-car from Manara to Kiryat Shemona, dont forget to wave to the people in the gondalas, they will be impressed to see you down there !
After a further climb, the wide trail gives out to a rough single track which has to be negotiated very carefully as there is no other way to mountain bike ride this section of the Western Ridge . It means carrying the bikes in places and 45 minutes should be allowed for this. The great view down to the fish ponds in the Hullah Valley is some compensation and in the winter , you may actually be above the clouds!
After this difficult section, and if one is low on water, you can continue up the wide track until it meets the northern road and settlements, or alternatively, the INT can be further explored around Nahal Kadesh which will add another 5 km and has more single-track and a very steep climb back up to road. The choice is yours ! Whatever choice you make, you will not be disappointed and the mountain bike ride finishes at Ramot Naftali, a moshav with village-style accommodation.
Overall, Section 2 - Hagoshrim to Ramot Naftali is the 7th most popular mountain bike trail of all 15 mountain biking in Israel.