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 fifth section of the IBT is 40km from Kinneret to Har Tavor. With this section the Israel Bike Trail begins its journey across Northern Israel to the Mediterranean Sea. This could be the basis of a three day Sea to Sea Trek through a region of rich landcapes, cultural variety, and important historical associations.
From the Baptismal Center at the Yardenit the route follows the river Jordan southwards. This could be a very evocative were it not for the sewage canal that runs parallel with the river; full -immersion is definitely not recommended here ! This, however, is soon left behind as we pass through the fields and plantations of the Jordan Valley and the cradle of Jewish settlement in the area. After the village of Menachamia (last chance for water!) the big climb out of the Jordan Valley begins by way of an old road which winds its way up to the Heights of Yavniel, 400 meters above.
The break at the top is a good time to munch some energy and absorb the view over into Jordan. We wont be back in the Rift Valley until the Arava ! Turning around we immediately see our objective of the day, Mount Tabor rising dramatically in the distance. The route is now on wide farm tracks that are dusty in summer and muddy in winter,through vast wheat and cotton fields and ruined villages from eras past. Care is needed in following the trail as there are few outstanding landmarks to get our bearings, and the descents are fast. The track is sometimes ploughed up by the local farmers.
The route follows the streams draining off the plateau, Nachal Reches and Nahal Tabor, which have water flowing most of the year round, so be prepared for some splashing ! The tracks, though, are wide, and not too much bother technically in an area that is green all year round. The last part of the mountain bike ride is on the road to the Alon Tavor Field School , but if there is time and energy left, the climb of Mount Tabor to the monastery on the summit could be attempted, or alternatively a visit to the Farmers Yard Museum at Kfar Tavor which features a reconstructed pioneer farm.