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 seventh section of the IBT is 47km from Harduf to Beit Oren. This section has some of the best (and toughest) riding on the Israel Bike Trail due to the topography of the route, which involves the crossing of the western extremities of the Galilean Mountains and the ascent of Mount Carmel. It is recommended to start out early so as to get the first of the category A climbs out of the way if the day is going to be hot. Take with you as much energy food as possible! The route covers every sort of terrain so be prepared to meet the challenges of loose rocky single-track, crossing streams, fast descents on fire-roads, carrying the bikes over rough fields,and sometimes mud in the valleys. It is also a ride through the modern-day contrasts of Israel.
To descend from Kibbutz Harduf into Nahal Tsipori is to enter another world of a valley that has been largely untouched by modern development, and the rustic atmosphere of earlier epochs remains with the traditional farming of the Beduin. We ride on the dusty farm tracks still used by the villagers of Caabia to tend their orchards and fields by the stream of Nahal Tsipori. The valley runs east to west, eventually emerging in the Haifa Bay area.
Its a pleasure to ride along the banks of the stream which flows all the year and which we will have to cross in one place, but before then, there is the very welcome sight of the spring of Ein Yivka, surrounded by yellow lillies and the natural pool next to it. If the day is already hotting up, the temptation to skinny- dip is sometimes overwhelming , but check the state of the water before diving in!
The trail continues along the northern slopes of the valley so we can see the stream and the patchwork of fields below, and after some single- track we come to an abandoned flour mill, the Mill of the Nuns, so named as it was once connected to the Carmelite Monastery In Haifa. The exit from the mill is over a very rough stone bridge.
The 200 meter climb out of Nahal Tsipori passes through isolated Beduin farms until we reach a plateau where we can view the sea for the first time on the Israel Bike Trail. The trail here is a joy to ride in an area unspoilt until we arrive at the top and meet the contrast of a new road to Tivon that cuts an ugly swathe through what, on the map, is still designated a nature reserve! Its now time to descend, to the Kishon Valley, through fields where sometimes no discernable track exists and the orchards of Kfar Hasidim, a village of orthodox Jews.
The remainder of the route involves the big climb (400 meters) of Mount Carmel from Yagur, up the twisting Nesher road, to the Nof Carmel Panorama Track. After taking a break (and breath) at the picnic site the route involves a further climb (150 meters) through the wooded areas to the Druze village of Isfiya. Take time to stop where there is a gap in the trees for the magnificent view of the Kishon Valley below. Isfiya is on the high spine of the Carmel and for the final part of the ride we use the wonderful forest tracks next to Nahal Hek that descend on the other side of this ridge to Nahal Oren. This wide valley, in the heart of the Carmel, is the hub of Mountain Biking activities for the area, and the home ground of the Carmel Mountain Bike Club. Tracks lead off in all directions, one of the favorites being the ascent of Har Shokef.