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 eighth section of the IBT is 45km from Beit Oren to Zichron Yaacov. We are not ashamed to admit that perhaps we love this section more than any other! The Israel Bike Trail now crosses the Mount Carmel National Park, home ground of the Carmel Mountain Bike Club, and one of the best mountain-biking areas we know. We are proud to share with others, through these pages , the joys of riding on the trails that are so familiar to us.
The dramatic and varied landscape, the backdrop of the sea, sharp cliffs and rounded hills, ancient river beds and caves, along with the natural vegetation, green all the year round, makes for rides of unmatched beauty.We decided that by using our extensive experience we could diverge from the INT and provide a more enjoyable route for bikes . Kibbutz Beit Oren is an ideal base from which to explore the Carmel Park with rides to all the major sites and attractions, with this route taking in some of the best. The Kibbutz is perched on top of a hill surrounded by deep wadis,and by exiting next to the swimming pool we immediately hit a track that takes us down to the cliffs above Nahal Oren, here, we have a great vantage point to view it winding down to the sea.
Our route follows the wadi upstream and to one of the most popular sites in the Carmel Park: Ha Agam (The Lake). This is ,in fact, an artificial pool created by a dam to capture the waters of the Alon Spring, which flow from a pumping station nearby, and in season overflows with cascades of water. We press on to some enchanting single-track through palms and reeds to a small stone bridge (remember to duck!), all that remains of an old flour mill, some say from the Roman era.
After retracing our tire marks from yesterday along Nahal Oren the route turns right for the ascent of Har Shokef, the highest peak in the region, and the usual objective for most local bikers. This category A climb is difficult as the track has been cut up in places by 4x4 activity, however, the unfolding view of the forested Carmel hills, the sea, and, in the distance, the tower of Haifa University, repays the effort made. There are various great options for the descent from Har Shokef, all classic MTB downhills, the Israel Bike Trail takes us down through the sparse landscape surrouding Daliat El Carmel.
Daliat El Carmel, one of the two main Druze centers on the Carmel, is an excellent stop-over for refreshments, browsing in the oriental bazaar, and maybe even meeting other cyclists at the popular corner falafel bar. The route out of the village is by tortuous back-alleys and lanes (that tourists dont usually get to) , through the municipal rubbish- dump ( a blot on the perfect landscape), to the great descent of the day.
This is down the upper reaches of Nahal Meorot in the direction of Kerem Maharal, a kamikaze 3 km trail that will test your suspension to the limit and is a must for anybody biking on the Carmel. It continues to the Carmel Caves Nature Reserve where there is a restaurant, refreshment kiosk , and an information center on the caves. The remainder of the trail links up again with the INTand takes us over the foothills of the Carmel, to the last,and superb descent to Zichron Yaacov. Alternatively, the ride can end on the sea-shore, at one of the best beaches in the country, Dor, and the site of an ancient maritime city. This is the fitting way to end a ride on the Carmel, the mountain that rises from the sea.