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 ninth section of the IBT is 78km from Zichron Yaacov to Rosh Ha ayin. This section is one of the longest of the whole Israel Bike Trail linking the northern and central areas of the country. In favourable conditions it is possible to mountain bike ride it in a day, as most of the route is flat, however this would leave little time for visiting the sites of interest, which happen to be at both the start and the finish. If you prefer a more leisurely mountain bike ride, take an extra day with a possible stopover in the Netanya area.
The bike trail follows a direct route along the central plain between the sandy western coastal strip and the Samarian Hills. The best riding is around Zichron Yaacov, especially if a detour onto Ramat Hanadiv is made; here, after visiting the tomb of Baron Edmund de Rothschild, you will encounter fire roads and single-tracks full of fun, with great views overlooking the rolling hills, with their vineyards and plantations. If you have the time (sandals and flashlight essential) a walk along the water tunnel at Pirim, at the foot of these hills, makes a refreshing change from pedal pushing.
The route continues over gently undulating countryside to Regavim, passing an Ostrich Reservation (do not feed them!) From here, it is due south to Wadi Ara, on a wide gravelled track, which may well soon disappear under the vast grey expanses of the projected Highway Nine. At Pardes Hannah we enter the established agricultural heartand of the state with orange groves, hothouses, and fish ponds, riding on farm tracks that can become treacherous glue pots after rain (be warned!) .
The track soon becomes an unmetalled road occasionally crossing streams with various levels of pollution, one of which, Nahal Shchem, can be a risky crossing in winter. After crossing the road to Netanya, the track is quite sandy, slowing progress in places. The Israeli Arab city of E-Tirah is eventually reached, a good stop, for authentic middle-eastern fare. Soon the citus groves are left behind and we hit the industrial edges of Kfar Saba, and the Israel Bike Trail has taken on a very different character since its start on Mount Hermon !
The final stages provide a further contrast, with the sub-tropical palms and the shady eucalyptus at the Yarkon river crossing and in the Yarkon Source Park (entrance fee) , we mountain bike ride on elevated wooden walkways above the springs. Within a short distance the section ends at Rosh HaAyin rail station next to the fortress and antiquities of Tel Afek (entrance fee). Thus, the most populated and developed region of Israel has been ridden with the minimum of road and the maximum of enjoyment.