The small state of Israel is a mountain biker’s paradise. Throughout its 600 km long and 100 km wide, it offers many trails, for all kinds of riding style and skills, crossing and connecting different landscapes and cultures.

From the Golan heights in the north, through the mountains and sea shore in the center, to the desert in the south, most of the trails are free to travel and thus offer ultimate freedom for riding.

One who rides the Israel Bike trail (IBT) will Experience the variety of landscapes, sceney, cultures and uniqe sites Israel has to offer. 

 

Why Riding Israel Bike Trail

 

Israel Bike Trail (IBT) is a ride of a lifetime through this fascinating country. The trail, running from north to south, connecting the most important points of interest and sights in Israel. The marked trail is now covering the southern part ot the country, connecting Mizpe Ramon and Eilat. This part is well marked and well maintained and many local trails are in a short distance from it. Those who have time in their hands can experience these trails and meet the local riders as well.

 

The best time to ride the trail

 

Israel enjoys most of the year, a Mediterranean weather, which is suitable for riding, . The variety of landscapes give the rider many options to choose from, regarding the weather conditions. At summer (July - August) it gets very hot and thus difficult to ride throughout the whole day . At winter, in the central and northern parts of the country,  it is more likely to experience rain and mud.

Usually, single tracks are ridable one or two days after it rained.    

In general there are four main weather zones:

The Negev (south of Be’er sheva)

The Negev is an arid and hot area, best for riding at winter.  This area becomes difficult to ride (during daylight), due to high temperatures from late March to early November.

Jerusalem area

This is a year-round riding area. The high altitude and the long distance from the Mediterranean Sea provide optimal conditions for riding. The air is cool and dry, the temperatures are not getting too high and the rocky trails will not get muddy after every rain.

Central Israel (Be’er Sheva to Haifa)

The best time of the year for riding here is the spring to early summer (March to June) and autumn (End of September to November).

Galilee and Golan Heights

While the winter is the best time for riding in the southern parts of the trail, it is a bit less suitable for its northern segments.

The trail is rideable depending on the time passed since it last rained (no rain for 2-3 days is OK) and regarding the trail’s bedding. At the rainy period of the year (December to March) it is advised to examine the trail’s characteristics in order to make  the right decision.

Here is a map that will make it easier to describe:
https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/4o4t5pfG7Offdp5FodQKyFqYF6p12go-6XsxnhHDSEmk6pxw0wxvrC-gLD6ZvLf_f7r1PjiqeDekj3RH62GfOpslbF21pw3jh9N2rbzhqs66Hd1oUkwDt_zDnZcP4ONwDeqXXxGY

 

Navigating along the trail

 

The trail is well marked. Each segment starts from a welcome sign and ends at the head of the next.

Along the trail you will meet four kind of milestones. A short concrete pillar for every 5-10 kilometers and, more often, blue/white signs marked on rocks or stones. 

Please note! Israel has a rich network of hiking trails. In some parts the IBT trail and other local trail might merge and share the sane route. This is where you might get a little confused so just remmember to keep track on the Israel bike trail and Follow IBT signs only:

 MG 8997 
Each segment starts with a welcome sign
 stone
blue/white signs marked on rocks or stones
kanaf
'wing' sign
post
A short concrete pillar for every few kilometers

signpost
Signposts are mapped and display on the segment's map

 

Moving around and getting to The trail

 

There are several options to get around the country with your bike:

  • Bus
  • Train
  • Private shuttle

Do keep in mind that all public transportations are not available from Friday afternoon to Saturday evening and during religious holidays.

 

Using the bus

 Israel has a well-developed network of bus lines. You can use the bus to get almost everywhere. Sometimes without even changing bus lines.

In order to get to Israel bike trail trailheads or to get from the trail back, you might find the bus service pretty useful. In each of the segment’s maps we show the locations of the relevant bus stations.

What is written on the bus station?

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https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/4VIsYSkgHYNFc44AcCFP5XOjfy5m_0f593IjGxlB_lh8D71kZ4Usc2hvyZNAkobpnIvDQzb4-E76_e5sNkIPsaZOi5oeTywfp5vILhPR9Kdf2UZ7WNpFCfROZpfJIDT0OJbZN1Ux

The trunk of intercity bus service

Long-distance buses have a large trunk that allows storing the bike.

Basically you can put your bike without dismantling them unless the trunk is already occupied by other passengers’ luggage.

Bicycles are not required for an additional fee.

 

For price, planning and bus stops locations, please use the link: Bus.co.il

Free mobile phone applications: Moovit (Android / IOS )

 

Please note!

Try to avoid using the bus services during Thursdays afternoon, Saturdays evenings and Sundays morning due to heavy loads on public transport lines and therefore well packed bus cargo cells. 

Using the train

Israel Train service is working all week and like all public transportation does not  work from Friday afternoon to Saturday evening and on religious holidays.
Train lanes connect most of the big cities in the north and center of Israel and Beer Sheva in the south.

 

Bicycle policy 

Having bicycles on board, at the designated coaches, is allowed in all lines:

Sunday - Thursday from 09:00 to 15:00 and from 19:00 to 06:00.
Friday - During all operation hours .
Saturday - having bicycle on board is forbidden at all hours.

Bicycle riders are allowed to board the train only to the coach marked with the suitable mark.

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https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-wgvjcCX_4so1I8pzSJLUHPAKT5Y_00wnarsHipUBmbQI8TRqTz6kSffCUaFY_39fmvtFy7xa-4zBQ9jwgiNjkpCek0Xm50UTnIzW8VIoSN7cae3-zmexZwPfSU3v5f19idX4ex_

 No extra fee is needed. To learn more including booking tickets :

 http://www1.rail.co.il/en/Pages/Homepage.aspx

 

Using Private services

 At remote areas where adequate public transportation services are not available, you might find private transportation services at the local communities.

These services are mostly private provided by locals residents who are  reliable trustworthy.

In order to help you locate the relevant service provider, we have listed and mapped some of them.

You are welcome to use the list on the site or turn on the “services” layer on the segment’s map.

Please keep in mind that the cost depends on the travel distance from the picking point to the destination. There are no regulations relevant.

There is also an option of using Taxi services. For those - look for taxi station and do not  forget to mention that you have a bicycle to carry.

 

Food and Water along the trail

 

Food

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Falafel in pita

Israel is well known for its quality and variety of “street food”. Beside restaurants you can find plenty of bars, kiosks, food stalls and convenience stores at gas stations (usually open 24/7).

Supermarkets (groceries) can be found at all places where people live. You should check for openning hours in advance. Common hours are from 8:00 to 19:00

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shawarma

The most known food in Israel are the Hummus, Falafel and Shawarma.

All are very tasty and good for rider’s diet (at the end of the riding day).

It is safe to eat anywhere with no worry.  

Water

In general, Israel provides high quality of water so you can drink straight from the water tap (faucet). Along the southern segments of the trail, water sources are scarce.
Drinking water can be found at gas stations, settlements and any developed site on the way. Jewish cemeteries are also a place where you could find fresh water.

Natural water sources can be found, here and there, but be aware! Most of them are contaminated and are not suitable for drinking.

DO NOT DRINK from any of the rivers along the Mediterranean coast and Zin waddi (south)

We mapped the available drinking water spots along the segments, which are not in obvious places. These are displayed in the segments maps.

 

Security and safety

 

Along the entire trail, as well as in the rest of the cycle routes in the country, there are no security problems whatsoever. To date, no case has been reported of harassment / assault or theft.

The only thefts that were reported were of food bags by wild animals. 

Breaking into cars parked in remote places is a familiar phenomenon and therefore it is recommended not to leave a vehicle in isolated places for long  time. It is recommended to park at supervised places.

 

Cellular

 

In general, Israel is well covered by the cellular network.

Remote places, Mostly in its southern part and especially along wadis (dry river path) are expected to have poor or no signal.

The segment's map shows these poor signal reception areas. Please reffer the relevate map.

 

Accommodation

 

Along Israel bike trail there are all kinds of accommodations, starting from 5-star hotels, hostels, Cabins at every Moshav and Kibbutz (Country Lodging)   to 1,000,000 stars under the Negev sky.

 Camping sites

The most basic option (and the cheapest). Campsites can be just a defined area, marked with a sign (signpost campgrounds) or they could be a part of a big compound. 

Those that will charge night fee will offer showers or even food services (please check first). 

 

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Signpost campsites” near Masada

Khans

 The modern version for Bedouin hospitality camp. Like in the old days, this compound offers logistics services such as sleeping place in a large tent (including mattresses, not including sheets, pillows or blankets). It also includes hot showers, toilets and food services. Khan will also can provide you  a place to set up your own tent.

Khans can offer meals with advance order and usually will not have any food services avilable on site

More information and locations of Khans and campsites are available on the segments maps in the website.


In hostels, Cabins at Moshav or Kibbutz (Country Lodging) it is important to book in advancecamper needs.

חניון בארות
Khan

 Financial stuff

 

In Israel, almost all credit cards are accepted. The use of foreign currency for payment is not possible except at hotels and tourist businesses.

In big cities and mid-size towns,  exchange services can be found. All Cash machines will provide cash in local currency.

There are also cash withdrawal machines (ATM) that are placed throughout the country in a variety of businesses, entertainment sites, retail chains, shopping centers and more.

 

Limited access zones

 

Military zones  

Most of the army's training areas are located at the northern and southern parts of the country. In order to ride those areas you will have to coordinate it in advance.  (not a permit).

In general, Israel bike Trail does not pass through fire zones and except for one segment, where one should notify for its entrance, other sections do not  require any coordination whatsoever.

The training areas are clearly marked and there is no fear of traveling along Israel bike Trail.  

 

Nature reserves

Nature Reserves and National Parks have clear rules regarding cycling. In general, it is allowed to ride only on marked trails.

Riding or walking on an unmarked trail is prohibited!  

Please notice that not all pedestrian paths are allowed for cycling.

Staying in a  nature reserve after day hours (around 17:00) are prohibited.

    

Desert riding in general...

 

We have dedicated an article for that matter, but here are the main tips.

Know your way - It is best to take a guide / escort if you do not have experience riding in the desert.

Day\ Night - The weather tends to be extreme cold at night and hot during the day. Be prepared.

Floods - in the desert, especially during the transitional seasons and winter, there is a good chance of stream floods. Make sure you are  updated regarding the weather forecast before starting the trail.. Ask people on the way.

Local residents – Scorpions and snakes are not rare in the wild. Dangerous encounters are pretty rare. Just be careful, look around and you will be safe. Do not turn over rocks; Pay attention and stay away from burrows.

The sun - In the southern parts of the trail, shaded spots are scarce. Plan your ride in a way you‘ll spend the most of it during the cool hours. Shade spots in the southern trail segments are mapped and can be displayed in the segments’ maps.

Dehydration - One of the common dangers. Always carry enough water (at least 1 litter per 10 km) and make sure to drink at least 3-4 times an hour.  

Hyperthermia\ heat stroke – is also one of the common dangers of riding at hot places.  

Hyperthermia is elevated body temperature that occurs when a body produces or absorbs more heat than it dissipates. It is caused by exposure to excessive heat, or combination of heat and humidity. It has nothing to do with dehydration. Always look for alerting signs such as confusion, red face and disorientation.

 

General facts

 

Cellular networks - Most of the trail segments are covered well by the mobile networks. In case of no signal, try to climb to an elevated point. Usually it works. You can learn more about the coverage from the segment's map.

Navigation - Although the entire path is marked, it is recommended to travel with a printed map as well. A navigation device is also recommended.

Fences - Never cross a fence! When travelling close to the international border (Jordan) - it is forbidden to get off the path.

Emergency calls: 100

For more information it is advised to visit: https://info.goisrael.com/en/

We wish you a pleasant and joyful ride and hope you will have a great experience riding Israel bike Trail.  

 

Ride With the locals

 

Here are some of the most popular riding areas in the country:

 

Alon Hagalil

A well-known MTB trailhead hub for the Galil area. bike shop and friendly staff will be happy to serve. Maps and other logistic services are also available.

http://4x4bike.co.il/index.aspx

 

Ben Shemen forest

The largest MTB area in center of  Israel. This is a nation scale ‘Mecca’ for single tracks enthusiastic riders. On weekends, there are hundreds of riders gathering in this forest.

http://www.eyarok.org.il/bike/maintrip.aspx?id=2

 

Adolam and Britania national park

A vast area of moderate hills and forest, spotted with dozens of archeological sites and man-made caves from the Roman times.

 

Kibutz Be’eri area

More than 120 km of single trials on mild hills topography make this site one of the favorites in the country for all riding levels. The trails are well maintained and planned to maximize the single trail riding thrill.  At the trailhead’s hub there is a nice cafeteria and a professional bike shop.

http://www.lamedavesh.co.il/

 

Sde Boker area

This wide desert area, only an hour and a half drive from Tel Aviv, offers more than 100 km of single tracks. Most of them start and end at the Sde Boker College and field school. In the small commercial center there are several restaurants and one of the biggest bike shop in the area where you can also find bicycle to rent.

http://geofun.co.il/?lang=en

 

Timna Park

Located not far from Eilat city, Timna National park offers beautiful scenery, interesting geological phenomena and archaeological sites, all connected by bicycle trails and park roads. There are also many activities for the whole family to enjoy.

http://www.parktimna.co.il/EN/

Two additional useful sites:

Israel Hiking map (hebrew):

https://israelhiking.osm.org.il

 

See ya!

Noam