Alon HaGalil Bicycle Trail

A classic Galilee route amid green landscapes, suitable for cyclists at the intermediate level.



Geographic location: Sea of Galilee, the valleys and lower Galilee
Track type: 2
Target audience: All
Difficulty: Medium cycling
Track length: 20 km
Season: Spring
 
Before setting out we recommend that you call KKL-JNF’s Forest Hotline (Kav LaYaar) at 1-800-350-550 or email moked1@kkl.org.il for any updates, such as closures due to extreme weather and any information that may be relevant to your route.
 

For your information

Riding direction:          Circular, anti-clockwise
Cumulative ascent:      400 m
Cumulative descent:    370 m
Points of interest:        Wildflowers, forest

How to get there

Turn left (southwards) two hundred meters to the west of HaMovil Junction, and head towards Moshav Alon HaGalil. At the end of the ascent, before a small gas station, turn right (westwards), continue for about 200 meters, then turn left to the Alon HaGalil All-Terrain Center. There you can park and read the sign that tells you everything you need to know about the new local single-track cycle trail.

About the route

As the Israeli property bubble grows and swells and every square meter of land becomes harder and harder to obtain, in a parallel universe inhabited by energetic pedalers, the inhabitants enjoy, completely free of charge, whole kilometers of ground spread out before them in the form of narrow paths between hills and rocks, streams and valleys. 
 
The Alon HaGalil single-track forms part of the large network of single-track cycle trails through the forests of Nahal Tzippori, which includes Resh Lakish, Hoshaya, Shimshit, Timrat, HaSolelim and Givat Elah. All these trails occupy the same large expanse of ground, enabling cyclists to choose whether to follow a comparatively short route or a longer one that encompasses all the available trails up to a combined length of over 100 kilometers. The Alon HaGalil trail itself offers two different options – longer and shorter – and you can decide for yourself which you prefer. The version presented here is the longer one.

Before setting out

This trail is best not used on rainy days or immediately after rain, as cycling on it will damage the structure of the soil, and some of the rock passages will be slippery and hazardous. Please also bear in mind that the route passes through Moshav Alon HaGalil’s grazing lands, so keep well away from the sheep.

A cyclist's description of the route

The short version of the Alon HaGalil Single-Track was constructed in 2009. Since then it has been extended, and another eleven or so kilometers have been added to the existing ten, making it suitable for a whole day’s ride. Dror from the Alon HaGalil All-Terrain Center took us out for an introductory spin along the track in its new long form, told us about the changes and helped us fall in love with it all over again. This renewed encounter with the track made me realize once more that the right combination of KKL-JNF and private initiative is the best possible recipe for the creation of single-tracks and for turning dotted lines into artistry on the ground – all within a gestation period of just over nine months (we’ll get back to the birth process later on).

The ride starts out as usual at the Alon HaGalil All-Terrain Center, and we pedal energetically along the good old familiar single-track. As we go, Dror gives me an update and tells me that some of the nice interesting rocks that used to lie peacefully on the first section of the track have undergone relocation, or, more accurately, a change of phase… I receive the news with mixed feelings. We pass the Hatzavim wine press, the HaMasmer HaBriti site and Givat HaTzahiah hill, before coasting down a fast double-track to a patch of forest where the longed-for turnoff finally occurs: a wooden KKL-JNF signpost informs us that we need to turn right at the fork for the original Alon HaGalil Single Track and keep straight on towards Harduf for the new track. A short wooded stretch links us to the double-track, and from there a faithful old boulder marked in yellow and black directs us uphill along an open path that enters the woodland and snakes around among the trees at respectable angles of elevation.

The dry soil provides only limited friction and the uphill switchbacks start to present a challenge. Dror is cycling ahead of me, and I can’t see him, but I can hear him shouting among the trees: “Push, push, as if you were giving birth…” I smile to myself, accept the recommendation (he seems to know what he’s talking about) and manage to avoid putting foot to ground in the first section. The ascent is not an easy one, but it’s certainly logically planned, with a gentler stretch immediately after each exhausting one, so there’s no time for resentment to build up. On rainy days there’s the option of taking the scenic route that the locals call Fitness Rise (Hebrew: Maaleh Kosher) because of its uncompromising angles.

The single-track continues through wooded areas, some of which belong to Tzippori Forest, and it’s doubtful we’d have been able to access them even just a few weeks ago. On one stretch of the path, pruned branches are still visible along the sides, and it’s obvious that a lot of effort has been put into carving out this trail. I interrogate Dror as to how decisions about the precise route of the track are made, and he explains that at the planning stage most of the work is done on foot, then the bicycles are brought in and the stretch is alternately walked and ridden until the proper route takes shape. There are also cases in which, after several days’ work, it becomes clear that the result is unsatisfactory and then it’s “back to the drawing board” to carve out a new stretch. At the northwestern point of the single-track we come very close to the Adi-Harduf Ring Road, and this is also the point at which the trail begins to make its way back towards Alon HaGalil, and here, too, another KKL-JNF marker post pops into sight.

Ahead of us are enjoyable and shady stretches of downhill cycling with flowing switchbacks and occasional glimpses of the landscape between the trees. A drop of rain would do the degraded sections of the route good, and it wouldn’t do us any harm either. When we finish with the downhill stretches we find ourselves once more in Wadi Rimonim (“Pomegranate Gully”), which is also known as Umm Hamid. Along the fun and flowing run downhill to Ein Umm Hamid, lots of work has gone into the construction of amazing benches from tree trunks, the likes of which we normally only see on trails overseas. Here we need to cross the gully, and also a small stream with a bridge across it, in order to reach the point where this trail joins up with the original Alon HaGalil Single Track.

This crossing was a real headache for the trail planners, as it is situated between areas of farmland, and it wasn’t clear if permission would be granted to cross there. Dror and Aviezer explain that a solution was found after KKL-JNF pored over maps from the Ottoman era and discovered that the area in question includes a sort of narrow corridor just a few meters wide that belongs to the State – what the Turks called matruka, i.e., a public right of way. This allowed the trail to cross Wadi Rimonim, and the Kishon Drainage Authority built a bridge at the site, much like the one on the Shimshit Single-Track. From Wadi Rimonim we join up with the original single-track. Another brief ascent and we’re almost at the enjoyable coast down to the All-Terrain Center, where we close the circle.

This addition to the single-track, the section that makes it longer, is a genuine upgrade. What’s more, it makes the route independent and worth cycling on its own: 21 kilometers with 480 meters of cumulative ascent. Those hungry for a challenge can combine the Alon HaGalil route with the Shimshit Single-Track by riding south and north to Kibbutz HaSolelim and thus complete a respectable epic route of 43 kilometers with over 800 meters of cumulative ascent, all mainly on single-tracks.

Our thanks are due to…

The extended Alon HaGalil Single-Track is the result of a welcome collaboration between the staff of two KKL-JNF regions – Western Galilee, under the direction of Michael Weinberger, and Lower Galilee, under the direction of Gili Atzmon, – and Dror and Shlomo of the Alon HaGalil All-Terrain Center. Part of the actual construction work was done by children of KKL-JNF employees who came for the second year running for a week of concentrated work over the summer holidays, contributing many hours of toil out in the field. Young cyclists from the Alon HaGalil All-Terrain Center also devoted a great deal of time and energy to carving out the path. Yoav Bahat and Rami Gold were responsible for checking into ways and means and planning the path’s corridor, and the Kishon Drainage Authority was responsible for the construction of the bridge in Wadi Rimonim.

Credit

Article:    Orit Barnea
Photos:   Yoav Lavie, Orit Barnea, Shahar Paianas, Dror Artzi, Alon-Ha Galil All-Terrain Center
Updated: 20.9.15
 
Translated from the original Hebrew on KKL-JNF's eYarok cycling website