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.