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February 24, 2022

Israel National Trail

Diana Barshaw (Haifagreen)  Public DomainIsrael National Trail (Wadi Dishon in Northern Israel)

Diana Barshaw (Haifagreen)  Public Domain
Israel National Trail (Wadi Dishon in Northern Israel)

Israel National Trail Route

Officially inaugurated in 1995, the Israel National Trail is a continuous hiking trail stretching over 950 km. It starts from Beit Usishkin near Kibbutz Dan in the north, crosses through the hilly Upper Galilee, and descends to the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Next, it heads for the Mediterranean coast, making its way through Netanya and north Tel Aviv before heading inland towards Jerusalem. It stops short of the Holy City, bending back out to the southeast near Even Sapir, and then, after reaching Ahuzam near Kiryat Gat, winds back southeast towards Arad. From there, the long desert trek begins in earnest, passing the crater at Mitzpe Ramon before ending up at the Taba border crossing on the Red Sea shore near Eilat.

You can walk any section of the Israel National Trail by itself, with many of the sections compact enough to complete in a day or two. Alternatively, rise to the challenge of completing the entire course, which could take between 35 to 50 days. You can go from north to south or vice versa, the trail being marked clearly with blue, white and orange markings. Don’t expect to cover more than 20-25 km a day when you start off, giving yourself time to build up enough stamina for the whole walk.

Yuvalr  CC BY-SA 3.0View from Makhtesh Gadol's Southern

Yuvalr  CC BY-SA 3.0
View from Makhtesh Gadol’s Southern “Ribs”, AKA “Hakarbolet”

Israel National Trail Terrain

The trail traverses extremely diverse environments, ranging from the barren deserts and craters of the Negev to the urban areas of the coastal plain, the lush valleys of the Galilee, and the peaks and waterfalls of the north. Traversing the entire Israel National Trail is suitable for experienced hikers, but if you not one, don’t let that intimidate you; many sections are suitable for families looking for a pleasant day out.

The trail is completely safe to hike, being frequented by tens of thousands of visitors every year.  However, it’s important to check the terrain of any particular section before assuming that children can manage the hike. Contact the Israel Trail Committee by email: or by phone (from 9 am to 3 pm Israel time, Sunday to Thursday): 972-3-638-8719/20 for more details. The Committee also gives briefings on hiking the trail every two weeks, for which you can sign up remotely. At these briefings you can also buy their detailed hiking maps at a discounted price.

Twinkletoez  CC BY 2.0 Israel National Trail: Israeli Side of the Taba Border Crossing

Twinkletoez  CC BY 2.0
Israeli Side of the Taba Border Crossing

Israel National Trail Seasons

The winter nights can be extremely cold in the Negev Desert, while snow is not uncommon in the northern section of the Israel National Trail. High summer temperatures are the norm in all parts of the country.  If you plan to walk the entire trail, the best time of year to do so is from February to April or from October to November, when the weather is mild, although you can expect rain in the north even at these times of year. In order to experience Israel’s natural beauty at its peak, set off in February. By the end of a rainy winter the greenery will have been renewed in the central and northern parts of the country.

In many parts of the trail water is readily available, but in the southern section, from Arad to Eilat, water is not so easy to come by.  It’s advisable to print out and take along a list of “Trail Angels,” people who live close to remote sections of the trail who regularly help hikers by allowing them to take showers, refresh and recharge.

Israel National Trail: Did You Know?

The first person to walk the entire trail was Yariv Ya’ari, who in 1994 managed to traverse the entire 950 km in only 21 days!

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