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near Tokhnit Lamed, Tel Aviv (Israel)
The section of the Israel National Trail (Shvil Israel) from Tel Aviv to Dan includes extensive beaches, forests, rolling hills, meandering rivers and agricultural land. There are many historic and archaeological sites especially with a side trip to Nazareth. I have documented the trip in my blog (https://johnponint.blogspot.com/2020/03/tel-aviv-to-natanya-poleg-on-israel.html), and attached is the route I walked, including diversions off trail to collect groceries, for accommodation and to visit ancient remains. Sadly I was only able to reach the town of Migdal, by the Sea of Galilee, before I had to abandon my trip due to the Coronavirus pandemic, however I include the last 100 kilometres of the trail to Dan for completeness. This is part 4 of my route, part 3 is at https://www.wikiloc.com/hiking-trails/israel-national-trail-part-3-arad-to-tel-aviv-48175384.
If you are thinking of walking the Israel National Trail buy the guidebook ("Israel National Trail: Hike the land of Israel" available from amazon.co.uk). With detailed maps it assists navigation and gives the background on sights you pass, without which you will miss the significance of some heap of stones.
Caeserea was a town built beside the sea with a great harbour by King Herod in Roman times of which extensive ruins remain, including an amphitheatre, a palace, an arena, a bath house and a villa. There is also a later Crusader fortress on the site.
A village full of sculptures, often unusual, and artists. I also found a welcome cup of coffee
Mount Tabor is a distinctive, symmetrical mountain, standing isolated on a plain. After climbing its steep slopes you reach a Greek Orthodox monastery and the Church of the Transfiguration on the summit, closed when I passed. There are also ruins from previous eras.
At this point the trail crosses a stream which would be small or dry in summer, but after heavy rain it was a fast flowing river. I was forced to cross at an easier location downstream.
This would have been a good place to wild camp among the eucalyptus trees despite the proximity of urban areas, but I had already booked a hotel.
The old mill is not open to the public. Nearby I had to cross a river swollen by recent heavy rain, the water came up to the bottom of my shorts.
The remains of a Byzantine villa are at this location plus an old wine and olive oil press, and an older threshing floor. Nearby are good views towards the Mediterranean Sea.
Netanya is a big town on the coast. Independence square has street cafes, shops and a French air.
A Nature Reserve for wild iris that grow on the dunes by the sea in front of city tower blocks. The iris are all a deep purple colour.
The Israel National Trail passes through the town on Mash'Had, north of Nazareth. This waypoint marks where the stop is to catch buses into Nazareth, which is well worth a side trip.
Sadly this is the village where I ended my trip. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic I was advised to return to the UK while there were still flights. A little before the village is a challenging climb down the side of a cliff.
This Nature Reserve is mainly notable for the view down towards the Sea of Galilee, rather hidden by the haze when I visited.
A nature reserve for a type of wild iris, close to the settlement of Mount Jona.
At the top of Mount Devora there is a monument to commemorate the Silver Wedding of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip. It states that the Jewish communities of Britain and Ireland paid for the planting of the surrounding "Royal Forest".
At this Nature Reserve there are caves where there is evidence of human activity in prehistoric times. The place was closed when I arrived, but I camped beside the car park. Each side of the reserve the Trail is pretty rough.
The old route of the Israel National Trail has now been blocked by a fence at Sdot Yam, so I just walked through the kibbutz. I later discovered there was a diversion before the settlement, which starts at this waypoint. See https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/israeltrail/viewtopic.php?p=2708#p2708 .
This is a late 19th century Ottoman building used by customs officers. It sits on a hill above a river.
This waypoint lies on the correct route of the Israel National Trail, but when I reached it, the path had been washed away by the river, swollen by recent heavy rain. Consequently I diverted as indicated by this gpx track, climbing up to a higher path above a fenced off area.
A coal fired power station with a long jetty for ships to unload their coal. In front of this industrial building is a park beside a river which the trail crosses on an architectural bridge.
The Israel National Trail crosses the river here and also follows it under the railway. After some heavy rain it looked too deep for me to attempt, so I took a lengthy diversion as indicated by the gpx track. Not without interest, the diversion passed an abandoned quarry, the railway trucks still waiting to be filled.
This site, also called Apollonia, includes a Roman villa and a Crusader fortress.
As you leave Tel Aviv on the Israel National Trail you pass a 1930's lighthouse and power station as you walk along the promenade with the morning joggers.
This was a little park, with an observation tower. In the river there were some large catfish and a small and large turtle.
When I walked this part of the trail in March, there were a number of places where water covered the route forcing a detour.
At this location you can be baptised in the River Jordan. When I visited there were no baptisms due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but the shop selling refreshments and souvenirs was open. On the walls was a quote from the Bible in numerous languages.