Running the length of the state of Israel, the Israel National Trail (INT) is 1,030 kilometers or 640 miles long. It The Trail offers views of the kaleidoscope of modern Israeli society. The landscape, traditions, religions, cultures and outstanding natural vistas of this compact, complex country come into view step by step. It’s an unforgettable experience.
The trail begins in Kibbutz Dan in northern Israel. It passes through the Galilee, the Carmel region, along the Mediterranean coastline, Tel Aviv, Ayalon Valley, the Judean lowlands, archaeological sites at Bet Guvrin, the Negev wildernesses, the limestone and sandstone of the Ramon Crater, and through the Eilat Mountains. It ends at the Eilat Field School on the Red Sea.
The INT was named one of the world’s 20 best hikes by National Geographic. It was given “Epic Trail” status in 2012.
Walking the entire trail takes 6-8 weeks. However, during the weekends and holidays as recreation, thousands of Israeli groups tackle a section of the Israel Trail, hiking once a month or so, until they complete the entire trail within two years.
The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) provides helpful trail markers and blazes for trekkers so it’s difficult to get lost. The trail is marked with white, blue and orange colors. The white symbolizes the Hermon Mountain (the highest point in Israel). The orange symbolizes the Negev area of the desert, and the Blue marks the Israeli flag. The trail is marked all the way in orange, blue and white. The "up" color points the direction. White up is north, orange up south.
But Trail markers are not the only way INT trekkers get assistance on their journey. Malach Shvil, Trail Angels, is a firm tradition and a bonafide relief to exhausted hikers.
Hiking is a national pastime. It is seen as a way of deepening identification with the land of Israel. Children often begin overnight hikes in elementary school, and continue with longer hikes during school vacations with scouting groups. Families create hiking groups, banding together to spend weekends picnicking and enjoying nature together.
Trail Angels stepped in to fill a void in this deeply-rooted cultural activity. While the trail wends through some of the most gorgeous scenery in the Middle East, facilities to re-supply, freshen up, and sleep in bug-free conditions are few and far between.
Trail Angels offer accommodations from bedrooms or sofas in private homes to rooms in kibbutzim and field schools, to a spot on the lawn for a sleeping bag. Some Trail Angels may make their kitchen, washing machine, or a Wi-Fi connection available to guests. They may offer a meal and a shower, a chance to re-charge cell phone batteries, and they act as a source of news and information about the region. In medical emergencies Trail Angels have activated the network to aid hikers.
A number of websites and apps of varying quality are available.
We recommend this good introduction to the issues facing INT hikers.
This is the only valid list of Trail Angels in English.
This list is maintained by the Trail Angels themselves, and is updated frequently.
Avihai Tsabari and his team.
ViaSabra is your insider’s guide to traveling in Israel. We’ve been down the trail before, and are eager to share the adventure with you.
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Trail Angels exemplify a special quality about Israelis; they are naturally generous and thoughtful. Warm hospitality is part of the culture.
We are happy to share our favorite tips to help you see Israel through the eyes of a native – the Via Sabra way.