The view from Apollonia National Park, one of the trails tailored for disabled access and families.
(photo credit: YAAKOV SKOLNIK)
Spanning the country’s northernmost to southernmost tips, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority has launched 50 new or improved hiking paths for members of all population segments to enjoy.
The paths are divided into four categories: those tailored for families, those meant for hikers, those for cycling and 4x4 travel and those accessible to people with disabilities, the INPA said. All of the routes are set to be inaugurated during Nature Conservation Week, which will be celebrated on the weekends of February 27 and March 6.
“The celebration of the 50 didn’t come suddenly,” INPA director-general Shaul Goldstein told journalists, at a launch meeting for the paths held at Tel Afek National Park on Monday morning.
Goldstein stressed that the development of the paths has been part of “a very long and involved process” that the INPA has adopted in recent years. Every year, about 18 million travelers visit the country’s parks and nature reserves, and “renewing, refreshing and adapting to the challenges of the coming decades” is crucial, Goldstein said in a statement prior to the launch.
Among the most prominent of the new paths is the Ramon Route Colors, a trekking site located within the Matzok Hatzinim Nature Reserve in the southern Negev Desert.
Formerly riddled with quarries and mines, the reserve and path have undergone extensive rehabilitation by the INPA and the country’s Quarry Rehabilitation Fund. Due to the mining projects, which ceased at the beginning of the millennium, the area is marked by huge holes – many of which have a depth of dozens of meters, the INPA said. While the park planned for the area is not yet complete, visitors can drive along the main road next to it and take in the many types of geological formations.
Another of the new paths is located within the Har Adir Nature Reserve in the Galilee – a track through an evergreen forest overlooking the entire Galilee and southern Lebanon. With the help of Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund, the INPA established an observatory with an expansive terrace on the mountain, which towers at about 1,008 meters above sea level, the INPA said.
One of the paths that is accessible to disabled visitors as well as families is the revamped route within Apollonia National Park, sandwiched between Herzliya and Netanya.
Some of the other new and rehabilitated paths that are handicapped-accessible include the Nahal David Route in Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, the water path at Nahal Snir Nature Reserve, the Nahal Yehuda Route in Yehuda Forest Nature Reserve and the Nabatean Cities Splendor Route in Avdat National Park.
Descriptions of all the new paths, as well as maps identifying their precise locations, are available in Hebrew at the INPA’s website, parks.org.il.
Besides launching the hiking tracks, the INPA is also celebrating its rebranding, which has been the result of a two-year process. First and foremost, the new INPA is embracing nature, landscape and heritage, Goldstein explained.
The new vision of the INPA includes a comprehensive policy document, which is being transparently published online for public consumption, Goldstein said.
While the INPA is rejuvenating its operations and has updated its logo in the process, the authority is sticking with the ibex as its central symbol, as the ibex is the animal perhaps most identified with the Land of Israel. The new logo includes an ibex whose horn resembles a Roman arch, to create a sense of continuity and combine the natural world with cultural heritage – what the INPA describes as its cornerstone values.
Ultimately, the rebranded INPA aims to make members of the public aware of what is available to them outdoors, giving them an incentive to love nature, Goldstein explained.
“Our slogan is the connection between people and nature,” he added.