Biker in Ben Shemen Forest 311.
(photo credit: Yossi Zamir)
The Jewish National Fund opened a NIS 1 million, 32- kilometer, dual-path bike
trail on Monday that winds through the western portion of the Ben Shemen Forest
and continues on through the Modi’in area, the organization announced on
Recognizing the increased popularity the sport has taken on
among the Israeli public, JNF was aiming to respond to the high demand while
continuing to protect nature by launching these paths, according to the group.
The bike route begins with the 10 km., circular Herzl trail, an intermediate
level riding path that goes through ancient Cyprus Pine forest of Ben Shemen.
After about seven kilometers, the Herzl trail connects to the 25 km. circular
Anava trail – creating one of the longest continuous bike paths in Israel, a
release from JNF said.
During the Anava portion of the route, bikers are
able to see historical and archeological sites like Tel Gamzo and the Monks
Valley, as well as stop at various lookout points over Modi’in.
trails were designed by architect Otto Friedman, who specializes in planning
bike paths, and was supervised by bike trail constructor Doron Emetz. The first
trail received the name Herzl in honor of the first forest ever planted by JNF,
the organization said.
“There is no better time than today, Hanukka, Rosh
Hodesh, to inaugurate this biking trail that runs through the ancient olive
presses that probably produced the oil for the temple,” said JNF World Chairman
Efi Stenzler at the Monday launch, according to a statement released by his
office. “JNF is 110 years old today and is focusing on the establishment of
biking trails throughout Israel. I invite you to ride safely and enjoy the
Yotam Avizohar, director of the NGO Israel for Bikes,
praised JNF for opening the new path.
“JNF is doing a very great job by
opening the forests to cyclists,” he told The Jerusalem Post
, noting that his
organization has been working directly with JNF on the project.
increased presence of bikers in the woods will mean an increased public
awareness about the forest in general, and will discourage people from littering
or committing acts of vandalism, according to Avizohar.
“It’s really good
for the forest because usually bikers are equipped with cellular phones or GPS,”
he said. “They’re like the JNF’s eyes in the forest.”
by making the trails in specific portions of the forests, JNF is succeeding in
preventing bikers from off-roading in other areas, where plant and animal life
might be more sensitive, he explained.
While Israel for Bikes also works
with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) in a similar way that is does
with JNF, Avizohar said that the latter is not quite as “progressive” as the
former and has been less willing to establish bike paths within nature reserves
due to the vulnerable species that reside there, according to Avizohar. However,
within the past year, the INPA has opened five different bike paths in national
reserves and is also in the process of establishing a national Israel Bike
Trail, he said.
“When people are not allowed to cycle anywhere in a
reserve, it’s Israel – unfortunately, sometimes people ride everywhere,” he