Stretch of Israel Trail restructured due to cliff erosion

Alternate route replaces cliffside portion of trail overlooking Hof HaSharon between Herzliya and Netanya.

Hikers on the Israel National Trail521 (photo credit: Abra Cohen )
Hikers on the Israel National Trail521
(photo credit: Abra Cohen )
A dangerous cliff-side portion of the Israel Trail that overlooks Hof Hasharon has been replaced with an alternate route due the safety hazards posed by ongoing erosion, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority announced on Sunday.
The area in question is the coastal escarpment strip found between Herzliya and Netanya, composed of kurkar – aeolianite rock formed by the lithification of sediment. Rather than trekking the approximately 25 beachside kilometers from the northern tip of Herzliya to Hof Hayarok in Netanya, Israel Trail hikers will from now on follow a more inland route.
Restructuring this segment of the the trail was a collaboration between officials from INPA and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, the latter of which administers the trail itself.
“This natural erosion is now in a state which is hazardous to travelers – people who walk on the base and head of the cliff,” Uri Naveh, deputy director of INPA’s central district, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
Unlike limestone, which is the residue of aquatic environments, kurkar is made of fossilized coastal sand dunes, a young rock from the Ice Age era, Naveh explained.
“It’s quite weak,” he said.
The kurkar cliffs along the Mediterranean coast are undergoing a combination of natural and man-made erosion. Artificial structures like marinas and ports create an obstacle to sand that would otherwise move north from the Nile Delta – sand that is able to protect the base of the cliffs against the power of ocean waves, according to Naveh.
In restructuring this portion of the Israel Trail, Naveh said that officials aimed to keep the trail “as interesting as possible,” if not more interesting than the repetitive beachside stretch that existed in the past.
Now, travelers will walk a bit eastward and inland from Arsuf Kedem to Shefayim, then walking along Poleg Stream and continuing through the Poleg Nature Reserve alongside but a bit set back from the coast. Near the Wingate Institute they will proceed eastward once again, returning only to the coastline near Hof Hayarok in Netanya.
While doing so is not technically illegal, Naveh warned that people walking at either base or top of the cliffs in Hof Hasharon are putting themselves in severe danger.
“It’s not safe – it’s like playing some kind of Russian Roulette because the cliffs can collapse at any sudden point, which is not predictable,” Naveh said.
A daytime trip to the Hof Hasharon cliff-side beaches is certainly not recommended, but staying there in a tent for the night “is playing with fire,” Naveh warned.
About 10 years ago, a young woman spending time at a beach under one of these cliffs was crippled in a landslide, he added.
“The rate of the landslides that is happening is alarmingly frequent,” Naveh said.
In addition to marking the new trail, officials will issue the next version of the Israel Trail map with the changes, he explained.
While using the old route might technically be legal, Naveh stressed how critical it is that all hikers travel on the new path.
SPNI workers have finished marking the new trail, a spokesman for the organization said.