The Israel National Trail (INT) is called the Shvil Yisrael in Hebrew and is a hiking trail that
runs the total length of Israel from its northernmost border to its border in the south. It traverses a wide range of
landscapes, a rich variety of flora and fauna, and a diversity of cultures.
The trail stretches all the way from Kibbutz Dan, near the Israel-Lebanon border, to Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba. It was
named by National Geographic as one of the 20 best "epic hiking trails" in the world. Although the driving distance between
Kibbutz Dan and Eilat is around 300 miles, the Israel National Trail is about 680 miles long since it wanders back and
forth to take in as many points of interest as possible. The exact length also changes periodically as the Israel Trails
Committee makes minor changes to the route in various locations from time to time.
The trail is marked with three stripes (white, blue, and orange), and hiking the entire trail takes an average of 45-60
days to complete. Most hikers do the trail in small sections – anywhere from part of a day to the full two months. Even if
one doesn’t hike the trail, there’s a good chance one will come across a white, blue, and orange trail marker, as I have,
when exploring Israel’s unique outdoor scenery.
The Israel National Trail has been listed in National Geographic's 20 most "epic trails." It is described as a trail that
"delves into the grand scale of biblical landscapes as well as the everyday lives of the modern Israeli."
The trail is the brainchild of Avraham Tamir a journalist and hiker who hiked the Appalachian Trail
in the late 70's and Ori Dvir, hiker, educator and one of the founders of The Society for Protection of Nature in Israel
(SPNI). The Israel National Trail was officially inaugurated by then President of Israel, Ezer Weizmann in 1994. One of its
purposes is to give Israelis a way to experience the entire breadth of the land firsthand. Various sections of the trail were
added progressively during its development.
In 2003 a portion of the trail was diverted from the Sharon region of Israel and now runs along the Mediterranean coast.
The reasons for the change were the development of Highway 6, avoiding the security risk of walking along the Green Line
and the desire to add sections of the trail with urban and sea views.
In addition to hiking along the trail, other options have developed since the trail was first inaugurated: There are now
special sections for cyclists and for all-terrain vehicles. An Israel Bike Trail is under construction.
Israel is very proud of this trail and the SPNI estimates that hundreds of thousands of hikers have already walked along it –
both Israelis and tourists from abroad. In addition to individuals and groups using the trail, often special marches are
organized for different environmental or social causes – such as marches for increasing the awareness of the need to find
a cure for ALS, marches in memory of fallen soldiers, or even bachelor parties in the form of a joint hike.
Shown below are a map of the Israel National Trail along with photographs that were taken along the trail.