Stepping Out on the New Jerusalem Bike Trail

by Brian on October 5, 2012

in Travel

I’ve never been a cyclist, but after seeing some of the incredible bike trail ringing Jerusalem, I think I’m might just have to take up the sport.

Every year, during the intermediary days of the Sukkot holiday, the city sponsors the Tzada’at Yerushalayim – translated as roughly “Jerusalem Steps”(or perhaps better “Jerusalem March”  – a series of hikes and parades around the town and the surrounding hills.

This year, my family and I trekked the 15-kilometer route from the “Porcupine Park” (named for the rodent shaped structure at its center) in Ramot, through the Arazim Valley (which parallels the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway), continuing into the Motza Valley, until climbing the steps of the picturesque village of Ein Kerem and up the long hill to Mount Herzl. The trek officially winds through the city to Sacher Park for a family “happening” but, after ice cream at the Herzl cemetery, we caught a bus back to our car and returned home. The hike in total, with a few stops for snacks, took us 3.5 hours.

The route itself is gorgeous – trekking through scenery we usually only glimpse while on the ascent into Jerusalem – but what was most inspiring was the bike path. The route is eventually planned to ring the city – after leaving the Motza section, the bike trail heads up to Sataf, then through the Refaim Valley, past the Zoo, onto the new train track park that winds from Teddy Stadium into Baka and then round the Old City. All told, it will include an incredible 43 kilometers of cycling heaven.

The bike trail is part of an even larger project to connect four independent nature areas into a single 3,700 acre “Park Yerushalayim” (in English: the “Jerusalem Park.” You can read a full description here.

The new 5-kilometer section in the Motza Valley shown in the picture above was so new (it was just dedicated two weeks ago) that you could still smell the freshly laid asphalt.

The JNF has embarked in recent years on a project to create many more bike trails around the country. But as far as I’m concerned, such an ambitious route, so close to Jerusalem but with much of it on far-flung byways and hidden hills, should be a major draw for cyclists from all over Israel. As I said, I’m not a biker…yet. But this trail may get me pedaling soon.

I blogged about hiking the trail on Israelity.

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