Note: On any day, riders can choose one of two options: Bogrim and Shoafim. Bogrim (from the Hebrew word for mature) will ride a full day covering approximately 250 miles (400 km) over the five days. Shoafim (from the Hebrew for aspiration) will experience both cycling and touring. Most days, they will ride in the morning, and after lunch travel by bus with a dedicated tour guide to explore the cultural and historical sites in Israel which are near our route.
Bogrim Option Distance: 70 km (43.4 miles); Elevation Gain: 1134 m (3720 ft)
Shoafim Option Distance: 49 km (30.38 miles); Elevation Gain: 746 m (2447 ft)
After breakfast we will be transported to the ancient and modern “capital” of the Golan Heights, Katzrin. We start our ride heading south toward the Mapalim Junction and will pass a number of important sites of interest along the way, including: ancient Gamla (which we will visit on foot on Tuesday), the Golan Heights’ central water reservoirs, and a few of the Golan’s communities and riverbeds. We then start our ascent northeast passing a lookout that allows us to better appreciate the geo-strategic significance of the Golan and gives us an understanding of the battle stories of the Yom Kippur war, including Tel Saki. We will do some climbing as we ride north up to the Bashan Junction and Alonei HaBashan (the easternmost settlement in Israel). We will also have the opportunity to cycle through the crater of the Mt. Avital volcano north to Mt. Bental. Those who wish can ride the steep climb to the bunker at the top of the mountain; others can take the bus. The end the day will offer a stunning view of Mt. Hermon and a look into Syrian territory before we descend Mt. Bental and make our way next door to Kibbutz Merom Golan.
Katzrin old synagogue / Road 9088 (south) / Katzrin junc. (south) / Road 87 (east) / Mapalim junc./ Road 808 (south) / Dalyot junc. / Road 808 (south) / Magshimim junc. / Road 98 (north) / Tel Saki / Ha Bashan junc. / Road 98 (north) / Aloney ha Bashan / Zivan junc. / Avital crater / Mt. Bental / Merom Golan
Bogrim Option – Distance: 94.9 km (58.8 miles); Elevation Gain: 1600 m (5400 ft)
Shoafim Option – Distance: 73.2 km (45.4 miles); Elevation Gain: 609 m (2000 ft)
On our second day we turn west from Merom Golan, passing the Odem forest as we ascend northward toward the Druze villages of Mas’adeh and Majdel Shams, heading toward Israel’s highest point, Mt. Hermon. There, the Bogrim riders will have the opportunity to climb its peak (about a 700 m [2300 ft]-climb), while the Shoafim have an opportunity for touring in the area. From there we turn south and then west passing Neve Ativ with a bird’s eye-view of Nimrod’s Fortress. As we make our way out of the Golan and into the Upper Galil, our descent will provide a sense of the geology of the once-volcanic Heights as we pass basalt and limestone as well as the tributaries of the Jordan River. As we ride further south, we are treated to a scenic view of the Galil. We will continue south toward the Hula Valley, where we will stop to experience the modern bird sanctuary at Agmon HaHula (Hula pond), ride its dedicated bike paths, and learn the story of the Hula’s transformation from swamp, to dry valley, to modern nature reserve. From there we will cycle north to the kibbutz at Kfar Giladi where we will be staying overnight. Riders wishing to be transported to the kibbutz (the Shoafim will have covered 46.6 miles at this point) will have that option.
Merom Golan / Road 959 (west) / Emir junc. / Road 978 (north) / Odem junc. / Mas’ade / Road 98 (north) / Majdel Shams / Road 98 (north) / Mt. Hermon /Road 98 (south)/ Road 989 (west) / Neve Ativ / Road 989 (west) / Sa’ar junc. / Road 99 (west) / Horshat Tal junc. / Road 918 (south) / Lehavot ha Bashan junc. / Road 977 (west) / Gome junc. / Road 90 (south) / Agmon HaHula / Road 90 (north) / Road 9977 (east) / Kfar Giladi
Bogrim Option – Distance: 72 km (44.6 miles); Elevation Gain: 2283 m (7490 ft)
Shoafim Option – Distance: 48 km (29.8 miles); Elevation Gain: 1315 m (4315 ft)
The residents of the Upper Galil face the challenges living on the Lebanese border. Our own challenge for the day – which pales in comparison – is cycling the steep ridges of Ramot Naftali. Of course, we also experience the beauty of the area first hand, as we ride first southward and then westward along the border—sometimes for long stretches of plateaus, and sometimes through rolling hills. Our ride through the Galil brings us to the Yesha Fortress for a break, and then on to the 2nd Century CE synagogue at Baram, where we break for a physical refresher (lunch), and a spiritual one (Minha). Eat heartily at lunch, as we will soon begin burning off those calories as we cycle toward Kibbutz Sasa and then to the moderate (but nevertheless long) climb to our second highest peak— Mt Meron (3963 ft). As the day unwinds, we descend to the Druze village of Horfesh and then to the Hosen Junction before arriving at our hotel in Maalot.
Kfar Giladi / Road 9977 (west) / Road 886 (south) / Margalyot / Yiftach / Road 886 (south) / Yesha Fortress / Road 899 (west) / Road 8967 (west) / Bar’am (lunch) / Road 899 (west) / Hiram junc./ Road 89 (west) / Mt. Meron / Road 89 (west) / Horfesh / Road 89 (west) / Hosen junc. (43.5 miles) / Optional circle to Tefen (56 miles) / Ma’alot
Bogrim Distance: Part 1: 68.3 km, (42.3 miles); Part 2: 23 km (14 miles)
Bogrim Elevation Gain: Part 1: 1115 m (3650 ft); Part 2: 245 m (804 ft)
Shoafim Distance: Part 1: 49.3 km (30.6 miles); Part 2: 23 km (14 miles)
Shoafim Elevation Gain: Part 1: TBD; Part 2: 245 m (804 ft)
Our fourth day we descend from the Upper to the Lower Galil. Traveling southeast, we are treated to views of the Mediterranean Sea and of Haifa to the west, the Kinneret Sea and the Golan Heights to the east, and Mt. Tabor to the south. After we cross the Karmiel Junction, we continue to the Yuvalim Junction and climb along the ridges of Yodfat toward Kibbutz Hannaton. Following lunch and a meeting with members of the reestablished Masorti community there, we will take the bus to Tiberias Ilit (Upper Tiberias). There we will receive mountain bikes and cycle down the path of the Israel National Trail and the brand new “Kinneret View” trail, following the Jordan River down to the Lower Galil in Bet Zera/Naharayim. From there we will cycle to Tiberias on the Kinneret. Riders wishing to be transported from Bet Zera/Naharayim to Tiberias, rather than cycling (we will have covered about 40 miles at this point) will have that option.
Ma’alot / Road 89 (east) / Hosen junc./ Road 854 (south) / Karmiel junc. / Road 85 (west) / Karmiel west junc. / Road 784 (south) / Yovalim junc. / Road 784 (south) / Yodfat junc. / Road 7914 (north) / Hannaton (lunch)
Bogrim Option – Distance: 82.7 km (51.3 miles); Elevation Gain: 1626 m (5335 ft)
Shoafim Option – Distance: 62 km (38.44 miles); Elevation Gain: 307 m (1007 ft)
For our final day, we will circle the Kinneret Sea, climbing up into the Western Golan Heights and coast back down to the valley. We start our day heading north from Tiberias along the lake, passing the majestic cliff of Mt. Arbel. At the top of the Kinneret we turn east toward the Golan, passing Kfar Nahum, (also known as Capernaum) and several sites referred to in the New Testament. We continue east along the Kinneret, and then south until reaching the Kursi junction, where the Bogrim riders turn east for the final climb in the Golan, while the Shoafim riders continue to circle the Kinneret. The Bogrim riders cycle until reaching Afik, and enjoy the last stretch of the Golan, as the road begins to descend back to sea level. The descent begins at Mevo Hama and continues on near Hamat Gader. The group will re-meet on the trail, and we can taste the finish, but not before we have some lunch in the area. We’ll make our way back to Tiberias, take a shower, and reflect on a ride well done.
Tiberias / Road 90 (north) / Kfar Nachum junc. / Road 87 (east) / Yehudia junc. / Road 92 (south) / Cursi junc. / Road 789 (east) / Bnei Yehuda / Road 789 (east) / Afik junc. / Road 98 (south) / Hamat Gader junc. / Road 98 (west) / Road to Sha’ar HaGolan / Sha’ar Ha Golan / Road 90 (north) / Tzemach junc./ Road 90 (north) / Tiberias