There's a full moon and you're in Nahal Alexander with your bike. You’re about to become a biking addict or, if you’re already an experienced biker, you’ll see why you were so right to choose this bike ride tonight. On this trail there are no ups and downs, and every several hundred yards there’s a sign telling you the distance from the sea. It’s all so simple, and you just have to pedal easily along the water that reflects the moonlight.
The starting point is a well-kept park. The ride, on an asphalt trail along the river, is very easy and pleasant. You’re on the north bank, and the general direction is west. Every so often you’ll see picnic tables in the darkness, but don’t be tempted so quickly: you’re only just starting, and there are better stopping points later on.
About 2 miles after you get on your bike the “turtle bridge” will appear on the opposite bank. Like other turtles, the giant tortoises in Nahal Alexander tend to keep to themselves at night, and the chances of meeting one at this hour are very slim. Here, on the narrow bridge that stretches over the river, you can hear pounding house music from an outdoor reception area, as well as wailing jackals attempting to drown out the noise that has suddenly invaded their living space.
Return to the north bank and continue north on the narrow road for several hundred yards. A left turn (west) moves you away from the river, but closer to the outdoor reception area. Pass the park and continue under the wide bridge.
From here pedal a bit north to the railroad tracks. This is the only area on the trail that is liable to confuse you. When you encounter a left turn (west) across a eucalyptus grove, enter the grove. Make sure not to turn too early. If you’re going the right way you will once again be on the marked road that continues westward. Within a few hundred yards you will see alongside of you the river that you abandoned earlier.
In a few more moments you’ll be alongside the Samara Ruins, a 19th-century customs station that was used by the Ottoman Empire. In those days a motley group of watermelon sellers from all over the Sharon region would assemble here on summer evenings and send their watermelons on ships to neighboring countries. If you climb up the hill where the ruins lie you’ll discover a panoramic view of the entire area.
Another several hundred yards to the west the roadside is dotted with picnic tables near the water, and dessert comes with almost no advance warning: the smell of the sea fills your nostrils, and immediately you discover the estuary on the Bet Yanai beach. This is the place to take the good things you prepared out of your backpack and to spend a long time near the black water. Don’t rush. It’s a well-known fact that the way back is always shorter and faster.
Trail length: About 5.5 miles in each direction
Trail difficulty level: Easy
Full moon: Required
How to get there:
Drive on road #4 and turn west at Ha’ogen Junction in the direction of Mishmar Hasharon. It’s safer to leave the car in the parking lot at the Alon station and to ride north several hundred yards on the access road. Pass Kibbutz Ma’abarot and come to the well-kept park alongside the river. The trail is marked in white, blue, and orange, except in the middle section.
Bring a helmet, pump, inner tubes, tools for fixing flat tires, and a lot of water.
Reproduced with permission: Ynet