Kibbutz Be'eri Cycling Routes

Kibbutz Be'eri presents a wonderful countryside for cyclists. The surrounding area is a flat plain, and the landscape is varied; green groves, broad fields, clumps of blue-green forest, riverbeds winding through desert soil, historic sites – who could ask for more? The best time to visit is in winter, when the flowers are in bloom.



Geographic location: Northern and western Negev
Difficulty: Medium cycling
Target audience: All
Season: All
Track length: 8 km-30 km
Duration: 2 -4 hrs
Track type: Cycling
Notes: See descriptions for more detail of each route

General information


A red Beeri Forest. Photo: Michael Huri, KKL-JNF Photo Archive

The Western Negev plains in the area around Beeri are especially suited to cycling. The landscape is varied: woodland, gullies, archeological sites and settlements all lie amid fields that extend to the horizon.

 

The members of Kibbutz Beeri have turned the region into Bicycle Country, and have created a wide range of trails to suit every level and style of cycling. The Beeri single trail is a challenge. KKL-JNF constructed and marked out the trail in conjunction with Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority. In January and February, the loess soil in the Beeri region is covered with vast carpets of flowers, anemones in particular.

 


A single route in Beeri. Photo: Ilan Shaham

There are five routes described below; two routes are along easy pathways described here, and are suitable for leisurely cycling, for the entire family; the challenging "Sovev Be'eri" single route, or the Be'eri Ring Road; and two alternative shorter loops one can take, as part of the longer ring route. Really crazy cyclists are all too familiar with the Be'eri pothole -  where they can actually practice rodeo stunts! 

 

"LaMedavesh"  - "The Pedal" – the store just before the kibbutz gate, is an ideal starting point for trips, where you can rent bicycles, have your own bike checked at their workshop, get advice and buy maps.  There are also food stands, rest rooms and even showers.

 

All routes are marked with numbered signs to facilitate the rescue of any cyclists who may need help – a service that is willingly provided by the staff at LaMedavesh cycle center.

"To the Water Works" Route

Length of the Route:  12 km

 

Level of Difficulty: Easy

 

Time to complete:  Two to three hours at a leisurely pace.

 


Old well, Beeri Forest. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

The water works are located in the middle of Friend's Grove, by the Grar River.  In a clearing enclosed by the Grar River cliffs, colored in winter with intense spots of the famous "Be'eri anemones" various tools from different eras can be found, bearing witness to mankind's efforts to survive in this desert environment.  In bygone days, one could hear water dripping from the rooftops of an ancient village into the water cisterns; the shouts of the ANZAC army corps as their horses quenched their thirst on the way to battle in Gaza during the First World War; the sounds of Bedouin flocks grazing and the gurgling of the western Negev pipeline.  This was built with pipes that were bought at discount price, having completed their job putting out fires in London, from explosions caused by World War II bombings.

 


Signposted Beeri field. Photo: Yakov Shkolnik, KKL-JNF Photo Archive

This route starts on a field road leaving from "LaMedavesh" and going west, bypassing the kibbutz and taking the left branch of the fork in the road.  On the right side is a tall watch tower built by KKL-JNF as a lookout for forest fires.  There are large heaps of grey earth in the fields, shaped into open rectangles, covered with plants and trees  - and some even with environmental sculptures.  About 170 such mounds are found here, the remains of bunkers built by the British during World War II, when they suspected that German forces might reach Israel. This route then passes the remains of ancient homes and orchards, the asphalt road becomes concrete and a kilometer further, turn left onto a dirt road leading to the groves [where there are also many "singles routes" for experienced cyclists].  Another right turn takes us to the water works sign-posted by KKL-JNF with several explanatory plaques and yet another dirt road brings us back to the starting point.

The Besor Region Route: Kechabir, the sulphur mines, flowers and groves

Length of the Route:  8 km (circular). Note:  This route was planned by "LaMedavesh" and is not found on maps.

 

Level of Difficulty:  Easy.

 

Time to complete: 1½ - 2 hours.

 


Riding for all the family. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Start from "LaMedavesh" on an asphalt paved road and going west like the previous route, but, taking the road's right fork instead of the left. This road goes around the kibbutz, with its red roofed buildings and houses, then winds through wheat fields that are still green at this time of the year.  At the edges of the fields chrysanthemums add a bright yellow shade and a carpet of anemones and poppies decorates the picture with red.

 

About 15 meters after the fork turn left, passing through the bunkers mentioned above onto a pleasant dirt road that goes along a hill rising above the surrounding area, affording a far-reaching view and then meandering through interesting low-lying sulfur mines where we can still see the sulfur's yellowish tint.  These were established during the British mandate, after an English officers noticed sulfur deposits of an estimated million tons!

 


To the water tower. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo archive

Where the dirt track meets a concrete road, opposite a sulfur factory surrounded by green grove and the remains of the British buildings, the faint smell of sulfur still bears witness to that bygone era. That road continues for about ten kilometers - but leave it after only one kilometer,  turning right at an asphalt road paved by the British to transport bombs to Gaza from their bunkers. You climb a hill overlooking the whole area but seemingly hiding among the treetops of Be'eri Forest where, at  its crest the tall water tower and fortified, concrete building with a round porch peek out from among the trees.  Resist the temptation: we cannot climb the tower, because the old iron ladder is rusted and broken. This is Kechabir – the old Be'eri site, within Be'eri Forest - one of eleven settlements established the night after Yom Kippur 60 years ago, that changed the demographic map in the Negev.

 

Continuing east, in the pine groves along the road KKL-JNF has created the perfect picnic site to take a break and have some rest  – a site with the the only fresh water supply along the route, a paved walk-way for strolling, playground for young children, more challenging  equipment for teenagers and fully equipped rest rooms.  After our rest, the same field road - with some vehicle traffic – returns us along a three kilometer stretch with a few low hills, back to our starting point.

Around Beeri Forest- A Single Throughout Bicycle Country

Length of route: 23 kilometers; length of the two additional loops: 4 kilometers.
 
Time to complete: 2-4 hours
 
Level: Intermediate plus

Character: A circular route, mostly on single trails
 
Technical level: Intermediate

Suitable for: Skilled cyclists only

Markings: The route is marked with low wooden signs bearing a red bicycle symbol.
 
Season: All year round

Starting and finishing point: The KKL-JNF recreational area at the entrance to Kibbutz Beeri, approximately 200 meters before LaMedavesh cycle center. Accessed from the road between Saad Junction and Re‘im Junction (Route 232).
 


Beeri Single. Photo: Ilan Saham, KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Turning right as we leave the recreational area, we reach the boundary of the Beeri Badlands Nature Reserve, which conserves the fissured landscape of these loess hills that are covered with a wonderful combination of desert and Mediterranean vegetation. Here the trail turns west along a series of steep ascents and descents beside the fence of the abandoned Beeri Ostrich Farm, then continues alongside a hill planted with agaves – the remnant of a past experiment whose initiators hoped to sell the plant’s fibers to the rope-making industry.
 
At this point, the trail plunges down into a narrow gully that winds along in the shade of Beeri Forest’s eucalyptus trees. At the end of the forest you will come to a precipitous ascent known as HaSakin (“The Knife”). Here you will find post no. 6 (4.5 kilometers). The route emerges from the forest and crosses an asphalt road. On the right is the Nahabir security post, the original site of Kibbutz Beeri, and on the left is a KKL-JNF recreational area with water and toilet facilities.
 


Clearly marked paths. Photo: Dondi Schwartz

The single trail rounds a fortified post from the period of Israel’s War of Independence and follows the road down a steep descent along a stony sandy path.

Ride carefully here, then make your way up through a pine forest to hills that were mined for sulfur during the period of the British Mandate. At the foot of one of the hills, you can see barrels placed there by the British in 1945 as a landmark. This is the highest hill in the area (post no. 7, 6.2 kilometers). From here the trail descends to two shallow sulfur mines. When you emerge, turn left past the concrete road on the left that leads to the sulfur plant and continue until you reach the end of the road (post no. 8, 8.0 kilometers). A green signpost indicates the way to Nahal Shaarta, and to one of the most pleasant and smooth sections of this single trail, described by cyclists as three and a quarter kilometers of pure enjoyment and adrenalin rush. The section ends with a short steep descent that provides a brief glimpse of Nahal HaBesor and its impressive landscapes.
 


LaMedavesh cycling center, Beeri. Photo: Dondi Schwartz

You have now reached Luna Park Number 1, or, if you prefer, the Roller Coaster, where you cycle down the gully amidst a whole series of up-and-down hills and cross an asphalt road from which you can take a shortcut back to Beeri (post 10, 11.2 kilometers). Otherwise, you can continue on to where Nahal HaBesor meets Nahal Grar. The route continues along the northern bank of Nahal Grar, reaches a dam and climbs up from it steeply to the left (post no. 11, 14.7 kilometers) towards the water installations in the KKL-JNF forest. Here the trail winds and bumps over furrows (post no. 13, 16.7 kilometers), passes through the carpet of anemones area next to Kibbutz Re‘im parallel to the main road, bumps over more furrows, rouses you with a burst of speed and turns left.

All the way along the next section of woodland, and on the other side of it too, we are in Luna Park no. 2, another bumpy ride down a gully that crosses the field towards Beeri. On the far side the route meets up with a road through the fields that leads us gently back to the parking lot where we started.
 
Information: Avivit John, LaMedavesh, Beeri.

Additional Circular Routes

Length of each route: 4 km
 
The Northern Loop:
 


Beeri Single. Photo: Dondi Schwartz

Ride northwards from the Hidden Valley after marking post no. 5 in the gully that leads to Nahal Sahaf, then continue west for 500 meters. Turn north up into the kurkar (calcareous sandstone) hills. The trail winds and ascends to beneath the Beeri Badlands Reserve. The path ascends further, then returns to the Hidden Valley fork before continuing along the old route westwards to Nahbir.    
 
The Southern Loop:
 
Leave the original trail before the water-wheel well at Khirbet Mador, before marking post no. 14. The path descends to a local gully then ascends to the north. The path continues and ascends eastward to some ruins, crosses a dirt road beside an arched water-wheel well, crosses a gully then winds on through woodland until it meets up with the original path at the edge of the wood, near marking post no. 16.
 
Writer: Rami Gold, Beeri.

A Useful Tip

At LaMedavesh cycle center, adjacent to the gate to Beeri, you can overhaul your bike, buy refreshments or choose a bicycle for hire from among the wide selection on offer.
 
Tel. 08-9949374.