Through the Jerusalem Hills & Forest
Join me (and just a few other motorcyclists!) on Saturday morning for a ride through the hills and forests of Jerusalem including a stop for breakfast.
Roads: Route 395 - 386 - 3866 - 3855
Distance: 45 kilometers
Riding Time: 1 hour (without stopping); 2 - 4 hours with stops
There are so many great rides in this part of the country to choose from but this one - through the hills and forests of Jerusalem - is one of my favorites. Best done on a Saturday morning, along with the many other motorcyclists, it's chock full of twisties and hairpin turns. No matter how many times I do this ride, I never get bored.
Route 395 to 386
I took the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway (route 1) to route 38 in the direction of Beit Shemesh and followed the signs to Route 395 which immediately climbs steeply into the hills. After a few minutes, I entered a short narrow 2 kilometer stretch that is off limits to large vehicles and offers gorgeous views more reminiscent of Europe than Israel.
Route 395 has many places to stop to gawk at the amazing views of the hills or to picnic. Midway on 395 I stopped at the Air Force Monument located at the top of Pilot's Mountain (Har HaTayasim). This is a memorial to all members of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) that died during their service to Israel from 1948 until the present. There is an excellent audio presentation in English and Hebrew that describes the site as well as the role of the Air Force in the battle for Jerusalem in 1948.
After returning to 395, I continued on as the road twists and turns and makes a steep descent into the valley. At the roundabout intersection with 386, I made a right to continue. A left goes to Ein Kerem, a major Christian pilgrimage site with several cafes, restaurants, ice cream shops, and tourist sites, best saved for another post.
Route 386 to Café Barbahar
I followed route 386 as it weaves its way through the amazing Jerusalem countryside. The air is refreshing, the views are spectacular, and you can't help but ride with a smile on your face as you negotiate the turns. IMHO, this is the best section of the route and no matter how many times I do this ride, I never tire of it. As usual, I'm passed by more powerful and faster sport bikes racing their way to the next stop, Café Barbahar.
At the next roundabout I made a right to route 3866 and then followed the signs to Café Barbahar, a legendary dairy/vegan cafe in the Jerusalem Forest. On Saturdays, this is quite the "scene" with motorcyclists on all types of bikes - sport, café racers, cruisers, touring, and off road - meeting here for eat and drink. I enjoy coming here for their morning breakfasts, amazing calzones, and delicious "all natural" popsicles - chocolate peanut butter or Mexican chocolate are the best IMHO. The outlook and view from the seating area of the cafe is beautiful and I often feel, for a moment, like I'm in a European café at the top of a mountain....in summer.
Café Barbahar to 3855
Returning to 3866 I rode on past the viewpoints and picnic areas in the American Independence Park. Eventually you arrive at the intersection and the turn-off for the Stalactite Caves. I followed the winding road to the end where I parked and visited the caves, a national park.
On the return, I stopped at the Challenger Monument which is located at the intersection with 3866. After the long descent, I reached 3855 and returned home via route 38 and the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway. There are many many other great motorcycle routes in this area but this is a good place to start :) More to come from this area....ride safe!