As a Belgian who regularly accompanies group trips with Dutch participants, I had already heard regularly about the Hoge Veluwe. On the satellite map of the Netherlands there is at least one large area where there seems to be a lot of nature (north of Arnhem). This entire area is approximately 1000 m². In the southern part of it lies De Hoge Veluwe National Park, a nature park of approximately 50 km². On a cloudy late summer day I was able to traverse the park completely by bike. This park is in any case a paradise for walkers and cyclists. Find out more about the park below and my experience while cycling.
The Hoge Veluwe National Park
The park reminded me of a desert in Poland that I once visited in 2017. The sandy soils of the Hoge Veluwe were also created during the last ice age. The entire area used to be one large forest, but forestry created heath and drifting sand. When the forests wanted to take over the area again, people intervened to preserve the unique flora. For additional facts I refer to Wikipedia (in dutch).
Nowadays the Hoge Veluwe is frequently visited by tourists. You have to pay to enter. You can choose to enter by car and explore the park. The other options are on foot or by bike. If you want to cycle, you have one big advantage: about 1800 white bicycles are made available for free. You do not have to rent bicycles. There are 3 entrances to the park. The entrances are located in Hoenderloo, Otterlo and Schaarsbergen. The entrance in Otterlo would apparently be the busiest. We had chosen Schaarsbergen because our hotel was close by.
We stayed at Hotel Trix. Normally I don’t advertise my stays very quickly, but it had been a long time since I had found such a good value for money. The 2 of us stayed for 93 euros in a nice room including breakfast, but their biggest asset is the restaurant. For 24 euros I got a 3 course surprise menu that I believe was worth a star. Definitely worth a look.
I found the cycling route on this site (in dutch). You can also download the GPX or a PDF. You will also find some additional information about some stops.
We took one of the many white bicycles available and did the 29 km cycle ride that traversed the entire park. The entire course (see photo) is actually a narrow asphalt road. The trail passes through the 3 entrances and also the main stops such as the Jachthuis Sint-Hubertus and the visitor center Museonder. There is also something to discover on foot around these 2 stops. On the way we also came across a stop where you could take a short walk to a lake. We only saw this because a small square had been created with many bicycles.
Of course, you will encounter a lot of nature during this bike tour. There is continuous alternation between forests and heath. Here and there you come across a place where you want to stop for a photo. The heather itself can vary from almost only sand to almost completely covered with heather plants and small pine trees. There are also plenty of fallen trees that are ideal to sit on during a picnic.
I was very curious about what I was going to encounter while cycling through the Hoge Veluwe. It soon seemed as if we were no longer in the Netherlands, but in a much more exotic place. I don’t really know the Netherlands as a country with sand and pine trees, but rather as a country with many green fields and water channels. I especially remember that the purple heather flowers created a very beautiful landscape. As with hikes, I could certainly appreciate the variation between forest and open plain. The stops were certainly worthwhile, even if our bikes were taken by someone else each time (but that’s no problem, you just take another one). I also thought that the park at the hunting lodge was nice for a short walk. You can also buy a drink there.
You do have to be careful at certain points to stay on the right route. All the way to the north we made a mistake (just in front of the hunting lodge if you follow the route anti-clockwise, near the Prins Hendriklaan), but in general you keep following the same road. I had to take out my smartphone every time to determine or check the route. It would have been more convenient to use a real bicycle GPS. An idea for the future.
For the rest, I am still firmly convinced that pictures can say much more than words. Hopefully you will get the full picture!
I think every Dutch person sometimes goes to the Hoge Veluwe, but as a foreigner, should you also go? In any case, you will not have the feeling that you are in the Netherlands, and you can enjoy a quiet and beautiful environment. Highly recommended!