Gravel, heather & hills – bikepacking the Utrecht Ridge and the Veluwe

Mountain Biking Collection by Simon Rosmolen

This Collection guides you through the most forested areas of the Netherlands – the Veluwe and the Utrecht Ridge – in a three-day bikepacking adventure. You’ll follow gravel trails and unpaved paths through dense woodland and colourful heaths, covering 192 miles (309 km) in total. With an average of 62 miles (100 km) per day, it’s not for the faint-hearted although you can ride the route in more or fewer days. So, fasten your bags to your bike, and let’s go!

The Utrecht Ridge and the Veluwe National Park are well-known amongst cyclists. Created during the last Ice Age, the landscape here is characterised by hills, woodland, sand dunes, and heaths. The River Rhine and the Meuse would once have flowed through this area, bringing large amounts of gravel and sand with them. During the Ice Age, these layers were pushed up to create the hills that stand in the area today.

These famous “hills” may be small, but they are beautiful nonetheless. You will ride the Amerongse Mountain (226 ft/69 m) and the Posbank (200 ft/61 m) near the city of Arnhem. If you like gravel, you’ll be in your element here as the routes in this Collection connect a network of unpaved paths and gravel trails. You can enjoy the peace and quiet as you ride through vast plains, propping your bike against a tree and imagining you are alone in the world. Keep your eyes peeled for deer and wild boar. If you are lucky, you may even spot a wolf in the Veluwe.

The route starts from the train station in Hilversum, in North Holland, but you can also get off at Arnhem station. During your adventure, you can spend the night at one of the natural campsites indicated or in a hotel or B&B if you prefer more comfort. Pack as light as possible – you won’t need a lot of things for three days cycling. You will never be far from a cup of coffee or a hot meal. A gravel bike, mountain bike, or touring bike with at least 35 mm tyres is suitable for this route. After dry periods, the trails can become sandy and more difficult to ride.

Last but not least, I recommend getting up nice and early and packing your binoculars.

On The Map

Tours & Highlights

    Difficult
    06:33
    58.9 mi
    9.0 mph
    1,575 ft
    1,375 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    On the first cycling day from Hilversum you will cross the Utrechtse Heuvelrug from west to east and end in Arnhem. You get on from Hilversum station, after which you quickly reach the denser forests near Lage Vuursche. This village is known for its many pancake restaurants and Drakensteyn Castle, the home of Princess Beatrix.Not long after that you will pass the old military airfield of Soesterberg. Today it houses the National Military Museum. The three-kilometer runway is no longer in use and is now open to cyclists outside the breeding season. Enjoy the panoramic view while cycling on the (probably) widest cycle path in the Netherlands.In the Cape Forest near Doorn, you hook up to the Let de Stigterpad. This unpaved cycle path winds for miles through the forests, moors and sand dunes of the Heuvelrug. The cycle path is named after one of the founders of the national park, A.D. de Stigter-Huising.Coffee tip: just after the first part of the Let de Stigterpad in Amerongen is bicycle café De Proloog. Before climbing the Amerongse Berg, you can enjoy delicious coffee and homemade cakes here. Present soulmates guaranteed.After the climb at Amerongen, follow the Let de Stigterpad again and leave the Heuvelrug. Via the Ginkelse Heide and a long unpaved strip along the railway you reach the forests around Arnhem.You can spend the night at Camping Warnsborn or - a little bit further - in one of the many B & Bs or hotels in the city.

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    Difficult
    07:37
    68.3 mi
    9.0 mph
    2,025 ft
    2,125 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    Welcome to the Veluwe! This area is almost a thousand square kilometers in size and consists of various domains. This route connects the most beautiful gravel paths in the northern and southern parts of the nature park.Start the day with a coffee at the nearby mountain bike museum in Arnhem, a must see for the (mountain) bike enthusiast. You pass the mountain bike museum after 1.5 km. Owner Jeroen van Roekel collects hundreds of different brands of bicycles and likes to talk about them.You will reach the Veluwe around Apeldoorn over the most beautiful gravel strips through the Deelerwoud and Loenermark. In Loenen you can go to Bike and Eat for coffee or in one of the other cafes in the village.The last part of the route crosses the Crown Domain Loo. This beautiful estate is hunting grounds of the royal family and usually open to the public. There is a chance that you will spot wild boars, deer and deer. The royal family hunts here between September and Christmas. Check the website kroondomeinhetloo.nl to know when they will fire, because then you will not be able to cycle here.The day ends at Kootwijk in the heart of the Veluwe. You can sleep at nature camping Zanderdennen or a B&B in the village. If you want to interrupt the day earlier, you can camp at nature campsite Zegenoord in Loenen.

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  • Difficult
    06:25
    63.2 mi
    9.9 mph
    1,000 ft
    1,075 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    In the middle of the most wooded area of the Netherlands, there is hardly a tree to be seen on the Kootwijkerzand. The sand drift of Kootwijk is the largest active drift of Western Europe. The void made this area the ideal place for Radio Kootwijk. This is a broadcasting station where the connection with the former Dutch East Indies was established. After five kilometers, the imposing radio building rises from the bare plains of the shifting sands.You leave the Veluwe and cycle on winding forest paths via Veenendaal back to the Utrechtse Heuvelrug. Here are some sandy gravel strips through forests and farmland. These paths are more difficult to ride during dry or wet periods.You will again reach Lage Vuursche via the forests of Den Treek and Soest. It is not possible to have coffee with Princess Beatrix, but Buiten in de Kuil is an absolute must for lunch or drinks. Hidden in the forest you can enjoy and share strong stories about this three-day bikepacking tour.Hilversum station is located about ten kilometers from Buiten in de Kuil. If you have started this trip from Arnhem, you can drive to camping Fazantenhof or spend the night in nearby B & Bs or hotels.

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    3
  • Distance
    190 mi
  • Duration
    20:34 h
  • Elevation
    4,575 ft

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