For hill seekers: The best trail runs in the Netherlands

Running Collection by Pauline van der Waal

Well, the Netherlands is as flat as a dime, of course. Are you an enthusiastic trailrunner who regularly runs in the mountains, then it is difficult for your training to include much elevation gain in our own country. Yet it is not entirely impossible.

That's why I've listed eight trail runs within the Netherlands. The runs vary in difficulty: there are very challenging runs of up to 30 kilometers, but also shorter ones that are suitable for beginners– burning calves and thighs guaranteed either way!

The dunes lend themselves quite well for taking in some elevation. For example, the Dune Top walk through the dune area of Schoorl makes for quite tough training. The dunes here are the highest in the Netherlands.
Less demanding and therefore also suitable for less experienced trail runners is the Vuurtorenroute on Vlieland. You climb via winding paths to the foot of the lighthouse at a height of 43 meters.

Two classics that should not be missing from this list are the
Utrechtse Heuvelrug Trail (UHT) and the route around the Duivelsberg near Nijmegen. The UHT runs from Rhenen station to Driebergen-Zeist station and is thirty kilometres long. You clock your time by taking a picture at both station clocks.
That’s not why it’s called Duivelsberg – devil’s mountain – but the 500+ steps you encounter on the route around the Duivelsberg can indeed be devilish! Meanwhile you can enjoy the beautiful nature in the woods around Nijmegen.

Proper mountains can be found further south, in the Limburg province, notably with the Sint Pietersberg and the Vaalserberg. That's where the most elevation gain can be expected. Moreover, you can easily enjoy a piece of Germany or Belgium too.

Try them all or choose your local favorite but make sure to enjoy the climbs that the Netherlands has to offer. Are these Tours too short or too long for you? Then you can easily adjust each of the routes to suit your needs. I wish you a lot of fun!

On The Map

Tours & Highlights

    Intermediate
    01:13
    6.84 mi
    5.6 mph
    150 ft
    150 ft
    Intermediate run. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The Lighthouse Route is run annually as an official competition, but of course you can also train here when you are on holiday on Vlieland.The route runs on the beach and on shell paths through the forest. You take a piece of Waddendijk with the sea on one side and the village on the other.Making altimeters is fine here. Up and down the dike already demands a lot from your calves and you also have some climbs through the forest. The highlight of this trail is of course the lighthouse. You walk via a winding path up to the foot of the lighthouse on the Vuurboetsduin. Do not forget to enjoy the view from this point at a height of 43 meters.In total, this run is just over 10 kilometers long. Afterwards you can enjoy one of the many cozy terraces in the main street.You can take the boat from Vlissingen to Vlieland. With the fast boat this will cost you 45 minutes. In theory you could only do a day on Vlieland for the trail, but it is of course much more fun to stay a night. Enjoy the island and have fun on Vlie!

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    Difficult
    02:24
    12.6 mi
    5.3 mph
    650 ft
    650 ft
    Expert run. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Some sure footedness required.

    The Dune Summit Tour through the dunes of Schoorl is actually set out as a walking route, but is also often used as a trail run. You will find the highest dunes in the Netherlands in this nature reserve, which means you can train well at altimeters. The highest dunes are 58 meters above NAP.You start your run in the forest and make quite a few climbs there. The section through the dune area has many altimeters. The increase percentage is sometimes quite spicy.Along the way you will encounter some really steep dunes. The Schoorlse Nok, for example, goes up to an increase of 11%.Don't forget to enjoy the beautiful view on top of the dune tops. Around you you can see the dune valleys, heather and in the distance the sea.The starting point of the Dune Summit Tour is Buitencentrum Schoorlse Duinen. You can park your car here (paid). You can also use the public transport. You then take the bus from Alkmaar station.I have plotted the route counterclockwise, but you can also walk it in the other direction. You follow this clearly marked route by following the red posts. Only pay attention at beach tent Hagen, you will quickly look over the pole.

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  • Intermediate
    00:19
    1.87 mi
    5.9 mph
    50 ft
    50 ft
    Intermediate run. Great for any fitness level. Mostly accessible paths. Some sure footedness required.

    The Amsterdamse Bos is - literally - under the smoke of Schiphol and Amsterdam. It is therefore a surprise to many people that a thousand hectares of forest are waiting here for nature lovers. This makes the forest 22 times the size of the Vondelpark and 3 times the size of New York's Central Park.

    Older Amsterdammers in particular still call the Amsterdamse Bos Bosplan. Incredible but true: the forest was completely hand-built in the 1930s. Due to the high unemployment due to the crisis, the municipality had to come up with something. They came up with an ambitious employment plan and had the entire forest built by unemployed Amsterdammers, including the Bosbaan rowing course.

    Hazenheuvel has also been constructed. And let that be the reason that we can do a trail run with altimeters here. The plan was once to make the hill 40 meters high, but after protests it got stuck at 16 meters.

    A cross-country trail of three kilometers has been plotted through the forest, which takes up the hill. The route is marked with blue poles with a running figure. You start at pavilion Chez Favié on De Duizendmeterweg and walk through the woods and field up the hill.

    For the experienced trail runner, this three-kilometer route is of course peanuts. The cross-country run is therefore primarily intended as easily accessible training from the city. For a heavier workout, you can do the same round several times. Or you can extend your tour by attaching one of the other running routes to it. These can be found on the Amsterdamse Bos website. Of course you can also use the Komoot route planner to map out new paths.

    Keep in mind that you are not alone in the forest.
    Certainly on weekends it can be busy on the trails with walkers, cyclists, runners and riders, although of course there are several trails built for them. The forest is visited about six million times a year.

    Do you want to enjoy the forest even further after your training? Then visit the Goat farm Ridammerhoeve or Pancake farm Meerzicht. You can also canoe in the forest and if there is snow, the hill is used for sledding.

    The Amsterdamse Bos is easily accessible from the city by bicycle or public transport. You can park your car in one of the parking spaces. These are free, with the exception of those at the Bosbaan.

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    Difficult
    03:54
    20.9 mi
    5.4 mph
    800 ft
    825 ft
    Expert run. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Some sure footedness required.

    One of the most famous trail run routes in the Netherlands is the Utrechtse Heuvelrug Trail. This route of 30 kilometers and 330 altimeters runs from Rhenen station to Driebergen station.The UHT, as this trail is also called, was completed at just under two hours with the men, and around two hours and twenty minutes with the ladies.Fun: to clock your time, take a picture of the Rhenen station clock when you leave, and again when you have arrived at Driebergen station.It is recommended to walk the route with navigation, but there are a few landmarks along the way.After about 6.5 kilometers you will reach the viewpoint over the former sand quarry Kwintelooijen on your right. You will also see the MTB track.The trail's most striking landmark is the Lonely Oak. This tree was probably planned in 1792 when Sterrenbosch was built. The oak stands exactly in the middle of the Sterrenbosch in the form of a wagon wheel.After about 18 kilometers you will pass the Veldschuur, the information point of Staatsbosbeheer. You can get something to eat and drink here, but be aware of the opening hours and take cash with you. This is because debit cards are not allowed here.The next benchmark is Huis te Maarn, a beautiful estate with an imposing house. Everything is still maintained and managed by the original family.You continue your route for a few kilometers through the forest, after which you return to civilization. On to Driebergen-Zeist station and the finish.

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    Intermediate
    01:21
    6.88 mi
    5.1 mph
    400 ft
    400 ft
    Intermediate run. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    When glaciers pushed sand and gravel in front of them with unprecedented force some 150,000 years ago, a lateral moraine of about 78 meters was created, while the rest of the area remained flat. We now call this hill the Lemelerberg.

    The land was not suitable for farming. That is why nature has always had a free hand. However, the area was used to graze sheep, making it a heathland area. The surface is sand and you can walk through the coniferous forests. Many people find this region for hiking or trail running.

    You start the route at Theehuis de Lemelerberg. Please note that you cannot get here by public transport. You can easily park your car there.

    You first walk in the direction of the monument. Follow the route and after about 1.7 kilometers you will come across the typical Dikke Steen. There are many stories about this stone, but it is certain that it was once a boundary marker between different farmlands.

    The Lemelerberg is a special nature reserve with sandy plains, heather, juniper berries and forests. The sand lizard also occurs here.

    Don't miss the Archemerberg, the highest point of the Lemelerberg Nature Reserve. Not only to make your altimeters, but also to have a phenomenal view of Overijssel and up to Germany at a height of 78 meters. The country is completely flat around this 'mountain'. In total, this trail run is about eleven kilometers long.

    The Trail Lemelerberg is challenging for the novice, but also for the more experienced trail runner. If you belong to the latter category, you may not find a run of eleven kilometers. Then grab the southern part of the area and you will soon be at fifteen. It is best to use navigation during your run.

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    Intermediate
    01:37
    8.80 mi
    5.5 mph
    750 ft
    750 ft
    Intermediate run. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Some sure footedness required.

    The N70 nature route is a trail through a beautiful piece of landscape in the Rijk van Nijmegen. The trail runs through a hilly and wooded area. A beautiful and intensive route for a real trail run.The well-known N70 route in the Rijk van Nijmegen is perhaps the most beautiful trail run you can imagine. Different routes of different lengths have been plotted. I chose a 14-kilometer run here through the rolling countryside.It is a beautiful but also quite challenging route with many altimeters for Dutch standards. The N70 trail runs over 8 'mountains' through the forests of Berg en Dal and the surrounding area. Also prepare for about 500 steps on the way. Trail runners, hikers, cyclists and nature lovers alike will find the N70.You can start your trail run at different places on the route. I have plotted the route from Pancake restaurant De Duivelsberg, but you can also start at Hotel-Restaurant 't Spijker in Beek-Ubbergen, Parking Holdeurn, Pancake House De Heksendans in Berg en Dal, Fletcher Hotel Val Monte in Berg en Dal or Tante Koosje in Nijmegen.If you come by public transport, take the bus 58 to Beek-Ubbergen and get off at the junction of the Rijksstraatweg and the N325.For the trail, follow the green route marked with posts and signs. To make it even easier for yourself, you can of course download the route and use your GPS.

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    Intermediate
    01:25
    7.24 mi
    5.1 mph
    650 ft
    650 ft
    Intermediate run. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Some sure footedness required.

    The Sint Pietersberg is a special place with the fortress and the caves. The old lime quarry is therefore worth a visit. Because of the steep parts and a lot of altimeters you can make here, it is a perfect place for a challenging trail run. Even then you see special things along the way.For example, the entrance to the North Caves. Actually, they are not caves, but a carved tunnel system. From the Middle Ages, the marl stone was widely used to build houses. You can still see that in old houses in the area.Fort Sint Pieter is also a prominent structure here. Built in the early 1700s and preserved in good condition. Are you sure you want to run past this?A viewing platform was built a few years ago high above the ENCI quarry. This way you can only see how the mountain was excavated. But don't just look right in front of you. The view from this place over the surrounding area is at least as beautiful.Finally you pass the bird watching hut. With a little luck you can spot special butterflies or a fox here. Of course there are also an incredible number of bird species, including the eagle owl that gave this hut its name.The Sint Pietersberg is easily accessible by car and there is ample parking. You can also take a bus from Maastricht. If you want to make extra meters, you can also walk. from the VVV in Maastricht it is about 20 minutes.

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    Difficult
    02:30
    12.6 mi
    5.0 mph
    1,350 ft
    1,350 ft
    Expert run. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    Well, the Netherlands is of course as flat as a dime. If you are an enthusiastic trail runner who regularly runs in the mountains, it is difficult to train altimeters in our own country. Yet it is not entirely impossible.That is why I have listed eight trail runs within our national borders. The runs vary in difficulty. There are very heavy runs, but also shorter ones that are suitable for novice runners. Burning calves and thighs guaranteed!You can make altimeters in the dunes. For example, the tough Dune Summit tour through the dune area of Schoorl is quite a tough workout. The dunes here are the highest in the Netherlands.
    The Lighthouse route on Vlieland is less demanding and therefore also suitable for novice trail runners. You climb via winding paths to the foot of the lighthouse at 43 meters high.
    Two classics that should not be missing from this list are the
    Utrechtse Heuvelrug Trail (UHT) and the route around the Duivelsberg near Nijmegen. The UHT runs from Rhenen station to Driebergen-Zeist station and is thirty kilometers long. You clock your time by taking a picture of both station clocks.
    The name does not come from it, but the more than 500 steps that you encounter on the route around the Duivelsberg may be devils! In the meantime you can enjoy the beautiful nature in the forests around Nijmegen.
    Of course you have real mountains in Limburg, with the Sint Pietersberg and the Vaalserberg. That's where you make the most altimeters. Moreover, you can easily take a piece of Germany or Belgium with you.Choose the best route and enjoy the climbs that the Netherlands has to offer. And are these Tours too short or too long? Then use the komoot route planner to adjust the route. We wish you a lot of running fun!

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    8
  • Distance
    77.8 mi
  • Duration
    14:43 h
  • Elevation
    4,775 ft

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