The Netherlands is our home country, and we love sharing its underrated gems that fly under the travel radar. One such place is the stunning forests just outside of the beautiful city of Utrecht. Although it’s the 4th largest city in the Netherlands, Utrecht offers many nature trips to escape urban life. In minutes you go from chaotic city streets to tranquil woodlands.
If your Dutch itinerary leads you to this city, hiking near Utrecht in its nearby forests is a must-do during your visit. You’ll discover a world filled with blooming wildflowers, sparkling lakes, floodplains, and amazing wildlife. It really doesn’t feel like you’re just moments away from the city.
To help you explore this beautiful part of our country, we’ve listed 5 incredible places for hiking in Utrecht. Each area has one or multiple walking tracks to give you many options for your hiking excursion. So, wander through the forest and find out why we love this piece of Dutch paradise so much.
Best time for hiking near Utrecht
While each season in the Utrecht forests offers something unique, autumn (September-November) is our favorite time of year. The trees transform into a kaleidoscope of autumn colors, and it’s a spectacular sight to witness. Moorlands reach full bloom to create purple landscapes, and the leaves dazzle with shades of orange, red, and yellow.
And the weather provides the perfect temperature to unwind without being drenched in sweat or clutching heavy winter gear. Autumn is a magical time to go hiking in Utrecht due to the breathtaking spectacle produced by Mother Nature.
Dutch wildlife near Utrecht
The Netherlands may not be on your mind when imagining wildlife, but the Utrecht forests make you think otherwise. Wander through its dense forests and grassy plains to witness a wide range of roaming creatures.
Some of the animals you might encounter include deer, foxes, buffalo, badgers, and pine martens. Bird watchers are in for a special treat since the forests nurture beautiful species such as ravens and bluethroats.
5 incredible places for hiking near Utrecht
Utrecht is among the most picturesque areas for hiking in the Netherlands. The forests surrounding Utrecht allow hikers to connect with nature unlike any other province in our home country. Just a short drive from the city, you’ll encounter beech-lined avenues, heathlands, dunes, pinewoods, crystal-clear lakes, and beautiful wildlife. It’s one of our favorite Dutch destinations to unplug and escape the human world for a little while.
1. Amerongse bos
Amerongse bos captures the mystic of the Utrecht forests with its diversity of plant and animal species. It’s among the oldest sections of Utrechtse Heuvelrug National Park and has some rare climbs for the area. Trails in Amerongse bos seem to stretch for miles and sit beside many imposing beeches.
- Amerongse Berg (8.2 km) – This diverse path lets you marvel at beeches, rest under oaks, and take panoramic pictures along tree-lined avenues. Wildflowers carpet the fields, and birds flutter around its rich floodplains. There are several benches scattered on the trail to rest, and you’ll pass gorgeous monuments. You’ll also get a sensational view of the medieval Amerongen Castle.
Nestled in Utrechtse Heuvelrug National Park, Zeisterbos has some of the most peaceful old-growth forests in Utrecht. Animals flock to the woodlands, and the area feels light-years from the city. You’ll notice a rich array of plant species dotting the forest floor as you trek along the tree-lined pathways.
- Zeisterbos (6.0 km) – This scenic trail wanders through dense forests and along peaceful waterways. The thick undergrowth attracts wildlife, and you’ll likely spot deer or colorful bird species. Sunlight pokes through the pine and oak forests to provide some warmth as you marvel at the lush foliage around you.
- Bornia Red Trail (4.3 km) – For a short hike to majestic forests and crystal-clear water, you can’t beat the Bornia Red Trail. The path courses through plains, shifting sands, bridges, and even goes through a tunnel. As an easy stroll and obstacle course rolled into one, the trail is a fun way to explore the Utrecht forest. Your final reward is the small, tree-dotted island where the pinewoods sparkle on the water’s surface.
3. Park Vliegbasis Soesterberg
This former airbase is one of the coolest places for a hike around Utrecht. From Cold War-era buildings to untapped explosives, it’s a fascinating site surrounded by scenic nature. Two designated paths give you ample space to explore every inch of the military relic.
- Ammunition Park (5.0 km) – Trek through dense forest and discover concrete ammunition bunkers that held explosives years ago. The sounds of nature fill the air while you weave between the woodland trees. It’s hard to imagine that such a tranquil area once had such destructive force hiding within its beauty. If you’re wondering about the untapped explosives, the trails were marked safe for hikers.
- Estate De Paltz (3.4 km) – The surreal landscape around the magnificent De Paltz Estate lets you connect with nature. Around the property, the woodlands host lots of wild creatures and lush greenery. Listen closely, and you’ll hear the heart-warming sound of birds chirping and small mammals scurrying through the grass. The path’s beech-lined sections and verdant valley paint stunning portraits of the temperate forest within the park.
Interesting: 10 most beautiful national parks of the Netherlands
4. Leusderheide (Pyramid of Austerlitz)
Did you ever imagine you’d find a pyramid in the Netherlands? The 36-meter high green pyramid dates to 1804 during the time of Napoleon. You’ll also notice a stone obelisk that sits atop the pyramid. Dense forests surround the historic structure, and several hiking paths course through the woodlands. Walk through fields of wildflowers, spot adorable animals, and see blooming purple heather during your trip.
- Austerlitz – Noordhout (7.2 km) – This loop guides you around the thick forests that engulf the Pyramid of Austerlitz. You’ll wander into grassy fields in several areas and find beautiful homes, wild berries, and diverse flora. Staring from the open plains, you can take gorgeous panoramic snapshots of the forest. Gaze carefully at the ground, and you’ll notice the waves of purple heather taking form.
- Landgoed Den Treek-Henschoten (11.4 km) – While this Utrecht hike is one of the longest on our list, you’ll love the spectacular views of the Austerlitz Pyramid. The looped trail courses just beyond the pyramid for the perfect angle to take pictures of the obelisk. You’ll find several types of trees, colorful plant species, beautiful wildlife, and an enchanting pond. This scenic path offers an abundance of idyllic settings for a picnic surrounded by nature.
5. Utrechtse Heuvelrug
Just a 30-minute drive outside of Utrecht, Utrechtse Heuvelrug is a majestic national park with roughly 15,000 acres of diverse scenery. Walking around this stunning area reveals oak & beech forests, heathlands, and radiant flora. With more than 100 bird species and numerous reptiles, it’s among the best spots to view wildlife in the Netherlands. The enormous park is the country’s 2nd largest forest and contains Amerongse bos and Zeisterbos.
- Kwintelooijen (22.5 km) – If you’re up for a lengthy hike, Kwintelooijen winds through dense forests, plains, and tranquil waterways. Colorful trees engulf parts of the loop, and you’ll often spot animals near the lake. Whether you arrive for blooming flowers in spring or that eye-popping fall foliage, the flora puts on an epic display. You’ll also face a decent climb for breathtaking panoramas of the landscape.
- Ruiterberg – De Kaap View Tower (9.2 km) – Roaming mostly through pinewoods, Ruiterberg offers spectacular images from the De Kaap View Tower. You’ll notice some trees are misshapen, and it creates a mysterious aura before reaching the open grasslands. When you climb up the tower, the 360° views make this one of the top places to admire the Utrecht forest.
- Leersumse Veld – Leersumse Plassen (6.4 km) – Discover the purple heathlands and shimmering lakes that make Utrechtse Heuvelrug such a gorgeous national park. The trail wanders through floodplains and interesting flora as you course around the water. Picnic tables on the path create the perfect setting for lunch as you listen to the sounds of nature. While hiking through the woodlands, keep your eyes peeled for animals or curious faces carved into the trees.
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Thanks for checking out our guide on hiking near Utrecht along some beautiful forest trails. Hopefully, this has provided the information you need to plan a peaceful nature escape in the Netherlands. If you have experiences from the Netherlands or other tips to recommend, please leave a comment below.