Maasduinen National Park is a beautiful nature reserve in the north of Limburg, against the German border. With real dunes, large heaths, special grazers and wonderful fens. We are going on a discovery tour!
Camping at the Cokse Heide
We camp at the De Cokse Heide nature camping site of Staatsbosbeheer. A small and quiet camping area with 25 pitches in the middle of the forest. A ten-minute walk from the heath and close to various walking and cycling routes.
Trage Tocht Wellerlooi
The Maasduinen National Park forms an elongated strip of some 4,500 hectares of nature reserve. The campsite is located in the north, the TrageTocht that we are hiking today mainly goes through the southern part of the park.
Grazing sheep on the purple heather
We start at the church in Wellerlooi, soon we find ourselves in the forest. We arrive at Landgoed De Hamert. Here is a vast heathland, where sheep graze. It is a large herd, which contrasts beautifully with the purple of the flowering heather.
We pass a bird hide, the Westernest. Unfortunately we do not see any birds worth mentioning.
A little later we walk through the forest and we arrive at the next vast area. Here the route runs over the dunes, with beautiful views in all directions.
We discover a beautiful fen, the Pikgeeuwenwater, the geese are moving over and we feel the wind in our hair. The area surprises us positively. It is wonderfully quiet and the walk is very varied.
The Geldernsch Niers Canal is packed like a stream
After a short break with a view, we continue our walk. A little further on is the stream valley of the Geldernsch Niers Kanaal. Once a canal, still in Germany, now a meandering brook. The water ripples in depth in the lush greenery, a very different environment than the dunes and heath.
We have lunch at the Jachthut Op Den Hamer, a convenient stop, roughly in the middle of the route. We can do it again with a full belly!
Even more dunes and heather
The second part of the route is even more varied if possible. We walk across a vast heathland. Here is a barn with beehives where the wild bees are hard at work. And we continue our walk through hilly drifting dunes, also called parabolic dunes with nice narrow paths. The weather is wonderful and we enjoy!
The last part of the route runs along the Maas. Galloway cattle would graze here, but we don’t see them. According to the description of the route, this is a rough part along the floodplains, but we find the area a bit disappointing. We are annoyed by the bustle on the Maas, with large inland vessels and the buildings on the other side.
At the end, just before Wellerlooi, is a watchtower. You can climb this for 1 euro, so we did. The view does not really appeal to us. Unfortunately! It was a wonderful walk, with a lot of variety, the last few kilometers cannot change that! A surprisingly beautiful and quiet area!
- Start and end point: circular walk, car park Wellerlooi near the church
- Distance: 16.5 kilometers
- Marking: none, you need the description!
- Level difference: hilly terrain
- Information: Trage Tocht description can be found on Wandelzoekpagina.nl and Frankwandelt
Sunset on the Cokse and Afferdense Heide
After dinner we walk in ten minutes to the Cokse Heide, where the sun is almost setting. We walk to the viewing tower De Afferdense Duinen. Here we have a beautiful view of the surroundings and the sunset. We walk back to the camping site through a quiet forest.
Wake up early for sunrise
The next morning we get up early. It is around half past six when we sneak away from the campsite. We walk to the lookout tower and back along the beautiful Zevenboomsven. The world looks beautiful in the early, still morning. There is still some dew above the heather and the water, the sky is clear and the colors soft. The Zevenboomsven looks like a painting, so quiet and beautiful.
Breakfast in the sun
Breakfast in the sun
We walk back to the campsite, where everyone just wakes up and crawls out of their tent. We take a nice shower and enjoy breakfast in the sun, after which we plan the next hike.
Staatsbosbeheer has mapped out three routes in the vicinity of the Cokse Heide, one red (near the remains of Bleijenbeek Castle), one purple and one blue. We decide to walk the purple route River Dunes to the Quin, a number of fens north of the campsite. We pack the tent and drive a short distance, after which we park at the Zevenboomsven.
Here we see a small herd of Galloway cattle grazing near the fen
The purple route runs along a large heather field. In the distance we see the watchtower.
The Quin is a collection of fens that are nicely spread, you can walk along it and from the other side, over a high dune, look out over the beautiful landscape.
Special grazers, Dutch Land Goats
Near the Quin we see the Dutch Land Goats that are used for grazing here. They are impressive animals with their huge horns and long fur.
- Start and end point: purple circular walk River Dunes, Zevenboomsven parking lot, also possible blue route Broederbos or red route Duvelskuul
- Distance: purple 6.4 km, blue 7.9 km, red 7.2 km
- Marking: purple posts
- Level difference: mainly flat
- Information: The information can be found on the website of Staatsbosbeheer
The last stop of our voyage of discovery through Maasduinen National Park is the Reindersmeer. This is a former sand quarry. The Reindersmeer is a popular destination for Dutch, German and Belgian tourists. There is a visitor center , restaurant (In de Sluis) and a water playground and play forest for children. You can take a walk around the lake or take the ferry and pick up the route halfway.
We park at the visitor center and walk to the lake. Here we take the ferry to the other side. It is busy on this beautiful Sunday afternoon. Fortunately it is a bit quieter on the other side.
Here too we see dunes, heather and together with the blue water of the lake it forms a beautiful whole. You can no longer see that this was an excavation! I have read in descriptions that it resembles the blue water in southern European countries … that is a bit exaggerated, but with a little imagination you can of course go a long way!
It’s a nice relaxing walk, but nothing spectacular. Due to the crowds, we would still recommend choosing one of the other areas for a walk, the Reindersmeer attracts a lot of people. And personally I don’t think a large lake is more beautiful than one of the quiet fens that you can also find in this beautiful park.
- Start and end point: circular walk Reindersmeer
- Distance: total 8 km, halve with the ferry
- Marking: not necessary, you can follow the nodes
- Level difference: flat, with some loose sand
- Information: The information can be found on the website of Well