• Meuse-Rhine Gazette

Hike over 100km of trails across the Seven Summits in the new Dutch Mountain Trail

A groundbreaking, multi-day mountain hike located here in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine shows us that adventure can also be found close to home. Newly put together, the Dutch Mountain Trail covers over one hundred kilometres of breathtaking landscapes and (our version of) soaring mountain views, taking hikers along lesser-known and more challenging paths in the region. It is almost completely unpaved and avoids the built-up area as much as possible.

At the end of November 2020 the route and accompanying guide (only in Dutch at present, however plans to produce FR, DE and eventually EN versions are in the making – at our request) was officially presented during the Dutch Mountain Film Festival online edition on one of the 'Seven Summits' that make up the Dutch Mountain Trail. The Covid-19 pandemic hinders us in many activities but cannot prevent us from putting on our hiking boots and heading to the hills. The Dutch Mountain Trail aims to be just as well-known as the Pieterpad (NL), the Krijtlandpad (NL), the Eifelsteig (DE) or the Wainright Society's Coast to Coast Walk across northern England.

At a time when climate change is unmistakable and we will certainly have to look for destinations closer to home for short breaks, this tour offers a great alternative for both long distance hikers and ambitious trail runners. The trail is also an incentive for the residents of this province to get more exercise. Unfortunately, Zuid-Limburg has been struggling for decades with more disease, more obesity and more unhealthy behaviours than other Dutch regions.

Photo: © Dutch Mountain Trail 2020

Practical information

The hike passes all Seven Summits and the highest point of the Netherlands, starting at the Wilhelminaberg in #Landgraaf and ending at the Observant in #Maastricht. Inevitably, and often unnoticed, the trail crosses national borders several times. From each of the Seven Summits one can look out over a different valley. The valley of the Worm and the Rur in the direction of the Eifel, the Selzerbach or Sinselbeek valley as the trail moves via the Schneeberg to the Vaalserberg, the valleys of Gulp and Geul and finally the Voerstreek and the Maas valley. The view is always surprising. At some points the hiker looks back at the mountain they came from, the next time hikers can see the goal for the next day in the distance. The trail has been carefully set out and is also a challenge for the experienced hiker. In Zuid-Limburg "unpaved" means uneven boulder paths and sometimes unadulterated "pratsj" (Limburgs dialect for "mud"). Sometimes it means miles of false flat on a plateau where the wind has free rein, other times it means slipping steeply downhill through dark forests or along a dangerous abyss.

Be warned, don't take this trip too lightly!

The Dutch Mountain Trail can also be divided into stages. Although the route avoids built-up areas as much as possible, the guide shows where the hiker can eat, drink and spend the night at a short distance. Depending on one's ambitions one can opt for long day hikes with backpack and staying overnight at campsites or a more relaxed approach where one stays overnight in hotels or B&B or spread out the stages over a long time as a day trip.

Photo: © Dutch Mountain Trail 2020

The guidebook

The guidebook (only in Dutch at present) contains partial maps and a clear route descriptions, with tourist tips and useful facts. Special historical facts and locations, geological monuments or striking buildings are explained in the text and interspersed with photographs. It contains practical information such as: about accessibility by public transport, about where to eat and spend the night and how to prepare or what one needs during the hike. As a bonus, walks between 5 and 10 kilometres to the Seven Summits are described at the back of the booklet.

The route crosses the following places: Kerkrade (NL) - Landgraaf (NL) - Horbach (DE) - Vetschau (DE) - Orsbach (DE) - Simpelveld (NL) - Vaalserquartier (DE) - Vaals (NL) - Gulpen-Wittem (NL) - Voeren (B) - Eijsden-Margraten (NL) - Ternaaien (BE) - Maastricht (NL).

Photo: © Dutch Mountain Trail 2020

Next to the guide there is also a website with the most recent information about the route. The Seven Summits (marked with a black triangle in the image above) along which the Dutch Mountain Trail leads all have their own Facebook page (landmark) where you can check in when passing.

The Dutch Mountain Trail walking guide is available online or via certain book retailers.

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