DUTCH MOUNTAIN TRAIL ADVENTURE.


The Dutch Mountain Trail was established in 2020. The trail is 101 km long and connects The Seven Summits, which are walks around and to the top of seven of South Limburg's "Peaks", to give you a sense of being in the mountains.  


I found out about the trail and the Seven Summits from my Nephew, Sander.  We tried to schedule some time to walk this trail together, but life gets in the way, so I decided to do the Seven Summit Walks while still hoping to complete the whole trail at some point. 



    

Untitled photo

November 11, 2021.

With the weather being perfect for a few days, I decided to walk four of the Seven Summits Walks.  I left Rijswijk early in the morning, and arrived at the trailhead for the Wilhelminaberg around 10:00AM. The Wilhelminaberg was created from stone rubbish from the coal mines. After  the closures of the mines, the mountain converted over time from "black" to "green".  The trail takes you through a wonderful forested area all the way to the top and back.  The only caveat was that there are so many tracks everywhere, that the GPS had a hard time staying on the right one!  The walk was about 6.5km long with 110m of ascent. 


After a quick lunch at McDonalds, I drove to the trailhead for the Schneeberg.  The trail starts in the small town of Lemiers, with its middle centuries Saint Catherina chapel.  To get to the Schneeberg, you have to cross into Germany, by taking a narrow footpath steeply down to a small bridge that crosses a creek.  From there the trail zigzags steeply into a forest, where you reach the "summit" of the Schneeberg.  To mark the "peak" someone had nailed a pair of hiking boots to a tree!  After hikng out of the forest the trail meandered all the way to the hamlet of Orsbach, while allowing for beautiful views of the valley below and the town of Vijlen.  The way back to Lemiers was a muddy affair following an old dirt  road.  The walk was 8.25km long with 150m of ascent. 

 

November 12, 2021.

After a nice breakfast at the hotel, I went to my car and saw that all the windows were frozen over.  It must have been at least 25 years ago that I had to scrape the ice of my windshield!  A short drive later I arrived in the town of Eys, for the start of the hike through the Eyserbos.  The trail meandered quickly uphill into the Eyserbos where the highpoint should be.  Unfortunately there was no marker to be found, not even any pairs of shoes nailed to a tree!  From there the trail followed through vineyards and meadows back to Eys.  This walk was about 8.6km long with 140m of ascent.        


Back in the car, I drove the few miles to my next target: Gulperberg.  Getting to the top of the peak takes about 10 minutes, climbing some stairs and crossing a field.  At the top is a large statue of Mary.  After the necessary picture taking, the trail goes up and down fields and around the Wagelerbos.  Once out of this forest, the trail continues through some meadows until with a sharp right turn the trail steeply drops back to the the town of Gulpen.    About halfway down, an apple tree had dropped all its apples on the trail.  The walk was 6.3km long with 155m of ascent.


November 23, 2021.

For several days I had checked the weather in Limburg, and noticed that for a few days it would be sunny, so I decided to schedule a trip to complete  the last three Summit hikes.  When I told Sander about this, he graciously invited me to stay the night in their house.  The evening before my trip I noticed that the weather had changed (what a surprise!) and that there would be no sun for several days.  Fortunately there was also no rain expected, so after breakfast I drove the three hours south to the starting point of the  first hike of the day in the small town of Noorbeek.  The first part of the hike took me through some pleasant pastures, with no measurable change in elevation.  At one point the trail takes a sharp right turn taking you downhill to the Belgian village of Sint Martens-Voeren.  Before doing this, I decided to walk to the actual summit of Kattenroth (the 6th of the seven summits).  I stopped at a four-way crossing, that had the Kattenroth sign.  Not seeing anything else exiting about this "summit", I returned to the main trail and followed it into Belgium.  After walking though the village I continued underneath a long railroad bridge and followed a trail that looped back to town.  From there a small trail steeply climbed back up to the summit of Kattenroth. I kept going, following the trail back to Noorbeek and my car.  This hike was about 9.5 km with 185 meter of ascent.


Back in the car, I drove about 15 km to the starting point for the next "summit" hike, the Hakkenberg, just south of the city of Epen.  I parked just behind hotel 't Inkelshoes.  For a few kilometers I hiked along roads and tracks until I reached the edge of the Onderste and Bovenste Bosch.   Walking through this forest was wonderful, with the exception of the trail being very muddy at this time of year.  At one point the trail takes a sharp left turn and follows the border with Belgium.  At one point an opening to a field with a metal "border pole" indicated the "summit" of Hakkenberg.  A short while further the trail took a sharp left turn back into the forest.  This section of the trail was very muddy until it started to go downhill to the edge of the Boven Bosch.  There were some nice batches of mushrooms in the forest!  Once out of the woods, it was a quick hike down through some pastures, back to my car.  This hike was about 6.5 km long, with a total ascent of 110 meters.


November 24, 2021.

The final hike of the Seven Summits!  After breakfast, and saying goodbye to Sander and family, as well as Joke and Nol, I drove to Kanne in Belgium to the start of the hike to the top of D'n Observant.  Since I was only going to do one hike today, I had added an extra loop around the Sint Pietersberg.  Leaving the town center, the trail first crosses into The Netherlands, and then back into Belgium.  I followed thhe trail all the way south to a wonderful viewpoint of the split of the Maas river and the Albert canal.  After taking in the view here, it was time to return on the same trail to a point where a separate trail branched off into the forest, with very steep sections of ups and downs.  Ropes were attached to trees at several points to help navigate these.  At one point I ran into a Forest Ranger, who told me I was not supposed to walk on the trail because they were in the process of repairing a sections.  He told me I would have to go back the same way I had come and take another trail to reach the summit of today's hike.  I told him that I was not going back that way, since it had been too tricky navigating the steep areas with the ropes.  After going back and forward about this for a while, the Ranger begrudgingly told me to go ahead to continue in the direction I wanted to go.  The part of the trail they had closed off was only about 100 meters long!  After this adventure, it was time to conquer the flanks of D'n Observant.  The first part was nice, with views of the river Maas far below.  Later on the GPS got confused about where the trail actually should be, but after several wrong turns and some steep climbing, I reached the last of the Seven Summits!!  Getting to the top of this hill had taken me longer than I expected, and I thought about skipping the extra loop to the Sint Pietersberg.  Hiking down from the summit area I saw a flock of sheep.  After a short conversation with the sheep herder and feeling OK, I decided to stick with the plan and continue on to hike around the quarry of the Sint Pietersberg.  I am glad I did!  You are allowed to walk into the quarry, and see the negative results of mining close up.  At the far end of the quarry a staircase was built into the rock face from where you can walk all the around the quarry.  Just when I turned to the beginning of the stairs, I almost ran into a completely nude young lady leaning against the rock wall.  A man and women were in the process to taking photos of her.  When they saw me, they quickly draped a long coat around the young women.  What a pity!!  From the top of the stairs I walked to Fort Sint Pieter, from where you have a great view of the city of Maastricht. The way back along the west side of the quarry was uneventful. The highly enjoyable adventure took about 4.5 hours, with a distance of about 16 km and 340 meter of ascent.