If you’re looking for a unique place to get out on your bike for some healthy fresh air and exercise, then the Award-winning Belgian bike trail Cycling through the Trees in Limburg is certainly a great place to start.
1. Cycling through the Trees
This unique cycle path opened in June 2019 takes cyclists not just on a journey through beautiful forest, but above it! Located in Bosland, the largest adventure forest in Belgium’s Flanders region, the circular route gradually takes cyclists all the way up to the treetops ten metres above ground to enjoy 360-degree-views of the forest canopy and nature reserve below. The route offers 700 metres of cycle track and the chance to experience nature in a completely different way from a whole new perspective.
2. A sustainable tourism project
The cycle path was created with respect for the forest both in terms of appearance and materials used. The Corten steel pillars holding the elevated cycle path replicate the straight trunks of the forest’s fir trees, ensuring that the structure fits into the environment, whilst recycled tree trunks form rest and information spots along the trail. Near to the entrance to the route the cycle pavilion, which provides rest and information for visitors, is made from two Corten steel frames with logs stacked around them, using logs from the trees felled to make room for the cycle bridge. The trail itself was designed by Belgian studios BuroLandschap and De Gregorio & Partners and was shortlisted for infrastructure project of the year at the 2020 Dezeen Awards.
The protection of the surrounding forest is also extremely important. Mainly made up of coniferous trees planted at the beginning of the last century, Limburg Tourism is now trying to improve this situation and create healthy and balanced forest resources with small, medium-sized and tall trees. They are using a tailor-made woodland management plan in which smaller indigenous trees at the lower levels of the forest are given more space and light to help them grow.
3. Belgium’s cycling capital
Each year Limburg welcomes more than 300 million cycling tourists and is widely regarded as Belgium’s premier cycling province. Over the past few years the tourist board of Limburg province, Visit Limburg, has begun creating several imaginative cycling experiences to cement this reputation. Cycling through the Trees is the second of these and follows the Cycling through Water project in Bokrijk, a trail which cuts through a pond, with water on eye level on either side giving cyclists the feeling of riding on water. A third project, Cycling through the Heathland, is scheduled to open in Hoge Kempen National Park at the beginning of 2021 and features a 300-meter long cycling bridge that runs through heath landscape, bringing cyclists even closer to the evergreen surroundings of the national park.
The tourist board has said that with these new trails, Limburg is stepping up its game as a pioneer in cycling tourism and taking advantage of improved infrastructure and facilities for cycling tourists. The province now has a total 2000 kilometres of paved, safe and largely car-free cycling trails that are connected through the cycle node network. Igor Philtjens, president of Visit Limburg, explained how the cycling trails are designed to promote sustainable tourism as well as encourage people to get out into the countryside and explore their natural surroundings by bike. “And what a success it is,” he commented, “Because the number of cyclists that visit Cycling through Water and Cycling through the Trees is continually growing. And the projects are receiving more and more international acclaim.”
4. Practical information
Cycling through the Trees is located at node 272 of the cycle node network in the Pijnven nature reserve, part of Bosland. If coming by car, you can use the free parking. The trail is also accessible to walkers and joggers, and there is bike rental available if you don’t want to bring your own bike or do not have one. The nearest rental point is De Groenen Hoek, reserve your bike in advance and pick it up on the day you want to come.