Driebergen to Maarn


This beautiful hike from Driebergen to Maarn is a 14 kilometer trail through forests and meadows. It is an easy - slightly uphill - walk from one train station to the next. Just follow the 'red white flag' signposts on trees, benches and other objects along the way. For accurate directions (in Dutch) and a downloadable map, check out wandelnet.nl 


The hike starts at station Driebergen-Zeist. Here you can stack up on snacks, drinks and other necessities, and do all that other important stuff (checking the map, using the restroom, etc.) before you head out on the trail. Mind you, until you arrive at the little town of Austerlitz about half way through the trail, this will be the only place to do so. Once you're ready to go: cross the busy road across from the station and pass the bike-storage-facility. Follow the bicycle path into the trees, and you're on your way. After a short walk through one of Driebergen parks, you cross the railroadtracks again and leave civilization.


Bornia

The first forest you enter belongs to the Bornia estate. Together with Heidestein and Noordhout this area belongs to the largest interconnected nature reserve of the province of Utrecht. Together they are considered the second largest forest area in the Netherlands. The name itself 'Bornia' comes from an old frysian word for border. Since it lies directly on the border between Driebergen and Zeist, the name is quite befitting. The trail leads you in through the luscious area in a nice sort meandering kind of way. The trees are (Scots-)pine trees mostly, although there is some variety of trees with even two monumental Giant Sequoia trees within the estate.


Heidestein

Next up is an estate called Heidestein. People have apparently lived here since as early as the last ice age, but it became 'an estate' in 1894. Baron Taets van Amerongen tot Woudenberg bought the lands to build his villa. Although this villa burned down in 1939, a smaller villa remains to this day. Just before the entrance the path leads you to the right of the entrance of the grounds. After you walk along the border for a bit, you finally enter by climbing the small steps that lead you over the gate (to keep the sheep from escaping). The landscape changed into a large meadow with a nice little pond (a ven, as the Dutch call it), complete with a lonesome tree and a bench underneath it to relax while eating your packed lunch or just to look around a bit. 


 
As the trail heads off to the right of the pond, the landscape starts to change. It becomes a little bit rugged as you ascend and descend some small slopes, until you reach another gate to climb over. From there you turn left and head back into the forest to continue your way towards Austerlitz. You'll pass and cross a couple of nice sand drifts (keep your eye out for roe deer and foxes) before you enter the village of Austerlitz. 









Austerlitz

The village of Austerlitz is named after the village of Austerlitz. Wait what? Let me explain. In 1804 a French general by the name of Auguste de Marmont established an army camp on the location of the current village. To keep his soldiers occupied, he made them build a 36 meters high pyramid which they did in a mere 27 days. The pyramid, dubbed Mont Marmont, was inspired by the pyramid of Giza, which the general had seen 6 years earlier on Napoleon's campaign through Egypt. The following year the general was called to the front with his well trained army to fight in the battle of the three emperors. It was to be Napoleon's biggest victory. The French defeated both the Russians and the Austrians near a small town in the Austrian empire called Austerlitz. To honour this battle, Napoleon's nephew and the new king of Holland - Louis Napoleon, renamed Mont Marmont the pyramid of Austerlitz and gave the same name to the trading post nearby.

Nowadays it is a small village with a nice pub in the middle where you are can warm up, have lunch, dinner or just a nice beer and be on your way. After you exit the restaurant, go right. After a short walk through mainstreet, you enter a path that in old times was used as part of the old postal route from Amsterdam to Arnhem. Naturally you can take a detour to the Pyramid and learn more about this curious monument. Just follow the signs and retrace your steps afterwards. 
 

Den Treek-Henschoten

Leaving the forest of Austerlitz, you enter the privately owned estate of Den Treek-Henschoten. Here you will start to notice a slight increase of altitude. About a 150.000 years ago a large ridge was formed, because a glacier decided to stop right in this area. It left a lot of dirt behind and in doing so, what is now know as the Utrechtse heuvelrug' came into being. With majestic peaks that rise up to an incredible 68 meters, it should be clear that the Netherlands are in fact not flat at all. During all this uphill hiking there is again a reasonable chance of wildlife (if you are the quiet type), and you will pass the 'koepel (dome) of Stoop', a former teahouse built by the Amsterdam banker J.B. Stoop in 1840. After you pass a rather beautiful country house (landgoed 'De Hoogt' you come near the end of this hike.  
The last part consists of a nice walk through a large sand drift with the rather odd name 'Koeheuvels' (cow hills). Odd, because the drift is particularly known to have been grazed upon for many centuries by sheep. Not cows, sheep.

Maarn

After you exit the sand drift, it is a short straight walk of perhaps five minutes towards the train station. Here you come to the end of this hike. If you happen to have some extra time on your hands, restaurant 'Reynaert' is only 200 meters from the station and open for lunch and diner. Or just walk around a bit. The village of Maarn is what is called a 'Tuindorp' (garden village). These early 20th century villages  are recognisable by their small houses with large gardens, built this way to enable labourers to be more selfsustainable. As the last fully authentic 'tuindorp' of its kind, there is even talk of it becoming a UNESCO world heritage site.

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