Fantastic Dutch cycling climbs
The Netherlands is as flat as a pancake. But even our vertically-challenged country has some good cycling climbs for cyclists who want to train or for those who just want a bit of variety. Hop in the saddle and discover the best cycling climbs in the Netherlands, ranging from charming forest paths to steep slopes that separate the wheat from the chaff.
The Luxury of Limburg
When it comes to popular prominences and renowned rising ridges, South Limburg is the undisputed king of the hill: nine of the ten most challenging climbs in the Netherlands are found in this region. Top of the list is the Camerig, an Alpine ascent of no less than 4.5 kilometers (almost 3 miles) in length. Another climb to really get your blood pumping is the nearby Vaalserberg, which challenges you to slog your way heavenwards through forested surroundings to reach the tripoint where the borders of the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany meet. The tripoint is also the peak of this climb and presents you with a unique decision to make: will you descend down the Dutch, German or Belgian side of the hill?
The steepest and possibly cruelest climb in the Netherlands is the Keutenberg. Those who survive the first 200 meters (218 yards), with gradients upwards of 20%, still have a grueling slog to the top ahead of them – a kilometer’s worth of punishment that will undoubtedly make you rethink your life choices.
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The Glory of Gelderland
The central Netherlands also has many handsome hills for you to discover. The Rijk van Nijmegen region is even home to a hill that would not be out of place in the undulating landscape of South Limburg: the Oude Holleweg. Those who complete the climb, with a 14% gradient, through dense forest are rewarded with a spectacular view at the top.
The Veluwe nature reserve is also a splendid area for cyclists, with the Posbank as one of the true standouts. Keep your eyes open as you gradually climb towards purple fields of heather, because there’s a good chance of spotting a deer or a wild boar – and make sure to pace yourself, because this climb definitely has a sting in the tail. Tip: avoid the busy summer months and enjoy a quiet bicycle ride in the spring or autumn.
An Outing in Utrecht
The Utrechtse Heuvelrug, or Utrecht Ridge, is a great area for cyclists with very manageable climbs. The popular Amerongse Berg (Hill of Amerongen) is the most challenging climb in the region, with a gradient of 6%. The Grebbeberg in Rhenen is steeper, but too short to intimidate the average cyclist.
You can gradually ramp-up your bike route after departing from Utrecht: start with the Austerlitz Pyramid in the Zeister forests, then head through Doorn and the Ruiterberg towards Amerongen. On the way back, take the Lekdijk road to enjoy a view of the Ridge in all its glory.
The Crest of Drenthe
Have you always wanted to cycle across a garbage dump? Probably not, but you’ll want to make an exception for the VAM Hill in Drenthe. This former landfill now boasts three climbs with gradients upwards of 10%. It’s also a car-free zone, meaning that beginning cyclists can practice their climbs and descents without any worry or distraction.