One of the happy things in autumn, to me, is hiking in a forest and enjoying the colors of autumn. So this autumn, I will be sharing some of my favorite forest hikes in Holland with you. In this second blog in the series I’ll tell you more about hiking in the dunes of Schoorl, about one hour north of Amsterdam.
What’s so special about the Schoorl dunes?
This particular stretch of dunes is special because it’s the widest and contains the highest dunes of Holland. The dunes of Schoorl offer many hiking possibilities.
When you think of dunes you may think of a desert-like sandy and hilly area, but actually there is a forest on these dunes. This forest was planted here more than 100 years ago to prevent the dunes from moving inland. This didn’t help too much, but it has left us with a lovely forest to go for an autumn hike. You will see many pine trees here, native species, as well as exotic species. This means that is greener than your general autumn hike.
To get into this forest you’ll need to climb. Behind the Outdoor Center (see section about trails below) there are stairs of 249 steps. At other locations you’ll just have to climb a sandy dune. Once you’ve taken that effort you are rewarded with excellent views of the polders in the east. And with about 60 kilometers of hiking trails in the dunes of Schoorl!
What kind of place is Schoorl?
You have probably never heard of Schoorl before. That is not so strange considering that it is a small village with about 3000 inhabitants. It’s about 8 kilometers north of the historical town Alkmaar, just behind the dunes. There is not too much to see in Schoorl. It has a tiny old church that is pretty cute. The main reason why people come here is to enjoy nature, to go hiking in the Schoorl dunes and to head towards the beach. The beach is behind that wide stretch of dunes though, so Schoorl is not your typical North Sea resort.
Schoorl is popular with Dutch and German tourists. This means that in summer this is not at all an off the beaten track experience. You may be able to observe Dutch tourists doing their typically Dutch touristy things. Such as cycling, a lot of cycling. Of course this also means that there are plenty of restaurants. In summer this place is super crowded! That’s why you should go hiking here in autumn!
Suggestions for hiking trails in the Schoorl dunes
Buitencentrum Schoorlse duinen, the starting point for hiking in the Schoorl dunes
A good starting point for hikes in the Schoorl dunes is the Outdoor Center Schoorlse Duinen, where you can buy maps, get info about hikes and the dunes in general, or have a drink or snack. It’s opened daily from 10.00 to 17.00. There are a lot of marked trails starting from the Outdoor Center, from short ones to 23 kilometer long ones. There’s an overview of hikes on the website of the information center, unfortunately only in Dutch. Still, just knowing the color of the markings of your favorite trail should be enough.
Address: Oorsprongweg 1, Schoorl
GPS tracks for hikes around Schoorl
- Groene Wissel Schoorl, an 18 km hike starting at a bus stop called Frederikslaan in Schoorl. This varied trail will take you through the dunes and through the polders east of the village of Schoorl.
- Groene Wissel Bergen (NH) is an 18 km hike starting in the neighboring village of Bergen (NH). Though the starting point is in another village, this track will take you through the Schoorl dunes more than the previous track. You will even get to see the North Sea!
- 14 km Schoorl, a 14 km hike starting at the Outdoor Center Schoorlse Duinen. Contrary to the Groene Wissel Schoorl it passes only through the dunes.
How to reach Schoorl by public transport?
From Alkmaar Central Station catch bus 151 in the direction of Petten, and get off in Schoorl. That should take another 30 minutes. If you use navigation or Google Maps use Oorsprongweg 1, Schoorl as your destination. This is where the Information Center for the Schoorlse duinen is. That is the starting point for many hikes.
Check your schedule on the public transport website 9292.nl and read my tips about using public transport in Holland. Mind that there are extra rules for users of public transport during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example: you have to wear a face mask when using public transport.