Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cycling in the National Park

Pines in the Hoge Veluwe Park
A few miles from the Netherlands' urban centers lies a vast wilderness of 5400 hectares (13,300 acres). This is the Hoge Veluwe National Park. Its open expanses, where scrub pines hold the sandy soil in place, are reminiscent of the dunes in the Pine Bush Nature Preserve on the outskirts of my hometown in New York State's Capital Region.

Climbing the dunes in the park

Like the Pine Bush, the park also contains moors or meadows and deciduous forests. During our half-day excursion to the park with our cousins, we made good use of the famous white bicycles available to visitors, choosing a 10 km. (6.2 mile) loop trail on which to cycle.

Some of the 1700 white bicycles

The route took us through sandy plains and wooded glades, past the monumental St. Hubertus Hunting Lodge, where we stopped to catch our breaths, and to the Visitors Center, which boasts a variety of displays about the flora and fauna in the park.

St. Hubertus Lodge

As we were there in the middle of the day, however, we didn't see any of the wild game that inhabit the park  --  deer, wild boar, foxes, badgers, and mouflons, a species of wild sheep.

The untamed scenery brought out the inner child in several members of our expedition, who decided to climb one of the huge trees just off the bike trail. After this diversion, we continued on our way until we came back to where we had started.

Climbing a tree in the park

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