Dive into the forest pool! - Leuven (route)
Escape the city and get lost in the forest. Just outside Leuven, you can disappear completely into the green mists of the Heverlee Woods and Meerdaal Forest. Along the way, you will find inviting sidewalk cafés, a play area with the craziest climbing and clambering equipment, and the most beautiful abbey site in the Low Countries.
Starting point and parking lot:
- Depart on your bicycle from VisitLeuven (junction 10) in the centre of the city: Naamsestraat 3, 3000 Leuven
You can easily reach Leuven by train. From the train station you can follow the Bondgenotelaan to the Grote Markt. If you want to arrive by car you can park in different parkings in the city, or even beter outside the ring around Leuven. Like for example you can park your car at the Torenvalkreception area (junction 82).
How do you cycle the route? This route is not signposted, so it is best to download the gpx file for your GPS. You can also simply print out the route.
Length: 31 km
Altimeters: 220 meters
Highlights of the route
Today, the Arenberg Castle is bursting with creativity. Leuven University has accommodated the exact sciences campus here and engineering students conduct their research here. The stronghold of the Lords of Heverlee was already present on the site of this magnificent castle back in the 12th century. It was given its current form in the 16th century.
The area was one large swamp up until the 17th century, when the five ponds of Zoet Water were excavated. It soon became a popular Sunday getaway destination. The restaurants’ outdoor dining areas are always enjoyably full on Sundays. The picturesque castle on the periphery is a remnant of the Steenbergen Castle that once stood here. The Steenbergen Chapel – with its 17th-century altars and paintings – is one of the largest chapels in Flanders.
You can climb and clamber over the wooden figures, swing like Tarzan between the trees, play a giant game of pick-up sticks, and experience many more childlike adventures in the heart of the Meerdaal Forest. You will also occasionally stumble across a fabulous wooden sculpture by local artist Ad Wouters.
A true hiking paradise with a network of majestic avenues. The deciduous forest is a remnant of the Kolen Woods, a primaeval forest that stretched across the whole of central Belgium after the last ice age.
Torenvalk reception area
A new reception area where children can have a good time on the course with natural obstacles, wooden constructions, and a miniature eco-duct. You have a gorgeous view of the forest from the 17-metre-high observation tower.
Heverlee Woods arboretum
Put your cycle in the bicycle storage area and walk through this special arboretum, which is home to no less than 350 native and non-native tree and shrub species. First, check the map and relax in the rest area along the way, stretch out on the heathland, or hide in the loam forest hut.
The Premonstratensians have lived uninterruptedly at this beautiful abbey site since 1129. The buildings have remained practically unchanged since the 17th century and radiate a sacred tranquillity. The Park Abbey ponds are a great place for a delicious picnic. Fresh ingredients can be bought at the abbey shop. Want to make it easier on yourself? Then head down to De Abdijmolenbrasserie housed in the beautifully restored watermill. Visit the PARCUMmuseum and discover never-before-seen heritage pieces from churches, abbeys, and cloisters.
Also take a look in the VisitLeuven brochure!