4 hour 53 minutes (22.0 km)

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  • When in Beilen, get ready and lace up for the Zuider Kluft trail. This trail is full of variety, featuring open fields, beautiful views, sand drifts, heathland and forests. The heart of Drenthe has a lot to offer hikers.

    The 19-kilometre ‘Zuider Kluft’ trail runs from B…

    When in Beilen, get ready and lace up for the Zuider Kluft trail. This trail is full of variety, featuring open fields, beautiful views, sand drifts, heathland and forests. The heart of Drenthe has a lot to offer hikers.

    The 19-kilometre ‘Zuider Kluft’ trail runs from Beilen towards the Terhorsterzand nature reserve and the Dwingeloo protected forest and back again. A shorter version of the trail only passes through the Terhorsterzand. For a delicious snack or a refreshing drink during your hike, you can best look at the start and end of the trail in Beilen or in Spier.

    You’re still fresh and you’re moving at a good pace as you make your way in between the homes of Beilen. Your surroundings quickly grow greener as you leave the village, and with wide vistas, meadows full of cows and the forest in your sights, you’re making steady strides.

    Be amazed by the natural beauty of the Terhorsterzond, with beautiful sand drifts looming up in the middle of the woods as you pass a lovely fen.

    Leaving the Terhorsterzand behind you, you’ll then dive into the Dwingelerveld, one of Drenthe’s three national parks. Did you know that the Dwingelerveld is the largest contiguous wet heathland in the Netherlands? This is a great time to find a bench, sit down and enjoy the vistas and sounds all around you. Can you hear the birds? The rustling leaves as the wind whispers through the trees? Maybe you hear don’t hear anything at all, just perfect silence.

    After your break, head towards Spier and leave the Dwingelderveld behind you. You’ll find yourself walking amidst grasslands and forests as you follow the path back to Beilen to enjoy the afterglow of your lovely hike.

    Sights on this route

    Starting point: Stationslaan 9
    9411 PS Beilen










    End point: Stationslaan 9
    9411 PS Beilen


    Starting point: Stationslaan 9
    9411 PS Beilen
    • Beilen is first mentioned in 1139, and in 1331, the Court of Beilen belonged to the lord of Borculo. In the Middle Ages, Beilen grew into the main city of the Beiler Dingspel, one of the six judicial regions of Drenthe. St. Stephen’s church, Beilen’s ancient gothic church, was also built around the same time. After the construction of the Groningen-Zwolle railway line in 1870, Beilen experienced a period of major growth. In the early 20th century, Beilen also welcomed the Beileroord psychiatric hospital and what would later become the Drentse Ondermelk Organisatie (the Drenthe Skim Milk Organisation, or DOMO). After the Second World War, DOMO became one of the Netherlands’ largest dairy cooperatives.
    • The trail starts at the train station, before passing through Beilen in the direction of the Terhorsterzand. The Terhorsterzand used to be part of the vast heathlands and sand drifts to the east of Dwingeloo, until it was cut off due to the construction of the A28 motorway. This small area is home to a wide variety of wetland and dryland, from forests, heathlands and sand drifts to fens and peatlands. A little later, you’ll find yourself walking along the Makkumerplas lake,
    • before passing the A28 motorway and entering the Dwingeloo protected forest, which is part of the Dwingelerveld national park that spans 3692 hectares. The core of the National Park is made up of wet heathlands between Dwingeloo and Ruinen, the largest area of its kind in Europe. These heathlands are surrounded by forests, brook valleys and ashlands. The heathlands and forests each make up approximately 45% of the total area covered by the national park, with the remainder serving as agricultural land.
    • Today’s wet heathlands are primarily the result of the pre-1900 agricultural system and the presence of boulder clay in the soil, which was deposited during the penultimate ice age, some 120,000 to 150,000 years ago. Thanks to careful management, tillage and grazing, the heathlands have remained intact. Several low-lying areas transformed into fens and lakes, including the so-called pingo ruins, which were formed in the most recent ice age after an underground ice lens melted and created a mound surrounded by a small ridge.
    • These nutrient-poor heathlands and peatlands are home to a wealth of endangered plants, including bog asphodel, spotted orchid and marsh gentian, as well as animals such as the cranberry fritillary, the alcon blue, the common European adder, the European stonechat and the black-necked grebe. The juniper bushes in the Lheebroekerzand, with its many mushrooms, are also very special. The herds of sheep roaming the Dwingelderveld keep the grass at bay.
    • After reaching the Spier information centre, pass the A28 motorway again and walk into Spier. The village of Spier is first mentioned in the early 13th century, and together with the villages of Drijber and Wijster, Spier made up the Zuider Kluft of the Beilen kerspel until 1688. After 1688, the Zuider Kluft disintegrated into three marches, after which the first farms emerged around 1750.
    • Continue following the trail towards Beilen, passing the hamlet of Makkum, which is first mentioned as early as the 14th century. The striking corn mill was moved here in 1906, after having served as a polder mill in De Groeve, a village just outside Zuidlaren and on the shores of the Zuidlaardermeer.
    • Walk through the hamlet of Lieving and pass by the Beilerstroom, a little canalised river that rises on the Drenthe Plateau between Orvelte and Westerbork and flows into the Meppelerdiep in Meppel. Near Westerbork, the river is known as the Westerborker stroom, before turning into the Beilerstroom just before Beilen. In the Dwingeloo area, the river is called the Dwingelerstroom. To the south of Dieverbrug, it bends south, after which it is known as the Oude Vaart or the Oude Smildervaart.
    • You have now completed the Zuider Kluft trail. Sit back and relax in one of the many great local cafés or restaurants and look back at this beautiful hike.
    End point: Stationslaan 9
    9411 PS Beilen