Bike through the polder, following river Vecht, to Maarsseveense and Loosdrechtse Plassen
One of my favourite bike paths in Utrecht is the one following river Vecht to Maarssen. In this blog I’ll share a biking route to nature reserve, with natural swimming pond, Maarsseveense Plassen – including this bike path. You’ll bike passed nostalgic Dutch scenery: flat polder fields, pretty mills, infinite grasslands, forest, several natural swimming ponds, charming village streets, historic Utrecht city neighbourhoods and monumental buildings at the riverbank.
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# kilometres = 23km – 40km
Estimated biking time = 1h30 – 2h30
Type = easy, mostly separate cycling lanes
The route to Maarsseveense Plassen is approximately 23K and can be extended with a loop through charming Maarssen (by continuing the bike path at river Vecht) and Loosdrechtse Plassen, lakes popular for water sports and boat rides. Total round is approximately 40K.
Start your route at Oudegracht and cross Weerdbrug at Nijntje pleintje, to Bemuurde Weerd Oostzijde. At your left hand you see river Vecht, which we will follow up to Oud-Zuilen. Right at the beginning you pass by some – still in use – locks. On warm days this is a popular place for Utrechters to enjoy the sun and the water. In this area also some restaurants and coffee places are located.
Fort aan de Klop
At ice-cream shop El Mulino, cross the bridge and turn right to keep following the river. After 750m cross river Vecht again at the red bridge and turn left at Zandpad. Not too long ago a red light district in houseboats, currently you've only river sight. Pass by other houseboats on the left and green trees on the right. When the river slightly bows to the left, you are at Fort aan de Klop An old fort transformed into a place to drink, eat and sleep in a great, green park. One of the many forts in Utrecht (only during this bike ride you can pass 4 of them).
The terrace at Fort aan de Klop is nicely hidden and truly feels a hidden-gem. Read more about hidden-gem terraces in Utrecht.
Keep following river Vecht and you arrive at Slot Zuylen, a castle with a rich history and beautifully located in a small forest and surrounded by a pond. Take a small detour to see the castle from both the front and the back. Reserve your place for a guided tour inside or visit the gardens.
Mills van de Polder Westbroek en Buitenweg
The road brings you further passed the beautiful, historic buildings in Oud-Zuilen. A few minutes after leaving the charming houses behind you, two mills pop up on the right. Mill van de Polder Westbroek – build in 1793 – is the biggest mill in the province of Utrecht. Its neighbour – Mill van de Polder Buitenweg – the smallest. Up to 1946 the mill grinded the polder itself, currently it has a support function. Between both mills there are monumental locks. The mills are beautifully situated: a nostalgic Dutch picture.
Here you can decide to go for the bigger loop. Return to the river and bike to Maarssen. Rather not, pass the mills, cross the autoway from underneath, turn right and follow the way to Maarsseveense Plassen. Please continue reading below from 'Maarsseveense Plassen'.
River Vecht meanders through the center of Maarssen, with many nice, historic houses facing the water. You’ll pass by several options to stop for a drink or a bite to eat Leave the village behind you, bike passed manor houses and turn right at Nieuweweg. After 5 minutes Loosdrechtse Plassen appear at your left. Along a big part of the lake a green strip invites you to lay down in the grass an gaze over the water with the sailing boats passing by. At the strip you can get snacks at the snack bar (open in summer) or go to the café/ restaurant.
Get back on your bike and turn right at Looijdijk. You are now in Tienhoven, a small village (read: street) where the houses on your left have gardens facing the water, and on the right facing the grasslands. Turn right at Maarsseveensevaart and bike through polder land until you reach Herenweg. Turn left and immediately on your left Fort Maarsseveen pops up. A beautiful, well-preserved fort open for a drink and with a ceramics atelier. A bit further and you reach Maarsseveense Plassen on your left.
Maarsseveense Plassen has a big lake and a great place to swim. Partly ticketed – a beach with playground – though a big part is free to visit. The lake is surrounded by a walking/ biking path (5K). walk or bike through the forest and stop at one of the many small grass areas for a picnic or a dive in the water. If you’re in for the full relaxation experience, pay a visit to wellness SpaSereen, a big complex of sauna’s, pools and massages.
Gagelpolder and Forelvijver Ruigenhoek
Leave the Maarsseveense Plassen at the northeast side to Westbroekse Binnenweg, turn right, then left on Burgeeester Huydecoperweg and right again at Kooijdijk. You are now biking in Gagelpolder, an area of infinite grasslands and forests. Right-left-right through this wide, green area full of ponds and you reach Forelvijver de Ruigenhoek (not far from Fort Ruigenhoek). If you like fishing, this is the place to be. They also serve lunch and drinks, therefor it’s also a good place for a biking stop. This area is not only a great place for fishing, (dog) walkers and bikers, also sunbathers relax at the waterside and enjoy their refreshing dive in the natural pond.
Bike to Alber Schweitzerdreef and turn left after crossing the road. It’s rather busy with cars as it’s part of Ring Utrecht, though it comes with a separate and broad biking path.
In for a little detour? Turn left at Kapelweg to Fort Blauwkapel. A very small, scenic neighbourhood surrounded by water.
Pass the railway and turn right at Winklerlaan and left again at Professor Sprengerlaan. You’re now in Tuindorp, an expensive neighbourhood with lovely houses dating back to the 1930s in streets full of big green trees. Cross Kardinaal de Jongweg and follow your way to the – also pretty – neighbourhoods Tuinwijk and Vogelenbuurt to Utrecht city center.
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