Maasmechelen is partly located in the National Park of Hoge Kempen with its vast forests and partly in the quiet Meuse river valley. From unspoilt nature to charming little villages and a lively and vibrant town center, from flat, unhardened cycle paths to challenging mountain bike routes : Maasmechelen has all a cyclist could wish for. So, take your bike and enjoy the wind blowing through and playing with your hair and the sun shining on your face.
Cycling in Maasmechelen is quite an experience throughout the entire year. The renowned Limburg cycling network guarantees hours and hours of active sports fun between varied sceneries and quiet residential areas. On the way, you will pass small villages, terraces and even great picnic spots.
We have mapped out two inspiring cycle routes for you : a Tour of the National Park, focussing on forests and heathers and The Meuse admired from all sides, where you pedal endlessly alongside the Belgian and Dutch Meuse river banks. Both routes start at Visit Maasmechelen, Zetellaan 35, 3630 Eisden (Maasmechelen), where you can park for free. Write down the numbers of your favourite route in advance and so, you only need to follow the blue signs.
From the parking, you can spot the buildings and shafts of the former mine of Eisden. The former mine site harbours amongst others a hotel, a cinema complex, several restaurants and catering businesses and Connecterra (Terhills), a stunning hiking area. If you have still got some energy left after your cycle ride, it is worthwhile to take a stroll and enjoy the breath-taking views on the mine slag heaps or to climb one of the shafts.
Inspiration route 1: Tour of the National Parc
This route will take you alongside forests, heathers, lakes and ponds, picturesque villages, a former NATO air base and even a medieval water castle. Cycling in the National Park will always surprise you! This route involves some climbing occasionally, but you will be rewarded with beautiful views.
Route: follow nodes 60 - 551 - 565 - 535 - 534 - 251 - 552 – 62 – 65 – 558 – 131 – 140 – 58 – 57 – 56 – 55 and then again 60, until you reach the parking. The route is 58 km long.
You can shorten it to a trip of 46,4 km: follow nodes 60 -551 – 565 – 535 – 534 – 251 – 252 – 62 -63 – 140 – 58 -57 – 56 – 55 – 60. You will not pass all the places of interest listed below.
Start and head for node 60. Here, you will pass the Garden Borough of Eisden, of which the oldest houses go back to 1911. The mining company built this entire borough to accommodate the miners and their families, coming from all over Europe. Nowadays, it is a quiet borough with lush gardens, parks and old trees, in which a colourful troupe of birds bring you a serenade. The Saint-Barbara church from 1936 is very striking, with its nickname being mine cathedral of Eisden. The mine of Eisden used to be operational from 1922 till 1987.
Then, you enter straight into the National Park. Enjoy the shadow of the trees or curl up in the sun at the picnic spot near the parking of the Mechelse Heide. As from here, the route will take you for kilometers through the forests of the one and only National Park of Belgium.
You will also pass the air base in Zutendaal. In 1944, the allied forces built a temporary airport here, of which a monument still witnesses the air fight during the Second World War. In 1953, NATO started using the landing strips as a spare air base. However, the air base was used only now and then and since 2009, a gliding club has its base here.
Continue and follow the well-maintained cycle paths surrounded by forests to Pietersheim, a remarkable water castle built between the 12th and 16th century. Are you a history fan ? You can visit the castle for free before you start pedalling again.
After leaving the forests of the National Park, you will arrive in the picturesque village of Oud-Rekem. Then, you will pass Vucht, a borough of Maasmechelen displaying a rural charm. Here, you will see the only Meuse Cross left in the area. This 19th century wrought-iron cross is near a cosy picnic spot at the H. Vranckenstraat and reminds of an interesting piece of history.
Until the 19th century, the transport over the Meuse occurred by barges, pulled by horses. On certain spots, these horses had to change banks, just as the people handling them. So, they had to wade through the whimsical Meuse or even swim to the other side. This could sometimes be dangerous ! For this reason; Meuse crosses were installed at these spots with an offertory box, in which the captain put some coins to guarantee a safe crossing.
From Vucht, you follow the Zuid-Willemsvaart until you get back to Maasmechelen. From node 55, You head a little while for node 60, until you see the shafts in Eisden appear again.
Inspiration route 2: the Meuse seen from all sides
Cycling along the Meuse is fantastic, especially during spring- and summertime! Enjoy the unbridled view over the vast nature, the large Meuse and her river arms, water birds, and of course, banks filled with wild plants and herbs while using flat, well-maintained cycle paths.
Route: follow nodes: 55 -56 – 50 – 27 – 45 – 17 – 52 – 51 - 57 – 56 – 55. Total length: 37,8 km.
From the garden borough in Eisden, you pedal easily to the charming village centers of Vucht, Leut and Meeswijk. Leut is a charming, almost Mediterranean like village. During the big Meuse floods in 1993 and 1995, both Meeswijk as Leut were temporarily evacuated.
Remarkable detail : despite the geographical position in the county of Loon, Leut was not part of the county or the Netherlands. It used to be a dominion directly under the authority of the Holy Roman Empire.
At node 50, you will cross the Meuse with a ferry. During this relaxing crossover, your bike ride will turn into quite an international trip. Between the Meuse and the Julianakanaal, you will go on until Meers in the Netherlands, again a quiet Meuse village where it is nice to linger.
Continue your route between the Julianakanaal and the Meuse. Watch out at node 45 : do not cross the canal here, but keep on cycling on the same bank until node 17.
Then, you will arrive in Geulle aan de Maas. In 1993 and 1995, the entire village was blank after the river floods, to which it owes its name. Take a ferry to the village of Uikhoven, which is part of Maasmechelen.
Until the 12th century, this village was located on the right river bank of the Meuse. After a flood, the water bed moved a few kilometers, so now it is on the left bank! Thanks to its position near Maastricht, Uikhoven used to be throughout history often the background of passing armies.
From here, you follow the Meuse meanders showing you the most beautiful far corners of Maasmechelen. Enjoy the peace and lush nature ! Via Vucht, you return to the over one-century-old Garden Borough of Eisden and the starting point of your trip.
You will see more with the bicycle ferry
In Maasmechelen, you will find two spots where you can cross the Meuse with a ferry boat and head for Dutch river banks : the car and bike ferry Hoal Euver in Meeswijk and the pedestrian and bike ferry Jung in Uikhoven. Outside Maasmechelen, there are still two other pedestrian and bike ferries. Attention : the bike ferries are not active during the winter months, the car ferry is. Discover here the time schedules and rates of the ferries.
You prefer composing a route on your own ?
Of course, you can do that too very simply on fietsnet.be, or by using the map Fietsen in Limburg. The routes of the Dutch cycling network connect seamlessly with the one in Belgium. Thanks to its cross-border cycling map, you can plan the perfect route. Both maps are for sale at Visit Maasmechelen.
Renting a bike
You do not have a bike with you ? So, you just rent one. At 12 locations in Limburg, you can rent the green Biking Paradise Limburg-bikes. You can opt for a trekking bike, an e-bike a tandem or a childrens bike. You can see all about it on fietsparadijslimburg.be.
Moreover, mountain biking in Maasmechelen is an absolute must! Signed loops have been mapped out for beginners and advanced mountain bikers. Altogether, they provide 160 km of mainly unhardened paths. Forest, heath, mud and height differences up till 45 metres promise a challenging nature experience, amongst which a loop starting at the former station of Eisden, at camping Kikmolen and the Mechelse Heide.
Nice to know : camping t Salamanderke near the Mechelse Heide and camping Kikmolen provide facilities to wash your mountain bike and to take a shower.
Already in for it ? At Visit Maasmechelen, you can buy the mountain bike map of the National Parc of Hoge Kempen and plan your own routes.