Walk Distance: 4.5km
Walk Duration: 1hr 15 at a relaxed pace, including brief bird watching/ snack stop.
Suitable for: Babies in carriers, little legs. Longer routes offer perfect paved track for pushchairs and cyclists of all ages.
Walk Features: Huge unspoilt sandy beach, sand dunes, lake with plenty of wetland bird watching, bison/highland cows & perfect paths for cycling, icecream & restaurant, toilets. There is also a large campsite near the entrance to the park.
Well under an hour from central Amsterdam, the Zuid-Kennemerland National Park offers glorious wild sandy beaches and some impressive sand dunes to explore. You may even meet a bison! Whilst most people take to their bikes to Zuid-Kennemerland, there are some dedicated walking tracks that enable you to get even further away from it all. Longer walks and cycle trails are clearly marked at the park.
Take a picnic and stop at the spectacular beach or down by the Vogelmeer lake, Here we spent ages watching the lapwings and other wetland birds flying – an unexpected paradise for birds. Make sure you stop in the cafe for ice-cream at the end – it’s delicious! I can personally recommend cassis and fruits of the forest frozen yoghurt if you’re stuck on choices.
The Zuid-Kennemerland Dunes, Lake & Beach Walk starts from outside the cafe at the Parnassia entrance to the Zuid-Kennemerland National Park. This walk follows the green route markers for most of the route.
From here, set off downhill behind the cafe (not the beach side) towards the bike parking area. (If you’d rather walk by the sea than through the dunes, start the walk by heading down along the beach to the right by the cafe first and pick up the route at the first main path back out over the dune instead).
Just beyond here, turn left onto the wide paved cycle track. The walk takes you along the cycle track through the sand dunes. We were quite amazed at just how tall the dunes are, completely blocking the view to either side. After a short wander you will see a small path heading off to your right. This is the onward route for the walk but if you have time and fancy a stroll to the beach then it’s worth walking another couple of minutes on the main path, where you will find the entrance to a lovely, set-away area of sandy beach. If you’ve joined the walk by starting along the beach then you can pick up the route from here.
With the beach to your back, head back down the main track to the right. Turn left off it and onto the little ‘voetpad’ heading up through the dunes. Suddenly it becomes a lot more wild as the paved tracks and bikes disppear from view and the path weaves up and over the dunes. Keep on the main path, ignoring any smaller tracks joining it.
Eventually the path joins at an intersection with a main cycle path. Turn right onto the path and then immediately turn right back off it again onto the footpath a few meters on. Now the path head through more dunes and scrubland before opening out into a lovely view of the Vogelmeer lake below you through the pine trees.
Head down right onto the main track that runs alongside the Vogelmeer. There is a bench here if you need a picnic spot – it’s a really beautiful, peaceful spot to watch the birds and ducks.
The walk continues along the waterside of the Vogelmeer. Ignore the first turn-off (marked with the green route sign) and continue on towards the end of the lake. Here you will find another footpath marked ‘Uitzichtpunt Hazenberg’ or Hazenberg viewpoint. This is the route to continue the walk. Before you leave the side of the Vogelmeer though you might want to visit the bird hide at the very end of the lake. It’s a lovely place to observe more wetland birds and we spent a long time watching the lapwings put on their showy flying displays here.
Head uphill towards the viewpoint. Carry straight on at the first intersection of paths and keep left at the second. The path then brings you out into an opening at the top of the hill from which you can see far-reaching views of the landscape around you. The steel works at IJmuiden are clearly visible on the horizon making the bare stretch of dunes leading up to its towering chimneys and clouds of steam look a little Tolkien-esque.
From the viewpoint, take the first path to the left of the information board. This leads down the dunes again before descending some steps. At the bottom, turn left to join the path. The land becomes flatter again here as you head back towards the main car park. When the route splits you have the option to take a short cut by leaving the current path and heading off to the right on the smaller track. This route was closed when we walked here so we instead continued on the main path. A short walk brings you to the main cycle track once more.
Turn right and follow the track back towards the car park. If you took the shortcut it will also join this track a bit further on. Continue walking until you get back to the car park. I can thoroughly recommend heading back to the cafe for an ice cream which you can enjoy on the beach – it’s really good!
Map of Route:
The Zuid-Kennemerland walk starts from the Parnassia entrance on the parks south west coastal corner. From the N200, turn right before the car park at Bloemendaal-aan-Zee and head down Parnassiaweg to the car park. At time of writing parking cost 5 euros for 2 hours or a maximum of 12 euros for a stay over 4 hours. You can pay by card as well as cash.
You can also get to the Zuid-Kennemerland National Park by train and bus, taking an hour from central Amsterdam. Take the train out to Haarlem and then catch the number 81 bus in the direction of Zandvoort from Haarlem bus station. Get off at Overveen De Lakens stop and walk from there. You can check journey plans here.
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