4 beautiful trail runs near Amsterdam

Living in the city of course has its advantages. You can hop out the door and be at a trendy coffee bar to order your daily soya-latte-frappucino within two minutes. Unfortunately, having quick access to the outdoors and great running trails close by are not amongst those advantages. I live in Amsterdam and, although the city has some beautiful parks to run in, I sometimes find it hard to motivate myself to go out for the same old run around the same park, having to cross several big roads and wait for multiple traffic lights, while breathing in car exhaust fumes… this doesn’t add to the charm.

Most weekends, therefore, I try to make my way out of Amsterdam to do some running in nature. Surprisingly, even in this densely populated part of the Netherlands there are some beautiful natural areas that lend themselves perfectly to trail running. In this post I want to share with you some of my favourite trails near Amsterdam.

Zuid-Kennemerland

One of my go-to places – and conveniently only a 20-minute train or car journey from Amsterdam – to get some hill training into the schedule is the “Zuid-Kennemerland” National Park. This national park is an area of sand dunes, heather, forest and beaches located between the city of Haarlem and the North Sea. The trails here are mostly sandy paths through the dunes and forest. It is the perfect place to do some hill training and to strengthen the muscles on the loose sand, while breathing in some fresh sea air.

How to get there:

From Amsterdam Central Station you can take a train in the direction of Zandvoort, getting off at Overveen station after 20 minutes. By car it will also take you about 20 minutes from Amsterdam to get to the car park at the National Park’s visitors centre.

This is an example of a nice route of around 16 km in the national park.

Het Twiske

“Het Twiske” is a recreational and natural area just a stone’s throw to the north of Amsterdam. It is one of those quintessential Dutch landscapes, consisting of green fields, canals, lakes and windmills. I find the landscape here particularly intriguing, because of the juxtaposition of nature and city. You can see the city’s higher buildings and some chimneys in the port area, while still having a real sense of nature. Although the paths here are not all trails (in fact loads of them are paved), you can still find a few good trails to get your shoes muddy. Try to stay away from the more recreational parts of the area, which have several car parks and a few too many visitors for quiet trail lovers. You can get away from the masses and enjoy some peace and quiet and nature particularly in the northern part of the area.

How to get there:

Cycle! If you get the free ferry from Amsterdam Central Station to the other side of the IJ river, you can cycle to Het Twiske in about 30 minutes.

Schoorlse duinen

The “Schoorlse Duinen” is another coastal dune area not far from Amsterdam. It’s a bit bigger and more remote than Zuid-Kennemerland, and it contains the highest dunes of the Netherlands (reaching a dizzying height of 56 meters). It is one of my favourite places to run near Amsterdam, as there is a vast expanse of forest and there are some great trails to explore here.

How to get there:

This one is a bit further from Amsterdam and the most practical way to get here is by car. It will take you about 45 minutes. You can park in the centre of the village of Schoorl and start your run with a challenging climb of the “Klimduin” (50 meters of very steep sand).

In the picture you can see how the forest meets the sea near Schoorl. On the map you find an example of a 12km trail run starting in the village centre.

Amerongen – Utrechtse Heuvelrug

Another place I love to go to for a forest run is Amerongen. Amerongen is a picturesque village complete with its own castle within the “Utrechtse Heuvelrug” National Park. This national park is an area of forest, fields of heather and “hills” (pushed up by the ice in the last ice age). It is actually the closest area to Amsterdam where you have some elevation that is not in the form of a dune. Of course, when I say hills, we are still talking about hills in the Netherlands, so the highest point is the Amerongse Berg (“berg” meaning mountain in Dutch) at 69 meters. Still, anything is welcome when you live in this flat country. More importantly, it is a beautiful place to run, with great, quiet trails through the forest.

How to get there:

It is again quite far from Amsterdam and it is therefore also handy to come by car. It will take you about 1 hour to get there. There’s a car park at the church in the centre of the village or you can use the car park at the castle, both free of charge.  

If you want to go by train, doing the entire length of the Utrechtse Heuvelrug trail is a good option. You can read all about this 28 km long station-to-station trail here.

On the map you find an example of a nice short trail run beginning in Amerongen. This route is about 11 km. 

If you want any more tips or information about trail running near Amsterdam, feel free to leave a comment or send a message!