Today I hike a section of the Migration birds trail, between Maarn and Langbroek in the Netherlands. First of all, I go back a bit on the trail, because last time I skipped nature reserve the Koeheuvels (Cow Hills). I’m glad about that in retrospect, because it turns out that the Koeheuvels and another trip off the trail, to watchtower De Kaap, are the most enjoyable part of the hike. Are you curious? I’ll tell you all about it.

Hiking map Migration birds trail: Maarn - Langbroek
Hiking map Migration birds trail: Maarn – Langbroek

Trip to Cow Hills

I am greatly looking forward to hiking on the Migration birds trail again, as the previous hike was wonderfully beautiful and I hope this one is too. As usual, I arrive at my destination in Maarn around sunrise. I walk straight from the train station, heading north to the Cow Hills nature reserve. I follow the trail in the opposite direction for a while. I walk through a villa residential area with the most beautiful houses. Just imagine living here, on the edge of the forest!

Soon I am at the Cow Hills and I find it really beautiful. I sit down on a bench to enjoy the view over the sand drifts. The occasional dog running by doesn’t bother me.

The trail leads me first across the sandy drifts and then along a narrow forest path at the edge. I could linger here for hours, but I also want to continue the trail, so I quickly return to the station via a different self thought-out path.

I go under the tunnel and am on the other side of the station at a little square and Maarn’s beautiful town hall.

I walk through another residential area and then dive back into the forest. I spot a cute little brown bird with a crooked beak crawling up along a tree trunk. It must be a treecreeper. It’s the first time I’ve seen one.

(Short-toed) Treecreeper
The treecreeper is an inconspicuous bird with a brown-spotted upper surface and a white belly. Its brown colour makes it well camouflaged. The treecreeper has a pointed, down-curved beak to find insects. It spirals upwards along tree trunks, hence the name tree creeper.

The bird breeds from April to June, with two nests per year of 5 to 7 eggs. The eggs are white with red speckles.

tree creeper

Bron: Vogelbescherming

Of course, the tree creeper is not the only bird I encountered on this hike. As with every stage of the Migration birds trail, I kept a list.

Birds seen between Maarn and Langbroek, the Netherlands
✔ Barn swallow✔ Dunnock✔ Great tit
✔ Carrion crow✔ Eurasian blue tit✔ Great spotted woodpecker
✔ Common blackbird✔ Eurasian coot✔ House sparrow
✔ Common buzzard✔ Eurasian green woodpecker✔ Mallard
✔ Common chaffinch✔ Eurasian jay✔ Northern lapwing
✔ Common chiffchaff✔ Eurasian magpie✔ Short-toed treecreeper
✔ Common moorhen✔ Eurasian nuthatch✔ Song thrush
✔ Common starling✔ European herring gull✔ Western jackdaw
✔ Common wood pigeon✔ European robin✔ Willow warbler

Distracted by the treecreeper, I walk in the wrong direction. I go straight on, but according to the trail guide I should turn right. I didn’t see any markings to the right, but I turn back anyway and a little later I am on the right trail.

I walk through a somewhat barren part of the forest. The trees have been cut down and new plantings seem to be growing. Beautiful to look at, at least it is not.


Trip to De Kaap

The forest is starting to get a bit busier. That usually means there is something to see or do nearby. I see a signpost to watchtower De Kaap. That explains the bustle. I’m curious about the tower and the view myself. And even though it is not part of the trail, I go there to have a look.

I walk along narrow paths through the forest and then come to a wider dirt path that leads to the watchtower. There are indeed other curious people.

The tower itself looks beautiful, but the view is of course even better, so I climb the tower. Halfway up the tower, you can already look out through a window. I go further up, of course.

The view is indeed phenomenal. Too bad about the somewhat grey day and that the forest is still bare. Nevertheless, I enjoy the view.

I don’t linger too long, as I still have to return to the trail and then to Doorn and Langbroek. With one more look at the tower, I head back to the trail via the same road.

Watchtower De Kaap
Watchtower De Kaap

The next attraction to visit is St Helena Hill. Here there is also a parking lot and a restaurant on top of the hill. It is quite crowded with visitors. The nature reserve is very pretty with rolling heathlands and a sandy plain, but I don’t last long, it’s too crowded for me. In August, I think it is at its most beautiful here when the heather is in bloom.


Trail guide about the same region


Walking through Doorn

I continue a little further through the Kaapse woods and not much later I reach the outskirts of Doorn. Here you can see that it is spring, several trees are blooming brilliantly.

I arrived in the centre of Doorn. Here there is a beautiful church and a water pump. I walk around the church and down a nice, picturesque street behind it.

Not far from the church is an entrance gate to Huis Doorn with a beautiful park around it. I’m not going to take a look this time, I’ll continue the trail straight away and walk back out of Doorn town centre via a forest path.

You can see that this is the transition from forest to countryside. Occasionally I come across a farm and a little further on I leave the forest.

On a bumpy dirt road, I walk towards Langbroek. I also pass through another nature reserve with marsh forests and reed beds. To be honest, I find it a bit boring and I am glad to be in Langbroek. Along the way I pass a beautiful castle peeping through between the trees. At Langbroek, I can gaze at pretty country houses and other beautiful free standing homes.

Near the church of Langbroek, I stop my hike and walk to the nearest bus stop.


Final thoughts

This part of the Migration birds trail was a bit disappointing. For the fun stuff, I went back on the trail, like the Cow Hills near Maarn. And I went off the trail towards watchtower De Kaap.

These two trips still made this trail a Fine hike!

Tip: On hiking trail Trage Tocht Leersum – Doorn, you walk through the Kaapse woods and also pass the watchtower.

More info:

Trail: Section 11 Long distance trail 2: Migration birds trail
Where: from Maarn to Langbroek, Utrecht, the Netherlands.
No. of km: +/- 14.5 km
Hiking date: 10 April 2023
Materials used in illustrations: coloured pencils for the map and watercolour paints for the other illustrations
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Trail booklet:

🚌 Info public transport:
  • starting point: train station Maarn
  • ending point: bus stop Julianalaan, Langbroek – bus 56 between Wijk bij Duurstede and train station Driebergen-Zeist

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More hikes with watchtowers

What fun it is to view a nature reserve from above. In the following hikes, you will come across some nice watchtowers in the Netherlands.


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