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Den Rooy and Smisselbergen

Den Rooy and Smisselbergen

Den Rooy and Smisselbergen are two vast forest areas in Meerle where you can discover different biotopes and habitats. The Heerlese Loop runs straight through the area. Part of the area south of the course is managed as flowery grassland. This forest area is an important connecting zone between several nature reserves in the Netherlands & Belgium.

Distance: 8.3 km.

Time: 2h00.

Grade: Easy.

Type: Circular.

Gps Track: Yes.

Route description: Yes.

Wheelchair: Not suitable.

Dog: Allowed.

Height gain: Flat.

Trail: Paved and unpaved.

Marking: Walking nodes & WP's.

Hiking shoes recommended.


Mjeelse Pier.

While the lords used to deny everyone access to their domains, Natuurpunt now welcomes hikers and nature lovers to the beautiful domains of Den Rooy and Smisselbergen. In the center of the area is a degraded high moor relic. With the exception of a few special sphagnum mosses, there are no longer any raised moor plants here. Natuurpunt tries to get those plants back through targeted management, including cutting sods and raising the water level. The viviparous lizard still feels at home here, as does the slowworm, which lives in the litter layer. The legless lizard can grow up to 45 cm long. Maybe he has ever been seen as a giant pier and is the legend of the Mjeelse Pier based on that? The soil in Meerle used to be barren. When a farmer found a pier in his field, they were so pleased (piers live in greasy soil) that they decided to keep the pier in Meerle. The village blacksmith made a sturdy chain and used it to attach the pier to the church, but still it disappeared into the ground again and again. The inhabitants of Meerle are called “Mjeelse Pieren”.

Tip: Het Kortebeentjes path is a 1.5 km long walking route that challenges children (0 - 12 y) to go on an adventure in the forest. Walking along winding paths and bridges, feeling the moss, climbing between fallen trees, discovering itchy animals, jumping over ditches, building huts and so much more ...

Den Rooy and Smisselbergen

Download PDF for a complete route description.

The walk can be shortened to 3.8 km.

Map & Poi's.

POI 1 - Den Rooy and Smisselbergen.

Until the middle of the 19th century, almost all of Meerle - and the wider area - was raw uncultivated heathland that was largely in the hands of the Duke of Salm Salm. Due to debts and an inheritance issue, he had to sell a large part of his land. In 1847 Den Rooy and Smisselbergen were bought by the Ghent industrialist Jean Voortman and by Edward Jacquemyns, a physician, chemist and engineer in the cotton factory of the Ghent Voortman family. The wealthy families bought 2000 hectares of waste heathland in Meerle and the surrounding area in one fell swoop. The 'deserted' grounds had to be profitable and were converted into forests, fields and meadows.

No extra information.