Cycling and hiking is ideal in this 65km green arc east of Utrecht city. The national park has the Netherlands' second-largest sweep of wildlife-rich forest but also incorporates meadows and high dunes, patchworked with areas of human habitation.
Much of the territory was originally preserved in its un-urbanised form by being part of vast private estates. Several castle-houses remain, dating to around the 12th century. The signature beech trees are much newer, many planted in the 19th century. The area had previously been mainly heathland, as it was in 1804 when French revolutionary troops camped here and were set the task of building the Pyramide van Austerlitz to keep them out of trouble.