Trails of the Old World

The hiking trails in the Eurasian part of the arboretum start at the entrance on Eikestraat, near the forester’s house.

Orange trail through Europe 

The orange walk leads through the forests of Northern, Western and Central Europe. This is where our native forest is on display and where the tree species may be more familiar to the local visitor. The composition of the forest, however, differs depending on the geographical regions. A separate hiking trail has been designed for southern Europe, below the Pyrenees, the Alps and the Carpathians, with a more Mediterranean mix of species. It should be noted that it takes some time to reach the Northern European taiga following the Kwekerijdreef. On his way, the visitor will pass some mixed oak forest (on the left, not part of the arboretum) and some of the Mediterranean arboretum groups (on the right). In the Northern Scandinavian and Northern Russian area there have been large tree losses in recent years due to drought, beetle damage and storms, and so it is necessary to restore the appearance of these forest habitats by planting birches, spruces, etc.     

A nature restoration project is underway on the Voer pond (Voervijver), the source of the Voer creek, the stream from which Tervuren owes its name. The formerly large pond has silted up over the years, and the current project aims to restore this body of water and its habitat as much as possible. The trail here runs along a typically swampy stretch of alder forest. Crossing the picturesque Paardendelle, also known as the Valley of the Oaks, the trail climbs up to an area planted with Central European tree species, the vegetation typical of the Hrubý Jeseník mountains on the border of the Czech Republic and Poland. Certain deciduous species common in those parts, as well as Silver firs and the Sudeten Mountains larch, are also part of the scenery in this part of the arboretum. Higher up we encounter a forest not unlike that of the high Alps, with its typical dwarf pines.

We descend again along the arboretum group representing southern Sweden, a transition area between the boreal and lowland forest, and finally we complete the loop of Europe approaching the North Sea coast. 

Brown trail through Asia 

This trail explores the distant Asian continent. To reach the starting point of the walk we must first follow the Drogevijverdreef along the American Colorado group. Further on, following the Kapucijnendreef, we walk into the magical forest of Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan and then Honshu, the largest island of the Japanese archipelago. The vegetation shifts as we move from the colder north to the warmer south. There are various noteworthy tree species here: the Manchurian walnut, the Japanes cedar (Cryptomeria) and various species of maple, among which the Japanese maple is well known from our suburban gardens. The observant visitor will notice a few interesting outsiders: the Castor oil tree (Kalopanax septemlobus) and the fragrant Torreya conifers.

Where the Kapucijnendreef and the Royal Walk intersect, between the Sasa bamboos, we begin the ascent of Mount Fuji, with its various tree belts. Crossing to the Asian mainland, we make a big leap to the Altai mountains, a remote area where Mongolia, Russia and Kazakhstan converge and a botanical stronghold of various Siberian coniferous species. From there, the walk swings back towards Manchuria in northern China. We then cross the Paardendelle to the heartland of China. Of the hundreds of tree and shrub species that are endemic to the various climatic zones of that gigantic and fabled land, only a limited range can be planted here. Some of the most noteworthy species here are the Dawn redwood, an old Chinese cousin of the Sequoias, the so-called Maidenhair tree (Ginkgo), and the prehistoric-looking Cunninghamia, a tree species native to China and South East Asia. The trail then returns to the Kapucijnendreef, again along the Japanese islands.  

Red trail through the Mediterranean

The red hiking trail leads, in a somewhat roundabout way, through areas around the Mediterranean Sea, across regions of Southern Europe, North Africa and Asia Minor. Needless to say, the frost-sensitive maquis and garrigue vegetation cannot be reproduced here, but there are many interesting and hardy tree species in the Mediterranean mountainous regions that do quite well here. One of these, the Black pine, which occurs in different variants in the South of France, Corsica, Italy and Greece, is to this day considered an exotic in the sandy lowlands of Western Europe. As it turns out, this tree grows faster and straighter here than the native Scots pine, another hardy species. On the first part of this route we also encounter the southern brothers of deciduous species that are more familiar to us, among them Turkey oak, Hungarian oak, Italian alder and maple, the graceful Southern European flowering ash, and many others.         

Continuing on our journey, the trail leads to the Balkans, where the different elevation zones of the mountains in Bosnia and Herzegovina serve as a model for the plantations here. Species with a limited local distribution range include the Serbian spruce and the rare and near-threatened Macedonian pine, the only known European pine with needles in bundles of five.

Crossing the Bosporus, we arrive, not entirely in geographical-logical order, first in the Caucasus near the Caspian Sea (Northern Iran) and then Anatolia, the plateau between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea in modern-day Turkey. In the first group we observe a beautiful grove of Nordmann firs, popular as Christmas trees, and short-needled Caucasian firs. In the second group stand the mighty Lebanon cedars and the Cilician firs. Following the Kwekerijdreef, we first pass through Greece and then Algeria, and here the visitor should take note of the large Atlas cedars, champion trees that push their canopies high above the surrounding vegetation. And thus we come back to our starting point.