The Leenderheide is a gorgeous area that is enclosed on virtually all sides by other nature reserves. It is, however, partly cut off from the surrounding area by motorways. Wildlife crossings allow animals to go from one area to the other, and hikers and cyclists have the option to use one of three viaducts.
The area has several signposted hiking and cycling routes. What's more, many of the surrounding places (Geldrop, Heeze, Leende, Aalst, Eindhoven, Valkenswaard) are connected via contiguous cycling routes crossing De Groote Heide.
Visit the Hut van Mie Pils (cyclists' cafe)
The classic pub ‘Hut of Mie Pils’ has a rich history that goes back to an old inn run by Maria Peels. The old Aalsterhut dates back to 1717 and was located away from civilisation in the Waalre area. Regular customers of this inn consisted mainly of poachers working the forests around the hut. The current café is located on the site of the old hut in the middle of the woods. In other words, it is the perfect place to recharge your batteries for the next leg of the trip.
The Leenderheide, a nature reserve of 822 acres located in the territory of Dutch municipalities Heeze-Leende and Geldrop-Mierlo is the property of the Brabant Landschap organisation.
The area is enclosed on almost all sides by other nature reserves and used to be part of one large contiguous heathland area between Eindhoven and Achel.
The heath landscape is interspersed by small-scale pine planting and forested areas with Scots pine. This area is also home to the somewhat misleadingly named Klein Huisven (Small Fens), a stretch of wetland with a fairly long dry season. Smaller fens in the area are the Appelven and Peerven. More to the south you will find coniferous planting on wind-borne sand deposits, as well as dry birch and oak forest. Travelling south the forests alternate with small meadow enclaves and eventually turn into the cultivated, but still recognisable, area of the Groot Huisven. Marsh gentian and spoonleaf sundew are but two of many species of plant that grow here.