Living and loving the outdoor life in Geilenkirchen

Living and loving the outdoor life in Geilenkirchen

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

The German city of Geilenkirchen, home to 29,000 residents and site of a NATO Air Base with a U.S. component housed within, sits at an enviable location for all those who love border-hopping. Nestled up alongside the Netherlands and just over a half-hour drive into Belgium, those calling this small city home can easily experience three cultures over a single day. But instead of hunting down bargains on Belgian antiques or sampling Dutch pastries, today we’re enjoying the great outdoors within the borders of Germany. Here is just a sampling of the outdoorsy adventures awaiting you:

Cycling along the Wurmtal-Route

Along the 20-mile, mostly flat length of this cycle path, you’ll pass through disused coal mining areas and the valley of the Wurm River, as well as two moated castles: Schloss Trips and Schloss Rimburg. A particular highlight along the route is the Carl Alexander Park in Baesweiler. Built on the site of a former coal mine, the park offers a viewing platform and a suspension bridge leading through the treetops.

A walk through Teverene Heide

This beautiful and expansive park encompasses a variety of landscapes, most of which bear witness to the interaction of man with his natural environment. Its pine woods, lakes and ponds evolved from deforestation, the pasturage of sheep and gravel mining. Its heather marshes and inland dunes are unique biotopes and thus protected areas. Theme boards at 11 stations provide context to the park’s landmarks. Walkers can choose from four marked trails ranging in distance from four to six miles. The park also offers some four miles of bridle trails. From time to time, Ullas Reiterhof in Gangelt offers horseback riding experiences to small groups.

A ride on a steam train 

For 70 years, a narrow-gauge railway called the Selfkantbahn linked up several villages within the region. The 25-mile long stretch closed back in 1971, but thanks to a group of railway enthusiasts, an association was formed with the mission of saving old rail vehicles from the scrap heap and keeping railroad traditions alive. A railroad museum exhibits some of these historical gems, and to the delight of young and old alike, a steam trains run along the short stretch between Gillrath and Schierwaldenrath from May to October. At Christmas time, a ride on the “St. Nicholas Train” is a seasonal delight. Shortly after pulling out of the station, the steam train stops to take on a special passenger. Santa interacts with the kids on board, and upon reaching the destination, a merry little gathering takes place in the museum’s hall before the return journey commences.

Go fishing

If you’ve already managed to get your German fishing license, head 20 miles northeast of Geilenkirchen, where a number of fisheries offer anglers the chance to try their luck in their own private waters. The Angelpark Wegberg, for example, has four different ponds in which salmon, trout, char, catfish, sturgeon, carp, pike and eel can be caught. In addition to day tickets, the facility offers night fishing and fishing opportunities for children. Bait is sold on site, as are freshly smoked fish. The park is open year round.

Coffee time

After all that time outdoors, it wouldn’t be wrong to wish to indulge in the beloved German ritual of late-afternoon “Kaffee und Kuchen” (coffee ad cake). The family-operated Café Schleypen sets its guests up nicely with gorgeous cakes and warms drinks of all kinds, and on a sunny day, its small outdoor seating area is the place to be.

As fun as it is to roam far and wide, the simple pleasures of a day close to home are equally good for the soul.

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