Time 6 hours
The Spaarnwoude is a recreational area west of Amsterdam made up of several small towns and a fairly large, scenic countryside. The region is just west of Amsterdam and includes Houtrak, an area with a network of cycling and hiking trails within a scenic park.
Biking the Spaarnwouderoute takes you through Westerpark in Amsterdam before a long stretch west to Spaarnwoude / Houtrak. Then the route passes through a sprawling Dutch countryside before reaching a statue in the town of Spaarndam for the "Boy and the Dike", the famous American novel where a boy put his finger in the dike to stop it from flooding. The route then heads north before crossing a ferry over the IJ to the Assendelft region before heading east through Zaandam and back towards Amsterdam.
The bike route to Spaarnwoude begins from the Amsterdam Central train station. Ride out to Prins Hendrikkade, the main street in front of the station, and cross is, and turn right following along side. When you see a canal on your left, turn left onto Singel Street and ride one street over, making a right onto the busy Haarlemmerstraat. Follow this street for quite some distance west until you make a slight left to ride around a square and stop at a traffic light. Ride straight through the traffic light, across the bridge to the next set of traffic lights and turn right onto Houtmankade. Ride a short 100 meters to the next street before the train tracks above and stop. Turn to your left and cross the street where you will ride along a bike path into Westerpark.
Stay on the main path through Westerpark as it veers away from the busy train tracks and passes the Westergasfabriek, an old gas plant that has been converted into a cultural center. Continue riding along the route for another 1.5km until you reach junction. Go right and ride under the noisy A10 Highway continuing straight along a bike path parallel to tram tracks and under a series of train track overpasses. Cross the tram tracks as they curve to the right and ride straight through the intersection at Radarweg. At the next street, turn left onto Barajasweg and ride to the end of the street up onto a bike path that goes left to right. Turn right, and ride along this path known as the Flevoroute.
The Flevoroute heads directly west and follows parallel alongside a canal on the otherside from the busy Haarlemmerweg street. At the end of a long straight section, you reach what looks like the end of the bike path at a road. However, the bike path continues on the other side but you must go left to the traffic light, cross the street Burgemeester de Vlugtlaan, then ride back up to where the bike route continues.
Now, the bike path is called Brettenpad as you continue riding west on a nice quiet bike path surrounded by trees on the left and a canal to the right. Stay on the main path as you go right at the first junction, then ride under some train tracks before going left at a junction shortly after. The route wraps around through some scenic green space before passing underneath an overpass. Go left towards Haarlem at the junction just after passing under the overpass along the scenic trail until it veers to the right and reaches a T-junction.
At the T-junction, turn left and ride towards the A5 Highway, riding up a short ramp. Go left and follow the bike lane down a ramp as it passes underneath the highway, turning to the right. A nice ride along a dike brings you to a white bridge. Turn right and cross the white bridge and immediately turn 90-degrees to the left, riding past a couple of streets towards the trees. Through the trees on the right, the bike path follows a road and about 300 meters later, you reach a point where you can ride across the road on your right. This is the entrance to Spaarnwoude / Houtrak that we will use.
The park is known as Spaarnwoude / Houtrak is a scenic nature and recreational area, popular for its hiking and biking trails as well as camping and other outdoor activities. Ride across the street to a large wooden sign that shows a map of the entire park. After looking at the various sites, ride along the road to a slight right and across a bridge. Immediately after crossing the bridge, go left onto a bike path and stay straight on this main path, passing through a 4-way intersection of paths before reaching a large lake. Enjoying the scenic view, ride along the lake and cross a bridge at the far end, riding up a slight hill to where you reach a road. Turn left at the road and ride along the path amongst the forest, crossing two bridges before the route widens and you cross a third bridge. Once you cross the third bridge, you should be at a road called Houtrakkerweg and next to a sign with a park map. This marks the end of Spaarnwoude / Houtrak park section of your bike ride.
To continue your bike ride, you will need to ride along the dike across the street known as Spaarndammerdijk. To get there, go left 50 meters, then turn right and cross Houtrakkerweg, riding up onto the dike. Turn right and ride along the raised Spaarndammerdijk route as it zigzags out into the Dutch countryside. Keep left as you pass a couple of buildings and a small lake, riding towards the A9 Highway up ahead. After passing underneath the highway, turn left at the first street where the sign points to Spaarnwoude and ride along the street named Kerkweg. After riding along a fairly straight street for 500 meters, you reach a 3-way junction with a gravel parking area on the left. Cross one of the wooden bridges to the gravel parking area and ride onto the bike path that starts at the far end of the parking area heading south east.
Once you are on this bike path as you appear to be riding towards the A9 Highway, it veers 90-degrees to the right and you reach a junction. Turn left at the junction towards Haarlemmerliede and continue riding through the countryside and past another small lake. Ride over a bridge and continue straight through the 4-way junction until you reach the end of the path at a road amongst several homes. This is the small town of Haarlemmerliede.
Turn left onto Liedeweg and ride through Haarlemmerliede until you reach the train tracks at the end of the town. Just 20 meters before the train tracks, turn right and ride across a long wooden bridge marked for bicycle use. Continue along the bike path after the long bridge and turn right at the first junction, now heading north along a route called Veerpolder. The route weaves its way past past some trees before opening up and passing several canals. At the end of the road is the Molen De Veer, a windmill that was rebuilt in 2001 after a fire destroyed the original site in the late 90's. The original windmill was built in 1701 and used to pump water out of the surrounding polder until an electric pump system was put in place in the 1930's. The windmill makes for a great photo opportunity.
After stopping at the De Veer Windmill, go right and, after a short distance, cross a bridge into the small community of Penningsveer. After riding over a second bridge, you will notice a line of trees on the other side of the water to your right. Although it's difficult to see the buildings from here, this is the Fort At Penningsveer and is an old fortress that's part of the Stelling Van Amsterdam, a series of defences that were built between 1880 to 1920 within a 15-20 km zone around Amsterdam. For a closer look and a short side trip, ride to the end of the street and turn right at the 3-way intersection onto Liedeweg, where an entrance way 100 meters down the road will lead to the fortress.
Back at the 3-way intersection leaving the town of Penningsveer, turn left and ride north on Lagedijk (note: if you rode to the fortress, you will ride back up to the 3-way intersection and continue straight). After riding along the road for about 500 meters, watch for a bike path on your right and take this route (if you reach a marina, you have missed the bike path). For the next section, the bike path will follow in the general direction of the road Lagedijk, however it will zig zag a bit as it provides a nicer route than riding amongst the traffic. Turn left at the first junction, then, just before you reach the road, turn right and continue riding along the bike path. At the next junction, you need to go straight, however the bike path continues a 15 meters to the right. Roughly another 300 meters and you veer left and ride up onto a dike that is called Spaarndammerdijk. This was the same dike you were on earlier when you left the park Houtrak but the bike route had turned off of this dike about a kilometer east of this point to loop through the southern Spaarnwoude region.
Turn left and ride into the town of Spaarndam, a small town that was built around a dam in 1285. Ride through the center of the town and watch for a small statue on the left that was built in 1950 to commemorate the boy who put his finger in the dike to prevent the town from flooding. Known as "The hero of Haarlem", the fictional story was made famous by the 1865 American novel Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge and many references to this can be seen within Dutch culture today.
Continue riding through the town of Spaarndam along the main road and turn right onto a laneway with a sign that says "Redoute" and another sign mentioning parking (if there are farm fields on both sides of the road, you have ridden too far). Ride about 200 meters along this laneway until you reach a bike path on the right that's next to a gravel parking area. Turn right and follow this bike path as it loops around before heading towards several houses. Just after the first few houses, look for a bike path to your right and take this route as it crosses a bridge. Just after the bridge, turn right following the signs to Spaarnwoude as the route circles around a large waterway before heading northward, passing under the A9 Highway, and continuing along a narrow road next to a golf course. The road veers away from the water but continues through a section with trees on both sides for the next kilometer as it first winds to the right then back to the left again before reaching a 4-way intersection with a bike path. Turn right onto the narrowest path, which is marked for bikes only and ride to the end of the path. Turn right at the T-junction, ride through the forest for about 250 meters, then turn left at the next path. Then ride towards the bridge, first riding under it, then veering to the left and riding 100 meters past the stairs where the path loops around and brings you back up onto the bridge. After crossing the bridge, ride down the hill and turn left at the first path and make your way to the small passenger ferry terminal. The Spaarndam - Buitenhuizen Ferry is a free service for cyclists, vehicles, and foot passengers that travels every 20-minutes, 24 hours-a-day across the IJ.
After crossing the IJ on the ferry, ride straight through the roundabout and then turn right at the next street, following signs towards the town of Nauerna. About 200 meters later, pass the road to the right and continue straight as you ride along a dike with trees to your right and farm fields to your left. Continue along the route as the path joins with the road, passing boats on your right, and into the tiny town of Nauerna. After riding over a small white bridge, turn right at the next intersection and immediately make a left onto a bike path that is just below Overtoom road you were on. This bike path, known as Veldweg, follows in the same direction as the road but is not located on the busy raised dike, offering a much more pleasant ride as you continue to head west back towards Amsterdam.
Ride along the bike path as it weaves its way through the scenic countryside before riding onto a quiet street with several houses. At the end of this route and after riding for nearly 2.5km, you reach a road and are forced to turn left and ride up to the main road, now called Westzaanerdijk. Turn right on Westzaanerdijk and ride about 350 meters until you reach an intersection with a street called Ringweg. Turn right onto Ringweg and ride down the hill but watch for a bike path on your left within a mere 100 meters. The bike path is located about 100 meters before the roundabout. Turn left onto the bike path, which is also called Ringweg, and continue westward. Stay on this route for roughly the next 2km as it follows a small canal on the right and passes amongst a quiet neighbourhood. At the end of the route, ride up the pathway on the left to where it joins a bike path with the busy Albert Heijnweg. Pass over the road and train tracks below and continue to the traffic lights at Provincialeweg. At the lights, turn right and follow the main road, Provincialeweg, for the next 1.5km as it passes through a tunnel and arrives at the Amsterdam - Zaandam Passenger Ferry.
The ferry from Zaandam to Amsterdam also runs every 20-minutes, 24 hours-a-day and is the start of the final section of this route back to Amsterdam Central station. After arriving on the Amsterdam side of the IJ, ride out to the main road, cross the street, and turn left along Nieuwe Hemweg. Follow Nieuwe Hemweg for the next 4km as it passes through an industrial zone, under the A5 Highway overpass, straight through the traffic lights at Einsteinweg, until the bike path veers to the left and arrives in front of the hotel called Westcord Art Hotel along the street Spaarndammerdijk. Turn right onto the bike path that passes the hotel and at the first street, called Zaanstraat. After turning onto Zaanstraat, ride down the short hill as the road veers to the left and then heads in a direction parallel to the train tracks on the right, passing many houses on your left.
After riding along Zaanstraat for about 800 meters, looking for a tunnel that passes under the train tracks on your ride and turn right and ride through this tunnel. On the other side, you are now back in Westerpark where you were earlier in the day when you started the Spaarnwouderoute. Turn left, ride to the road, then turn right and ride to the intersection at Haarlemmerweg. Turn left onto Haarlemmerweg then ride straight through the next traffic light at Korte Marnixstraat. After passing through the intersection, do a quick left at the next street by turn left and immediately turning right back onto Haarlemmerdijk. Follow this busy street through the city as it practically takes you back to Amsterdam Central. After crossing the second bridge, turn left onto Prins Hendrikkade, then right onto the main street that rides in front of Amsterdam Central station.