About the area
Although the village of Elen was not officially designated as an access village to the RivierPark Maasvallei, a hiking area was developed. This is because of the unique fauna and flora that are found in the area.
Gravel extraction in this area created some beautiful lakes such as the Meerheuvel and Bichterweerd. The latter is now a real paradise for many waders and other birds, such as the robin and the lark. This nature reserve attracts birdwatchers from all over the country. You can wander freely in this area; there are no signposted hiking trails. The winter dike that runs along the area is paved and is popular with cyclists and hikers alike. From this dike, you have a beautiful view of the lake with its numerous inhabitants, which is extremely useful for birdwatchers. If you would you like to have a look to see what the area has in store for you, then be sure to watch the interactive Film on Bichterweerd.
Right next to Bichterweerd is Meerheuvel. This is where drinking water comes to the surface, so that the area functions as a reservoir for water extraction. It is supervised by the Vlaamse Maatschappij voor Watervoorziening (Flemish Water Supply Company).
On the other side of the Rijksweg, there is another special nature reserve: 'De Broeken'. The name refers to a wet, swampy area and was used as early as the 16th century to designate this small nature reserve. A special feature of ‘De Broeken’ is the presence of very varied plant growth. Here too, you will find special bird species, such as the coot and cuckoo. A recently constructed board walk and a bird hide grant the visitors the opportunity to see this beautiful landscape from close-up.
In the summer of 2019, the gravel mining project Elerweerd will be started. An average of 1,5 million of tons of gravel and sand per year will be excavated here. It goes without saying that this will have consequences for the landscape as the activities will be quite intensive. After the termination of the project, the area, measuring 230 hectares, will be given back to nature and there will again be space for rough and dynamic river nature.
Concretely, this means that there will be only 1 hiking trail available on the site, i.e. the orange trail with a length of 6,8 km. This route brings you, amongst other things, to the nature reserve De Broeken and the Castle of Sipernau, that is still inhabited. As soon as the site will allow it, another hiking trail will be composed, leading the hikers to a viewpoint, offering a lookout over the work in progress.
Accessibility and parking
Car Park 7 Kerk Elen: Bergerkampstraat, 3650 Elen (Dilsen-Stokkem)