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A weekend trip in the Ardennes (Hautes Fagnes)

In my years of experience in cycling in the Ardennes, I hereby give a route for a two days trip to the Ardennes.

This route can be used by people in the Netherlands having no car, and who don't want to sit for hours in the train to be in the Ardennes (for people having a "rail actief kaart" or whatever, take a so called "weekendretour"

For this trip, I recommend the following maps (1:100.000):

The length of this two days trip is about 180 kilometer. It requires a reasonable physical condition. I suggest to use a bike with at least 28mm tires. Some roads are unpaved. Although you can spend the nights in hotels, it is more fun to camp. A major attraction of the route are the Hautes Fagnes.

The route Starts in Schin op Geul, a little place in Limburg (the Netherlands). This place has good train connections from all parts in the Netherlands. I live in Rotterdam; it takes me about three hours to get to Schin op Geul.

The reason why the route starts in Schin op Geul is that is has good camp sites, open all year. We always use campground De Vinkenhof, 2 minutes by bike from the railway station. We use for in the night from Friday to Saturday. Reservation is not required. De Vinkenhof is next to the Keutenberg.

I tried to do my best to send you along country roads, with not too much car traffic. There is, however one exception. That is the long climb from Mont to Baraque Michel. However, if you bike this road early in the morning, traffic will be light, and from this road you'll have beautiful view onto the Fagne Wallonie, which forms a unique natural reservation area in this part of Europe.

The climate in the Hautes Fagnes is quite different from the rest of the Netherlands and Belgium. In general, the temperature is much lower (± 4 degrees) and there is much more rainfall and fog. So be cautious that especially in winter, early spring and late autumn, there can be snow! I also recommend to take a compass with you. The first time I was in the Hautes Fagnes, we were totally lost and after 2 hours, we were (without intention!) back from where we started.

FIRST DAY: about 7 to 8 hours.

  1. Climb the Keutenberg. After one or two kilometres, there is a junction. Take the road to Ingber, Gulpen. In Gulpen, cross the main road Maastricht-Vaals, and take the sand road to the abbey. Pass the abbey. The path now narrows to a foot path. When you arrive on the asphalt road again, turn to the left. Now straight on through the Gulp-valley to Slenaken.

  2. In Slenaken you follow signs to Teuven (Belgium). In Teuven you follow the main road. After two kilometres, you will pass a railway bridge. Take the first road to the left after the bridge.

  3. After 3 to 4 km, there is a road to the left, with a sign indicating "Hombourg, centre ville". This sign, however, is not very visible from the side you're coming. Follow that sign. When you arrive in Hombourg, cross the street and follow the road to: Monzen, Lonzen, Walhorn and Rearen. Rearen has some food and drink facilities.

  4. In Rearen, you climb in the direction of the Hautes Fagnes. The first crossing in the Fagnes is called Vennkreuz. Continue your way here. After a descent, cross the river the Weser. After the bridge, you turn to the right. You continue cycling next to the river, which will turn into the Lac d'Eupen. Keep the river/lake on your right hand side. After you cross it once more, turn to the left. After some kilometers of climbing, there is a junction. Follow the right road until you arrive at the motor way. This place is called Ternell. All roads in this part are paved.

  5. At Ternell, follow the motor way about 200 meters in north-west direction. Then, turn to the left (you continue your way more or less on the other side of the motor way). After 500m in the forest, there is a junction. Take there the right path. After 5 km, take again the path to the right. When you arrive at an open spot in the forest (called Herzogenhugel), suddenly the pavement stops. Then, about 500m, there is a turn to the right (there is a small sign indicating Sourbrodt). Follow this direction until you arrive in Sourbrodt.

  6. In Sourbrodt, cross the motor way, and follow the signs in the direction Ovivat. Follow in Ovivat the road in the direction Xhoffraix. After some time, but before Xhoffraix, the road goes downhill. Before the road crosses the valley, there is sand road on the left hand side. Enter this road. You will pass a taverne called "Moulin du Bayehon". Follow this road downhill until you arrive in the valley of the Warche (you have to cross two rivers!). After arriving in the valley, follow then route M1/M8 in direction Malmedy (west direction). Stop at camping Du Moulin.

  7. The end of the first day is this camping Du Moulin in Beverce. This camping provides perfect services and has a very good atmosphere. It is open the whole year round. It is my favourite campground in the Ardennes. This campground is 25 minutes walk from the centre of Malmedy or 5 minutes by bike.

SECOND DAY: about 5 to 6 hours

  1. After you exit the campground, follow the sand road in direction Mont. When the sand road crosses the motor way, follow the motor way uphill. Continue this motor way and pass Baraque Michel. At the junction Eupen-Jalhay, go in the direction Eupen. Two kilometers after the junction there will be small road left and right from the motor way. Continue for another 500 meter. Then on the left hand side there is a semi-paved road. Enter and follow this road. Keep the river as close as possible on your left hand side, but don't cross it (even if there are some junctions!). After some time you will have a beautiful view onto the barrage de Gilleppe. Just before the dam, take the turn to the right. After some time you arrive at a main road. Follow it downhill. At the crossing follow the signs Limbourg- Dolhain. In Dolhain, you can take the opportunity to visit the old village of Limbourg (steep climb!).

  2. In Dolhain, follow the signs Bilstain, until you have crossed the railroad. Then, enter the second small street on the right (again, a steep climb). First a small road on the left hand side will join your way. Then you have to pass a crossing. Then there is a T crossing, where you have to go to the left. After 1.5 km, the road ends and you have to turn to the right in the direction Clermont. In Clermont, turn to the left and pass the old village. Then continue straight on for about 3 kilometers (pass several crossings). After the road gets unpaved, you're in the valley of the Abbey de Val Dieu. Continue until you pass the abbey. Take there the road to Aubel.

  3. In Aubel, take the direction La Planck. 500 meters after you crossed the N608, there is a turn to the left in the direction St. Martensvoeren. Follow this direction. After St. Martensvoeren, just before you arrive in St. 's Gravenvoeren, take the road on your right hand side (nothing indicated). After 2 kilometers, there is a good sand road uphill in north direction and you'll arrive finally in Mheer.

  4. From Mheer you can follow the main road Gronsveld and then Maastricht. Alternatively, you can follow the small road to Banholt. In Banholt you go in the direction Cadier en Keer, but before arriving there you take LAW4 to Bemelen. In Bemelen you go straight to Maastricht.

  5. Take in Maastricht the train back home.

This story has been written by Martin Steenhuis

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