Destinations | Europe

Ultimate Ardennes Hiking Guide with 20 Hiking Routes

2 Feb 2021 | Belgium, Europe, homepage, Outdoors

The Belgian Ardennes are an attraction for both the young and the old. Walking along the most beautiful rivers in Belgium, the Semois and the Ourthe, always gives you a bit of a holiday feeling. Close by, yet so different. In this post, we will share an epic Ardennes hiking guide from hidden gems to the fairytale popular charms!

After the success of Hiking in Belgium – Strolling along Flanders most beautiful hiking paths, there simply had to be a Walloon sequel. I joined forces with Jelle from Shot by Canipel for this blog – because if you’re writing an inspiring blog about hiking in the Ardennes, you definitely need the help of a top photographer. All the photos in this blog were taken by Jelle – for more of his beautiful work, head over to his Instagram and Facebook page.

Shot by Canipel Bieley, Elsenborn

Preparing for Hiking in Belgium & Ardennes Hiking Guide

In these strange times, things can occasionally feel overwhelming. Even getting out of the house for a breath of fresh air sometimes feels like quite a task. Fortunately we’re still allowed to go outside, and there’s truly no better feeling than walking outdoors. It’s relaxing, it makes your body stronger and it’s certainly a lot cheaper than that fitness membership. Hiking is so beneficial for your mind and body. It forces you to put that annoying phone away and shield yourself against the continuous flow of (inessential) information. Bye bye stress and negative thoughts. 

Before we dive into the trails, let’s prepare you for your hiking trip. Here are my top hiking essentials:

  • Carry a small hiking backpack to store all of your day hike essentials
  • Don’t forget water bottle to stay hydrated on the trails
  • Apply sunscreen
  • Camping chair to relax, when needed
  • Compass for trail directions or map
  • Carry a solar powered battery to charge your phone or camera on the go
  • Wear comfortable hiking shoes + moisture wicking socks 
  • Camera

Tips for hiking and travel in these unprecedented times:

  • Choose open places close to home
  • Avoid busy hot spots or parks
  • Ensure you keep enough distance while hiking
  • Only go on a day trip and avoid unnecessary risks
  • Good hand hygiene is necessary, even during a hike
  • Wear masks in crowded places
  • Bring your own picnic and eat quietly along the way where there are no other people
  • Stay home if you don’t feel well!

Here’s my list of top places to hike in Belgium Ardennes – enjoy!

 

Where is Belgian Ardennes exactly?

 

The Ardennes in Belgium includes the largest portion of Belgium’s Luxembourg Province, the south of Namur Province, and Liège Province. It also includes a bit of Hainaut Province, and parts of Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and France.

In this Ardennes hiking guide, our focus is on the Belgian Ardennes, so trails located within the borders of Belgium. 

How to get to Ardennes from Brussels?

From the capital city of Brussels, you can hit the Ardennes by train. This is probably the easiest way to get there, and then go hiking. From Brussels, take the train to Namur and Liège. 

In our politically complex country, Brussels does not belong to Flanders nor Wallonia – but obviously I simply must mention the Sonian Forest at some point, and this post seemed the most appropriate fit. 

Please do not be alarmed if you see different provinces and regions mentioned in this post, as they all form a part of what is known as – Belgian Ardennes. 

When is the best time to discover the Belgian Ardennes?

 

You can go hiking in the Ardennes all year round and every season has its individual charms. 

Spring and autumn are my personal favorite seasons to hike in the Ardennes – especially the months of June and September. During these months, you can escape the crowds but still have a decent shot at good weather. 

Winter is definitely for more experienced adventurers. 

20 Belgian Ardennes Hiking Routes and Trails

Sonian Forest (Zonienwoud)

  • Difficulty: All skill levels, mostly easy trails
  • Length: Starts at 4.5 km
  • Starting Point: Hoeilaart
  • What to expect: Family friendly, scenic landscapes

Contrary to popular belief, you won’t hear any noise from the Belgian capital during your hike in the forest. It’s a truly unique piece of landscape that is definitely worth exploring! 

There are about 6 trails in total, starting at 4.5 km to 18 km, taking anywhere from 1.50 hours to 5+ hours. There are also hikes suitable for people in a wheelchair in this beautiful forest. 

You can find all information about the accessibility and the different hikes here.

L’ecluse – Ardennes Hikes (Walloon Brabant)  

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 6 km
  • Starting Point: Rue de La Tourette 1, 1320 Beauvechain
  • What to expect: Family friendly, easy to navigate, scenic landscapes

If you have never heard of Walloon Brabant, know that this province lies south of the Brussels region. 

The region is known for the Battle of Waterloo, where Napoleon suffered his historic defeat. The battlefields and locations of the battle are some of the many cultural sites you can visit. Another special place worth mentioning is the church in Nivelles, one of the largest and oldest Romanesque churches.

L’ecluse in Walloon, is a six-kilometer-long rural hike that leads you through serene landscapes, where beautiful and large Brabant farms pop up along the way. As an extra treat, you’ll also discover an admirable art piece by Julos Beaucarne.

Shot by Canipel Frahan, Semois – Bouillon

Charleroi Street Art (Wallonia) 

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 3 km
  • Starting Point: From the subway stations Sud or Beaux-Arts in Charleroi
  • What to expect: Family friendly, culture & art

This 3 kilometer walk takes you past graffiti art by some of the greatest artists. Their works pay homage to the men who worked in the steel factories, and their cries of despair echoing the industry’s shutdown. Download the street art app for more info or visit Wallonia Tourism website here.

 

D’ Hoppe Hike (Wallonia)

  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate (unpaved)
  • Length: 11 km
  • Starting Point: The walk starts in the village of Ath.
  • What to expect: Culture & nature 

The hike d’Hoppe, near the language border, runs mostly over unpaved trails. During this 11 kilometer tour, you’ll pass the Bois de la Houpe, Brakelbos and Bois du Pottelberg. 

Reinhardstein Castle Hike (Wallonia)

  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Length: 6 km
  • Starting Point: Parking by the Robertville dam
  • What to expect: Castle & nature 

The Reinhardstein Castle is a beautiful castle located in the valley of the Warche near Robertville. You can go hiking in and around the castle amidst forest and woody backdrop. 

The trail is good for easy to moderate hikers, but keep in mind some areas may be steep.  

Ellezelles (Ardennes Hiking in Hainaut) 

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 5 km
  • Starting Point: Ruelle des Écoles, 7890 Ellezelles
  • What to expect: Family friendly, culture & nature 

Hainaut is an undiscovered region with a wide variety of natural beauty, industrial heritage and architectural treasures. One of the best things about Hainaut is how easily you can alternate your hikes with a cultural trip – for example, taking a boat trip on the Canal du Centre.

In Hainaut, you can embark on the Ellezelles route. Ellezelles takes you on a 5 kilometer hike, where you can discover the beautiful landscape of the Pays des Collines, and bring back old legends to life.

You’ll be confronted with old superstitions and urban legends centered around witches, the witch sabbath, devils, green goats and werewolves.

Shot by Canipel Mont-Rigi, Hoge Venen

Bois De la Haye du Roeulx (Hainaut)

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 8.5 km (entire loop)
  • Starting Point: Grand Place of Le Roeulx
  • What to expect: Culture & nature 

La Haye du Roeulx is the forest area located in the northeastern part of the municipality. The name dates back to the 17th century, and the area extends from the chaussée de Soignies to the municipality of Houdeng. 

The 8.5 kilometer hike starts and ends at the Grand Place of Le Roeulx.

Campagne de Flobecq (Hainaut) 

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 8.5 km (entire loop)
  • Starting Point: Kiosque à musique Place 7880, Flobecq
  • What to expect: Nature, strolls

Campagne de Flobecq is a 8.5 kilometer loop trail in Flobecq. It is an easy trail and great for hiking, and casual walking.

Ninglinspo Hike (Province of Liege)

  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Length: 14 km, or turnaround at 6 km
  • Starting Point: Auberge du Ninglinspo, Sedoz 5, 4920 Sougné-Remouchamps (Aywaille)
  • What to expect: Family friendly, scenic landscapes

Besides the capital city soccer team Standard de Liege being my husband’s favorite Belgian team (apparently the best, if I’m to take him at his word), the province of Liege has a lot to offer. The rich culture and historical heritage of the province of Liège guarantees a fun and interesting trip for everybody. 

Of course, nature has a lot to offer too. Discover the Gileppe dam, the lakes of Robertville and Butgenbach or the Signaal van Botrange, the highest point in Belgium!

Ninglinspo Hike along the only mountain river in Belgium is by far one of the most beautiful hikes in the Belgian Ardennes. You can opt for either the short family hike of 6 kilometers, or take the longer 14 kilometers trail. 

The hike takes you through the Aywaille, an astonishing part of the Belgian Ardennes, and the Remouchamps region, which is a beautiful green hilly piece of nature in the south of the country.

Take note: It can be quite busy here during weekends and holiday periods, so choose your hiking time wisely. 

Les Sources Natural Park  

  • Difficulty: All skill levels, mostly moderate level with elevation
  • Length: 7.2 to 22.5 km (moderate trails)
  • Starting Point: Sources Natural Park
  • What to expect: Forested, elevation

Water is present in all forms here at the Sources Natural Park. Groundwater, natural mineral water, thermal water, water from wetlands and surface water – all of which comes to a total length of 300 km. The element of water characterizes the park and forms rare biotopes such as swamps, peat and alder forests. 

The whole area of ​​the park is densely wooded. These nature reserves are not only an important source of income – they also have real ecological potential. 

They contain exceptional fauna and flora. as well as some of the rarest forest habitats that are threatened at European level.

There are around 31 trails at the park, from hiking, running to easy walking trails. Moderate trails in Sources Natural Park range from 7.2 to 22.5 km with elevation points as well.  

Signal of Botrange 

  • Difficulty: All skill levels
  • Length: Starts at 4.9 km
  • Starting Point: Route de Botrange 133, 4950 Robertville
  • What to expect: Nature reserve, scenic views, highest point in Belgium 

At 694 meters high, the Signal of Botrange is the highest point in Belgium. It’s situated in the nature reserve of the High Fens, an area with diverse scenery – forests, water points, ramparts and beautiful picturesque villages. 

The Signal of Botrange is the starting point for many walks! They start at 4.9 km, and are easily well marked and accessible for all levels of hikers. 

Parc de Furfooz (hikes in the province of Namur)

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 4 km
  • Starting Point: 79 Rue du Camp Romain, Furfooz
  • What to expect: Family friendly, castle views 

When you explore Namur, you’ll come across an area called ‘Stromen en Rivieren’ that covers the valleys of the Sambre and the Meuse. It’s the perfect place to enjoy recreational activities on the water or hike to your heart’s content.

The park of Furfooz is located in the valley of the Lessee, near Dinant. The park is well-maintained by sheep, and you can enjoy a pleasant family hike of about 4 kilometers.

Pro-Tip: Combine this trip with a visit to the castle of Celles-Vêves. Perched atop a rocky outcrop, the castle has five magnificent towers. Admire the beautiful paintings, the rare porcelain and the amazing authentic 18th-century old furniture.

Entrance for adults is 4 euros, 2 euros for seniors and children under 25 years. It’s not wheelchair accessible. Dogs are welcome on a leash.

Shot by Canipel Chateau de Walzin, Dinant

Fondry des Chiens – Nismes Hikes

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 9 km
  • Starting Point: Fondry des Chiens
  • What to expect: Family friendly

This 9 kilometer hike is ideal for spending a quiet afternoon among glistening ponds and old factories. Combine it with a visit to Fondry des Chiens, known as the Grand Canyon of the Ardennes (although it’s not really comparable in my view!). 

The Fondry des Chiens is a natural pit, created by rainwater seeping through the limestone soil. Millions of years of erosion created gigantic pits more than 20 meters deep called Foundries. It truly is an amazing place to see.

Boninne  

  • Difficulty: Experienced
  • Length: 12 km
  • Starting Point: Rue l’Eglise de Boninne, Boninne
  • What to expect: Forested, plateaus, Marche-les-Dames rock formations

This 12-kilometer hike includes a visit to the rocks of Marche-les-Dames. The hike starts on the plateau of Boninne, descends to the Meuse and takes you through the forest past the famous must-visit rocks of Marche-les-Dames.

Note: This hike is definitely for the more experienced hiker!

Shot by Canipel Les Échelles de Rochaut

Hikes in the province of Luxembourg 

The heart of the Belgian Ardennes lies in the south of the province of Luxembourg, and it has much to offer in terms of nature and hiking. Not only this – the region will also surprise you with its many beautiful cities and villages. 

Endless cycling and hiking paths offer tourists the opportunity to explore every corner of the province. Below are my favourite walks in the region.

Nadrin (Province of Luxembourg)

  • Difficulty: Easy to Experienced
  • Length: 2 – 13 km, various trails
  • Starting Point: Place du Center, 4 – 6660 Nadrin
  • What to expect: Valley views

The rock formation of Le Hérou with its steep cliffs overlooks the meander of the Ourthe near Nadrin, between Houffalize and La Roche-en-Ardenne. There are 15 different hiking options between 2 and 13 kilometers, with difficulty levels ranging from easy to tiring. 

The hikes allow you to look out over the winding meanders of the Ourthe and provide a beautiful view of the valley. The entire site is classified as a Natura2000 site and is on the list of exceptional heritage of the Walloon Region. 

Les Échelles de Rochehaut (Luxembourg) 

  • Difficulty: Moderate to Experienced
  • Length: 5 km
  • Starting Point: Start the ladder walk at the church of Rochehaut
  • What to expect: Semois Valley views

The ‘ladder wandeling’ is definitely the most spectacular – and perhaps also the most famous – walk in Belgium. 

If you stand on top of the rocks, you get a beautiful view over the valley of the Semois. Although the walk is only 5 kilometers long, it will take you three hours! The hike is not recommended in the rainy season as rocks, and the path could be slippery. Find the map of the walk here. 

At the bottom of this page you can find Jelle’s insights about this famous walk.

Shot by Canipel Hoge Venen

Herbeumont 

  • Difficulty: Moderate to Experienced
  • Length: Less than 7 km
  • Starting Point: Rue des Epioux, 6821 Florenville
  • What to expect: Panoramic views

Discover the rock with the best name in the country – Rocher Du Chat! 

At the top you get treated to a beautiful panorama over the Herbeumont region. This trail is just under 7 km long, but you have to climb before you can enjoy the spectacular view. You brave almost 200 altimeters here, and you’ll be on the go for a good two hours. 

Achouffe 

  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Length: 14 km loop, or turnaround at 6 km 
  • Starting Point: Achouffe 32, 6666 Houffalize
  • What to expect: Brewery visit. It is known to be one of the most beautiful hikes in Belgium

How about a 14 kilometer tour that starts and ends at the Chouffe brewery? 

If that seems a little long, there are also loops of 6 kilometers – so there’s something for everyone in this region. 

Enjoying a beautiful 6 kilometer in the ‘feeënvallei’ hike, this trail is one of the most beautiful hikes in Belgium. 

Follow the white with blue indications and don’t forget to put on your hiking shoes, the trail can get very muddy when it rains. Dogs are allowed in this beautiful region! And of course, there is a delicious cold Belgian beer waiting for you afterwards. 

Croix – Rouge  

  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Length: 7 km 
  • Starting Point: Croix-Rouge – Montauban parking
  • What to expect: Fairytale, of legends and folklore

This is an ideal family trail of 7 kilometers long, in a fairytale environment. It’s an absolutely enchanting walk through the forest, with tall trees and a beautiful road that meanders through a lost valley where you’ll find the Fairytale Cave (le Trou des Fées). 

It’s a legendary place where the fairy Oriande is said to have handed the sword Flamberge and the steed Carillon to wizard Malegijs: the achievements of the four Heemskildren that could set the whole Ardennes on fire. Don’t believe me? Hike this trail!

Saint Hubert Forest

  • Difficulty: All skill levels
  • Length: Short to 3 day long backpacking hiking trails and trips 
  • Starting Point: Givry Village
  • What to expect: Small towns, wooded areas, deer sighting 

The large Forest of Saint Hubert is spread across 10 different communes in the Ardennes. You can choose from short family friendly hikes to more tough experienced trail routes.

Starting point for most hikes at the Saint Hubert Forest from the village of Givry, which takes you through small villages and valleys and welcomes you with stunning views.

The trails allow you to explore the small town of Saint Hubert (and maybe pay a visit to the basilica built in honor of the local saint) and also check out deer and other wildlife. 

Shot by Canipel Le Tombeau du Géant

Jelle’s Insider Tips and the Famous Hike Les Échelles de Rochehaut; My Experience

I once spent an adventurous week with friends on the border between Austria and Germany.  We climbed several mountains, including Germany’s highest, the Zugspitze (and obviously we had to taste Germany’s highest beer and namesake whilst we were there!). 

However the week ended with a lot of rain, and we were forced to spend our last day of the week elsewhere.

So we decided to drive towards Belgium and finish with a trip near the meandering and beautiful Semois. It’s home to some of the most spectacular hikes in Belgium. We immediately noticed the contrast with the mountains in Germany and Austria.

Over there, everything felt more wild and completely at your own risk… yet here there were safety ladders with exaggerated frames that sometimes detracted from the scenery. 

But despite that, I have to say it was a beautiful hike with gorgeous views throughout the most whimsical forests. The Semois region might be one of my favorite places in the Ardennes … a stunningly beautiful valley in the Ardennes typical of the winding river.

There are so many hiking trail options here, but don’t underestimate them! 

Some hikes are tough (2 to 3 days) like the one from Herbeumont to Bouillon and Bohan. In this trail, you have to cover more than 1.700m difference in height. 

Although difficult, we enjoyed a beautiful fire under a star-filled sky. Beers, lots of laughs, nice stories and sleeping outdoors … it was hiking at its finest! 

Shot by Canipel Les Échelles de Rochaut

So, that’s a wrap. You see there are so many stunning hikes in the Belgian Ardennes for all abilities and ages. Which one is your favourite? 

 

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