The vast Ardennes forest stretches throughout four different countries – Belgium, Luxembourg, France, and Germany. Spanning more than 4,300 sq mi, the fabulous Forest of Ardennes sits southeast of the capital Brussels, and is home to countless hiking trails, but how on Earth can you choose just a few hikes? With our help of course!
This detailed guide to hiking in the Ardennes will tell you all about the best hiking trails in the vast Belgian forest. Scenic landscapes, picturesque villages, rolling hills, and nature parks are some of the highlights of the best hiking routes in the Ardennes. From the famous Semois Valley to the astonishing Parc de Furfooz – here’s all you need to know about hiking in the Ardennes!
It’s widely agreed that the Semois Valley offers some of the best hiking areas in the Belgian Ardennes. It boasts stunning panoramic views, fabulous natural landmarks, and quite a few hidden gems.
Bouillon Belvedere, Tombeau du Géant, and Le Jambon de la Semois are just some of the highlights of this gorgeous hiking area. It’s worth noting that there are many different hiking trails in the Semois River valley, varying in difficulty and length. Whether you want to hike for a few hours, or you want to set out on a multi-day trek, the stunning Semois Valley won’t disappoint.
The Ladder Walk is one of the most popular challenging hikes in the valley. It’s only 5 kilometers long, but it features some of the most difficult terrain in the Ardennes. Hikers must complete several steep ascents (and descents) on ladders, which date way back to 1930. They were installed by the local government, and they were supposed to function as an escape route to a hidden shelter in case of war.
Ninglinspo River is the only official mountain river in Belgium, and it’s definitely worth exploring if you want to admire some spectacular landscapes. There’s one main hiking trail that follows this river, and it’s a moderately difficult hike that can be attempted by one in decent physical condition, as long as they’ve got all the hiking gear they might need.
The starting point of the hiking trail that follows Belgium’s only mountain river is a car park in Sedoz village. From there, the hiking trail is quite easy to follow since it just follows the winding river. However, it’s smart to get a hiking map of the area before you set out on the hike – it will make following the trail markers a bit easier, plus cell service is not guaranteed in the inaccessible mountainous areas.
This is usually a 4-6 hour loop hike, depending on just how deep into the forest you want to go. The trail can be muddy at certain parts, so you will need good hiking shoes with lots of grip and traction. Bring lots of water and snacks, and don’t forget to stop and take in the views every now and then – the many waterfalls you will come across on this pleasant hike definitely warrant a quick break.
The High Fens are the largest nature reserve of its kind in entire Belgium, spanning an area of 11,123 acres. They’re situated within the Hohes Venn-Eifel German-Belgian natural park, and they’re definitely worth visiting if you want to see some astonishing nature.
Thanks to spectacular landscapes, historical heritage, and a plethora of different trails, this is easily one of the top destinations in Belgium (and Germany!) for a hiking trip.
This natural reserve is Wallonia’s oldest conservation area, so hiking is allowed only on marked trails. It’s worth noting that the landscape of the High Fens is mostly flat with very few technical difficulties, so the trails can be attempted even by total newbies to hiking. Just make sure you’ve got all the gear you might need and follow the trail markers.
Those looking for a challenge should explore the trails in the surrounding forests, which are known for river valleys and steeper landscapes. Also, it’s worth noting that certain parts of nature reserve have restricted access in the spring and summer seasons, to guarantee peace for the breeding birds in the area.
If you’re looking for the perfect long-distance hike in the Ardennes, this might just be it. The Escapardenne Trail is a hike of 150+ kilometers, which is usually done in eight different stages. It combines two trails – the Eislek Trail and the Lee Trail – for eight stages of spectacular viewpoints, beautiful river valleys, and untouched forest landscapes.
The Eislek Trail is the more popular stage of this long-distance hike, and it’s covered in more detail in a later section of this guide. The Lee Trail is a 52-kilometer hike that passes through the wooded Sure valley, featuring gorgeous views of rocky ridges and steep paths.
It’s one of the more challenging hiking trails in the Ardennes, with a total elevation gain of more than 2000 meters in the three days it takes to complete it.
The Lee Trail passes through ten villages, one town, and 16 natural sites, so there are plenty of wonderful attractions and landmarks to discover on the trail.
There are a couple of dozen trails in Saint Hubert Forest, and they usually do not feature any technically challenging terrain. The pine forest boasts mostly flat terrain, and most hiking trails have a minimal elevation gain.
Time spent hiking is what determines the difficulty of the trails in Saint Hubert Forest – the easier trails can be completed in a couple of hours, while the more challenging ones take anywhere between 5 and 8 hours to complete.
The Bilaude Loop is one of the most popular hikes in this part of the Ardennes. It mostly follows a paved path so it’s a relatively easy hike, as long as you’re capable of spending the 5-6 hours on the trail. This trail follows a pretty wide loop through Saint Hubert Forest, allowing you to discover many of its best sights.
There’s usually not too much traffic on this trail (especially on weekdays!), so it’s generally very peaceful. Dogs are allowed, and because it mostly follows a paved path, it’s suitable even for kids, total newbies, and people with limited mobility.
Avid hikers looking for some more challenging hikes in the Ardennes should head to Hérou. This nature preserve is characterized by forested trails, steep cliffs, and fabulous panoramic views of the Ourthe River. There’s also lots of fauna along the trail but lizards and kingfishers are the most common.
Le Hérou is a rock in the River Ourthe meander, and it offers some of the best panoramic views you will experience in the Ardennes. Reaching the top of this cliff is challenging, and should be attempted only by experienced hikers and climbers since there are lots of rocks to be climbed. The trail includes some scramble and rope climbing, so make sure you’ve got all the necessary equipment.
The beautiful hike to Hérou rock can be completed in less than two hours. It’s only about 6 kilometers with a total elevation gain of some 300 meters. It’s worth noting that it’s possible to do this hike from multiple starting points and the most popular ones are Nadrin Place, Restaurant Les Cinq Ourthes, and the parking lot on Rue de Hérou.
Situated in the Belgian province of Liège, Warche Valley is a stunning place in the heart of the Ardennes. There are several amazing hiking trails in the area, but by far the most popular one is the 12-kilometer trek that allows you to explore all the top sights in this area.
The Castle of Reinhardstein, Nez de Napoleon, and a beautiful cascade are the top sights of this hiking trail, which begins in Barrage de Robertville. It’s worth noting that this is a moderately difficult hike that can be attempted by most people in good physical condition and with appropriate hiking gear.
The total elevation change is about 250 meters, and there are not any technically challenging segments.
The loop hike begins and ends near the 14th-century castle, and at one point it crosses the river. It’s important to note that there are no bridges and you’ll have to walk through the river – it’s nothing scary, but the water is ice cold so be prepared for that. Nez de Napoleon is the absolute highlight of this trail, with spectacular scenic views of the river valley.
Anlier Forest is another excellent destination in the Ardennes for avid hikers and nature lovers. With many exciting trails to choose from, this is a great place to visit if you’re interested in more than just a quick hike.
Cross the beautiful valley of Heinstert, hike between the grassland and forest in Fauvillers, explore castles and rivers in Habay-la-Neuve, and head to Martelange to discover an incredibly varied forest terrain. The hiking trails all vary in length and difficulty – easier valley and forest hikes can be completed in 3-4 hours, while some of the more challenging hikes can take up to six hours to complete.
None of the trails in Anlier Forest are extremely challenging and you don’t have to be a seasoned hiker to be able to discover the beautiful landscapes in this part of the Ardennes. You just need sturdy hiking shoes, lots of water, and enough physical fitness that you can handle walking for 3-5 hours at a time.
Oesling is a region in Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany that is characterized by deciduous forests and rolling hills. The main hills in the region are separated by river valleys, forming spectacular landscapes that make the several hours people spend on the trails entirely worth it.
Oesling is also known as Eislek in Luxembourg, and the main hike in the region is part of the longer Escarpadne trails. The region boasts spectacular views, deep valleys, lush forests, and ancient castles, so there’s plenty to discover.
There are loads of hiking trails in the Oesling region, and the most popular trails are multi-day hikes that allow you to explore all the nearby towns, villages, and natural landmarks. The most popular hike in the region is the 104-kilometer trail that starts in Kautenbach and ends in La Roche-en-Ardenne.
It passes through three towns, 19 villages, and 29 natural sites, and it usually takes between four and six days to complete, depending on your hiking pace and the number of detours you’re taking.
The highlight of this hiking area is the 20-meter deep gorge that was created by years of rainwater erosion. It’s truly a spectacular natural landmark, and easily one of Belgium’s most impressive gorges.
It’s worth noting that this is one of the most popular hikes in the Ardennes, so it can get a bit crowded, especially during peak season. Head out on the trail early in the morning to enjoy breathtaking panoramic views unspoiled by large crowds.
Hoëgne Valley is one of the most spectacular river valleys in the Belgian Ardennes. Featuring stunning river views, a unique flora, and more rocks than you’re expecting to see, the Hoëgne River Valley is a great destination for nature lovers and photographers who enjoy exploring.
One of the most popular hiking trails in the valley is a 10-kilometer hike that starts at the Pont de Belleheid parking lot. From there, just follow the blue trail markers. The first 6 or so kilometers of the trail are more challenging, but after that, the hike mostly follows flat terrain.
There are a total of 12 bridges to cross during this Hoëgne Valley hike. They all boast pretty views, but the Forestiers and Centenaire bridges are by far the most scenic. The trail also features two cascades, rivers, and even a few picnic areas. The hike can usually be done in about three hours, but that doesn’t account for any breaks you might take to admire the pretty views.
Parc de Furfooz is a spectacular nature reserve in the Ardennes, near the town of Dinant. It boasts hiking trails, caves, Roman ruins, and incredibly beautiful nature that’s absolutely worth exploring.
This natural park is one of the best places to explore for families and travelers who aren’t too big on hiking. Most trails are easy enough that a child can do them without any major difficulties, and they’re all pretty short so you can be in and out of the park in 2-3 hours.
Of course, there are longer trails for those who really want to explore the depths of the natural park, but even those aren’t too technically challenging. In any case, if you want to discover what a Belgian nature park has to offer, Parc de Furfooz is a great place to visit.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!