Green, mysterious forests, stony trails, deserted landscapes and, last but not least, the French-influenced region of Wallonia – the Stoneman Arduenna is an exciting mountain bike adventure through the beautiful nature of the Ardennes in East Belgium. Like the other Stoneman routes, you can ride the Arduenna in one, two or three days. If you officially register, you’ll be awarded gold, silver or bronze depending on your finishing time.
I’ve divided the course into three stages for you. At the end of the first stage, you can stay in a small bed-and-breakfast in German-speaking Herresbach. There are several hotels or a campsite in Ouren at the end of the second stage. Of course, you can also adapt the stages or ride the whole route in one go. It’s also worth spending some time to get to know the country and its people. I rode the route in bikepacking mode with camping gear on my bike so I was completely independent from any accommodation. I’d definitely recommend this, it was great – if you like bikepacking.
The route officially starts in the city of Malmedy in the French-speaking of the Ardennes. Malmedy no longer has a direct train connection, unfortunately. Instead, you can catch a train from Aachen to Verviers or Eupen and cycle the rest of the way from there. The wonderful Vennbahn cycle path runs from Aachen and the Vennquerbahn trail leads from the Eifel, so it couldn’t be easier to arrive by bike. The railway network in the area is convenient for cyclists who want to travel through the Eifel and Ardennes car-free. You can also reach Malmedy by car via the motorway. If another starting point suits you better, you can, of course, join the route in Ouren, Sankt Vith or at the Signal de Botrange instead.
You can ride many of the sections easily on a gravel bike, but you’ll definitely have more fun on a mountain bike on the occasional technical trails. However, as these parts are usually short and rarely really difficult, the route is suitable for mountain biking beginners. In between the trails, there are easy sections on gravel and side roads which allow you to make good progress overall. The climbs are mostly manageable, but don’t underestimate them – you’re riding in the Ardennes after all. The valleys here are deep and the slopes are correspondingly steep. If you’re looking for a challenge, you'll definitely get your money's worth here. If you’re unsure or not so ambitious, just make sure you give yourself plenty of time. It’s worth stopping to enjoy the views and hospitality in the beautiful towns.
By the way, French is not spoken everywhere in Wallonia, there is also a German-speaking community. German is even the official language here so it’s understood and spoken in the region. You’ll come across German place names and street signs along the way in Belgium. You also briefly touch Luxembourg and Germany in the southern part, but you won't notice as the borders on the map have little meaning here. The lines between languages and cultures are blurred in this region, creating a unique melting pot.
The official starting point of the Stoneman Arduenna is in Malmedy next to the cathedral. The first of eight stamp locations is also here. Before you set off, you should take a look at the pretty city center of Malmedy and maybe stop in one of the small restaurants if you have time. The old town of the picturesque Ardennes town is only a few meters away from the cathedral.
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On the last stage you leave Ouren and after a few minutes you will reach the triangle. Down here in the idyllic Ourtal is the European monument. A longer ascent is now pending, which rewards you again and again with fantastic views down into the Ourtal. Afterwards, it continues to be mountainous, after all, on the almost 65 kilometers to Malmedy, almost 1,500 meters in altitude need to be conquered again.