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Bikepacking on hidden trails — Ardennes Arbalète

Pascal

Bikepacking on hidden trails — Ardennes Arbalète

Mountain Biking Collection by Jesko

7

Tours

30:40 h

232 mi

18,925 ft

Deep in the Belgian Ardennes, between dark forests and deep valleys, there’s a network of secret paths that few people know about. Away from the main roads, you’ll find a mysterious low mountain range where you can still have a real adventure and explore for hours without meeting anyone. Ardennes Arbalète is the name of the route and lets you delve into the mystical Ardennes mountain range.

Kevin Machtelinckx, the inventor of this route, has no interest in the fastest routes, and instead guides you to unspoilt corners of the Ardennes. To reach these fantastic places, there are one or two trails that will definitely challenge you and embracing these challenges allow you to make the most of the adventure. When you tackle the Ardennes Arbalète, you’ll see a unique side of the region and be rewarded with magical landscapes.

With a hardtail mountain bike, you'll be able to handle most sections of the route. If comfort is not so important to you, you can also do the Tour on a gravel bike. Kevin recommends at least 42 millimetre wide tyres in dry conditions. Note, however, that some parts of the route can become extremely muddy after rainfall.

Highlights along the way include Lac de la Gileppe, a mighty reservoir in the Ardennes foothills. You will explore the Hautes Fagnes with the Signal de Botrange, the highest peak in Belgium. You will also visit the famous brewery of Achouffe and some dreamy Ardennes towns like Houffalize, Malmedy, Sprimont or La-Roche-en-Ardenne. You cycle along gravel roads, single track, cycle paths and quiet side roads. You’ll also cross deep river valleys and climb steep hills. The terrain is often challenging, but gives back many rewarding experiences. In the picturesque towns along the way, you can refuel in wonderful restaurants and boulangeries.

The route starts and ends right in front of Liège's Guillemins station. This is easy to reach by train from all corners of Belgium and is also well connected internationally. I have divided the 370-kilometre (230 mi) route into seven stages. However, this division is only a suggestion, as there are no fixed stages. You can flexibly adjust the length of the stages according to your mood, weather and physical condition.

Here, you can find the entire route in one go: komoot.de/tour/468591704

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Ardennes Arbalète

230 mi

18,900 ft

18,900 ft

Last updated: April 26, 2022

Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Étape 1 : De Liège à Lac de la Gileppe – Ardennes Arbalète

    Intermediate
    03:40
    32.6 mi
    8.9 mph
    2,025 ft
    1,225 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    The easiest way to get to Liège is by train. Conveniently, the start of the route is right in front of the train station, so you can start rolling straight away. But it is best to stock up on a few local delicacies, because soon you will find yourself in the deserted forests of the Ardennes. After 7

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  • Difficult
    04:52
    36.9 mi
    7.6 mph
    3,200 ft
    2,925 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    The Gileppe rises in the High Fens and you will explore this very special high moor on the second stage. The name already gives it away - things are going uphill, and well. You climb to over 600 meters and find yourself in a completely different world. Please note that this is a nature reserve and act

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  • Difficult
    05:08
    38.9 mi
    7.6 mph
    2,725 ft
    2,950 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    The third stage takes you even further south, to the border with Luxembourg. You drive through sparsely populated areas of land and again and again on narrow single trails that will test your driving technique. There are some small towns on your way, but no big cities. Soon after you leave right behind

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  • Intermediate
    04:00
    27.8 mi
    7.0 mph
    2,725 ft
    2,600 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    On the fourth stage you reach the southernmost point of your journey through the Ardennes and turn north again. At La-Roche-en-Ardenne you cross the Ourthe again, which has been with you for a long time. The Second World War also raged here, the effects of which are dealt with in a local museum. The

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  • Difficult
    04:34
    31.7 mi
    7.0 mph
    3,250 ft
    3,350 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    After leaving Lavacherie behind you, after 17 kilometers you will reach Saint-Hubert, a relatively large town by local standards. There are accommodations, supermarkets, bakeries and even gas stations. So take it easy and enjoy a few local specialties on all the difficult kilometers in the rough terrain

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  • Difficult
    04:55
    34.1 mi
    6.9 mph
    3,275 ft
    3,650 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    Whether you have decided to take a detour into the city or to continue directly, the route leaves Marche-en-Famennes on the left and turns to the northeast. At an altitude of 1,000 meters you are now on the last really mountainous stage through sparsely populated area, before it slowly becomes flatter

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  • Intermediate
    03:31
    29.7 mi
    8.5 mph
    1,700 ft
    2,250 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    As soon as you leave Ferrières, there are only three notable climbs between you and Liège. The first is not particularly steep, but rather long. Awan is followed by the second, which you also quickly leave behind. A quick descent with hairpin bends will take you to the picturesque town of Comblain-au

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    7
  • Distance
    232 mi
  • Duration
    30:40 h
  • Elevation
    18,925 ft

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