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Belgium’s Hoge Kempen and Meuse Valley – Bram Tankink’s best rides

Bram Tankink

Belgium’s Hoge Kempen and Meuse Valley – Bram Tankink’s best rides

Collection by Bram Tankink

8

Tours

56:58 h

458 mi

13,575 ft

Did you know that Hoge Kempen National Park in Flanders, Belgium, only opened in 2006? It was created to return a mining area back to nature. Since then, the park has changed a lot. You can enjoy the area on a road, gravel or mountain bike. In this Collection, you’ll find routes for all three.

Hoge Kempen is bursting with routes, from tough technical loops to relatively easy Tours. Cycling here, you’re always far away from civilization. If you ride from Monday to Friday, you’ll find yourself alone in the world of Hoge Kempen. That's why I like it here so much. You find ultimate peace and quiet. In all the emptiness, you cycle through heathland and pine and deciduous forests. With sand dunes and slag heaps, the so-called old coal mountains, remind you of the industrial past and offer welcome elevation changes today.

Many routes join onto the Border Mass Valley (Grensmaasvallei). Here, just like in the forest, you find beautiful bike paths and nice gravel roads that lead through the floodplains of the Meuse River. After years of industry, it’s wonderful that nature has been able to return here. It’s now one of the few places in the Netherlands and Belgium where various bird species are increasing rather than decreasing.

In winter, I’ve almost always trained in the national park. The trees and elevation differences protect you from the wind. Even in extreme weather conditions, I don’t get cold. But, that could also say something about me. The trails also dry out quickly in the park as the gravel is often at higher elevations.

The park is wilder than, for example, the Hoge Veluwe and you'll find fewer places to eat and stay overnight. So keep that in mind and take enough provisions with you. If you’re coming here on holiday, then Maasmechelen municipality is a good starting point. There’s a large holiday park here where you can easily spend a week and drive to all the routes. If you like peace and quiet, then use Oud-Rekem as your base. This picturesque village has very nice restaurants and is situated exactly between the Nature Park Maasvallei and National Park Hoge Kempen.

Enjoy your discovery of the Hoge Kempen and Meuse Valley!

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Hoge Kempen en de Maas voor de racefiets – Het beste van Bram Tankink

    Difficult
    05:08
    57.5 mi
    11.2 mph
    950 ft
    950 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    This Tour is tailor-made for the racing bike. The route is almost entirely on bicycle paths and you will therefore encounter virtually no traffic. Without all those cars, this is the ultimate trail to relax on the road bike. You start in beautiful Oud-Rekem. There are plenty of parking spaces and restaurants

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    by Bram Tankink

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  • Difficult
    04:17
    30.3 mi
    7.1 mph
    950 ft
    950 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Grab your gravel bike, grease your chain and make sure you're clean enough to get dirty. This route of 50 kilometers goes completely through Hoge Kempen National Park. Count on many unpaved kilometers and (if it has rained well) a lot of splashing sand and mud.

    

    Forest, sand excavations and heath alternate

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    by Bram Tankink

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  • Difficult
    08:06
    60.4 mi
    7.5 mph
    1,450 ft
    1,450 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    As far as I'm concerned, this is the ideal Sunday ride. For the gravel bike, of course, because no less than two thirds of the 90-kilometer route is unpaved.

    

    You get on in Oud-Rekem and continue cycling on gravel paths through the floodplains of the Maas. It is possible that you will encounter a number

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    by Bram Tankink

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  • Difficult
    06:17
    50.3 mi
    8.0 mph
    1,000 ft
    975 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    This route is made for the gravel bike and starts in Oud-Rekem. Actually, this is the first loop of the Strade komoot route, which I made during the lockdown and is also in this Collection.

    

    This northern loop is completely car-free. In addition to the gravel roads, you only cycle on bicycle paths and

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    by Bram Tankink

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  • Difficult
    05:58
    50.3 mi
    8.4 mph
    1,300 ft
    1,300 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.

    This gravel route leads you around Genk from Oud-Rekem. For the most part you cycle through Hoge Kempen National Park. Once at Genk you ride a lot on single trails that can be a bit more technical.

    

    Nevertheless, this tour is fine on a gravel bike, but for the inexperienced gravel cyclist, the mountain

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  • Intermediate
    04:46
    36.1 mi
    7.6 mph
    1,375 ft
    1,375 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    Kempens Mooiste is a mountain bike route that leads you over the most beautiful singletracks and paths through the southern part of the Hoge Kempen National Park.

    

    It is a tough route that alternates forest paths, gravel paths and single trails. For a large part you follow the existing mountain bike routes

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    by Bram Tankink

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  • Difficult
    08:33
    63.7 mi
    7.4 mph
    2,750 ft
    2,750 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 Kempense Mountainbike Epic connects the best trails of the Hoge Kempen. The title is a nod to Cape Epic, one of the toughest mountain bike rides in the world, because the distance and the sometimes sandy trails make this tour tough. So make sure you start well trained.

    

    The mountain bike route takes

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  • Difficult
    13:54
    110 mi
    7.9 mph
    3,825 ft
    3,825 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Finally, as a bonus, this Strade Hoge Kempen and Maasvlakte. During the lockdown I drew this mainly unpaved route that refers to the legendary Strade Bianche in Italy. The famous spring classic travels the white gravel roads of the rolling Tuscan landscape every year.

    

    As an ode to this ride, I drew the

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Questions and Comments

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    8
  • Distance
    458 mi
  • Duration
    56:58 h
  • Elevation
    13,575 ft

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