Vast expanses of heath, mysterious moors, large lakes, small ponds and streams, sand and dune landscapes, lots of forest and even a few ‘mountains’. This landscape characterises the Hoge Kempen National Park in the far northeast of Belgium – and thus also hiking on the National Park Trail. The hiking route was only established in 2022 and leads once around the national park, a total of 110 kilometres (68 mi).
Nature definitely plays the main role on this Tour as it’s designed to take in as many highlights of the landscape as possible. At the same time, you can also get to know the region’s history and culture – sometimes with small diversions. The mining past, for example, is responsible for some of the most striking landmarks in the national park.
Kathrin from the outdoor travel blog Fräulein Draußen completed the National Park Trail and takes us on her hike in this Collection. She explored the trail for four days. In the individual Tour descriptions, she tells us about her exciting discoveries, gives practical tips on places to stay and sights to see and, last but not least, shares her beautiful photos with us. With that, we'd like to hand over the floor to Fräulein Draußen:
‘In my opinion, the routing is wonderful and runs close to nature in many places. You get a sense of being 'off the beaten track'. It was probably also due to the time of year (mid-April), but I often didn't meet a soul for hours on some sections. I found the landscape to be almost astonishingly varied at times, even though many sections lead through forest, which is the main feature of the region. However, even this forest is by no means always the same and there's much to discover. It would have been even greener if I’d gone a little later in the year.’
For those who feel like spending a few days hiking through Flanders' nature at their leisure, here are Kathrin's tips for the National Park Trail in Hoge Kempen:
The official starting point of the National Park Trail is Kattevennen near Genk. There's a large car park and bus connections, for example to Genk station. Parking is free, information about the buses (and tickets) can be found at delijn.be/en or in the app of the same name. Theoretically, of course, you can start this adventure anywhere.
⛺️ ACCOMMODATION: There are various accommodation options along the National Park Trail, from camping and glamping to guesthouses and hotels. It's best to book in advance, especially in high season. (I did a mixture of camping, glamping and hotels, I've indicated my respective accommodation in the stage descriptions).
🎒 LUGGAGE TRANSPORT: If you want to travel as simply as possible and with a light backpack, take a look at the trail package of B&B Haerlekijn here: nationaalparkhogekempen.be/en/national-park-trail
🍟 FOOD: There are one or two cafés or restaurants directly on the route, but some aren't always open depending on the season or day of the week. I'd recommend taking food and drink with you on each stage and seeing everything else as more of a bonus.
NAVIGATION: The route is pretty much perfectly signposted (including any route changes), and additional means of orientation aren't really necessary. You can find the original National Park Trail route here: komoot.com/collection/1580010
⚠️ DIFFICULTY: There are some short but steep climbs (especially those up the old mining dumps), and after rain, it can be a bit muddy in places. Otherwise, however, there aren't any difficulties along the way.
✂️ VARIANT: There are some possibilities to shorten the Tour. Route suggestions and further information can be found here: nationaalparkhogekempen.be/en/national-park-trail/kurzversionen
Hiking with a dog: The entire route can be walked with a dog (on a lead).
💬 More Info: You can find a lot more information about the trail on the National Park website: nationaalparkhogekempen.be/en/national-park-trail
Hello from Belgium! 🙋♀️🇧🇪 More precisely from Flanders, i.e. the Dutch-speaking north of the country. Here, not far from Germany, is the Hoge Kempen National Park, a very extensive forest and heath area with large lakes, shifting dunes and even one or two mountains.
Since 2022 it has been possible…
Day two of my hike through the Belgian Hoge Kempen National Park begins with a special meeting: ranger Peter Loubele grew up in Lanaken and for several years he has been guiding tourists or school groups through “his territory” for the national park. 🤠
For the first hours of the day he accompanies me…
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
On the third day of my hike on the National Park Trail Hoge Kempen, I climbed high - several times! The first was the ascent to the 12 meter high head frame of the former Eisden mine, which is right next to the visitor center of the national park.
The panorama is even better only from the three slag heaps…
And there it is again, the last day of my hike around the Hoge Kempen National Park. 😩 And it starts rather unpromisingly, with low clouds and constant rain. Even the beautiful heather and dune area that I walk through at the beginning of the stage looks a bit dreary under these conditions. Of course…
Hiking Collection by komoot
Hiking Collection by adidas TERREX
Bike Touring Collection by Katharina Siegel
Bike Touring Collection by Zoe von Rambling Rocks