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Hiking in Wallonia: the highest peak in Belgium

  • Circuit Gourmand 23 - Baraque Michel
  • Walking or hiking

This 13 km walk starts at the ‘Baraque Michel’ and offers a rewarding insight into the unique and varied countryside of the Hautes Fagnes (High Fens). Aside from the characteristic peat bogs, its mysterious oak forests and peaceful river valleys are just waiting be explored.

The trail leads from the Fischbach Chapel at the Cross of Fiancés across a newly-built gravel road through the heart of the Walloon Fagne. It was here, in 1871, that a young couple died of cold having left for Xhoffraix to collect the necessary documents for their impending wedding. Along the river Polleur, bordered by birch and alder, the route leads the walker into some wild countryside.

Once you get to ‘Six Hêtres’, a mysterious island of broad-leafed trees at the heart of a pine forest, the route crosses the Fagne of Setay to return to the Baraque Michel, where you can enjoy a tasty meal using seasonal ingredients as well as home baked breads and ice creams.

Do make a detour via the Centre Nature de Botrange: its shop offers a wide range of books and maps.

Route/Points of Interest

  • From the car park at the Baraque Michel (S) the route heads towards the Fischbach Chapel, originally built to orientate and shelter lost travellers.
  • The route, marked by green rectangles, swings to the right on a gravel road into the Fagne.
  • Shortly after the Croix des Fiancés (1) you arrive at a crossing point. At that point, turn left on to a lovely path which winds between some gorse bushes and spruce trees and leads to a small bridge spanning the Herbôfaye brook. (In heavy rain walking here is difficult without boots.)
  • The route continues straight ahead, turns right at a T-junction on an asphalt road, turns right again at a rest area before it joins an isolated country road that leads to the Polleur valley.
  • From here, the trail becomes increasingly adventurous, passing a small wooden bridge in a clearing on the right.
  • There, the old fir forest is being enhanced by new peatlands created by re-humidification.
  • Follow the wide country path to the right for about 300 metres, then fork again to the right along a small path. This can get very muddy in wet weather: in heavy rain take the main road instead.
  • At a junction directly behind a small wooden bridge, the path forks to the left and soon reaches a point where two large forestry roads cross each other.
  • The route through the forest continues straight ahead towards higher ground.
  • At the third crossing, take the path to the right and go through a forest of firs.
  • The trail crosses the forest path before gently rising to the left and reaching a crossing next to the ‘Six Hêtres’ (2) rest area.
  • At the next crossing the route swings to the left following a broad forest track, before turning right again as far as the edge of the Fagne de Setay.
  • The path runs along the forest as far as a fenced-off peat bog. At that point it crosses a temporary wooden bridge before turning left again towards the edge of the forest, turning briefly right on an asphalt road before another left turn as far as the ‘Pont de Bèleu’ (3).
  • Here, a pleasant alternative route heads right across La Fagne de Polleur, although this path is sometimes blocked, so it’s better to follow the green rectangles as far as the edge of the forest.
  • At this point, a forestry road turns left, then immediately right, and offers some magnificent views over the peat-bogs.
  • Eventually it turns into a dirt road, which takes a left turn to bring you back to Baraque Michel Auberge.

Prepare your walk

Do contact the local tourist office beforehand: the Fagnes is often closed to visits in spring to let birds nest and in summer if the area is too dry. Do take a map along with you too.

Dogs are not allowed.

Make sure you wear good hiking boots and comfortable walking shoes. A walking stick will also help.

Always take some snacks and water with you.

Author’s Tips

It’s possible to eat on the way at the cosy and stylish ‘l’Auberge de la Lesse’ at Gendron-Lesse station with a menu offering local produce. You can hire a kayak at Gendron and go down the Lesse. Or why not finish the day at one of the restaurants in nearby Celles, and visit the Roman church.

In the downloadable brochure below, we have selected one of the best walks per province: natural gems, family friendly paths, memorable views along the way, trails sprinkled with history… One even will introduce you to the iconic abbey beers.

A walker's guide to Wallonia

If you were to draw a straight line on an atlas northward from the Massif Central in France to the North Pole, the only area of high ground the line crosses is the Ardennes, shared between Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany – but mainly belonging to Wallonia, the southern part of Belgium!

Information on the walk

Difficulty

Hard

Length

Minimum distance13 Km

Duration

Minimum duration4:00

Facilities

Equipement

  • Markers

Animals

    Pets not allowed
    The information provided is an indication only. We advise you to inquire directly with the organisers of the event that interests you before you leave.