Beavers are back in the Ardennes! Let your children discover these amazing rodents. There are several itineraries that allow you to observe beaver constructions, to admire their dams and their huts… At Marcourt (La Roche), an 8 km walk to discover these small animals is on the program. It is perfect for kids and truly captivating!

Difficulty

Easy

Distance

8 KM

Duration

 2 H

This morning, I had an appointment with Olivier, owner of a holiday home in Marcourt and Martin Dellicour, a famous photographer to discover a walk specially created for fans of the Ardennes: an 8 km walk to see beavers.

Marcourt, a destination for walks

Marcourt is an ideal destination for your next weekend walk. The tourist office has marked several itineraries of diverse distances, which are suitable for both casual walkers and serious hikers. Next time, we will tell you about the walk of the Saint-Thibaut hermitage with its panoramic view of the Ourthe valley from La Roche to Hotton… But now, we are going to see beavers!

Reintroduced in the late 90s, today there are more than 2000 enjoying our beautiful rivers.

Beavers in the Ardennes

The Belgian Ardennes are a favourite area for beavers. Reintroduced in the late 90s, today there are more than 2000 enjoying our beautiful rivers. A herbivore, the beaver feeds on grass, leaves, and bark. Beavers usually live with their offspring and a family has an average of five individuals. Beavers build dams made up of branches and mud. In the centre of water reservoirs or at the edge of a bank, you can see mounds, which are beaver huts. The animals go in there through submerged entrances.

8 Km to see beavers

The trail was designed by Olivier and starts in Marcourt, it goes up to Marcouray, and plunges into a basin away from traffic. So children can run, climb, and jump safely without the risk of encountering a car.

Free hiking map

Sign up for our newsletter, because it contains a free hiking map “in the beaver’s trail”. An 8 km hike alongside several beaver dams, with departure and ending point in Marcourt.

Soon the first traces of beavers are visible. The beaver teeth marks on a young trunk are still fresh, a clear sign of its recent presence. Olivier points to a water reservoir and says “Beavers began their work here too”. « Oh, where? » I am looking at the centre of the natural pond, no sign of beavers. What am I supposed to see? Olivier shows me the branches assembled in a semicircle downstream of the creek. The start of a dam is already visible. Olivier and Martin teach me some basic facts about beavers: where they live, what they eat, their positive impact on the environment…

Beavers, nature’s helpers

It is very pleasing for us to see beavers arrive in the Ardennes. It is a new animal to observe in the wild and it is fabulous to be able to show it to our children. If like me, you are from the generation of the cartoon “Yakari”, you will understand my feverish state: “I am going to see beaveeeers!”

For nature, the arrival of beavers is also positive. The construction of their dams regulates the flow variations of the river. The reservoirs create a biotope that hosts a wide variety of insects, which attract amphibians, birds, and small opportunistic mammals. Beaver deforestation is limited to a restricted area around the river and enhances the luminosity in the valley. Finally, the relative stagnation of water allows it to percolate and increase groundwater levels.

The impressive beaver dams

The beaver constructions are revealed during the walk at regular intervals. Some dams have been there for a long time. Vegetation has started to grow in the gaps between their branches. Others are clearly constructions of this year.

The height of the beaver dams can be really impressive. Some were over 1.5 metres high!

The trail allows you to get closer to the dams and to observe the buildings from up close.

The height of the beaver dams can be really impressive. Some were over 1.5 metres high!

Introducing beavers to children

There is little chance that you will see beavers during your walk. The beaver is rather a nocturnal animal.                                                   However, the presence of beavers is very tangible for children. Invite them to find the traces of their teeth on tree trunks. Show them the difference in color between recent and older cuts, which are darker.                                                                                                                                         It is important to instill respect for their constructions and homes. Encourage your children to be discreet by reminding them that beavers are resting.

For sure, this beaver walk will make an impression during the holidays!

A trail through the woods

The trail continues by gradually moving away from the river bed and beaver observation area. A guaranteed immersion in nature: there is no noise of cars or civilization around. Remember to take a break.

The slope is very light and makes the trail passable with an all-terrain pushchair in the summer. Gradually, you get closer to Marcouray and down on Marcourt.

Back to the holiday home

On the way back, you can still make a detour to the tourist office in the village and enjoy a craft beer on the terrace. Your holiday home also awaits you for a well-deserved rest. Enjoy the view and admire the photos taken during the walk.

Feel free to share with us your comments and discoveries. Especially, if you have managed to see a beaver, tell us about this fabulous experience!