Are you ready to go on a 15.3 km mountain biking escape through woods and meadows on the heights of Vielsalm? This mountain biking trail is clearly marked, easy enough, and goes on paths that cross some woods and clearings offering stunning views of the Ardennes. It is a great mountain biking loop trail to discover with your family in Vielsalm, in the Belgian Ardennes.
Easy to medium
Departing from the tourist office
Today is a pleasant October morning, so I decided to test a mountain bike trail near Vielsalm. Depending on the weather, today should be the last day of dry weather this week, which makes this a great opportunity to enjoy the lovely autumn colours.
I parked on a free parking spot, located right next to the Haute Ardennes Tourism Office in Vielsalm. After talking with Sarah, who works in from the Tourist Office, about which route to choose, I am gone to ride a 15.3 km mountain bike trail.
There are four mountain bike circuits available (ranging between 15 and 45 km), I hesitate between the 15.3 km family trail (with marking 1) or the 22 km second route, which is sportier and features steeper slopes to climb.
I have not ridden my bike uphill for a few months… So to make sure I reach the end of the course, I choose the family trail.
The mountain bike trail
After taking one road, I am already in unfamiliar territory, I cross several small villages, Salm-Château, Comté, Goronne and Rencheux, without coming across any cars. A little shout out to Ardennes-Etape, I noticed a few cottages that rent through our agency:
I then arrive at the first countryside roads, surrounded by trees, with many cows watching me go by.
The thrill of mountain biking is coming back already! When you ride a mountain bike in autumn, you can see the leaves fall from the trees, hear the branches and tassels crack under your tires, it is a moment to experience pure nature.
The signs are very clear (thankfully, because I do not have a good sense of direction). I still brought the trail map to make sure which direction to take and to read the advice and tips for this course.
Starting to climb gently
The trail continues with a slight climb that then gets steeper when you cross the woods. The climb is long and continuous. But it is all worth it: think about your fitness, the view that awaits you at the top, and, especially, the descent for the rest of the trail!
During the climb, I tell myself that Jacques Brel certainly was not talking about our Belgian Ardennes when he referred to Belgium as « this flat country of his« ! I catch my breath several times, taking the opportunity to make some photos.
The viewpoint and the quarry of Coticule
After arriving at the viewpoint, I take a turn towards the quarry of Coticule, do you know it? It is a place where you can find local stones used to sharpen tools and knives. It is noon, lunchtime for the workers, so I can visit the quarry calmly and safely..
The long descent
Now, I’m ready for the descent! It’s time to « change gears », finally, I am on the big ring and the 21st speed, in my case. A pure sense of happiness through the countryside, on paths that are a little rugged but ideal for some thrilling mountain bike sensations.
A family of Dutch holidaymakers had the same idea as me, they speed by with big smiles on their faces, we greet, « Goedendag », they seem to enjoy the ride, too!
Back to civilization
As I get back to civilization, in the village of Rencheux, I smile when I see my speed displayed on the radar speed sign for cars, a nice peak at 28 km/h ?, which is a great improvement to my 2 km/h on the climb.
This is a nice outing in the great outdoors that is ideal for a family looking for beautiful landscapes and some mountain bike thrills. Like me, you may need to take a break from the long climb up at the beginning. With training, you should be able to climb those few kilometres in one go. Or, to make it easier, with an electric all-terrain bike.
The 8 km final descent is pure bliss, there are no technical difficulties, just a few roots and a few holes, riding on well-marked dirt roads and gravel paths. There is a beautiful mix of landscapes, combining forests and views. As the course is very well marked, you will not have to stop or break your momentum searching for the right path.
As I leave my parking space, a car with a yellow plate takes my place. They also have mountain bikes on the bike rack. Maybe they are guests staying in a cottage with our agency, Ardennes-Etape?
Feel free to check our holiday homes in the area if you want to fully enjoy the Ardennes and ride your mountain bike through woods and beautiful landscapes.
We have tested other mountain bike trails for you. Head to the Eastern Townships with Anne.
- You can get a detailed map for € 7 at the Haute Ardennes Tourist Office, Avenue de la Salm 50, 6690 Vielsalm
- There is free parking next to the Tourist Office.
- During hunting season, check first with the Tourist Office to make sure the trail is open.