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near Saint-Vith, Walloon (Belgique)
This cycling trip starts at the former St. Vith station and takes the Vennbahn cycling path to Troisvierges for about 32 km, and then returns via among others the tripoint Luxembourg-Belgium-Germany, the Our valley and two steeper hills to St. Vith. The entire route is paved with the exception of two stretches of semi-paved cycling paths on the Vennbahn route (see waypoints; a third stretch has in the mean time been paved). I rode these semi-paved stretches on a racing bike, but on some places the gravel is course and moderately suited. You can easily take a parallel route to avoid the two longer stretches (see waypoint descriptions), which will be hopefully paved soon anyway. The Vennbahn route (www.vennbahn.eu) follows an old railway track, and is therefore void of any steep ascents or descents. One tunnel on the Vennbahn is not open yet and you have to take an alternate route, which is paved, but a bit steeper (see waypoints). The return route includes two climbs from the Our valley which are a bit steeper, but overall it is a pleasant enough and not very demanding route. The route offers beautiful and hilly, quiet scenery in eastern Belgium and northern Luxembourg with woods, beautiful river valleys, abandoned railway stations, deserted countryside, and pleasant villages.
The route starts at the former station in Sankt Vith and follows the Vennbahn directly out of town and through woods and valleys (of the Braunlauf stream) and through one railway tunnel towards the Our valley at the German border. Here you find a succession of 2 semi-paved stretches of cycling path (see waypoints). The first is short (300 m) and difficult to avoid, and takes you for a short stretch into Germany, but the second can be avoided easily if so desired. The second stretch (3.6 km) through the Our and Ulf valleys ends at the former station in Burg-Reuland. After Burg Reuland the track climbs again. At Oudler you will find a stretch of smooth new asphalt which takes you almost to the Luxembourg border. Here there is a tunnel (Huldange tunnel) which was supposed to be turned into a cycling path also, but due to the presence of rare bats, this has been indefinitely postponed. Here there is a detour (see waypoint), which takes you across the hill instead of through it, and is therefore steeper. Close to the top of the hill you enter Luxembourg, and during the day I rode the trail there was another deviation on this detour (see waypoint). After descending to the Millebaach valley floor you pick up the Vennbahn trail again for the last stretch to Troisvierges. At Troisvierges there is an actual train station, and the route does not go through the final railway tunnel but passes over a final hill (quite steep) with a nice view of the station. It is actually unbelievable that such a small village (less than 3000 inhabitants) still has an actual active station…
From Troisvierges you continue north through the Woltz valley, and then climb a hill to go down to Sassel village, and then follow the valley on to Maulusmühle. Here you turn left on a bit larger road through the valley and slowly rise from 380 m to about 440 m before climbing steeper out of the valley towards the N7 at 505 m, the main north-south traffic artery in Luxembourg. You quickly cross it and then descend towards the Our valley. Arriving at the valley floor, there is a nice spot to eat your picnic at the tripoint (see waypoint) of Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany, or have a look at the monument (see waypoint) dedicated to the founding of the European Economic Community. From here you continue through the Our valley to Weweler where you turn left for a quite steep climb out of the valley (the Ourberg: see waypoint). You have a nice view here over the surrounding countryside before you steeply descend to Reuland. Just before the village you cross the Vennbahn route but you now take the asphalt road to the next climb to Bracht and then on to the Thommerberg (see waypoint). From here you slightly descend and ascend a few times before arriving back in St. Vith (on a kind of solar system trail with displays of various planets), where you make a slight detour through the town center before arriving at your starting point.
The most convenient places for lunch are Sankt-Vith, Burg-Reuland, and some villages in the Our valley (Ouren, Oberhausen, Stubach). The route: St. Vith/ Neidingen/ Hemmeres/ Auel/ Burg-Reuland/ Oudler/ Goedange/ Wilwerdange/ Troisvierges/ Sassel/ Maulusmühle/ Lieler/ Ouren/ Oberhausen/ Stubach/ Weveler/ Burg-Reuland/ Bracht/ Sankt-Vith.
The Huldange tunnel is still closed for cycling. The asphalt has been laid up to the entrance, but in the tunnel rare bats rest, so the work has been indefinitely postponed. At this point a detour is indicated which takes you over the hill instead of through it.
Here, close to the tripoint Belgium/Luxemburg/Germany you will find a monument (Europadenkmal) dedicated to the creation of the European Economic Community. The monument consists of several pieces divided on both sides of the Belgium-Luxemburg border.
At this former station, the semi-paved stretch of the Vennbahn ends and is substituted by smooth brand new asphalt.
Pretty steep climb described in more detail on the Dutch website http://kuitenbijters.com/de-cols-en-de-cotes/150-ourberg-reuland. The first part is the steepest. At the top you have a great view of the surrounding Belgian, Luxembourg' and German hills.
This is a short stretch of gravel of 300 m up to the bridge across the Our which brings you into Germany. It is hard to avoid, so the best advice is to slow down. Hopefully, these stretches of the Vennbahn will be shortly paved as well.
This stretch of mixed course gravel and clay of 3.6 km consists of two stretches. The first of 1.6 km takes you back to Belgium and on to the road at Auel. The second stretch of 2.0 km takes you through the Our valley to the station of Burg-Reuland. I rode the semi-paved stretches, but the course gravel is not optimally suited for the racing bike. Both stretches can be avoided by taking a parallel road. The bypass of the first stretch takes you from Hemmeres to Auel across a hill (via the Ourtalstrasse and the Aueler Weg). The second stretch can be bypassed through the valley from Auel to Burg-Reuland. Hopefully, these stretches of the Vennbahn will be shortly paved as well.
In the mean time this stretch of semi-paved path has been replaced by asphalt.
This stretch of 4.5 km consists of two narrow clay lanes with grass in the middle, but is relatively easily negotiated on a racing bike. This stretch can be avoided by taking the parallel road from Burg-Reuland to Oudler and taking the Bahnhofstrasse to the Vennbahn.
Hopefully, this stretch of the Vennbahn will be shortly paved as well.
Normally you take a different route here, but the bridge was under construction, and a detour indicated. Everything here is properly signposted.
Pretty steep climb described in more detail on the Dutch website http://kuitenbijters.com/de-cols-en-de-cotes/148-thommerberg-thommen. Before you start the climb you have already slowly climbed from the Our valley to Bracht, a small village.
If you are a border freak, you can visit the tripoint Luxembourg-Belgium-Germany here. A short unpaved path takes you to a bridge with a information panel. The tripoint is actually in the middle of the Our river, but the bridge between Belgium and Germany takes you very close. Also a nice spot for a picnic.
Just before Troisvierges the Vennbahn cycling path takes you away from the railroad (because there is still one there): it does not allow you to go through the tunnel. Instead you have the climb the little hill. On the other side you have a nice view of the station of a town with less than 3000 inhabitants.
From the waypoint 'detour tunnel' you can cycle on to the tunnel to have a look. The path is completely paved until a few meters before the entrance. You can have a look in the tunnel (at your own risk). The tunnel houses a rare species of bat, and the cycling path will not be continued through the tunnel for the time being. If this changes, let me know.