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near Mont Rigi, Wallonia (Belgique)
East Belgium has a knack for creating the right mix of wilderness and accessibility, busy tourist hotspots and places that make you feel adventurous. Of course the High Venn of the Ardennes is an outstandingly beautiful eco-system that attracts hikers with its muddy trails, board walks, great vistas, and rapidly changing weather patterns.
Our trail starts at the abandonned - and hopefully soon-to-be-demolished - restaurant at Mont Rigi. Alternatively, you may start and end the hike at the newly renovated parking lot at Baraque Michel. At Mont Rigi, there is a wind-reseach station, that is open for visitors most of the time.
The first part of the trail has been filled with gravel and graded - to make it accessible also to those less fit for walking, even those bound to a wheel chair. The trail immediately opens views across the Poleur Venn, with its typical tufts of gras. After a few meters you reach the weather station, which makes you wonder what it takes to measure the speed of the wind.
The solid path continues around the Poleur Venn, until waypoint 4. The trail to the left leads back to Mont Rigi for a short hike, while the right fork follows across boardwalks and eventually on a steep ridge overlooking the Venn. There used to be alternative paths below the cliffs, but they have been closed to better protect the area. At some places, the trail has alpine character, and is often secured with a reling or steel cables. One should pay attention, however as the path can be eroded or slippery. Eventually you descend and reach a shelter. For a few meters, there is a welcome forest road, before our trail turns off at waypoint 8 to follow the Poleur stream.
This is truly a wild trail, which may even become impossible after a long period of rain. There are remains of boardwalks and bridges in places, but more often than not one has to find detours to avoid the streams and bogs.
Between waypoint 9 and 10 you follow a forest road, but do not miss the turn at waypoint 10, where you again enter the bog. Shortly before waypoint 11, the Poleur stream is joined by the Baraque stream, and together they become the Hoegne. You cross the Hoegne at waypoint 11 via a makeshift bridge of fallen trees. There is a forest road on the other side.
At waypoint 12, you may follow the main road to the left, though we recommend to leave the road and use the foot path staright ahead. After a while and some turns, you reach the 'cross of the fiances'. Many years ago, a man and his fiance were found here, after they had lost their way on a winter day.
From here, it is straight back to first Baraque Michel (with a functioning restaurant and Auberge), and then back to Mont Rigi.
This fork is easily missed