GR 15, at its best as a rough Ardennes trail
The GR 15 hiking trail crosses the Belgian Ardennes from north to south. If you like deep forests, wide panoramas, river valleys, rural villages and tourist attractions such as Bastogne and Houffalize, you will definitely find what you are looking for. This is an ideal trail to get to know the Ardennes on foot up close!
Long ago, GR 15 started as a sub-project of an international Ardennes-Eifel hiking trail. The trail was to pass through Germany, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Belgium and France. Unfortunately, these plans were never realised. Yet - much later than planned - the northern part of the Belgian section was indeed completed. Since nothing came of the rest, the finished section was named GR 15. In Arlon GR 15 now joins the GR 16 trail (Path of the Semois), a good alternative for the southern part.
GR 15 starts (or ends) in Monschau, and that has everything to do with its connection to the German hiking trails that pass through the Eifel region. From the tourist town, GR 15 enters Belgium for a walk through the High Fens to Eupen. Via the Gileppe dam lake, it continues to the pearl of the Ardennes, Spa. Along the beautiful Ninglinspo river, the trail then reaches Remouchamps. In Aywaille, GR 15 crosses the Amblève river. Via Harzé and Grandmenil it goes up again before descending to the Ourthe and Houffalize. Beyond Bastogne, GR 15 briefly travels into the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg to the Sûre valley. Finally, it crosses Martelange to Arlon, end (or start) of the trail.
The 230 km long GR 15 Ardennes trail will certainly be an interesting hiking experience through an occasionally quite tough and adventurous part of the Ardennes. Years ago I already walked part of the trail, some 135 km in separate day stages from Monschau to Achouffe. Unfortunately, back then the rest of the route was shelved for various reasons. So the question now was: continue where I left off then, or start again? For me it's important that a GR trail always gives me that long-distance feeling, even if I only get one stage further every few months. On GR 15, however, I walked the last stage over 4 years ago, and that's a bit too much. So I decided to start again. It will be like meeting someone again after a long time, someone I've always liked. It will also give me the chance to see what has changed in all that time, for better or for worse.
Meanwhile, the topoguide, (4th edition), also dates from March 2019. The signage is white-red. You can download the gpx track of the trail for free from the grsentiers.org website. You should definitely do so because that's the most reliable source to give you the most recent version of the GR 15 trail. There you can also download the latest update of the topoguide as a pdf file. That update is dated July 2023.
The topoguide shows GR 15 starting in Arlon and ending in Monschau after a long northward hike. I myself walk the route in the opposite direction, from Monschau to Arlon. The only reason is that that direction is better organisable for me, at least as far as the first half of the trail is concerned. And what comes after that, that's something I'll see later ....
If you want to walk the GR 15 trail in separate day stages using public transport, you will find it anything but easy to organise. The route is situated in the far east of Belgium. Most people from Flanders already have a long train journey ahead of them to get to the area, and then they have to continue by bus in a region where the frequency of the bus trips is anything but high.
By car, it will be easier, although even then you will struggle to connect the start and finish of your stages by bus.
Over the past few years I came across hikers organising multi-day hikes with backpack and tent on the GR 15 trail. Not a bad idea. GR 15's sometimes difficult accessibility makes it the ideal path for multi-day hikes.