The brown color of the peat water, for us the hallmark of GRP 573
The GRP 573 (*) shows you almost 170 km of a particularly beautiful and fascinating part of the province of Liège. The theme of this hiking trail is undoubtedly the water that coming from the High Fens, defines the life and appearance of this surprising piece of Belgium.
Since February 2023, GRP 573 forms a loop trail that (if you follow the topoguide) starts and ends in Chaudfontaine. Following the Vesdre valley, it goes to Pepinster, Verviers and Limbourg / Dolhain, all the way to Eupen. From there, it continues slowly climbing along the Helle to the High Fens and Belgium's highest point, Botrange. You cross the High Fens to Hockai and then descend along the Hoëgne on one of the oldest recreational hiking paths in Belgium, to the Pont de Belleheid. You return to Chaudfontaine via Sart-lez-Spa, Spa, Theux, Banneux and Fraipont. This loop is 140 km long.
In addition, within the main loop runs another 27 km variant route that explores even more of the Hoëgne from the Pont de Belleheid via Polleur and Franchimont, ending in Pepinster.
Along Helle and Hoëgne, the GRP 573 lets you enjoy the fast-flowing eternally gurgling waters and the wild natural beauty of their valleys. The High Fens where these rivers originate are a unique natural area to hike through. And in and above the Vesdre Valley, you walk through a fascinating chunk of our industrial past where nature, despite everything, continues to claim its rights.
The trail leaves you with quite a bit of climbing and descending, so the walks don't usually become strolls. The landscapes offer quite a variety, from the evergreen Land of Herve, over the immense Herzogenwald and the inhospitable High Fens, to the rugged heights and slopes of the Ardennes. Along the way, a lot of culturally and historically interesting places are visited (Spa, Chaudfontaine, Franchimont, Limbourg, Polleur, Verviers, Eupen, ...).
In short, this trail won't leave any GR hiker unmoved.
The 7th edition of the topoguide (written in French) is dated February 2023. The gpx tracks of main, connecting and variant trails can be downloaded for free from the grsentiers.org website.
The signs are yellow-red, which means GRP 573 is a regional GR (GR de Pays - GRP), and not an in line GR like e.g. GR 5.
(*) In the Walloon part of Belgium a regional GR is called a GR de Pays, a GRP.
Thanks to a fairly well-developed public transport system in the province of Liège, the regional GR 573 is quite easy to organize.
The first stages between Chaudfontaine and Eupen can be organized entirely by train, while several bus lines open up the region in even more detail.
The crossing of the High Fens is best organized with buses from and back to Verviers. Spa and Theux are accessible by both train and bus. Only in the region around Banneux it can be a bit more difficult to find the right bus connections.