Cycling through water and cycling through the heathland

Limburg is a cyclist’s paradise. This adventure takes us through the beautiful Hoge Kempen National Park, across the heathland, over a bridge straight through the water and along the region’s rich mining past.

Cycling through water and cycling through the heathland




Start: Genk

Our bike ride begins at a symbolic spot. Today we cycle across Limburg, where the long mining past still lingers. And so, C-Mine is a great place to start. Today, this former mining site serves as a melting pot for art, culture and creativity. But more about that later. First, we let our legs do the talking.

We kick-start our steel steeds and shake ourselves free of the traffic. Barely two minutes later, we are on a standalone cycle path that takes us onto a wonderfully peaceful road. Along either side, we are flanked by tall trees. It is a first encounter with the Limburg greenery, which we will be getting to know very well today. Indeed, most of our tour winds through Hoge Kempen National Park.


Hoge Kempen National Park

This impressive nature reserve is Flanders’ first national park. It encompasses no less than 12,000 hectares of unspoiled nature. From vast pine forests to purple-blooming heathlands, from shifting dunes and enormous bodies of water to high peaks. We cycle whistling into the national park past Kattevennen, one of the nine gateways. And there is much to do in this recreational area. We pedal past the Cosmodrome planetarium and, a little later, past the bike park. On the track here, daredevils on BMX and mountain bikes can do their own thing. Further along, we quite literally take things to new heights. We climb the Bliksemtrap and are rewarded with a lovely view over the vast greenery and the former mining sites of Genk. 


Straight through the heathland

After this, we pedal on quietly to another fantastic highlight: Cycling through the Heathland. This is a brilliant experience on two (or more) wheels. First, an impressive wooden cycle bridge takes us into higher spheres. We finish up metres above the ground. From there, we can see a magnificent panorama of the national park. Immediately afterwards, we dive back into the nature. We are suddenly pedalling straight through the heathland of the Mechelse Heide, four kilometres long. The warm colours of late summer cast a brilliant glow on the scene. It gives us a smile, which we carry with us for a while.

After this first impressive interlude, we briefly leave High Kempen. But not to worry, it will not be for long. After a little detour, we are quickly back in another part of this monumental chunk of greenery. We arrive at Klaverberg Nature Park, located on and around the former Waterschei mining spoil heap. Here, too, we encounter a stunning vast landscape that we can cruise through. Those who want to get to know this piece of nature in a different way will find a splendid range of walking trails, rest areas and amphibian ponds here. What follows next is a new introduction with the region’s mining past. We cycle through the old mine site, which is now home to Thor Park, even passing under the old pithead frame.


An artistic universe

That passage heralds our farewell to this nature reserve. It has made us hungry for a generous dose of culture. And our wishes are granted. Soon we stop at LABIOMISTA, the fascinating universe of Koen Vanmechelen. This leading artist is building his life’s work on this site. With the intersections of art, identity, fertility and biocultural diversity. He makes this visible and tangible in his dynamic (open-air) museum. This stop is more than worthy of our amazement.   


Straight through the water

After an extraordinary journey of discovery, we can move on again. Once more, we seem to be completely surrounded by trees. We meander between reserve De Teut and nature area Het Wik. These lead us to Cycling through the Water, a unique experience on a bike. We turn left and come onto an arrow-straight cycle path. This leads right through a pond, 200 metres long, from one bank to the other. The cycle path goes somewhat downhill. Half way along, this puts the water at eye level with us. We feel, see and smell the water. This is an almost magical place.

After this unique climax, our adventure slowly comes to an end. We just have time to stop at Bokrijk open-air museum, where you can learn about the history of everyday life. 


Finish: Genk

Our last pedal strokes of the day take us back to our starting point: C-Mine. Today, this former mining site - the pithead frame is a lasting reminder of the past - bustles with art and heritage. Tired but satisfied, we put our bikes aside. Time for a dip in a bath of culture. 



Practical information

  • Parking:
    Parking C-Mine, Genk
  • Public transport:
    Genk station
  • Bicycles for hire: 
    C-Mine, Kattevennen, Domain Bokrijk and Fietspunt Station Genk via Fietsparadijs Limburg
  • Nodes:
    73 > 509 > 250 > 30 > 29 > 534 > 251 > 252 > 550 > 551 > 565 > 41 > 40 > 39 > 512 > 508 > 548 > 74 > 79 > 71 > 92 > 91 > 243 > 242 > 72 > 73