In late February 2022 I went exploring near the Walloon village Solwaster. I combined four of the most beautiful day hikes in the area, resulting in a loop trail that takes you along the picturesque streams and rivers of Solwaster.
In a nutshell…
- Trip length: +/- 15 miles
- Trip duration: one to three days
- Elevation gain: +/- 2500 feet
- Overall rating: 7.5/10
- Difficulty rating: 4/10
- Percentage unpaved/singletrack: 70% singletrack, 95% unpaved
- Trail popularity: some sections are pretty popular among day hikers (families with kids mostly)
- Camping: wild camping is illegal but usually tolerated if you have respect
How to get there
If you have to get there by car, you’re lucky! There are a few parking lots literally right next to the trail.
- Large parking lot at 50°30’29.0″N 5°57’37.2″E. There’s also a small restaurant and food stand at that location. I bought a coke and moved on.
- Small parking lot at 50°31’58.7″N 5°58’02.3″E
- Small parking lot at 50°29’14.7″N 5°59’34.8″E
- Small parking lots at 50°31’08.0″N 5°58’05.3″E and 50°31’25.7″N 5°58’33.0″E. These ones are located right in the middle of the trail, so you could park your car there and use it as an aid station. Or sleep in your car, then you don’t even have to wild camp and bring a shelter.
By public transportation
The closest train station is ‘Verviers-central’. From there you can hop onto the bus at the stop called ‘Verviers Gare Centrale’, which will take you to ‘Sart-Lez-Spa Route de Solwaster’. It’s a good connection. There’s a bus every hour or so.
Where can you plan your train and bus route?
Where to camp
I always worried where I would sleep when I started backpacking, but after a few trips you realize that it is usually not difficult to find a good camping spot. That’s especially true if you do some research beforehand, bring the right kind of shelter, and start searching in time.
If I’m not sure the area I’m going backpacking in has loads of camping spots to offer, I do some research beforehand:
- I look for flat areas around the trail using the contour lines on topo maps (or tools like Gaia GPS, Caltopo, and Google Maps).
- Dense vegetation can make it hard to find a camping spot, especially if it’s dry and every plant wants to stab you. In this case I look for open areas using the satellite layer and street view tool in Google Maps.
I mark these areas as potential camping spots. Once there, I assess whether I can camp safely, stealthily, on durable ground, away from a water source, etc.
For this trip, however, that kind of research isn’t necessary since there are good camping spots around every corner.
Restaurants and food resupply options
If you don’t feel like carrying two to three days’ worth of food, there’s a little grocery store near the trail where you can buy regional products. Not my kind of thing though; too expensive. It’s called ‘Le Comptoir Du Loup’.
There’s also a little restaurant called ‘Le Chalet du Pont de Belleheid’. Right next to it, you can find a little food stand that sells Belgian beer and waffles. Take it easy on the beer though, or you might end up like this guy:
Where to get water
There’s water everywhere because you’re hiking next to rivers and streams most of the time. You can carry as little as 0.5L of water or nothing at all and drink directly from water sources (after filtering it, of course).
Cell service & mobile data
I had cell service 90% of the time. On most hills I even had a strong 4G coverage.
In terms of difficulty, I give this trail a four on a scale of one to ten. There’s some elevation change, but it’s never steep. Most of the time you’re hiking next to a stream or river. It’s a fairly technical trail though. Watch out for the many slippery roots and rocks.
The trail was pretty crowded near the parking lots, where families parked their cars to hike a few miles. But it became quieter the deeper I got into the forest. After 5 pm I felt all alone because at that hour the day hikers started going home. I hiked this trail in winter though. Expect it to be a lot busier in the warmer seasons.
You can’t go wrong with this trail if you’re in the neighborhood. If you’re like me and love singletracks next to streams and rivers, you won’t be disappointed. Keep in mind, however, that certain parts of this trail (at trailheads and near parking lots) can be quite busy in the summer. If you’re like me and prefer to hike in solitude, that may be a problem.
Click here to download the GPX file that you can upload to your GPS device or smartphone. You can also view my map on Caltopo right here, from which you can print the map if you plan on navigating it with a compass (how to print maps with Caltopo).