This route connects the highest point of the Netherlands (Vaalserberg 322m) and the highest point of Belgium (Signal De Botrange 694m). While doing so, the route shortly crosses into Germany and crossed a few different geological zones. It's not the shortest connection between both points of interest: although in our region it's virtually impossible to completely avoid traffic and concrete roads, this track is the best compromise between connecting the most beautiful nature trails available and taking the most direct approach between the two points of interest. As a result the route ends up being a nice mixture between smooth, foresty singletracks, wide open views on broad country roads, a stunning passage next to an artificial lake followed by the long final climb up to Belgium's summit. This climb really is the icing on the cake as it follows a picturesque 'mountain' river through a large forest. The final miles are brutal though, as you will find yourself pounding through very boggy, wide open terrain with the Signal the Botrange right in sight but seemingly not getting any closer at all!
The route is not an official or a marked route as are the typical GR routes or other established walking paths.
So what makes this route legit?
It was actually designed by Stef Schuermans and Tim De Vriendt. These are two very well respected race directors in the Belgian Ultra Running Scene.
There's actually a pretty vivid FKT scene in Belgium nowadays. These guys (Stef and Tim) even designed a Belgian FKT website. The route I'm now sending in is actually the most popular one on their website. It's a well known and well established (FKT) route in our country. I currently have the FKT on Vaals-Botrange. In august 2019 there was a new FKT set on the double route: Vaals-Botrange-Vaals.
What's also nice about this route, is the fact that there are a few different options. The GPX track attached thus represents 4 different FKT possibilities where from 2 are very popular:
Vaals-Botrange (VaBo): Starting in Vaals, ending on the Botrange. 44km. Mainly gaining elevation as it starts low and ends high. Very popular.
Botrange-Vaals: (Bova) Starting on the Botrange, ending in Vaals. 44km. Mainly losing elevation. Less popular but still popular enough.
Vaals-Botrange-Vaals (VaBoVa): Starting in Vaals, ascending to the highest point on the Botrange and then backtracking the same route to Vaals again. 88km. Also very popular.
Botrange-Vaals-Botrange (the opposite of the previous): 88km, not so popular at this moment. The current FKT is much slower then the one on VaBoVa.
So, I hope you want to take this route into consideration. I for one am very passionate about it and it's a well established challenge among Belgian trail and ultrarunners.
Submitter: Tim Bernaerts
(EDITOR'S NOTE: These would be 4 Variations on the same route: One-Way in both directions, and Out-Back in both directions. The attached .gpx file is for the out-back "VaBoVa". This Route is for "VaBo", so the other 3 would be Variations on this main Route).
Looking to try the Vaal-Botrange section (43KM) on Saturday on 20/02/2021 :)