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St Vith Belgium, WW

no permit
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Guide 1 Triplog  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List WW > Europe
2 of 5 by 1
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Loop 5.76 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,500 feet
Elevation Gain 320 feet
Accumulated Gain 378 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2.5
Kokopelli Seeds 7.65
Interest Historic
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32  2013-05-23 kingsnake
Author kingsnake
author avatar Guides 83
Routes 182
Photos 7,946
Trips 637 map ( 5,893 miles )
Age 57 Male Gender
Location Sunnyslope, PHX
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Preferred   Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep
Sun  10:14pm - 10:46am
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Gateway to the Ardennes
by kingsnake

Likely In-Season!
While most people are familiar with French (Walloon) and Dutch (Flemish) Belgium, few are aware there is also a German-speaking region. Naturally enough, it is near Germany. St. Vith, a town of less than 10,000 people, is in that region, the Schnee Eifel ("snowy forest") two hours southeast of Brussels, Belgium, and three hours west of Frankfurt, Germany. Other than a really nice pensione, the Hotel Steineweiher, and some historical markers, there is not much to the town itself. The countryside is beautiful though: In my opinion, southern Belgium, and Luxembourg, is the most beautiful part of Europe.

St. Vith is the gateway to the Ardennes, which is most famous for two battles: The German invasion of France, in May, 1940, and the Battle of the Bulge, in winter 1944-45. Since this is where both battles began, it is a good place to begin a chronological tour of the battlefields. If you spend any time driving the twisty country lanes, you will quickly realize what a difficult task it is to shove a large amount of armor through the forests and narrow, steam-filled, canyons.

St. Vith, itself, is where most of the inexperienced U.S. 106th Infantry Division was captured in the opening days of the Battle of the Bulge (which began on December 16, 1944). The town was largely destroyed by an Allied air raid on December 25, 1944. St. Vith was recaptured by the U.S. 7th Armored Division on January 23, 1945.

In addition to World War II, much of the Western Front fighting in Word War I also occured in Belgium. There are memorials everywhere. Drive, or bike, down any country road, and you are bound to bump across at least one.

This hike visits St. Vith's historical markers, then loops around it's northwestern agricutural reaches. (Or its industrial park, if, like me, you are unlucky enough to be caught in a hail storm.) The hike is on a combination of country roads, village streets and trails.

Head up the path from the Hotel Steineweiher, through the cemetery, to Malmedyer Strasse (St. Vith's main street). If you wish to peruse the historical markers, and visit the 106th memorial, it is a 1.5 mile out & back. There are a number of small cafes and restaurants along the main street. Otherwise, after exitting the cemetery, make a sharp left, around the cemetery's maintenance buildings, onto a country lane. The lane is a mile of rough pavement, or dirt, to Römerstrasse, the main road off the E42.

Cross Römerstrasse to the bike route sign, then continue a mile down the paved country lane to the cafe at the main intersection in Ober-Emmels. Turn left (west) on Marianusstrasse, pass under the E42 and .75 miles later arrive at a roundabout. On the south side of the roundabout is a dirt tractor trail; head down it. The trail winds through some fields, emerging east of Rodt, on the Rodter Strasse, about .6 miles later.

Head east on Rodter Strasse for 1.1 miles arriving at a t-intersection. Go right, passing back under the E42 about 4.8 total miles into your travels. If you followed this description "how to get there" driving instructions, you will have driven this way. Continue .75 miles, just past the soccer complex, turn left, finishing your hike back at Hotel Steineweiher.

Check out the Official Route and Triplog.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2013-06-03 kingsnake
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Review
    St Vith Belgium
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    This was my wife & I's second trip to St. Vith. (The last time was a few months before I proposed in 2006.) We loved the pensione we stayed at, Hotel Steineweiher, that I made it a point on this trip to Europe to go several hours out of our way to stay there again. And if I could throw in some hiking to boot, all the better! :D

    The weather was miserable most of the time we were in Europe -- cold, windy and rainy -- and on this day it reached its trough of misery, thowing -1°C (30°F) temps into the bargain. :lone: In late May! St. Vith was literally the coldest place in Europe, 10 degrees colder than even far northerly cities like Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki. :o And, like the moron I am, I started the hike in nothing more protective than a thin polyester REI hiking shirt. :roll:

    The St. Vith cemetery is really cool, and I could have easily spent hours there, looking at the elaborate family plots, and the war graves. Instead I took off down the country lane towards Ober-Emmels. It started raining as I arrived :doh:, so I hid out under the E42 overpass for 15 minutes. When the rain let up, I continued. I thought about cutting down a faint/bent grass trail adjacent to the E42, but did not want to get in any legal trouble, so continued heading towards Rodt.

    About five minutes after leaving the overpass, it started hailing. :DANCE: To add to the fun, I was halfway into the hike, so it made as much sense to go forward as back. I ducked into some nearby woods, so at least the trees would provide some overhead cover, emerging near a giant windmill, about when the hail ceased. To save time, and get myself quickly back to the hotel, I cut through an industrial park. Southern Belgium is beautiful, but not that part. :|

    The odd thing was, I was actually warmer wet than before getting soaked by the rain/hail. Nonetheless, I hustled back up the Rodter Strasse into St. Vith, and back to the hotel, in mucho quick time. (As reflected in my 3.63 average speed -- the best I can remember.)

    Needless to say, I canned Wednesday's planned hike around Bastogne ...

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    The closest major international airports to the Ardennes are Brussels and Frankfurt. Your best bet to finding St. Vith is to either bring a GPS loaded with Euro auto maps, or purchse a Tom-Tom at the airport where you land. Eventually, you will find yourseld on the E42 (basically E-roads are the European version of an US interstate.) Take exit 14. If you are driving from the south, turn left; from the north, turn right. At the first roundabout, take the 3rd exit/left. Follow the signs 2.2km -- everything is in metric! Including the cars' odometers) -- along the Rodter Strasse *almost* to the next roundabout in St. Vith. Just past the small soccer stadium, just before the roundabout, turn left at the Hotel Steineweiher signs. Drive along the narrow path to the hotel lot, if you are a guest, else park at the lot adjacent to the soccer pitch.
    page created by kingsnake on Jun 03 2013 12:12 pm
    3 pack - loud whistle
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