In and around Turnhout
Walking to your hearts’ delight? It certainly works in the Turnhout Wetlands area. Stroll through 200 hectares of heather, meres and meadows. This unique nature reserve is home to rare plants and animals. Look at the splendour of the sundew and bend your ears to the chirping of the curlew. From the viewing hut you can see winged residents and the observation tower offers you a beautiful view of the Kleine en Grote Klotteraard (meres). Your dog is also welcome, as long as you keep him/her on a leash.
Don’t know where to start? Then let yourself be guided by the practical maps with walking routes. There are six routes available that divide the Wetlands area:
- Vensterwandeling (Window walk) 3.4 kilometres, starting point Klein Engelandhoeve
- Dombergheide (Domberg heathland) 3.6 kilometres, starting point Camping Baalse Hei
- Hondenwandeling (Dog walk) 4.6 kilometres, starting point Klein Engelandhoeve
- Hoge Heide (High Heath) 7.5 kilometres, starting point at network node number two at Steenweg op Baarle-Hertog 26
- Vennenwandeling (Meres walk) 7.7 kilometres, starting point Klein Engelandhoeve
- Kasteeltjes (Small Castles) 11.4 kilometres, starting point Klein Engelandhoeve
The walking routes can be bought separately at 0.50 euros each.
Information about walking in the region can be found on the Kempen website.
In addition to the walking routes, Turnhout also has a range of walking networks. With the help of the hiking network nodes you can map out numerous walking routes yourself. The numbered red and white signs always keep you on the right path. A super convenient system for both recreational and seasoned hikers. The following walking networks can be purchased at Toerisme & UiT:
- de/the Merode
- Kempens Landgoed / Kempen Country Estate
- Kempense Heide / Kempen Heathland
- Kempense Heuvelrug / Kempen Ridge
- Kempense Hoven / Kempen Courts
- Kempense Landduinen / Kempen Land Dunes
- Kempense Kolonies / Kempen Colonies
- Kempense Meren / Kempen Lakes
- Kempense Beemden / Kempen Meadows
- Kempense Netevallei / Kempen Valley of the Nete
- In het Land van Stille Waters / In the Land of Silent Waters
- Rivierenland / River Land
- Wandelen in de Noordertuin van Antwerpen / Walking in the northern Antwerp garden
Would you like to know which route is in which area? Take a look at the Kempen website. Here you will find all maps with text and explanations included. Turnhout is already included on the Kempens Landgoed and Kempense Kolonies maps.
The hiking network maps can be bought for 8 euros at Toerisme & UiT. Wandelen in de Noordertuin van Antwerpen / Walking in the northern Antwerp garden costs 2 euros.
The Kempen Route
Enjoy several days of walking along unpaved trails in Baarle Nassau/Hertog, Hoogstraten, Merksplas and Turnhout.
The Kempen countryside in the border region with the Netherlands is a protected landscape with beautiful endless lanes and monumental buildings. This green belt of the Merkske Valley and the wetlands area embraces the historical heritage landscape of the Colonies of Benevolence. You rarely find such a successful mix of nature and heritage as in the Kempen Colonies of Merksplas and Wortel. This exceptional Kempen setting of woods, meadows, fields, meres and heritage is the ideal place for hikers and nature lovers.
Wander through the hiking nodes
The user-friendly hiking node system forms your red and white thread along the walking network. Follow the approach path from Turnhout station or depart from the Merksplas-Colony or Wortel-Colony visitor centres to start your 63.5 kilometres journey or a shortened circuit. You spend the night amongst the greenery: under the stars in the bivouac zone of Wortel-Colony, in your tent at Camping Baalse Hei or in a room at the Klein Engelandhoeve.
- Route: multi-day trip of 63.5 kilometres (shortened circuits are possible)
- Accessibility: the route is not accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs
- Dogs: your dog, if kept on a leash, is welcome throughout the nature reserves
- Departure point:
- Klein Engelandhoeve visitors centre, Klein Engeland 29 (via approach road from the Turnhout station)
- Camping Baalse Hei, Roodhuisstraat 10 (via approach road from the Turnhout station)
- De Klapekster visitors centre, Kolonie 41, 2323 Wortel
- Kolonie 5-7 visitors centre, Kapelstraat 10, 2330 Merksplas
You can buy the 'Kempentocht’ hiking map for two euros.
Long route paths
Turnhout offers opportunities even for the experienced walker or for the long distance hiker. With its red and white lines, Grote Routepaden vzw (long route paths not-for-profit association) has signposted slow roads leading to the most beautiful places in Flanders. This ensures the emergence of various long-distance paths or GR routes. The network in Flanders now has more than 3,500 kilometres of attractive hiking trails.
At Toerisme & UiT you can obtain the 'Grote Routepaden’ guidebook. The guide costs 18 euros.
Can’t you get enough of walking? Then also try our GPS walks. In total there are seven different walks available. All you have to do is place the corresponding link into your GPS and you can start walking. The overview of the walks and the corresponding links can be found on the GPSwalking website.
A needle to the north
This poetry walk takes you from the Stadsboerderij (city farm) to the green north of Turnhout via the Klein Engelandhoeve (farm).
Ten poems guide the walk. Playfully or seriously, they explore the area between the outskirts of Turnhout and the northern meres. Where they follow a double historic route: from the Stadsboerderij to the Klein Engelandhoeve, and from Boones Blijk to the sign of ‘van der Heyden-Borghs'. Four anchors in a poor region, four landmarks in terms of territory and history. Traditionally moorland occupied this space. Now agriculture and cherished green spaces exist side by side. The urbanite finds his ‘countryside', past meadows and fields, woods and meres, and returns home ‘clear headed'.
The ‘A needle to the north' walk can be purchased for one euro at Toerisme & UiT.