Riding the Railbikes of Hautes Fagnes, Belgium
When I came across the Railbikes in Hautes Fagnes, Belgium I knew we needed to give them a try. These Belgium Railbikes are family-friendly and run on the rails through the countryside of Hautes Fagnes. The Hautes Fagnes Railbikes blend our love of trains and our love of bikes. It is a unique family-friendly experience that shouldn’t be missed and is worth a detour.
You start at the Leykaul-Elsenborn rail station. There is ample parking behind the station. You’ll need to plan in advance as there are set start times and bikes do fill up. An online reservation is advised.
The whole journey takes about two hours. The way there is one hour of biking uphill, then you get a 30-minute break at another station and finally it’s a fun 30-minute downhill ride from there. It’s an out-and-back trip where the company flips your rail bike around at the station while you enjoy your break.
We booked the last ride of the day. When we checked in they were getting the rail bikes ready for everyone. We had plenty of time to use the bathrooms and get settled before loading up our bike.
When in Belgium. . .we couldn’t pass up bringing a few waffles with us. The small stand at the rail bike start sells waffles, or follow the rails behind the station to find a guy in a shack with several more moderately priced food options.
The bikes are so family-friendly. The staff even added a baby seat on the front for our little guy. Jeff and I peddled the bike, while the kids sat in a net seat behind us. The Little Little loved his seat up front. The bike also has a front basket to store your things. We had everything in a backpack though so we just placed that under the baby seat right on the floor of the bike.
They do a nice job spacing everyone out at the start. We purposefully took a cart toward the back so that we wouldn’t be rushed. The only way to pass someone on the rail bikes is to get out and switch bikes with them.
The views from the rail bikes are just stunning. The whole line runs through countryside. We saw wildflowers, livestock and plenty of buildings to keep everyone entertained.
A bike path runs parallel to the track for almost the entire route. Once we felt pretty comfortable we let the Big Little hop off the bike and race us on the bike path. We also stopped to pick wild blackberries and a few flowers.
You can’t stop for long, since that might cause a backup. We made quick stops though and really took advantage of letting the kids explore a bit on the bike.
Jeff and I worked up quite the sweat on the hour uphill ride. We rewarded everyone with a treat at the station. You have to wait here till all the rail cars have arrived. They have a little cone that props up the rail bikes so they can spin them around to head you back downhill.
We were worried about having too much time at this middle station. We ended up being the last to leave as it took the kids so long to finish their ice cream.
The 30-minute ride home is downhill. It’s so downhill that you could pedal a few times at the top and just coast the entire way if you wanted. We had no one behind us, so we took our time. We let the kids do some of the biking. Jeff got out and ran beside the bike for a while.
We took selfies galore while we tried to see how fast we could get the bike going.
I got plenty of cuddles in the back seat too as the boys rotated through sitting with me. They were all smiles and giggles. The rail bikes were such a win for our family. I do want to mention that we saw another family of five really struggling to keep their kids seated on the bikes. They actually ended up letting the kids walk back with mom while dad peddled the bike. Another man lost his phone on the bike, but it was found by the car in front of us. The way the seats are angled, its easy for things to fall out of pockets.
Once you get off the bike you are free to go home. We headed directly to dinner in a nearby town at Bur Alten Molkerei. They serve delicious traditional German food and are as kid friendly as they come. They brought the most impressive coloring binder to the table for the kids. They print coloring pages and put them into a binder so your kid can flip through and pick out his favorite. There is also a large playground visible from the patio.
We stayed the night in another nearby town at Hotel Klause. We had a series of weird issues here. We had a dinner reservation which they couldn’t honor because of a party they were hosting for an 80-year old’s birthday. They did find us a new reservation, but it was still inconvenient. The internet did not work until the morning we were departing. The rooms were clean but incredibly sparse and breakfast was adequate but nothing special.
The town playground was also a bit lackluster. We walked there in the morning before the bakery opened. Despite having hotel breakfast we picked up treats from the bakery to enjoy on our drive.