The brown colour of the water coming from the fens, for us that is thé image to represent GR 573.
(This track shows the GR 573 trail as it was shown in January 2021 on grsentiers.org, the official website of the Walloon GR organization; always consult their website to see the latest information)
During 160 km GR 573 makes us discover a beautiful and most interesting part of the province of Liège. The theme of this trail is the water that trickles down from the High Fens and that determines the life and the views of this wonderful Belgian region.
Starting in the industrial outskirts of Liège, the trail first follows the valley of the Vesdre river, passing by Chaudfontaine, Pepinster and Verviers to reach Eupen, the capital of East-Belgium, the German-speaking part of Belgium. Then the trail slowly climbs along the Helle river to the High Fens and the highest point in Belgium, Botrange. From there you cross the High Fens to reach Hockai. A descent along the Hoëgne river leads to the Pont de Belleheid. Via Polleur, Franchimont and Theux it continues to Pepinster, the end of the trail.
An optional trail then leads you from Pepinster back to the Pont de Belleheid passing by Spa.
Along the Helle and Hoëgne rivers you'll enjoy the fast flowing and always babbling water as well as the wild nature in their valleys. The High Fens are a unique nature reserve to discover. And in the Vesdre valley you'll witness the industrial past of the region.
The itinerary makes you climb and descend quite a lot, so the hikes are not just easy strolls. The landscapes are quite varied, and you'll discover some culturally and historically interesting places along the trail (Spa, Franchimont, Limbourg, Polleur...).
In short, this trail won't leave any GR hiker untouched.
The guidebook of the trail (published in French language, can be ordered at grsentiers.org) dates from end 2015. You can download the gpx-track of the trail for free from that website. There have been some minor changes since 2015, but the itinerary still matches the contents of the guidebook quite well.
The GR-signs are white-red, which means that GR 573 is a real GR trail, as opposed to a regional GR (GR de Pays) which forms a loop.
As the individual hiking reports will show you, the GR 573 can be rather easily organized.
The first three hikes up to Eupen can be organized completely by train. Start and finish of the hikes are connected by train.
We organized those 3 hikes a bit differently, so that we sometimes also needed a bus, but that worked out fine also.
The three hikes between Eupen and Theux can be organized by bus from and to Verviers (where there is a train station). Theux also has a train station.
The last 2 hikes ended and started in Hestroumont. To reach that village and to get away from there (by bus) was a bit more difficult, but not impossible either.