Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a question that does not appear in the list, please contact us.

What are the National Park’s opening hours?

Since the Hoge Kempen National Park is not an enclosed area, you can visit the areas between sunrise and sunset. 

Are dogs welcome?

Yes, dogs are welcome in the National Park, provided they are kept on a short leash. There are four dedicated dog play areas, where your four-legged friend can be let off the leash. However, the dogs do need to be obedient when called. They must not run after game or obstruct recreational activities. Watch your dog's behaviour at all times!

These dedicated dog play areas and routes can be found in the hiking areas:

‘Mechelse Heide’

Dedicated dog play area between hiking switches 41-42: from starting place ‘Mechelse Heide’ and starting place Maasmechelen swimming pool
Dedicated dog play area between hiking switches 45-46: from starting place Maasmechelen swimming pool
Dedicated dog play area between hiking switches 52-53: from starting place ‘Kikbeekbron’ (Weg naar Zutendaal z/n, Maasmechelen – car park of the local dog training club). The third dedicated dog play area is situated at the ‘Kikbeekbron’ pick-up place between hiking switches 52-53 and can be reached from the Weg naar Zutendaal z/n in Maasmechelen (car park of the local dog training club)

Pietersheim

Dedicated dog play area: from starting place ‘La butte aux bois’ (Paalsteenlaan 90, 3620 Lanaken), at around 600 metres from the starting place. Directions to the dog area are given from this starting point.

Can I go mountain biking?

For the time being, you can only go mountain biking at the gateway to Kattevennen. From October 2016 onwards, the Hoge Kempen MTB network will be ready!

Can I organise group activities?

Only Rangers are trained and qualified to supervise groups. Every year, they receive a licence from the Agency for Nature and Forests. If you’d like to organise a large event in the National Park, you will require approval from the Agency for Nature and Forests. Contact us and we'll help you!

Can I have a picnic?

Of course! There are picnic benches at the gateways or on the way along the hiking trails. They are drawn on the hiking maps and starting signs. Make sure you don’t leave any litter behind.

Can I run professional film or photo shots?

All recordings must be approved by the Agency for Nature and Forests. 

Is there really only one national park in Belgium?

A National Park must be a nature reserve covering at least 1000 ha. In densely populated Flanders, this is not so easy.

The Kalmthoutse Heide nature reserve presents itself as the Kalmthoutse Heide GrensPark. Even in Wallonia, there are no other areas that qualify as National Parks.

The Hoge Kempen National Park really is Belgium’s first, and only, National Park.

Is the National Park a world heritage site?

Not yet. But the National Park and the surrounding mining area are on the UNESCO Indicative List of World Heritage Sites. This means that a dossier is being drawn up on the Hoge Kempen as a cultural landscape. The dossier will then be assessed and it is hoped that this region will become a UNESCO World Heritage Site within a few years.

Can I reach the National Park by train?

The Hoge Kempen National Park is accessible by train up to Genk Station. From the station, there is a choice between a leisurely walk to Kattevennen or the long-distance walk. You can rent bikes at the station or at the Gateway ’Kattevennen’. There are also bus connections up to ‘Kattevennen’.

The other gateways are more difficult to reach with public transport and require some research into bus connections from Genk Station.