Nature reserve Haard Hesselsbierg Staebierg
© André Schösser

Outdoors Passion Minett Trail

5 minutes

The path of change

Destination(s): Minett

Story Summary

  • Regional DNA: The Minett Trail is a fascinating hiking route through Luxembourg's picturesque landscapes and industrial past.
  • Hidden adventures: The trail spans over 90 kilometres and offers nature lovers and history buffs a unique adventure.
  • Old and new: The "Kabaisercher", special hiking accommodation along the trail, offer unique overnight accommodation.
  • Something for everyone: with ten different stages, the Minett Trail allows you to explore the region at your own pace.

Showcasing the scenic beauty of Luxembourg’s southern region, the Minett Trail is sure to capture the hearts of nature and history lovers alike. The trail winds its way over 90 kilometres through the former heartland of the steel industry. A hiking adventure into Luxembourg’s industrial past and through its natural beauty.

The Dudelange water tower appears like a beacon before us, showing us the way. Visible from afar, it’s the tacit emblem of the Neischmelz brownfield site. At its feet lies a pond with a “Kabaisercher”, a kind of hiking lodge designed specifi­cally for the Minett Trail. This is where we’ll spend the night. It looks like a houseboat floating between water lilies and ducks, a work of art that you can live in and which beckons to be explored. We go in. The walls are made of layered wooden panels made to resemble the rock face of an open mine. Huge windows offer a view of the water tower. Modern, inspiring and cosy. Unfortunately, we can’t stay yet. The day is still young and we have a lot to do.

Regional DNA

We are meeting Nora Peters from the regional tourism office at “Kantin”, a pub-restaurant located a stone’s throw from our floating lodge. Together with the microbrewery Twisted Cat, they are located in an industrial heritage building. Nora sits in a comfy chair with an open Minett Trail map and beams. The trail on the map, along with information on distance, places of interest and difficulty levels, is essentially her work.

It took months to test the different trails, discuss paths with locals and gather insider information on special attrac­tions. We don’t have time for the whole 90-kilometre trail so we ask Nora for tips on which highlights to focus.

We cheerfully inspect the map, cherry picking the things we want to see. To get a sense of the DNA of the region we begin with the mining museum in Rumelange. The friendly, tattooed “Kantin” manager with huge biceps invites us to stay the evening. Later on there will be a DJ and dancing.

There’s rumbling and squeaking. The small, slow train taking us into the depths of the mountain jerks a lot. The air is increasingly cold and humid. In the extensive tunnels of this former iron ore mine, the hard and dangerous job of those who worked there is brought to life.

Minett Trail
© André Schösser

Signposts indicate places of interest along the way. Highlights include nature reserves, bodies of water, viewpoints and industrial landmarks.

Minett Trail signage
© André Schösser

Good luck!

The tour leads through dark, dim­ly-lit tunnels featuring old tools and machinery that convey a sense of how difficult mining iron ore must have been. In the beginning, the tools essentially consisted of hammer, chisel and raw muscle power. At the end, gargantuan machines were used. Huge, yellow bucket wheel excavators and oversized drills can be seen in the closed galleries. They look like sentient machines straight out of a science fiction movie.

Dudelange’s water tower is the tacit emblem of “Neischmelz” brownfield site. At its base is a pond with a “Kabaisercher”, a kind of hiking lodge designed specifically for the Minett Trail.

When steel manufacturer ArcelorMittal closed its mill in 2005, Dudelange created the “Neischmelz” project. On 36 hectares in the middle of the town centre, steel wasteland is being converted into a modern and ecological district.

Floater Kabaischen

Dudelange © André Schösser

Hidden worlds

Our subsequent walk through the woods between Rumelange and Esch-sur-Alzette feels refreshing after the darkness, rock and dust. We pass “Haus Gonner”, the tenth “Kabaisercher”, near the mining museum before the forest greets us with fresh air and luminescent green leaves.

Suddenly, there’s a cool breeze. Tree trunks are covered in moss and lichen. If you keep your eyes open, you’ll see them: old, aban­doned mine-entrances sealed off with heavily barred gates. Portals to the underworld. Cold wafts of air often presage these gateways. We don’t enter.

The path begins to burrow into the forest ground, deeper and deeper until it turns into a veritable duct coated with moss and ferns. The temperature drops considerably. Then, behind a blackberry hedge, we see it. A dark opening in the midst of the straggly forest. These admitted­ly slightly spooky discoveries can turn woodland strolls into adventures. We realise how much humans actually change their environment and how quickly nature reclaims everything, if we let it.

We follow the trail to Esch-sur-Alzette and take the bus back to Dudelange where a floating abode, DJ and craft beer await us.

The next morning, the sun kisses our faces through the large window and the water tower’s reflection dances in the pool. It looks almost artful. The doorbell rings. No one’s there but we find a breakfast tray full of regional produce on the doorstep. Let the day begin!

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Searching for a slag cart

We start with a search for a slag cart, a kind of dump cart mount­ed atop a rail carriage which was used to transport liquid slag from steel production. The carts were driven from “Dudelange Hut” to the edge of the “Haard plateau” where the slag was dumped over the slope of the former mine. Today, the slag heap is a precious habitat for heat-loving animals and plants. The debris warms up quickly and is brimming with small hollows, a perfect refuge for lizards, beetles and snakes.

We find the cart, climb into it and enjoy the view of one of the largest bluffs in Europe. Even though the striking red cliffs were made by humans, they are reminiscent of the natural rock formations of the American “Wild West”.

Open woodland and steppe-like landscapes alternate, continuously interspersed with the red rocks emblematic of the Minett region. A small black snake slithers amid the rock fragments. Butterflies flutter from orchid to orchid. We almost expect the Marlboro-man to ride up to the precipice of this ‘canyon’ and pensively gaze into the distance. Instead, we hear bleating. A flock of sheep emerges from the bushes. A dog dashes around, keeping the flock together. Instead of a cowboy, there’s a shepherd in a long cape.

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Structural transformation

We hike through the “Haard-Hesselsbierg-Staebierg” nature reserve to Tétange and then take a bus to Belval. Countless stairs await us on the way to the observation deck of the former furnace. The steps creak under our feet as we make our way up, surrounded by the striking indus­trial architecture of a bygone era.

At the top, we are rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of Belval and the surrounding re­gion. The rusty furnace structures seemingly soar into the sky while new life bustles in the borough below.

The old steelworks stand shoul­der to shoulder with modern buildings which house the uni­versity, museums and businesses.

We stroll through the “Cité des Sciences”, where future knowledge is forged and admire the melding of old and new. Here, in the streets of Belval, we feel the rhythm of progress moored in the ever-present memory of an industrial past.

Our explorations lead us through “Prënzebierg-Giele Botter” nature reserve. Here too, nature has reclaimed the former mine. New biospheres have formed and become home to amphibians, reptiles, insects, bats, birds and plants, including extraordinary wild orchids.

History and rhubarb cake

From here we walk downhill to Fond-de-Gras, a former mining centre turned historic open air park. The old Fond-de-Gras train station has been preserved in its original state and, quite literally, takes us back to the steam train era.

The “Train 1900”, a historic steam train, is a special attraction that runs on a fixed schedule between Pétange and Fond-de-Gras and takes visitors on a journey into the past.

The train station houses an old-fashioned café. The rhubarb cake is as delicious as the white-permed lady behind the counter is cheerful. “It takes you back to the turn of the century, doesn’t it? We’re all club members. I mean, everyone who works here. From guards to train drivers, café employees to steam train mechanics. We’re one big role-play-loving family!”

We hike through thick, moun­tainous forests towards Lasauvage. Along the way we come across countless mining relics including “Bremswee”, tracks used by “Buggies”, mining carts with which the precious ore was transported out of the mines. Vestiges, like old pylons and overgrown railway tracks, feel like whispers of a past epoch.

The “Kabaisercher” in Lasauvage is an absolute gem. This is where we spend the night. Architect Anouck Pesch artfully transformed this for­mer worker’s house into an abode that blends history with modern comfort. Inside, there’s a large common room as well as several distinctly designed rooms. Every room features artistic frescos of the “wild woman” who gave this place its name. Staying here is not just relaxing, it is an immersion into Lasauvage’s culture and history.

The next morning, we leave Lasauvage along the babbling “Crosnière” on our way to Differ­dange where we will take the free train to Schifflange. To round off our Minett Trail weekend adven­ture we chose the easiest lap from Schifflange to Bergem. It’s also the most unusual in the region. Instead of red earth, forest and ever-changing industrial sectors, we embark on a tour of Luxembourg’s marshes. Water buffaloes included, if we’re lucky.

The wetlands around the Alzette form a water and bird sanctu­ary named “Dumontshaff”. For decades, this whole area was dry. Now, after a renaturing project, rare species such as storks have returned. The wooden decking, which make up the majority of the trail, creak under our feet. All around us, marsh plants with big pink blossoms grow in abundance. Butterflies rest on the sun-kissed wooden boards along the way. We pause on the bridge across the Alzette, let our feet dangle and admire the grasslands. The path leads slowly uphill from here. Things are drier. Steppe-like landscapes emerge. We scan the riverbank. Could the black spot all the way in the distance between the reeds and the poplars be a water buffalo? We’d like to think so. The sun makes the dragonflies glimmer metallic-green. They are definitely real.

Everything in flux

Every step of the way we see how deeply humans encroached on this environment and much of it is changing yet again. Now, humans try to shape their surroundings in harmony with nature. Everything is in a state of flux. We can’t wait to see what else will have changed on our next Minett visit.

© André Schösser

Walking and resting

  • The Minett Trail is a 90-kilometre tour of nature and history. Various nature reserves demonstrate why the Minett region is also known as “land of red rocks”. 10 different trails connect all key towns and attractions and provide a perfect way to explore the region at your own pace.
  • The “Kabaisercher” were created in 2022 when Esch was the European Capital of Culture. Just like with music, the old was “remixed” to create something new and unexpected places were transformed into overnight accommodation. Spend the night at a “Kabaisercher” while exploring the Minett-Trail.
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  • © Simpleviu
    Kabaisercher: Zirkuswon Schifflange
    Pets allowedGarden / Park
  • © Pulsa Pictures, ORT SUD
    Minett Trail
    Minett Trail: Schifflange Gare - Bergem / Beim Nëssert
    Distance: 6,14 km
    Duration: 1:45 h
    Difficulty: easy
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  • © Pulsa Pictures_OAI
    Kabaisercher: Wagon Fond-de-Gras
  • © Pulsa Pictures, Pulsa Pictures_ORT Sud
    Minett Trail
    Minett Trail: Tétange Gare - Rumelange Gare
    Distance: 7,73 km
    Duration: 2:15 h
    Difficulty: easy
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  • © Pulsa Pictures, ORT SUD
    Minett Trail
    Minett Trail: Belval-Université - Esch-sur-Alzette Gare (Alternative)
    Distance: 3,68 km
    Duration: 0:55 h
    Difficulty: easy
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  • © Pulsa Pictures, ORT SUD
    Minett Trail
    Minett Trail
    Distance: 63,32 km
    Duration: 16:55 h
    Difficulty: medium
    Find out more
  • © ORT Sud
    Minett Trail
    Minett Trail: Pétange Gare - Differdange Gare
    Distance: 15,70 km
    Duration: 4:35 h
    Difficulty: medium
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  • © Pulsa Pictures
    Kabaisercher: Den alen Arbed's Büro
    Pets allowedParkingSituated in the centre of town
  • Kabaisercher: Haus Gonner
    WifiParkingSituated in the centre of town
  • Kabaisercher: La Sauvage
    AccessibleSituated in the centre of town

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