Step into the Trossachs
Aberfoyle is perfectly placed for exploring Queen Elizabeth Forest Park and The Trossachs. The village lies on the edge of Loch Ard Forest and beside the River Forth, which rises at nearby Loch Ard. Sample the village's history and wildlife on the wooded trails here and discover its strange links with the world of fairies and elves. It's also just a stone's throw from The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre.
Find out more about Aberfoyle and the rest of the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park.
Please note, there is a diversion near Faery Knoll (PDF map) due to a landslip.
There are public toilets at the car park, and shopping and refreshments in Aberfoyle. The Tourist Information Centre is open year-round.
The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre is perched just above Aberfoyle, a short drive or a fairly steep walk from the village. As well as a cosy café with one of the best views in Scotland, you’ll find parking, toilets, trails, a giftshop and plenty of information on what to see and do. It’s also home to Go Ape.
Doon Hill Trail
Climb to the top of Doon Hill to find a solitary Scots pine amongst the oaks. It is thought to mark the entrance to a Fairy Queen’s underground palace.
Uneven gravel path with some narrow, rough rocky and muddy sections, as well as exposed tree roots. Long steep slopes onto Doon Hill.
2 ¼ miles / 3.5 km Allow 1½ hours
This trail begins by crossing the old stone bridge over the River Forth, then passes an ancient kirk and the cemetery where Reverend Kirk is buried. Once in the forest, the route winds up to the top of Doon Hill. Enjoy the view over Aberfoyle and the hills beyond as you catch your breath.
Look out for the big Scots pine on the summit. Some say it's a fairy tree and a great place to make a wish – or you could try running around it seven times, which is said to make the fairies appear!
Easter Park Trail
A charming walk along the meandering River Forth and through the native oak woods of Easter Park. In spring there are bluebells and in autumn an array of fungi.
Sections of uneven earthy and rocky path with extensive muddy parts after heavy rain. Some fairly steep slopes. Includes a section of boardwalk, two bridges and low branches.
3 ¾ miles / 5.9 km Allow 2½ hours
This trail – great for walking or cycling – leads out of Aberfoyle across the River Forth and past the atmospheric Old Kirk (church) and cemetery. The route then winds over the hill through open native woodland and stately conifers, before returning along the old railway line beside the river. Watch out for red squirrels amongst the conifers – Norway spruce seeds are their favourite food.
Mountain biking trails
Long distance historic trails
Look out for fingerposts to two historic routes from Aberfoyle.
The Statute Labour Road links Aberfoyle and Loch Arklet and makes a great long distance cycle route to Loch Katrine. The Military Road connects Aberfoyle with the West Highland Way and Loch Lomond at Inversnaid. It was originally built to service the 18th century Inversnaid Garrison.
There are stunning views along these old routes, but do be aware of the distances and remote, open terrain involved.
Aberfoyle’s link with the fairies...
This village has a mystery in its history, linked most famously to the local minister, Reverend Robert Kirk. In 1691, Kirk wrote a popular book called The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies. It is said that the fairies were furious that their secrets had been revealed, and took their revenge by stealing Kirk’s soul one dark night on Doon Hill. He was found dead on the mound, dressed in his nightgown, and appeared to have had a heart attack.
If you walk to the top of Doon Hill, you’ll see a single Scots pine amongst the oaks. Legend says that Kirk’s soul is imprisoned in the tree, while others believe it marks the entrance to the fairies’ underworld.
Aberfoyle’s industrial past
In medieval times, Aberfoyle was a centre of iron ore production. Local timber was used to make charcoal to fuel the iron ore ‘bloomeries’ and an ironworks was established here in the 1720s. By the 19th century, the slate quarries on nearby Craigmore were the major industry here, and were still operating until the 1950s.
The railway arrived in 1882, linking the village to Glasgow. Although the line finally closed in the 1950s, its route now provides a scenic trail beside the River Forth – perfect for walking and cycling.
The Duke’s Pass
The public road that winds out of Aberfoyle to Loch Katrine is known as The Duke's Pass. This popular route, regarded as one of Britain's best drives, leads you through some of the most scenic parts of the Trossachs landscape. The road was originally built in the 19th century by the Duke of Montrose to improve access to his estate, and was later upgraded to accommodate the Victorian tourists drawn to the area after the publication of Sir Walter Scott's epic poem 'The Lady of the Lake', celebrating the beauty of Loch Katrine.
How to get here
From Glasgow follow the A81 north to Aberfoyle.
From Stirling follow the A84(T), A873 then A81 west to Aberfoyle.
From Callander follow the A81 south to Aberfoyle or, for a more scenic route, take the A821 – known as The Duke’s Pass – via The Trossachs.
The car park is in the centre of Aberfoyle, just off the main street behind the Tourist Information Centre.
The car park is at grid reference NN 521 009.
FK8 3UQ is the nearest postcode.
There are regular buses from Stirling (the nearest railway station) to Aberfoyle. You’ll find details at Traveline Scotland.
Forest Park highlights close to Aberfoyle include:
The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre – a great place to find information about what to see and do in the Forest Park. It also has a café with fantastic views, as well as parking, toilets, trails and a giftshop. It’s also home to Go Ape.
Loch Ard – The Great Forest of Loch Ard stretches from Aberfoyle to the foothills of Ben Lomond. One of the best ways to enjoy this forest is to cycle the shore of picturesque Loch Ard – the trails are ideal for families and there’s lots of fun things to see and do along the way.
Three Lochs Forest Drive – the perfect way to reach the heart of Loch Achray Forest and enjoy stunning Trossachs views without needing to walk very far. The route follows a quiet forest road and is suitable for most vehicles. There are car parks, toilets, play features and scenic trails along the way. Open Easter to October.
Loch Katrine – discover the legendary loch that inspired poets and artists. You can enjoy the spectacular Highland scenery by taking a steamship ride along the loch, cycling along the shore or following some picturesque trails. A highlight is the Art & Literature Trail along the shore.
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