Stretch your legs in Balmaha
Pause here and enjoy the tranquil wooded shores and panoramic Loch Lomond views before climbing up through the Balmaha Pass towards Sallochy, Rowardennan and the foothills of the iconic Ben Lomond.
Find out more about Balmaha and the rest of the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park.
Find the essentials
There are toilets, parking, information, a play area and picnic tables at the Balmaha Visitor Centre. The centre, operated by Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, is open from Easter to October.
You’ll also find a range of refreshments and shopping in the village or at nearby Drymen.
Millennium Forest Trail
Follow the oak-lined shore of Loch Lomond and climb up on to Craigie Fort, a magnificent viewpoint overlooking the loch, its islands and Ben Lomond.
Varied surface, including short rough rocky section. Some steep on loose gravel surface. Includes long flights of uneven rocky steps and two road crossings.
1 ¼ miles / 2.1 km Allow ¾ hour
There’s lots of information about the trees, plants, animals and insects you might see along the way in the Balmaha Millennium Trail leaflet.
Mountain biking trails
Camping at Balmaha
Walking The West Highland Way
This great trail is perhaps Scotland’s best known long distance route, stretching 154km (96miles) from Milngavie near Glasgow to Fort William. On its way north it follows the shores ofLoch Lomond and passes beneath Ben Lomond. You don’t have to walk it all to enjoy the rolling route and wonderful views – stroll along a stretch of it from here and get a taste for the adventure!
Conic Hill and the West Highland Way
Distinctive Conic Hill towers behind Balmaha. Its slopes provide a superb viewpoint for walkers on the West Highland Way, the long distance footpath from Milngavie to Fort William. You can enjoy some of these fine views from the Millennium Forest Trail here, without requiring quite so much effort! The route overlooks some of Loch Lomond’s picturesque islands, including Inchcailloch, Torrinch and Creinch. These islands, and indeed Conic Hill itself, mark the line of the Highland Boundary Fault, a remarkable rocky ledge stretching right across Scotland, which formed when two ancient continents collided 390 million years ago.
Workplace in the woods
The third Duke of Montrose (1755–1836) planted the oakwoods that cover the east side of Loch Lomond. It’s hard to imagine today, but this tranquil forest was once an industrial site.
Every spring this area was full of women and children coppicing the oak trees and stripping their bark. The young trunks of the coppiced oaks were cut for building and for making charcoal. The workers distilled wood vinegar (pyroligneous acid), produced during the charcoal-making process, which was used to fix dyes in the great textile factories of the Vale of Leven.
The oakwoods are now a Site of Special Scientific Interest and home to a wide variety of animals and plants.
Visit Inchcailloch Island
You can explore the lovely, densely wooded island of Inchcailloch just off Balmaha, by catching a ferry from Balmaha or Luss. The oakwoods here are part of the Loch Lomond National Nature Reserve because of the rich flora and distinctive communities of mosses, lichens and birds. The island is looked after today by Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority.
Inchcailloch has a long history. It was once a hunting forest and you can still glimpse deer amongst the trees. There is an ancient church and a burial ground for the Clan MacGregor, which includes some of Rob Roy’s ancestors. The island was farmed for many years and the oakwoods were also used for charcoal and wood vinegar production.
How to get here
Balmaha village is on the B837, about 4 miles (6.5km) north-west of Drymen.
Balmaha Visitor Centre car park is at grid reference NS 420 909.
G63 OJQ is the nearest postcode.
The nearest railway station is at Balloch. There is a frequent bus service from Balloch to Balmaha, via Drymen. You’ll find details at Traveline Scotland.
Continue north along Loch Lomond’s east shore to reach tranquil Sallochy – a great place for a picnic overlooking the loch or a ramble through the oakwoods.
Rowardennan lies further north again, at the end of the public road. Relax by the loch, stroll along the shore or – if you’re feeling more energetic – join the West Highland Way or head for the summit of Ben Lomond. The choice is yours!
There’s plenty of other places to explore across Queen Elizabeth Forest Park too. A good place to start is The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre near Aberfoyle, where you can find out all about the Forest Park (and relax in a café with one of the best views in Scotland!).
Alternatively, head to the western shore of Loch Lomond and discover the delights of Argyll Forest Park, a magnificent area of rugged hill country that stretches west from Loch Lomond to the Atlantic.
Share your experience
For questions and complaints, please contact us directly.