Explore the glittering banks of Loch Ard
The Great Forest of Loch Ard stretches between Aberfoyle and the foothills of Loch Lomond. Discover the beautiful loch at its heart and see where the famous River Forth begins its journey to the sea.
The gently rolling tracks around the loch are made for exploring by bike and, with sculpture trails and play features to find, they are great fun for all the family. Watch out for woodland and water-loving wildlife along the way too...
The natural place to start is The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre, perched just above Aberfoyle. 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.
There are public toilets and plenty of places to eat, drink and shop at Aberfoyle. There’s a Tourist Information Centre in the village too.
You can also hire bikes locally at Kinlochard.
Ben Lomond Viewpoint Trail
Ascend through the conifers to a fine viewpoint overlooking the Forth Valley that delivers a fantastic view of one of Scotland’s best-loved peaks.
Firm gravel surface with some loose and uneven sections. Steep slopes up to viewpoint, including one flight of steps. Look out for vehicles and other users.
2 miles / 3.4 km Allow 1 hour
Your efforts are rewarded with spectacular views over Ben Lomond, Craigmore and Aberfoyle. On a clear day, you can also see a series of rolling hills in the distance, including the Menteith, Ochil, Gargunnock and Fintry Hills and the Campsie Fells.
Lochan Spling Trail
A scenic trail across the Duchray Water to a picturesque little loch that is teeming with wildlife, including some unusual creatures.
Firm gravel surface throughout, with some loose sections and occasionally muddy patches. Some short fairly steep slopes. Includes one wide bridge.
2 ½ miles / 4.2 km Allow 1½ hours
This trail is ideal for walking or cycling. It climbs gently through mixed woodland to loop around Lochan Spling. Watch out for jays and crossbills in the trees as you go and look for damselflies near the lochan. This is a great place for a picnic and you can watch for waterbirds – and perhaps even an osprey fishing.
Look out for wildlife sculptures along the way, including a wonderful wiry osprey. Not all the fish in the loch are as big as the pike that's permanently leaping in the shallows!
A scenic meander through varied woodland at the head of Loch Ard with great views over the loch and the hills beyond.
Largely firm gravel surface. One section of uneven gravel path with muddy patches. Includes steep slopes and one section of boardwalk. Look out for vehicles on the bottom track.
2 ¾ miles / 4.4 km Allow 1½ hours
This trail starts from a small car park at Kinlochard at the western end of Loch Ard. From Aberfoyle, follow the B829 beside Loch Ard to reach Kinlochard. Turn left at the end of the loch. The car park is on the right at the end of the public road.
The route climbs gradually into Loch Ard Forest through mixed woodland and an area of young spruce. Catch your breath at the highest point and savour the sweeping views of Loch Ard and the surrounding hills. Descend again through conifers to the little hamlet of Couligarten, then along an avenue of native oak and birch trees. Look out for an aqueduct as you go – the trail passes beneath it. It carries the water supply for Glasgow all the way from Loch Katrine!
Loch Ard Sculpture Trail
Explore the picturesque shores of Loch Ard, Little Loch Ard and Lochan a’ Ghleannin and look for some unusual sculptures. An ideal route for families, whether on foot or bike.
Firm gravel surface throughout. Mostly wide but with some muddy and uneven sections. Long moderate slopes with several short steep sections. Look out for vehicles and other users.
4 ¼ miles / 6.7 km Allow 2½ hours
Keep your eyes peeled for some unusual woodland sculptures too – will you spot the mirage foxes, a mirrored eagle and some brave red squirrels fighting back against the greys?
Eight Mile Cycle Loop
Cycling - 8.6 miles / 13.8 km
A longer family-friendly cycle route that winds through peaceful Loch Ard Forest, passing scenic lochans and the rushing Duchray Water.More information...
This rolling route on forest roads through Loch Ard Forest is perfect for family cycling. The area is rich in animals, birds, insects and plants, so listen out for chattering woodland birds and watch for darting deer as you wind through the conifers. You can also spot whacky sculptures and Gaelic markers that reveal more about the forest’s wildlife!
Moderate slopes on wide firm forest roads, suitable for most bikes. Surfaces may be uneven or potholed in places. Look out for vehicles and other users.
Mountain biking trails
The trails through Loch Ard Forest and beside the loch are ideal for horse riding. There’s a car park with plenty of room for horse boxes too.
Watch out for wildlife as you explore Loch Ard and the forest here. There’s a resting point at the end of Lochan Spling, where you can watch woodland birds, red squirrels and, if you’re lucky, spot an osprey fishing in the summer. Visit The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre above Aberfoyle to see remote camera footage of ospreys and other species.
To guarantee an encounter with forest creatures, take one of the Sculpture Trails here. You’ll find some surprising woodland residents, including mirage foxes, a wiry osprey, a leaping fish and some ‘Star Wars Squirrels’! There are also unusual seats and shelters where you can catch your breath and enjoy the views.
Loch Ard is a haven for fishing as its tranquil waters are home to pike, perch and brown trout. You do need a permit to fish here, which is available from the Forest Hills Hotel in Kinlochard and at other local outlets.
Messing about on the water
Loch Ard’s sheltered waters also popular for sailing, rowing and canoeing. There is also a watersports centre on the lochside near Kinlochard, where you can hire boats.
Long distance historic trails
Look out for fingerposts to the Statute Labour Road. This scenic historic route links Aberfoyle and Loch Arklet and makes a great long distance cycle route to Loch Katrine.
You can also use it to reach the equally historic Military Road (also marked with fingerposts) that links Aberfoyle with the West Highland Way and Loch Lomond at Inversnaid. It was 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.
How to get here
From Aberfoyle, follow the B829 west to Loch Ard.
After about 1½ miles (2.4 km), turn left over the River Forth and onto the forest road.
Follow the signs to the car park, which is about a mile along the forest road. There is parking for horseboxes about 200 yards farther on.
The car park is at grid reference NN 498 010.
FK8 3TF is the nearest postcode.
There are regular buses from Stirling (the nearest railway station) to Aberfoyle. You’ll find details at Traveline Scotland.
Find out more about what to see and do in Queen Elizabeth Forest Park at The Lodge. Relax in the café, enjoy the panoramic views, watch wildlife or explore the woodland trails. You’ll also find Go Ape here.
Legendary Loch Katrine
Head to the pier and discover the loch that inspired poets and artists. Cruise on the Sir Walter Scott steamship or explore the shore on foot or by bike – and find your own inspiration along the Art & Literature Trail.
A great way to reach the heart of the forest, with classic Trossachs views, easy lochside trails, toilets and places to picnic and play along the way (open Easter to October).
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