Forest of Ae
Get active at Ae
Ae Forest is the perfect place to visit, whether you want to relax with a picnic beside the river, watch woodland wildlife, stroll through the trees or burn off some serious energy on horseback or on the superb mountain bike trails.
The waymarked routes include gentle rambles beside the sparkling Water of Ae as well as longer hikes into the hills with wonderful views.
Time for a bite to eat?
You’ll find delicious refreshments at the Ae café on site, as well as toilets, a bike shop and bike hire. Opening hours are 10am to 5pm every day.
There are also places to eat and drink at nearby Ae village, or a bit farther afield at Dumfries, Moffat and Thornhill.
Car parking charges (coins only)
Please note, parking charges are as follows:
£1 for up to 1 hour
£2 for up to 3 hours
£3 for all day
£12 for minibus and coach all day
An easy meander beside the sparkling Water of Ae
Mostly wide, flat gravel path. Short section on forest road, which can get muddy after heavy rain. No steps or gates.
1 miles / 1.6 km Allow ¾ hours
Enjoy a gentle stroll beside the river to reach some unusual carved seats beside a bridge over the river – a great place for a picnic.
Wander farther along the riverside, weaving amongst soaring Norway spruce trees.
Mostly wide, flat gravel path with grassy sections. Occasional step onto and off the forest road as the path crosses these.
1 ½ miles / 2.4 km Allow 1 hour
This gentle low-level trail extends the link along the Water of Ae to wind farther into the forest beneath towering Norway spruce trees. As you explore, watch out for red squirrels in the canopy, as well as statuesque herons fishing in the river and plump brown-and-white dippers bobbing up and down before walking underwater in search of insects to eat.
Lovely views over the Water of Ae and the coast from the slopes of Green Hill.
A mix of surfaces including gravel and grassy paths and forest road. Some moderate slopes and shorter steeper sections. Grassy sections can be muddy after rain.
3 ½ miles / 5.6 km Allow 2 hours
This longer route begins at the bridge over the Water of Ae, from where it sets off through majestic Norway spruces to climb around the slopes of Green Hill. Your efforts are rewarded when you reach the viewpoint – this is one of the best views in the area, overlooking Queensberry Hill and the Harestanes windfarm. The 68 turbines make it one of the largest onshore windfarms in Scotland. It has an operating capacity of up to 136 megawatts - enough to provide power for 73,000 homes.
Mountain biking trails
Ae Valley Route
Green: Easy - 5.6 miles / 9.0 km
Soak in the beauty of the Water of Ae. Trails may be diverted or closed, for up to date information please see the 7stanes website.More information...
A great place to try out mountain biking for the first time, and perfect for families. There are sections of easy singletrack and forest road and only one brief sharp climb. You’ll be rewarded with lovely views over the Water of Ae.
Larch View Route
Ae Line Trail
Red: Difficult - 15.0 miles / 24.0 km
A rocky ride through the countryside. Trails may be diverted or closed, for up to date information please see the 7stanes website.More information...
This cross-country trail is peppered with jumps, drop-offs and tabletops that are sure to put a smile on your face. Take the trail slowly if you want a gentler ride, or the more experience mountain biker can tackle some of the big air possibilities.
Orange: Extreme - 0.7 miles / 1.0 km
A technical challenge. Trails may be diverted or closed, for up to date information please see the 7stanes website.More information...
A downhill run packed with technical features. Each obstacle on The Shredder has an easier alternative so you can choose the best option for you based on your own mountain biking experience.
Orange: Extreme - 1.0 miles / 1.6 km
Relish some excellent drop-offs. Trails may be diverted or closed, for up to date information please see the 7stanes website.More information...
A steep and rocky start is followed by a highly testing off-camber descent on this trail designed to challenge even the most seasoned biker.
Mountain biking at Ae
Ae Forest is one of the world class 7stanes mountain bike venues. It features a superb variety of green, blue and red graded trails, an extreme downhill section for the serious experts, and a skills area for honing your technique. There’s also a bike shop and bike hire on site.
Wood you believe it?
Ae Forest is one of the largest forests in Britain, covering an area about the size of 10,000 football pitches. Huge numbers of trees are harvested each year for timber, which is used for everything from paper to house building, and thousands of new trees are planted too.
There’s a long history of forestry here: Ae village was built by the Forestry Commission in 1947 to house forest workers.
How to get here
Ae Forest lies close to Ae village, just off the A701 Dumfries to Moffat road.
Turn off the A701 at Ae Bridgend, following signs to Forest of Ae. You’ll reach Ae village after about 2 miles (3km). Turn right at the Forest of Ae sign at the crossroads just beyond the village, then follow signs to the car park at grid reference NX 984 894.
The mountain bike trails start at the Naze car park. To get there, go past the entrance to the main car park and continue along the road for about ½ mile (1km). Take the next left, signposted for 'Ae Valley car park', at grid reference NX 983 902. There’s also parking for horse boxes here.
DG1 1QB is the nearest postcode.
The nearest station is at Dumfries. There are regular buses between Dumfries and Moffat, stopping at Ae Bridgend and Parkgate, both about 2 miles (3 km) from Ae village. Check Traveline Scotland for details.
The attractive woodland of Craigieburn spreads up the valley side from Moffat Water, close to the town of Moffat.
Close to Dumfries, Mabie Forest is buzzing with nature, full of forest fun and always a great escape.
You’ll also find The Hills near Dumfries. Follow the trail through this beautiful mixed deciduous wood to explore a stretch of old railway line that provides a sheltered haven for wildlife.
Our guide map to the Forests of the Southern Uplands will help you explore.
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