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. Our guide map to the Forests of the Southern Uplands will help you explore all the local trails.
Time for a bite to eat?
You’ll find delicious refreshments at the Ae café on site, as well as toilets, showers, a bike shop and bike hire. Opening hours are:
- 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday
- 9.30am to 5.30pm on Saturday and Sunday
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
Water of Ae Riverside Trail
A delightful wander along the restful Water of Ae. As the path weaves beneath soaring Norway spruce trees, watch for wildlife in the trees and burn.
Firm gravel surface throughout. Some loose stones and a couple of short fairly steep ramps. Two cattle grids and one wide bridge. Look out for vehicles on the first section.
3 ¼ miles / 5.2 km Allow 1½ hours
Look for red squirrels in the canopy, and dippers or statuesque herons along the burn. Take advantage of the pretty picnic sites beside the Water of Ae or just cool your feet in its sparkling shallows.
Green Hill Trail
A long route along the Water of Ae before climbing the hill. Great views from the top, across to Queensberry Hill and Harestanes Wind Farm.
Long slopes with steep sections on rough, narrow earthy path with exposed tree roots and muddy patches. One section of steps. Watch for vehicles on the first section.
5 ½ miles / 8.8 km Allow 3½ hours
Craigshields View is one of the best views in the area, taking in rolling farmland and out past Dumfries to the Solway Estuary in the far distance.
Mountain biking trails
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.
The Ae 7stanes map (PDF 3.7MB) shows the trails.
Trail update: All trails are open with no diversions but vegetation management has started so please take care and follow the signage.
Ae Valley Route
Green: Easy - 5.6 miles / 9.0 km
Perfect for families, this trail takes you to a beautiful viewpoint overlooking the Water of Ae.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
Blue: Moderate - 8.4 miles / 13.5 km
Suitable for those families looking to take in a little bit more of the forest.More information...
Delve a little deeper into the forest, on this moderate route consisting of forest road and singletrack. Enjoy good views of the Water of Ae coupled with a fun ride.
Ae Line Trail
Red: Difficult - 15.0 miles / 24.0 km
A rocky ride through the countryside. The highlight of the route is the final descent with its multiplicity of jumps.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 downhill run that's a great ice breaker for newcomers to this discipline of mountain biking.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
A downhill challenge with seriously gnarly rocky sections and exhilarating drop-offs to satisfy the most demanding of riders.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.
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.
Share your experience
For questions and complaints, please contact us directly.