One of the most picturesque lochs in Scotland, lying close to Aberfoyle and nestled in the vast and varied Loch Ard Forest

Loch Ard

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...

Find out more about Loch Ard in our Queen Elizabeth Forest Park Map and Trail Guide (PDF 4.7MB).

Parking Picnic area Campsite Walking Cycling Horse riding

Life’s essentials

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 or Aberfoyle village.

Walking trails

Cycling trails

Mountain biking trails

Horse riding

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.

Wildlife watching

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.

The artworks were created by Rob Mullholland, who also designed the Mirror People along the Waterfall Trail at The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre.


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.


Camping wild in the forest can be fun if you're hardy. Read our wild camping tips to find out more. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code also has more information and guidance about how to wild camp responsibly.

Camping is welcome throughout the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park but in order to protect some of our most cherished lochshores, byelaws covering camping and firelighting will come into effect in some parts of the Park between March and September. Camping from October to February is unaffected.

Contact: Cowal and Trossachs Forest District

Address: Aberfoyle, Stirling

Postcode: FK8 3UX

Telephone: 0300 067 6600


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.

Using SatNav?

FK8 3TF is the nearest postcode.

Public transport

There are regular buses from Stirling (the nearest railway station) to Aberfoyle. You’ll find details at Traveline Scotland.

Nearby places

The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre

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.

Three Lochs Forest Drive

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 March to October).

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