Stretch your legs amongst the trees near the shore of Loch Alsh or follow the trail up to a panoramic viewpoint

Balmacara Woods

Let your feet wander in Balmacara

Balmacara Woods is an ideal place to stop for a picnic and a woodland stroll if you're on the road to Skye. This is a great family-friendly place to stretch your legs and let the kids have a run around, have a picnic or walk the dog. You’ll find easy walks among the varied trees, gorgeous views from the hillside above the woods and discover fascinating stories of the area.

Take the Tree-Spotter trail to explore the varied woodland or venture further for great views. Or alternatively, try the Skye View trail that winds up through the trees above Balmacara Square to reach the site of a World War II gun battery and enjoy spectacular views of Loch Alsh, Kintail and the Isle of Skye.

Find out more in our Forests of Lochalsh (PDF 3.1MB) leaflet.

Parking Walking Viewpoint

Life's Essentials

There is a cosy café in the 18th century estate village of Balmacara Square beside the woods. Otherwise, head to nearby Kyle of Lochalsh for public toilets, parking, shopping and a range of places to eat and drink.

Walking trails

Cycling trails

Mountain biking trails

Take to the trails

A number of longer informal trails also start from Balmacara – these are not waymarked but look out for fingerposts as you explore. Follow routes to the little lochside village of Kirton or head over the peninsula towards Plockton, looking out for tranquil Loch Achaidh na h-Inich and the remains of the iron age Sean Creag fort on the hill above. Look carefully at what looks like a pile of stones in the loch below – this small island is actually what’s left of a 3rd century crannog, a fortified dwelling built on stilts.

These trails make great full day walks or bike trips. Always make sure you’re well prepared and take an OS map with you.

Defending the skies

During World War II, tiny Balmacara played an important role in defending Scotland’s skies. A gun battery on the hill above the village protected the military camp and port at Loch Alsh from air attack by German planes. Follow the trail to visit the site of the gun battery on a spectacular viewpoint overlooking the loch. It was hard to predict the flight path of enemy planes and the guns were most successful in firing to put the planes off their course, known as ‘jinking’.

Balmacara Square and woodland trails

The restored buildings of Balmacara Square are at the heart of a traditional 18th century Highland crofting estate now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland. Find out more at the Trust’s visitor centre in the Square (open Easter to September), and explore the woodland they care for beside the loch on an easy trail across the road from Balmacara Woods.

Contact: Inverness, Ross and Skye Forest District

Address: Tower Road, Smithton, Inverness

Postcode: IV2 7NL

Telephone: 0300 067 6100


How to get here

Balmacara Woods lies beside the A87 between Auchtertyre and Kyle of Lochalsh. Turn off the A87 following signs for ‘Balmacara Square’. The Balmacara Woods car park is on the right hand side after about 100 yards (100m), at grid reference NG 804 280.

Using SatNav?

IV40 8DP is the nearest postcode.

Public transport

There are regular buses between Inverness and Skye that stop along the A87. You’ll find details at Traveline Scotland.

Nearby places

Cross the elegant span of the Skye Bridge from Kyle of Lochalsh to reach the woods and trails around Kyleakin. These are a great introduction to Skye, with stunning views in all directions.

Head south for panoramic coastal and mountain views at nearby Ard Hill. Here you can drink in the invigorating sea air, enjoy a picnic or take to the trail to admire the sweeping views over Loch Alsh and spot wildlife.

The colourful mixed woodland at Strome Wood is also well worth a visit. Explore the trail through the woods that line the steep craggy slopes above Loch Carron – there are spectacular loch and mountain views towards Applecross.

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