Walking is one of the easiest and most accessible forms of exercise, with multiple benefits for anyone, regardless of their existing fitness level. With mental and physical health benefits, walking can help you feel connected to the natural world.
Covering almost a third of the country’s wooded areas, the forests we look after contain hundreds of walking trails that might take you up hills, along rivers and down to stunning coastlines. From local woods for dog-walking or getting some exercise, to majestic mountain viewpoints and some of the world’s most iconic scenery, it’s all waiting for you to explore.
What you’ll need
Walking is one of the most accessible of all exercise activities, with no real requirements for special equipment. Once you hit the forest, it’s good to have a plan for your walk - here are a few pointers. Be sure to pick:
- The right trail: Use our Find a forest search to find the destination and trail that's right for you. Each trail is graded from 'Easy' to 'Strenuous' and there's even a short description of the terrain if you need further details.
- The right clothing and footwear: Trail descriptions contain information about the type of terrain you will find on our paths - be sure to pick shoes or boots sturdy and comfortable enough for your walk, and the right clothes to keep you warm and dry if the weather looks like it will turn.
- The right fuel: If you're planning a long visit, maybe bring something to eat and drink. Many of our trails are in beautiful but remote locations, so it’s always sensible to have some water and snacks to keep you going. Many destinations have picnic tables, if you want to pack for a day out.
- The right weather: We can’t promise sunshine but forests offer plenty of cover. A little rain or wind needn’t spoil your walk! Check the weather in advance - some trails might be unsuitable in high winds or cold conditions. Our destination pages sometime contain forest notices advising of any temporary hazards, like windblown trees or flooded areas.
Our waymarked trails follow graded paths so you can find one that’s just right for you. All trails have clear signs so you can follow the route even if you’ve never visited the forest before.
And if you fancy heading out on your own, there are miles of forest tracks and un-signed paths to discover: you can walk anywhere you like in Scotland’s forests. But if you do go exploring off the marked trails, do take a map to help you find your way.
Forests for everyone
We want as many people as possible to enjoy Scotland's wild places. Some of our forests have all-abilities trails that are suitable for wheelchairs, buggies and mobility scooters, amongst others. They can usually be found at destinations with accessible facilities such as toilets, parking spaces and visitor centres. Find out more about forests with accessible features on our Forests of everyone page.
Forests for four-footed pals
Dogs are very welcome in the woods. For many dog owners their local forest is the perfect place to unwind with their faithful friend. All we ask is that dog owners visiting Scotland’s forests follow SOAC’s guidelines, and take full responsibility for their dog’s behaviour. If wildlife or livestock are present, you must keep them under control or on a lead. And do please pick up their poo and take it to the nearest bin. Help us keep our forests clean and leave them exactly as you find them.
Many of Scotland’s classic hill walking routes lead through forests to some of the country’s most impressive scenery. Check our tips on hill walking to help you enjoy it.