Your journey into Scotland’s forests begins with our forest trails. Covering almost a third of the country’s wooded areas, the forests we look after for the people of Scotland are many and varied. From local woods for walking the dog 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.
Our waymarked trails follow graded paths so you can find one that’s just right for you. Many forests have easy access routes. All trails have clear signs so you can follow the route even if you’ve never visited the forest before.
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. If you do go exploring off the marked trails, take a large-scale map to help you find your way.
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 trail descriptions to figure out what’s suitable for your level of ability. They vary from Easy (Accessible to all) to Strenuous.
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, whatever the weather.
The right fuel
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 some 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 also have forest notices advising of any hazards, like windblown trees.
Walk your way to better health and happiness
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.
Long-term benefits include increased energy, reduced stress and blood pressure, and improved sleep. Walking is an amazing tool for weight loss, and the management of conditions like heart disease and diabetes. It strengthens your bones and muscles, and improves your balance and co-ordination, and that’s before you consider the benefits of being surrounded by nature.
Walking is humankind's best medicine.
There are several community organisations in Scotland who run walks in local woodlands, helping people to get out and about, meet new people, and keep up with an exercise plan. To find out what is in your area go to:
Walking your dogs in the forest
Dogs are very welcome in the woods, and 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. 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.
With great forests come great responsibilities
We’re lucky to have open access to the countryside in Scotland. You have the right to walk, run, cycle or ride a horse across most land (except somebody’s back garden, of course), as long as you:
- take responsibility for your own actions
- respect other people’s interests and activities
- take care of the environment
For more details, check out the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.