Skip to main content

Forest of Ae

Where we are

About

One of the UK's largest forests, with something for everyone

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. Ae Forest covers 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.

Walking trails

Forest of Ae route card (PDF)

Walking

Ae Naze Trail

A peaceful, short stroll along the waters of Ae, with a perfect opportunity for a picnic.

Wide and firm track throughout with gentle rises and occasional loose gravel.

Easy trail grade icon
¾ miles / 1.2 km

Allow
½ hour

More information

Watch for wildlife in the trees!

Walking

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.

Moderate trail grade icon
3 ¼ miles / 5.2 km

Allow
1½ hours

More information

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.

Walking

Green Hill Trail (diverted)

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.

Strenuous trail grade icon
5 ½ miles / 8.8 km

Allow
3½ hours

More information

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

The 7Stanes logo with the text "mountain bike 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/hire on site as well as bike uplift.

Forest of Ae 7stanes route card (PDF)

Mountain Biking

Ae Valley Route (diverted)

Grade – Green: Easy 5 ½ miles / 9.0 km
Green: Easy

A great place to try out mountain biking for the first time, and perfect for families, this trail takes you to a beautiful viewpoint overlooking the Water of Ae. 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.

Mountain Biking

Larch Blue Route (diverted)

Grade – Blue: Moderate 8 ½ miles / 13.5 km
Blue: Moderate

Suitable for those families looking to take in a little bit more of the forest. 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.

Mountain Biking

The Shredder

Grade – Red: Difficult ½ miles / 1.0 km
Red: Difficult

A downhill run that’s a great ice breaker for newcomers to this discipline of mountain biking. 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.

Mountain Biking

Ae Line Trail (diverted)

Grade – Red: Difficult 15 miles / 24.0 km
Red: Difficult

A rocky ride through the countryside. The highlight of the route is the final descent with its multiplicity of jumps. 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.

A trail notice is in effect

  • Open with diversions. There is a short diversion on ‘Rab Slippy One’ that takes out the first part of the climb and rejoins ‘Rabs’ further on. 
  • Due to harvesting operations, there is a diversion that takes out ‘Granny Green Luv’ and rejoins the red route at ‘The Face’. Please follow the diversion signs. This will be in place until August. We are sorry for any inconvenience.

 

Mountain Biking

Ae Downhill

Grade – Double-black: Extreme 1 miles / 1.6 km
Double-black: Extreme

A downhill challenge with seriously gnarly rocky sections and exhilarating drop-offs to satisfy the most demanding of riders. 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.

Activities

Horse riding

The trails at Ae are ideal for horse riding. There’s plenty of room for horse boxes at the Naze car park, and you can start the British Horse Society Countryside Trail from here.

Facilities and access

Walking
Walking
Mountain biking
Mountain biking
Parking (charge)
Parking (charge)
Easy-access facilities
Easy-access facilities
Wildlife hide
Wildlife hide
Viewpoint
Viewpoint
Picnic area
Picnic area
Icon showing a campervan on green background
Stay the Night

Time for a bite to eat?

You’ll find delicious refreshments at the Ae café on site. 

Opening hours

  • The cafe is open Friday to Sunday 10am - 4pm, closed Monday to Thursday. 
  • The bike shop is open 9am  - 5pm Friday to Tuesday, closed Wednesday & Thursday.   

Ae Forest Bike Shop & Cafe

Dogs

Assistance dogs are welcome in the café. For our other canine visitors, there’s water available outside. The café has outdoor seating as well.

Car parking information

Payment options: coin or RingGo

The charges to park at Ae are:

  • £2 for up to 1 hour
  • £3 for up to 3 hours
  • £4 for all day
  • £14 for minibus or coach all day 

Blue badge holders park free. Please display your Blue Badge clearly.

Please park with care and consideration. In particular please park in designated parking areas only and do not block entrances or gates. Nearby car parks with free parking can be found in our local forest list without the £ symbol. 

Annual parking passes available:

Available in advance by downloading the application form and emailing to the Regional Office. Please read our Annual Pass terms and conditions (PDF) before applying.

Dumfries Car Park Pass - £45 per car and £100 per mini bus or coach
Dumfries and Galloway Car Park Pass - £70 per car and £125 per mini bus or coach
FLS National Car Park Pass - £100 per car and £150 per mini bus or coach

Valid at all Forestry and Land Scotland car parks except Tentsmuir.

FLS National Pass application form

 

More parking info

Stay the night

We are trialling an extension of Stay the Night to run over winter this year. This means motorhomes and campervans that are self-contained and have their own toilet facilities will be able to stay overnight at the Naze car park.

To help plan your stay, please see the details below:

  • Height barrier – No
  • Motorhome capacity of car park – 8
  • Suitable for large vehicles/caravans – No
  • Acces notes - Stay the night is only available at the Naze car park, not the car park by the bike shop and cafe. Follow the forest road for around 1/2 mile.
  • Parking notes – Car park on slight slope - levelling blocks recommended. Please leave a 4m gap between other motorhomes.

Please visit our Stay the Night page for full details, participating locations, best practice, and terms and conditions of use .

Stay the night

Getting here

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.

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'. There’s also parking for horse boxes here.

Using SatNav?

DG1 1QB is the nearest postcode.

Public transport

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.

Get directions

Get in touch

Have a question or suggestion for improvement?

Phone
0300 067 6900 (option 1)
More contact information

Nearby forests

Cones on a twig

Quiet woodland walks next door to Dumfries

Facilities and activities
Walking
Walking
Parking icon
Parking
Distance from 'Forest of Ae': 7.45 miles
Landscape view over green fields and a river with pockets of tall conifer trees.

Explore this spectacular prehistoric settlement

Facilities and activities
Walking
Walking
Parking icon
Parking
Viewpoint
Viewpoint
Ancient monument
Ancient monument
Distance from 'Forest of Ae': 10.38 miles
Forest road surrounded by green trees

Follow overgrown railway tracks through a wild wood

Facilities and activities
Walking
Walking
Parking icon
Parking
Viewpoint
Viewpoint
Distance from 'Forest of Ae': 10.46 miles