Scotland’s mountains have a charm all their own. Offering a unique combination of gentle slopes and dramatic views, the wilds in Scotland, especially around Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National park, provide an outdoor adventure space unlike any other in the world.
The wee hills, or munros, of Scotland are so numerous and climbable that “bagging” them is a national pastime. Many make a hobby of traveling across the country and climbing each low peak, soaking up a stunning 360-degree view of windswept moors and vibrant lochs along the way. Whether you’re looking to conquer a few of these peaks yourself or are just looking for a quiet getaway in nature, these six Scottish hiking trails will answer your call to adventure.
Six Stunning Trails Through the Scottish Wilds
From easy strolls to multi-stage hikes, walking trails all over Scotland can provide you with opportunities for outdoor exploration, backpacking adventures and natural getaways.
1. Loch Lomond Shores Walk, Balloch: A Quick Scenic Stroll for Beginners
Just steps away from the popular Loch Lomond Shores shopping complex, this trail provides an easy and accessible getaway. It’s a great way to warm up and get a feel for the area when you first arrive, and it can be a lovely after-dinner stroll to cap off a day of shopping and dining.
Begin near the Tree Zone building near the main shopping complex. You’ll see a path between the now-closed visitor centre and the Tree Zone; follow this to find a boardwalk path that leads directly below the Tree Zone assault course. From there, the boardwalk will lead you through the trees and out near the loch. A quartzite wall separates the path from the water of the loch.
The path eventually opens out to a beach and grassy glade. There is a picnic area there where you can stop for a bite to eat or to relax. From there, the path will curve back around, plunging into the trees and delivering you back near the Tree Zone building. Walking the path will take about half an hour, but feel free to spend more time enjoying the sights. Be sure to keep an eye out for the several sculptures and art installations tucked away near the path!
2. Luss Heritage Trail: An Easy Walk Through History
Legend has it that when St. Kessog was martyred 1,500 years ago, sweet herbs (“lus,” in Gaelic) grew over his grave to give this village its name. Today, the village of Luss is a quaint site filled with history and butted up against natural forested views.
Start by parking in the main car park and follow the road toward the village. Turn right at Glen Road; you’ll see a tiny primary school building. This path will lead you up and over a footbridge and onto a path marked for the Quarry Walk.
From there, the trail will lead you through woodlands and near an old slate quarry that once supplied much of Glasgow. If you turn left to walk downstream, you’ll pass a small weir and grazing land before reaching a river. If you’d like, pause here to visit the Glebe. Afterward, your trail will lead you past a church with an attendant graveyard dating back to Viking times. Finally, loop around to the pier for a breathtaking view of Ben Lomond.
The Luss Heritage Trail will take about an hour to complete, but plan to at least double that time if you want to explore any of the diverting trails and branches from the main path. A whole afternoon could easily be spent exploring the old graveyard alone.
3. Helensburgh and Rhu Explorer, Helensburgh: An Afternoon Hike Across Mixed Terrain
If you’re looking for something a bit more challenging than a simple stroll but that won’t require any major feats of athletics, this mid-range hike through woodland paths and dirt roads might be the perfect compromise. Anticipate spending about three hours hiking this 8.25km trail.
Begin at The Hill House, a historic property at the heart of Helensburgh. After you spend some time exploring the house itself, head to the path near the car park and follow the sign for Rhu Marina. This path will lead you through a wooded area and over grazing land with a beautiful view of Greenock, Gourock and the Rosneath peninsula.
If you don’t mind paying for a natural diversion while you’re out, be sure to stop by the Glenarm Gardens in the spring or summer to view the rhododendrons in bloom.
4. Ben Lomond: A Popular Munro Hike
Perhaps one of the best-known and most popular hikes in the area, Ben Lomond sees 30,000 summiters a year. Its popularity is well-deserved: From the peak of the 990m munro, you can catch truly spectacular views of Loch Lomond and its islands. Nearly the entire area is visible from the top, and you’ll get a breathtaking glimpse of the Highlands as well.
You’ll start by parking at Rowardennan. From there, you’ll find a well-marked trail through oak woods that connects with a track. This path will eventually lead you to the foot of the hill, where the real ascent begins. The gradient is gentle, and the path is straightforward. Depending on the time of year, you may encounter many other hikers on the trail. Just be cautious of the final leg of the climb, which is a bit steeper and can have some difficult footing if the ground is damp.
If you’d like more of a challenge, you can descend on the northwest side to climb down a steep, rocky slope that will eventually read to Ptarmigan at 731m. Otherwise, you’ll want to descend the slope the same way you came up.
5. The Rob Roy Way: A Backpacking Route Across One of Scotland’s Greatest Trails
Looking for a challenge that must be taken in stages? Why not go all-in on one of Scotland’s grandest and most scenic paths, the 128km hike from Drymen to Perthshire. The Rob Roy Way is a route that must be taken in stages, so be prepared to spend several days on the adventure. Fortunately, there are many opportunities both for camping and hotel accommodations along the way.
There are seven stages to the path, with each stage averaging about five hours to completion:
- Drymen to Aberfoyle
- Aberfoyle to Callander
- Callander to Strathyre
- Strathyre to Killin
- Ardtalnaig to Aberfeldy
- Aberfeldy to Pitlochry
The path itself is a combination of minor roads, cycle paths, tracks and footpaths. Most of the journey is easy to maneuver, but you’ll need to prepare for a bit of steep terrain and pack plenty of supplies for the distance.
6. The Scottish National Trail: A Backpacker’s Dream Journey
If you’re ready for a real challenge, prepare to embark on the trail of a lifetime. The Scottish National Trail runs the length of Scotland, starting in Kirk Yetholm and winding 864 kilometres to Cape Wrath. The path cuts through the heart of the country, providing a unique way to experience Scotlands cities, villages and wild places.
With multiple ways to tackle this 40-stage journey, you can craft an adventure that best suits your skill level and interests. Whether you plan to camp along the way or stop off to relax at a bed and breakfast for the night before starting the next leg, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to sight-see as you tackle the route.
Of course, you don’t have to commit six weeks to tackling the journey all at once. You can choose any leg of the path to tackle for a day’s journey, getting a taste of Scotland’s greatest national trail without investing weeks into the trip. Every stage of the path is described in detail on the Walk Highlands website if you’d like to know more.
Choosing a Scenic Hiking Trail in Scotland
The six routes above are just a few of the many scenic trails in the Scottish countryside. Because Scotland is a country filled with natural beauty and well-protected land, there are countless opportunities to appreciate nature regardless of your skill level or time commitment.
Before you visit, get an idea of the other walking trails available throughout The Trossachs. Decide in advance whether you’re looking for a challenging hike or a leisurely scenic stroll; there are plenty of paths that satisfy both and anything in-between.