Best walks in the Cairngorms National Park

The Cairngorms teems with towering trees, shimmering lochs and busy wildlife. Take a hike through this vast, untamed area of Scotland with our list of the area's best walks

Loch Morlich

Our guide to the most beautiful hikes in the Cairngorms National Park, including route descriptions and maps.

Facts about the Cairngorms

The Cairngorms National Park was established in 2003, and later extended in 2010.

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It is our largest national park – almost twice the size of the Lake District – and is home to four of the five highest mountains in Britain. The park is pockmarked with 60 lochs and many more lochans (small lochs), along with more than half the surviving Caledonian forest.

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A quarter of Britain’s threatened animal, plant, insect and fungi species are found in the Cairngorms, some of which are endemic to the park.

Loch Ard and Ben Lomond in the Trossachs, Scotland

Zip up your coat, strap on your walking boots and get ready to explore the still lochs, rushing rivers and rugged landscape of the Cairngorms National Park.

Falls of Bruar, Perth and Kinross

Falls of Bruar
The Falls of Bruar lie just north of Blair Athol ©Getty Images

Step carefully beneath golden larches, towering Scots pines and over magnificent mountain ash roots in pursuit of a roaring Cairngorms cascade.

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  • 2km/1.2 miles
  • 1 hour
  • Easy

Map and route

Falls of Bruar map

Loch Garten, Highland

Loch Garten
Loch Garten is hidden within Abernathy Forest ©Getty

Loch Garten’s ancient trees, tottering wood-ant nests, soaring ospreys and grazing deer make it one of Scotland’s most beautiful nature reserves.

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  • 3.8km/2.4 miles
  • 1.5 hours
  • Easy

Map and route

Loch Garten map

Loch Morlich, Highland

Loch Morlich
Loch Morlich in the Cairngorm National Park, Scotland ©Getty

There are few lochs in Scotland that have a more picture-perfect surrounding than Loch Morlich. The foreground comprises forests fringed by beaches and backdropped by snow-clad peaks. Circling the loch is a very popular walk among tourists and locals alike.

The route

  • 5km/3.1 miles
  • 2 hours
  • Easy

Map and route

Loch Morlich map

Loch an Eilein, Highland

Loch an Eilein

Loch an Eilein lies still, reflecting the magnificent pines of Rothiemurchus Forest in the heart of the Cairngorms. Castle ruins inhabit a small island, making for a truly unique walk.

The route

  • 4.9km/3 miles
  • 2 hours
  • Easy

 Map and route

Loch an Eilein map

Glenmore Forest Park and Ryvoan pass, Aberdeenshire

Ryvoan pass
Untamed, autumnal moorland of the Ryvoan pass ©Getty

Ancient Caledonian pines form a beautiful walkway leading to the Green Lochan – An Lochan Uaine. A gentle climb leads up the Ryvoan pass, with breathtaking views of Loch Morlich.

The route

  • 8.6km/5.3 miles
  • 3.5 hours
  • Moderate

Map and route

Glenmore Forest Park map

Glen Lui, Aberdeenshire

Glen Lui, Scotland
Lui Water in Cairngorms National Park ©Getty

Discover this historic glen in the Cairngorms National Park, through which the Lui Water tumbles and turns amid the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest.

The route

  • 10.5km/6.5 miles
  • 4 hours
  • Moderate

Map and route

Glen Lui map

Carrbridge and Docharn circuit, Highland

Carrbridge
Autumn sweeps through Carrbridge with hues of red, orange and brown ©Getty

Follow a trail of pleasant pinewoods around Carrbridge, stopping to savour this magnificent rushing river and the stone that bridges over it.  Walk and route with Walking Highlands


River Dee, Braemar, Aberdeenshire

Bridge over the River Dee
The old bridge over the River Dee at Invercauld near Braemar ©Getty

A circular walk starting from Braemar takes in the confluence of the two main rivers, the Dee and the Clunie. It then climbs gently through birch woods to return to the centre of the village.  Walk and route with Walking Highlands.


Loch Muick, Aberdeenshire

Loch Muick, Scotland
Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, UK. Cairngorm Mountains ©Getty

An unusually level walk in the Cairngorms, around Loch Muick on the Balmoral Estate. The walk provides stunning views of the Scottish scenery. You can also see Glas-allt Shiel house, built by Queen Victoria.  Map and route with Walking Highlands.


Pattack Falls and Druim an Aird, Highland

The rushing gorge waterfalls of Pattack Falls
The rushing gorge waterfalls of Pattack Falls ©Getty

Take a relaxing amble through varied landscapes, passing the Pattack gorge waterfalls before exploring the ruins of the deserted village of Druim an Aird. Map and routewith Walking Highlands.