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The Cairngorms National Park was established in 2003, and later extended in 2010. 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.
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.
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.
Our guide to the most beautiful hikes in the Cairngorms National Park, including route descriptions and maps.
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- Scotland’s best walks
Step carefully beneath golden larches, towering Scots pines and over magnificent mountain ash roots in pursuit of a roaring Cairngorms cascade.
- 2km/1.2 miles
- 1 hour
Loch Garten’s ancient trees, tottering wood-ant nests, soaring ospreys and grazing deer make it one of Scotland’s most beautiful nature reserves.
- 3.8km/2.4 miles
- 1.5 hours
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.
- 5km/3.1 miles
- 2 hours
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.
- 4.9km/3 miles
- 2 hours
Jock’s Road, Angus and Aberdeenshire
Hike across wild, lonely moorland, alongside turbulent waters and beneath brooding mountains on an age-old trail between Aberdeenshire and Angus you’ll climb more than 1,400m, a height greater than that of Ben Nevis, Britain’s tallest mountain.
- 22.2km/13.8 miles
- 7-8 hours
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.
- 8.6km/5.3 miles
- 3.5 hours
Discover this historic glen in the Cairngorms National Park, through which the Lui Water tumbles and turns amid the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest.
- 10.5km/6.5 miles
- 4 hours
This walk can be done in one go or spread over two days with a wild camp overlooking the beautiful and dramatic Glen Tilt. About half of the route uses footpaths and lanes but the other half in trackless, requiring a level of map reading and compass skills.
- 19.8km/12.3 miles
- 8 hours
Follow a trail of pleasant pinewoods around Carrbridge, stopping to savour this magnificent rushing river and the stone that bridges over it. Carrbridge walking route and map with Walking Highlands.
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. River Dee walking route and map with Walking Highlands.
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. Loch Muick walking route and map with Walking Highlands.
Take a relaxing amble through varied landscapes, passing the Pattack gorge waterfalls before exploring the ruins of the deserted village of Druim an Aird. Pattack Falls walking route and map with Walking Highlands.