hikes in Cairngorms National Park
Walks in Cairngorms National Park
Revel in sub-Alpine terrain and an unruly mountainscape in Scotland's supernatural Cairngorms National Park, where endless adventure awaits. One of the best ways to immerse in the wild and experience the natural wonders stretching across the United Kingdom's largest national park is via foot. That's right. There are some epic walks in the Cairngorms!
But one of the best things about exploring this area is Scotland's rule around wild camping: you can walk to a magical location and set your tent up lochside, on a hilltop, or in any unenclosed space in the park. The walks in this area are unreal, and we'll tell you all about some of the best below!
The Greatest Walks In Cairngorms National Park
Where do you even start when it comes to walking in Cairngorms National Park? You can find a range of walks tailored for whatever you want to experience, whether that's community walks, taking on a Munro (mountains that are 3000ft feet high or more), heritage trails embroidered with history, hill tracks carved deep into the wilderness. Check out a list of the greatest walks in the Cairngorms below to choose an adventure that caters to your adventure mood!
- Ben Macdui and Cairngorm Walk - The Ben Macdui and Cairngorm Walk is one of the most challenging walks in the national park as it leads you to the summit of Scotland's second-highest mountain! Bask in fantastic views of the Cairngorm Plateau before taking on the final climb to the top. It is definitely worth taking on if you want a challenge.
- Loch Muick Circular Walk - The Loch Muick Circular Walk intertwines history with the natural wonders sprawled across the national park. You'll get to explore the Balmoral Estate on the walk, which the royal family bought in 1852. However, this 7.8mi loop takes in several highlights while staying at a minimal elevation gain, making this fun for families with older children.
- Ben Vrackie Walk - Gain 2582ft in elevation in just 6.2mi on the Ben Vrackie Walk! However, despite the daunting, challenging elevation gain, this hillwalk unveils unreal views across the national park and follows a well-worn path. If you’re staying in Pitlochry, you’ll definitely want to do this walk!
- Loch an Eilein Walk - Walk below a canopy of pines lining the Rothiemurchus Forest and admire their reflection shimmering in Loch an Eilein on this 4.3mi walk! The Loch an Eilein Walk is a popular route for almost all ages. But while Loch an Eilein may be busy, you’ll also travel to Loch Gamhna, where a quieter shoreline awaits.
- Mount Keen from Glen Esk Walk - Take on another challenging route in Cairngorms National Park. Completing the Mount Keen from Glen Esk Walk is no easy feat, but it always feels good to bag a Munro! This 10.9mi walk wavers between a worn-in hill path, steep sections, river crossings, and a quick glimpse of history at the Queen's Well. Revel in moorlands and phenomenal scenery on this walk!
- Burn O' Vat and the Culblean Circular Walk - Immerse between pinewoods on the 4.0mi Burn O’ Vat and Culblean Circular Walk that leads to Ben O’Vat, a geological bowl. However, you will navigate stepping stones to see the bowl up close, making this more of a walk for older children.
- Craigendarroch Walk - While this walk is only 2.5mi, the 1033ft elevation packed into it will amp up your heart rate. If you're looking to take on some of the higher peaks in Cairngorms National Park, the Craigendarroch Walk is a great place to start—it's also an excellent choice for older children ready to tackle a summit walk. Bask in views of Lochnagar!
- Cairn Gorm and the Northern Corries Walk - Starting at the Cairngorm Ski Centre, the Cairn Gorm and the Northern Corries Walk leads you up one of the most popular Scottish Munros: Cairn Gorm. One section is pathless, making this a fantastic adventure for experienced hillwalkers!
- The Falls of Bruar Walk - Don’t let the 1.6mi distance propel you to think that the Falls of Bruar Walk is a pleasant, leisurely stroll! This walk may be short, but it will get your heart pumping, thanks to the undulations throughout. You will navigate a gorge edge, making this walk more suitable for older children who can stay vigilant when meandering this section. Bring a picnic along and spend some time soaking in the falls!
- Morrone Walk - Looking for a scenic half-day adventure? The 7.5mi circular Morrane Walk unveils quality views of the Cairngorm peaks from the summit. On your way back, you’ll enjoy walking along the river, where you can cool down after a heart-pumping climb.
When Is The Best Time To Walk in Cairngorms National Park?
The best time to walk in Cairngorms National Park is during spring and summer when the weather is warmer. However, if you're looking to bag a Munro, summer is your go-to month as the longer light gives you more time to finish your walk!
Best Regions for Walking in Cairngorms National Park?
You'll find phenomenal walking opportunities all over Cairngorms National Park, but the best place to stay if you're looking to set up a base is Aviemore, a small town that acts as a gateway to several trails.
Other Outdoor Activities in Cairngorms National Park
Other outdoor activities in Cairngorms National Park are mountain biking and cycling, water sports, climbing, skiing and wild camping! Mountain bikers will enjoy the 64km of off-road tracks, and those keen on rafting, canoeing, river tubing, swimming will find a water source that suits their desired activity, whether that's more on the relaxing side or bent towards more thrill. Meanwhile, climbers in the south of the park will find routes around Creag Dubh Loch and Lochnagar in the southern Cairngorms, and those in the north will discover climbs around The Shelterstone Crag. When snow blankets the land, snowboarders and skiers can hit up any of the three ski resorts in the Cairngorms.
Cairngorms National Park Adventure Tours
Sometimes the best way to experience a beautiful area is by booking an adventure tour. If you want to explore the park with local guides, or on your own, but without the whole hassle of planning your own trip, check out the tours in Cairngorms National Park.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do people visit Cairngorms National Park?
Besides the world-class scenery flanking the area, Cairngorms National Park also boasts of exceptional wildlife, such as arctic reindeer and wildcats roaming the forests. Keep an eye out for golden eagles when you’re on your walks!
How many Munros are in Cairngorms National Park?
You’ll find 55 Munros standing at 2999ft tall (or higher) standing tall across Cairngorms National Park. The highest Munro is Ben Macdui, which intimidates at 4295ft.
Where should I stay when I visit Cairngorms National Park?
Most people head to Aviemore, a lovely small town bordered by incredible scenery. However, you can always look into wild camping throughout the park or one of the campsites that offer a more upscale wilderness experience. Some notable spots are Eriskay Ecocamp, Glamping Aviemore, Blair Castle, and Braemar Caravan and Camping. There are also lodges around the park!
Find more walking regions
- Lake District Walks
- Peak District Walks
- South Downs Walks
- Loch Lomond & The Trossachs Walks
- Chiltern Hills Walks
- Snowdonia Walks
Or use this link to find all walking regions in the UK.Read More
The best hikes in Cairngorms National Park
Yes, there are more than 10
Cairngorms National Park is so beautiful that we can not give you only 10 hikes. So here is a list of bonus hikes in Cairngorms National Park that you should take a look at as well
Kirkmichael to Spittal of Glenshee is a brilliant stage of the 64.0mi long-distance… Read More
The Cateran Trail: Spittal of Glenshee to Kirkton of Glenisla is a 14.6mi… Read More
The Cateran Trail: Kirkton of Glenisla to Alyth takes walkers along a gorgeous 10.6mi Read More
The 2.8mi Lower Glen Feshie and the Frank Bruce Sculpture Trail Walk in… Read More
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