Walks in Cairngorms National Park
Walks in Cairngorms National Park

hikes in Cairngorms National Park

Region in Scotland, United Kingdom
Cairngorms National Park Trail Map

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!

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The best hikes in Cairngorms National Park

Ben Macdui and Cairngorm Walk

01. Ben Macdui and Cairngorm Walk
Difficulty

10.9mi 3,058ft 6-8h

Strive to reach the summit (3058ft) of Scotland’s second-highest mountain on the gripping… Read More

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Loch Muick Circular Walk

02. Loch Muick Circular Walk
Difficulty

7.8mi 558ft 3-3.5h

The Loch Muick Circular Walk weaves history and the natural beauty of the Cairngorms National… Read More

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Ben Vrackie Walk

03. Ben Vrackie Walk
Difficulty

6.2mi 2,582ft 3.5-4h

Lording over the town of Pitlochry, which is nestled at its foot, sits Ben Vrackie… Read More

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Loch an Eilein Walk

04. Loch an Eilein Walk
Difficulty

4.3mi 230ft 2h

Escape to walk among the towering pines of the Rothiemurchus Forest and see their reflection… Read More

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Mount Keen from Glen Esk Walk

05. Mount Keen from Glen Esk Walk
Difficulty

10.9mi 2,657ft 5-7h

The Mount Keen (3081ft) From Glen Esk Walk invites you to tackle the… Read More

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Burn O' Vat and Culblean Circular Walk

06. Burn O' Vat and Culblean Circular Walk
Difficulty

4.0mi 656ft 1.5-2h

The Burn O’ Vat and Culblean Circular Walk is a lovely 4.0mi forest… Read More

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Craigendarroch Walk

07. Craigendarroch Walk
Difficulty

2.5mi 1,033ft 1.5-2h

The 4km Craigendarroch Walk in Ballater Scotland is a popular, small hillwalk that features fantastic… Read More

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Cairn Gorm and the Northern Corries Walk

08. Cairn Gorm and the Northern Corries Walk
Difficulty

6.8mi 2,543ft 5-6h

The Cairn Gorm and the Northern Corries Walk is a thrilling 6.8mi hillwalk,… Read More

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The Falls of Bruar Walk

09. The Falls of Bruar Walk
Difficulty

1.6mi 492ft 1-11.5h

At a mere 1.6mi, some may assume that The Falls Bruar Walk is… Read More

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Morrone Walk

10. Morrone Walk
Difficulty

7.5mi 2,133ft 4-5h

The Morrone Walk is a 7.5mi circular hillwalk located near Braemar, Scotland. This… Read More

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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

Linn of Dee Circular Walk

11. Linn of Dee Circular Walk
Difficulty

1.9mi 138ft 1h

The Linn of Dee Circular Walk is a pleasant walk that the whole family can… Read More

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Glen Tanar Walk

12. Glen Tanar Walk
Difficulty

5.0mi 164ft 2-2.5h

The Glen Tanar Walk is a pleasant 8km waymarked route that unfolds on the Cairngorms… Read More

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The Cateran Trail: Alyth to Blairgowrie

13. The Cateran Trail: Alyth to Blairgowrie
Difficulty

16.3mi 2,051ft 6.5-7.5h

The Cateran Trail: Alyth to Blairgowrie comprises the 16.3mi final stage of the… Read More

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Mealna Letter and Loch Beanie Circular Walk

14. Mealna Letter and Loch Beanie Circular Walk
Difficulty

8.7mi 1,440ft 4-5h

The Mealna Letter and Loch Beanie Circular Walk is an enjoyable 8.7mi route… Read More

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Dava Way: Dunphail to Forres Map

15. Dava Way: Dunphail to Forres
Difficulty

8.9mi 20ft 3.5-4h

The Dava Way: Dunphail to Forres is a joyful 8.8mi through a scenic… Read More

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Cambus o’ May Pinewood Trail

16. Cambus o’ May Pinewood Trail
Difficulty

1.8mi 194ft 1-2h

The Cambus o’ May Pinewood Trail makes for a brilliant couple of hours in nature… Read More

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The Cateran Trail: Blairgowrie to Kirkmichael

17. The Cateran Trail: Blairgowrie to Kirkmichael
Difficulty

15.1mi 1,703ft 6-7h

lthough you can join The Cateran Trail at any section, the 15.1mi stretch… Read More

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Mayar and Driesh Walk

18. Mayar and Driesh Walk
Difficulty

9.0mi 2,740ft 4.5-5.5h

The 9.0mi Mayar and Driesh Walk unfolds near Folda, in Angus, Scotland and… Read More

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The Cateran Trail: Kirkmichael to Spittal of Glenshee

19. The Cateran Trail: Kirkmichael to Spittal of Glenshee
Difficulty

8.1mi 1,588ft 4-4.5h

Kirkmichael to Spittal of Glenshee is a brilliant stage of the 64.0mi long-distance… Read More

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Bynack More from Glenmore Walk

20. Bynack More from Glenmore Walk
Difficulty

14.0mi 2,480ft 6.5-7.5h

The Bynack More from Glenmore Walk is a challenging 14.0mi walk that is… Read More

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The Cateran Trail: Spittal of Glenshee to Kirkton of Glenisla

21. The Cateran Trail: Spittal of Glenshee to Kirkton of Glenisla
Difficulty

14.6mi 1,476ft 6-7h

The Cateran Trail: Spittal of Glenshee to Kirkton of Glenisla is a 14.6miRead More

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The Cateran Trail: Kirkton of Glenisla to Alyth

22. The Cateran Trail: Kirkton of Glenisla to Alyth
Difficulty

10.6mi 1,273ft 4.5-5.5h

The Cateran Trail: Kirkton of Glenisla to Alyth takes walkers along a gorgeous 10.6mi Read More

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Corrie Fee Walk

23. Corrie Fee Walk
Difficulty

4.7mi 666ft 2-2.5h

The 4.7mi Corrie Fee Walk explores one of Scotland’s National Nature Reserves and… Read More

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Dalwhinnie to Culra Walk Map

24. Dalwhinnie to Culra Walk
Difficulty

9.3mi 427ft 3-4h

The 9.3mi Dalwhinnie to Culra Walk traverses a wild and remote landscape to… Read More

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Meall a' Bhuachaille Circular Walk

25. Meall a' Bhuachaille Circular Walk
Difficulty

5.3mi 1,781ft 3.5-4.5h

The Meall a' Bhuachaille Circular Walk is an excellent way to experience the beauty of… Read More

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Ben Alder and Beinn Bheòil Walk

26. Ben Alder and Beinn Bheòil Walk
Difficulty

10.6mi 3,350ft 7-8h

We can thank the power of ice and weather for shaping the Scottish Highland’s central… Read More

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White Mounth Munros Walk

27. White Mounth Munros Walk
Difficulty

18.0mi 4,029ft 9-11h

Just shy of 18.6mi long, the White Mounth Munros Walk isn’t for the… Read More

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The Cairnwell Munros Walk

28. The Cairnwell Munros Walk
Difficulty

8.1mi 1,952ft 5-6h

The 8.1mi Cairnwell Munros Walk is a superb half-day adventure that starts at… Read More

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Glas Maol Munros Circular Walk

29. Glas Maol Munros Circular Walk
Difficulty

12.0mi 2,923ft 6.5-7.5h

The 12.1mi Glas Maol Munros Circular Walk is a thrilling adventure across a… Read More

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Lary to Morven Walk

30. Lary to Morven Walk
Difficulty

7.0mi 764ft 4-5h

The walk from Lary to Morven is a great adventure that will take you through… Read More

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Loch Brandy Trail

31. Loch Brandy Trail
Difficulty

7.3mi 2,329ft 4-5h

The Loch Brandy Trail is a fantastic walking route within the rugged expanse of Cairngorms… Read More

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Cairn Toul Walk

32. Cairn Toul Walk
Difficulty

22.4mi 5,971ft 13h-2 days

Walk 22.2mi over 2 days from Cairn Toul to Braeriach on the magnificent… Read More

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Loch Lee Glen Esk Circular Walk

33. Loch Lee Glen Esk Circular Walk
Difficulty

9.8mi 1,745ft 5-6h

The Loch Lee Glen Esk Circular Walk is a beautifully scenic route that will take… Read More

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Loch Garten and Garten Woods Circular Walk

34. Loch Garten and Garten Woods Circular Walk
Difficulty

5.6mi 361ft 2-2.5h

The short but ever so sweet loch Garten and Garten Woods Circular Walk covers just… Read More

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Ryvoan and Lochan Uaine Circuit Walk

35. Ryvoan and Lochan Uaine Circuit Walk
Difficulty

6.2mi 974ft 2.5-3.5h

Walking the Ryvoan and Lochan Uaine Circuit is an easy going experience in Cairngorms National… Read More

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Geal Chàrn Walk

36. Geal Chàrn Walk
Difficulty

7.0mi 2,402ft 2-2.5h

The Geal Chàrn Walk is a 7.0mi out-and-back hillwalk that invites undertakers to… Read More

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Seven Bridges and Knock Castle Circular Walk

37. Seven Bridges and Knock Castle Circular Walk
Difficulty

6.5mi 459ft 2.5-3h

Seven Bridges and Knock Castle Circular Walk is a relaxed 6.5mi route that… Read More

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Ballater Golf Course Walk

38. Ballater Golf Course Walk
Difficulty

2.3mi 256ft 1h

The Ballater Golf Course Walk is an easy going outdoor experience in Ballater that will… Read More

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Beinn a'Chaorainn and Beinn Bhreac Walk

39. Beinn a'Chaorainn and Beinn Bhreac Walk
Difficulty

18.0mi 2,881ft 8-10h

The Beinn a'Chaorainn and Beinn Bhreac Walk is an extensive hillwalk that requires endurance and… Read More

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Lower Glen Feshie and the Frank Bruce Sculpture Trail

40. Lower Glen Feshie and the Frank Bruce Sculpture Trail
Difficulty

2.8mi 400ft 1.5-2h

The 2.8mi Lower Glen Feshie and the Frank Bruce Sculpture Trail Walk in… Read More

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Loch Kinord Pathway

41. Loch Kinord Pathway
Difficulty

2.6mi 177ft 1-1.5h

The Loch Kinord Pathway is a family-friendly walking route that can be found along the… Read More

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Dava Way: Grantown on Spey to Dava

42. Dava Way: Grantown on Spey to Dava
Difficulty

8.4mi 410ft 3.5-4h

The 8.3mi Dava Way: Grantown on Spey to Dava walk is the perfect… Read More

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Creag Mhòr and Loch Avon Walk

43. Creag Mhòr and Loch Avon Walk
Difficulty

18.2mi 2,848ft 8-10h

The Creag Mhòr and Loch Avon Walk is a full-day adventure from Glenmore covering 18.6mi Read More

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Dava Way: Dava to Dunphail

44. Dava Way: Dava to Dunphail
Difficulty

6.5mi 49ft 2.5-3h

The Dava Way: Dava to Dunphail is the second of three stages that comprise the… Read More

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