The 9 best hikes and trails in the Scottish Highlands

The Scottish Highlands have a certain magic that draws me in every time I visit. One of the main reasons I keep coming back to this remote wilderness is because it allows me to escape the hustle and bustle of our modern world and find inner peace and tranquility.

One of the best ways to explore the Scottish Highlands is on foot on the many hiking trails that dot the wilderness.

I’ve listed my absolute favorite hikes and walks in the Scottish Highlands below. You’ll find some popular hikes on the list, as well as some hidden gems that I know you’ll love too.

1. Scottish Highlands Treks – Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis, just outside Fort William, is the highest mountain in the British Isles and one of the most popular hiking destinations in the Scottish Highlands, with around 125,000 visitors a year.

The hike is best suited for more advanced walkers as the trail to the summit is long, involves challenging terrain and can be quite steep in parts.

The walk is about 13km including the descent back down. Takes about 8 hours to complete.

Ben Nevis was once an active volcano that erupted and collapsed millions of years ago to form the current mountain, part of the Grampians.

Local tipChoose your route carefully based on your skill level and be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions. An early morning start works best as the weather becomes more unpredictable as the day progresses.

2. The birds of Aberfeldy

The Brisk of Aberfeldy, just outside the charming Perthshire town of Aberfeldy, was one of Robert Burns’s (famous Scottish poet) favorite places in Scotland and the subject of his folk song of the same name. The Birks of Aberfeldy is about a circular walk around a picturesque burn.

The Birks of Aberfeldy walk takes you through a thick forest of ancient birches, past the falls known as Mones Falls. It’s a short but impressive walk. Just be prepared as there are many steps involved.

Local tipThe circular walk is 3.5 km and takes several hours to complete. I recommend going clockwise as this gives the best views of the falls.

Birks of Aberfeldy - The best hikes in the Scottish Highlands

3. Glencoe Valley – The beauty of the Scottish Highlands

Glencoe is a stunning and magical valley filled with lakes, mountains and waterfalls and offers hiking trails for all abilities.

Apart from being a popular hiking destination, Glencoe is also known for its dark history. In 1692, 38 members of the MacDonald clan were killed by government soldiers. This tragic event went down in history as the Massacre of Glencoe.

The countless hiking trails in the valley are just itching to be explored. One of these is a hike through the Lost Valley, which is said to be where the MacDonald clan hid their stolen cattle. It takes several hours to complete this 4 km walk. Be aware that it involves sections of steep climbing, but offers some spectacular views.

Local tip: Insects can be a problem during the summer. Bring insect repellent and wear long-sleeved clothing to avoid bites.

Glencoe Valley - Scottish Highlands Hikes and Trails

4. Clachan Trail – Trails of the Scottish Highlands

There are many great walks in Perthshire’s Tay Forest Park, but one of my favorites is the Clachan Trail.

This walk takes you into a deep coniferous forest. One of the highlights of this walk is passing the abandoned farming settlement of Klacha, which has been untouched for two centuries.

The walking is fairly easy with some gradual ascents and mud with some uneven ground after wet weather.

The Clachan Trail is 3km and takes around 1 hour to complete.

Local tipBring a torch so you can glimpse the remains of ancient settlements.

Clachan Trail - Hiking in Scotland

5. The West Highland Way

This mammoth hiking trail stretches 154km from Milngavie near Glasgow to Fort William. It passes through some of Scotland’s most scenic spots, including Loch Lomond and Glencoe.

The West Highland Way can be walked in either direction, but most people walk from south to north. The walk usually takes 7 to 9 days to complete.

Local tipBook accommodation in advance to avoid disappointment, especially during peak periods.

6. Brewery Falls

Brewery Falls is a hidden gem in Perthshire and is included in a wonderful circular walk. During the 1.5 hour walk, you will see many beautiful water cascades that pass by the scenic burn.

The shortest circular walk to the lower falls is only 22 minutes. However, I would strongly recommend a longer hike that includes the upper falls as they are even more impressive than the lower falls.

The falls feature in the poem “The Humble Petition Of Bruar Water” by the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns.

Local tipAt the start of the walk there is a Shopping Center called the House of Bruar which offers free parking. The mall has been created to showcase the best of Scottish clothing, produce, art and fashion. It also has a number of food places where you can dine before or after your walk.

Brewery Falls - Best Hikes in Scotland

7. Great Glen Way

The Great Glen Way is another epic walk, but not as long as the West Highlands. The trail follows the Caledonian Canal and stretches 117 kilometers from Fort William to Inverness. You will be rewarded with stunning views of Loch Ness, although a monster sighting is not guaranteed.

The walk usually takes 5-7 days, although some experienced hikers have achieved it in 3-4 days, and slower walkers can take 10 days or more.

Local tipBook accommodation in advance to avoid disappointment, especially during peak periods.

8. The Five Sisters of Kintail

Located near the village of Shiel Bridge at the southern end of Loch Deutch, this trail is one of the more difficult on this list. The Five Sisters of Kintail is one of Scotland’s most famous massifs and offers incredible panoramic views not only of the mountains but also of the surrounding stunning scenery.

The hiking trail requires good physical condition. It includes several steep ascents and descents as well as trekking through rocky terrain.

The hike is approximately 12.5 km long and usually takes 6 to 8 hours.

Local tipCheck the weather forecast before starting a hike, as the trail can become slippery and dangerous in wet or windy conditions.

9. The Little Old Man

Located on the Isle of Skye, Storie’s Old Man is a towering rock formation that provides incredible views of Skye.

The hill has a steep rocky eastern face overlooking Raasa Sound. Meanwhile, there is a gentler grassy slope on the western side. The climb to this remarkable viewpoint is steep, but well worth the effort.

The hike is about 3.8 km long and takes several hours to complete.

Local tipIt is recommended to check the weather forecast before starting a hike. Wet and windy conditions make the trail slippery.

These are some of my favorite hikes in the Scottish Highlands. What is your favorite Scottish walk?

Biography of the author.

Ella McKendrick is a travel content creator and writer who loves traveling off the beaten path and encouraging you to do the same.

Ready to book a trip? Go to my travel resources page for the best planning advice and booking tools.

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