Glentress Forest – guide for visiting this underrated forest park in 2023


Scotland is full of beautiful forests and we've written about many of them, including the amazing Galloway Forest Park. But we feel that Glentress Forest deserves much more recognition and we think it is seriously underrated. It's less than an hour away from Edinburgh (just outside Peebles) and it's essentially the gateway to the impressive Tweed Valley Forest Park (another area well worth a visit), and not too far from the other Scottish Attractions such as the North Coast 500 and Kintyre 66. That's why we decided to publish a big guide about the forest, all updated for 2023. Let's get into the guide:


What is there to do at Glentress Forest?
What are the popular mountain bike trails within the forest?
Visiting the forest in 2023

What is there to do at Glentress Forest?

Glentress Forest is undoubtedly best known for the various mountain biking trails you'll find throughout the forest (more on those later), but there is so much else to see and do there during your visit. This includes:


Walking trails - the walking trails at Glentress Forest vary in length and difficulty, which is what makes them so great. The most popular walking trails would include:
  • Ponds Trail - this short walk with firm gravel underfoot is ideal for a casual stroll with young children in tow. At less than 1km long it won't show you much of the forest, but you'll get to wander around the Glentress ponds where you might get the chance to see herons and possibly even red squirrels.


  • Glen Trail - this is another slightly shorter trail but is still quite lengthy at 2 miles long and should take most people around 1 hour to complete. This trail will take you around Glentress Burn and includes a few sloping sections.


  • Time Trail - despite the name there is no time limit for completing this trail! Time Trail is just over 2 miles long and shouldn't take much more than an hour to complete. This trail is ideal if you want views without having to walk for miles as it takes you relatively high up and provides views of the Peebles to the Caddon Hills


  • Buzzard's Nest Trail - this is the second-longest trail in the forest and has quite a steep incline, but at only 3 miles long it's still pretty accessible. As the name suggests, you'll get the chance to see lots of different trees along this route including Scots pine, Douglas fir, and Norway spruce (keep an eye out for buzzards). The longest inclines on this trail stretch for more than 400m so definitely come dressed for a hike


  • Tower Trail - this is the longest and most strenuous trail of all at Glentress Forest Park, and at almost 6 miles long and with an incline of 500m at parts, you'll probably need about 4 hours to complete this one. Terrain includes grass and mud, so good footwear is also a must!


Wildlife - your trip here may not quite be a Safari tour to a Tanzanian National park, but  there is a variety of wildlife to see and hear during your visit to Glentress Forest Park, this includes buzzards, red squirrels, herons, and roe deer. If you want to see herons then your best bet is the Ponds Trail, whereas the longer Tower Trail is best for spotting roe deer.

What are the popular mountain bike trails?

Glentress Forest National Park is home to 5 main mountain biking trails, as well as a freeride area and a skills area. These are among the best mountain biking trails in the country and are well worth a visit if you're a wizard on 2 wheels. However even if you're a total beginner there is something here for you too. Let's look at each route individually:

  • The Lower Green Route - at just over 2 miles this trail is ideally suited to beginners and anyone who wants to explore the beauty of the forest without any steep climbs


  • The Upper Green Route - This trail is probably what we'd describe as the best bang for your buck - for not a lot of effort (less than 3 miles) you get to enjoy some stunning views of Peebles and the Tweed Valley
  • The Glentress Blue Route - this trail is nice for beginners and more experienced riders alike because if you wish to stop early then there are plenty of finishing points along the trail. It's 10 miles long so while not a walk in the park, it's also not overly challenging for most


  • The Glentress Red Route - this is where things start to get a bit more serious - the red route at Glentress is world-renowned and probably the most popular trail at the forest. It's only just under 20km in length but the mix of terrains and climbs/descents makes it one for more experienced riders for sure


  • The Glentress Black Route - this is the longest and most technical of all of the mountain biking trails at Glentress and is definitely one for more experienced riders. However, if you're up to the challenge then you'll be rewarded with thrilling descents



Visiting Glentress Forest in 2022

Before you visit Glentress Forest Park, there are a few things to be aware of:

First of all, it's a good idea to decide beforehand whether you're looking for a challenging walk/bike or something a bit more gentle. For walking, gentle trails can all be found near the visitor centres. You should also make sure you dress appropriately for any weather (you are in Scotland after all).

Parking your car at Glentress Forest Park is pretty straightforward. The best-known car parks are Buzzard’s Nest, Falla Brae, and Peel. A day ticket will cost you £6 and there is a £1 bikewash at Peel which you might need if you tackle one of the trickier mountain biking trails!

The Go Ape course at Glentress features a 325-metre-long zip wire across a valley that's 160ft high, plus there is a treetop challenge which involves lots of climbing and is definitely one to check out if you like a challenge.


If you enjoyed this guide, check out our guides about Arran, Jura, Eigg, and Mull. Also, if you're looking for a good walk near Galloway Forest Park then check out the Borders Abbey Way. If you want to learn more about other forests in the UK then we have guides about Bwlch Nant yr Arian and Coed y Brenin.

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Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

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