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Conic Hill Walk, Balmaha: The Ultimate Guide

Conic Hill Walk, Balmaha: The Ultimate Guide

Conic Hill is a well-known and famous hill in Balmaha, Scotland. Indeed, the Conic Hill Walk, starting from the charming village of Balmaha, is a classic Scottish hill walk and one of the most popular walks in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about the Conic Hill Walk from Balmaha. After describing the Conic Hill route, we’ll talk all things logistics. This will include details about how to get there, where to park (Conic Hill Car Park) and where to stay in Balmhaa.

A Loch Lomond cruise is an unforgettable experience. Make sure to do a Loch Lomond Cruise during your visit to the national park.

About Conic Hill in Balmaha

Climbing Conic Hill is one of the most quintessential things you can do in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. From the summit of this hill, you’ll enjoy a sweeping view across Loch Lomond. Indeed, the views from the hill’s peak are some of the best views of the renowned loch.

So, exactly where is Conic Hill located?

Walking towards Balmaha and the Balmaha Lodges during the Conic Hill Walk

Where Is Conic Hill?

The hill is located in Balmaha and is east of the famous Loch Lomond. To help get your bearings, please click on the image below to access an interactive map of the area.

A screenshot of a map showing the location of Conic Hill and Balmaha

Conic Hill Walk Statistics

Below, you’ll find trail specs for the Conic Hill Walk, starting from the quaint village of Balmaha.

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 4km (2.5 miles)
  • Time: 1.5 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 315m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead: Conic Hill Car Park

Conic Hill Walk Maps (OS and GPS)

Personally, Beck and I used a GPS-guided map to help us navigate the route. Although, trail navigation is quite easy as the route is very well-defined, signposted and straightforward. Safe to say, you won’t be needing to heavily rely upon a map.

A screenshot of a map showing the Conic Hill Walk

Conic Hill Walk: Terrain and Profile

From the Conic Hill Car Park in Balmaha, you’ll initially follow a well-defined woodland trail through Balmaha Plantation. You’ll then follow the main path, which includes well-made stone steps to an initial viewpoint. Then, you’ll follow a steeper and rockier path, that ascends to the summit of the hill.

To climb Conic Hill, you’ll gain around 315 metres in elevation. In reality, for a 2km one-way walk to a summit, it’s actually quite steep! More or less, you’ll have a gradual incline, starting in Balmaha Plantation, all of the way to the summit of the hill.

Elevation profile for the Conic Hill Walk

Conic Hill Trail: Walk Description

Below, we’ll briefly describe the Conic Hill Walk. Here, our intention isn’t to explain the walk step-by-step. After all, it’s a fairly simple and self-explanatory walk. Rather, our aim here is to provide a snappy overview. Whilst doing so, we’ll reveal highlights of the walk, showing you some nice photos of the splendid views over Loch Lomond.

Where to Start: From Balmaha

From the Conic Hill Car Park in Balmaha, you’ll find the trailhead for the walk. Almost immediately, you’ll turn right, joining the multi-day West Highland Way path, and entering the Balmaha Plantation. It’s an exceptionally beautiful woodland area with a set of enchanting steps.

Walking Along the Highland Boundary Fault

By doing this walk, you’ll be trodding along the Highland boundary fault line, which separates the Scottish lowlands and highlands. Conic Hill and the string of small islands across Loch Lomond, such as Inchcailloch Island, all fall on this fault line.

This line of islands is easily recognisable from one of the initial viewpoints at around 200 metres above sea level. It’s at this viewpoint, that you’ll likely see some people congregated taking photos and having a breather.

Conic Hill Summit

After some further climbing, soon enough, you’ll be near the summit of the hill. The trail veers to the right as you steeply ascend the hill to reach the peak at 358 metres above sea level. There are actually two summits, with the peak further north, reaching a height of 361 metres above sea level.

Personally, Beck and I visited the higher peak first, before making our way to the official summit, where, you’ll enjoy stellar views of the national park. In particular, you’ll enjoy fine views of Loch Lomond, its islands and of Ben Lomond and the Arrochar Alps.

To complete the walk, you’ll simply retrace your steps to return to the Conic Hill Car Park in Balmaha!

Views from Conic Hill, during the walk from Balmaha, where you'll find Balmaha Lodges

Other Conic Hill Route Options

Other than the popular out and back route described above, the Conic Hill Circular Walk is another route option. This circular walk explores more of the multi-day West Highland Way. But, this route does involve quite a lot of road walking along the B837 to return to Balmaha. So, we don’t recommend the circular walk.

Otherwise, the Conic Hill and Millenium Forest Path is a shorter circular walk option that’s becoming more popular. This route explores more of the lovely forested area of Balmaha, before summiting Conic Hill.

Drymen to Balmaha: The West Highland Way

By doing the Conic Hill Walk, you’ll be following a section of the multi-day West Highland Way. The Drymen to Balmaha section of the West Highland Way uses the same path as you’ll use to do the return walk from Balmaha. You may even see walkers doing the West Highland Way, coming from the opposite direction (from Drymen) and meeting you at the top of the hill, before joining you on the walk to Balmaha!

Dan at Conic Hill during the West Highland Way
Dan at Conic Hill during the West Highland Way

Conic Hill Trail Upgrades

Recently, there have been repairs and upgrades to the main path leading from the Balmaha Plantation to Conic Hill. Please keep in mind that these repairs are ongoing. So, there may be trail route alternatives and detours in place during times of repair. Sometimes, the trail may even close. This was the case in early 2023.

How to Get to Balmaha

To do the walk described in this guide, you’ll need to get to Balmaha. The quickest and easiest way to get there is to drive there yourself. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, we recommend hiring a car using Rentalcars.com. You’ll find a wide variety of cars on Rental Cars for reasonable prices. The website is user-friendly and booking online is super easy.

Conic Hill Car Park

Once you arrive in Balmaha, simply follow signs to the Conic Hill Car Park (AKA the Balmaha Car Park), which is where the Balmaha Visitor Centre is also located. This car park is a Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park authority car park. So, you’ll have to pay for parking within certain times. Personally, we paid £2.60 for parking. But, charges and parking rules are set by the Stirling council and are continuously changing.

Personally, after the walk, Beck and I visited the national park visitor centre located at the car park. You’ll find educational displays and information boards detailing the area.

Balmaha Visitor Centre at the Conic Hill Car Park, where the Conic Hill Walk begins.
Balmaha Visitor Centre at the Conic Hill Car Park

Public Transport

It’s possible to get public transport to Balmaha to do the Conic Hill Walk. Your best bet is to get yourself to Balloch, which is the gateway town of the national park. It’s possible to catch a direct train from Glasgow to Balloch. From Balloch, you can catch a bus (#309) to Balmaha. We recommend using Google Maps and Trainline to help plan your journey.

Balmaha Accommodation

Balmaha is a charming small village. Indeed, it’s a great place to base yourself for the Conic Hill Walk as well as for exploring the national park in general. Below, we’ll reveal the best budget, mid-range and luxurious accommodation options in Balmaha.

Birchwood Guest Lodge (Budget)

Balmaha isn’t teaming with budget accommodation options. For the most affordable stay, we recommend staying at the Birchwood Guest Lodge. This highly-rated modern lodge is certainly a popular option in the village. Another decent budget option is the Balmaha Bunkhouse and a popular option for those doing the West Highland Way.

Oak Tree Inn (Mid-range)

The Oak Tree Inn is the go-to pub in the village and the country inn also has fantastic accommodation on-site.

Balmaha Lodges (Luxury)

The Balmaha Lodges and Apartments are one of the most popular accommodation options in the village. Many of the rooms at Balmaha Lodges and Apartments feature a balcony with exceptional views of Loch Lomond. Balmaha Lodges also offer a fully-equipped kitchen, so you’ll be able to be self-sufficient with cooking all of your meals.

The Other Best Loch Lomond Walks

There are plenty of other awesome walks to do in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Below, we’ll detail the best Loch Lomond walks, all of which, we completed ourselves.

Read more: 26 Best Loch Lomond Walks Guide

Beck and Dan at Ben Vorlich
Ben Vorlich

FAQs

Below, you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about Conic Hill.

Dan walks up a trail

Is Conic Hill Open?

Yes, it’s usually always open. As mentioned, it can close during times of repair. Check the official Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park website for updates.

How High Is Conic Hill?

It’s 361 metres high.

Is Conic Hill a Munro?

No, a Munro is a Scottish mountain that’s higher than 914 metres (3,000 feet).

Is Conic Hill a Corbett?

No, Conic Hill is classified as a Marilyn, which is a hill with a prominence higher than 150 metres (492 feet) regardless of overall height.

What Village Is Near Conic Hill?

Balmaha.

How Long Does It Take to Walk Up Conic Hill?

The Conic Hill walk time is around 90 minutes.

Is Conic Hill Hard to Climb?

The trail is very easy to navigate but it’s quite steep. Of course, rating difficulty is very subjective. In the grand scheme of Scotland walks, it’s classified as easy; but, given the accumulated elevation gain, a difficulty rating of moderate wouldn’t be totally out of the question.

Is Conic Hill Part of the West Highland Way?

Yes. Please read Drymen to Balmaha: The West Highland Way for more information.

Is Conic Hill Suitable For Kids?

Of course, you’ll know your child’s ability best. But, certainly, the Conic Hill Walk is more appropriate for children than many other harder walks in the national park.

Is Conic Hill Dog Friendly?

There are some restrictions in place during the lambing season (usually April to May). Typically, during lambing season, it’s still possible to take dogs to the summit of the hill (on a lead). But, dog walking isn’t allowed on fields beyond the Burn of Mar. This means, during lambing season, you won’t be able to do the circular walk with your doggo.

What to Wear and Take

Below, you’ll find our gear essentials for this walk.

For a longer hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Items You Must Travel With. For a general list of everything else you’d need for travelling, read our Packing Checklist.

Bonus Tips

  • There are bathrooms at the Conic Hill Car Park: head inside the national park visitor centre for access to toilet facilities.
  • Head to the Oak Tree Inn: after the walk, make sure to head to the Oak Tree Inn for a pint!
  • The Millenium Forest Path: this trail explores the shores of Loch Lomond. This could be a great choice for an extra walk, which also starts at the Conic Hill Car Park. As mentioned, you can do the Conic Hill and Millenium Forest combined circular walk. But, certainly, both the Conic Hill Walk and the Millenium Forest Path can be completed separately.

Please leave us a comment, we’d love to hear from you.

Daniel Piggott

Physiotherapist turned travel blogger, Dan is a keen hiker, natural wonder seeker and world traveller. He loves writing travel guides to help his readers explore the most beautiful destinations in the world.

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