The Green Lochan (otherwise known as An Lochan Uaine or the Green Loch) is an incredible lake in the Cairngorms National Park in the Highlands of Scotland. The otherworldly green-coloured lake can be explored via a few different routes including the Meall a’ Bhuachaille Circuit or the Ryvoan and Lochan Uaine Circuit.

Personally, we had initially set out to do the Ryvoan and Lochan Uaine Circuit, which starts and finishes at Loch Morlic. But, with Loch Morlic heaving with people, we decided to skip the crowded lake and hike a shorter circular route with the focus of seeing the famous Green Lochan.

If you’re looking for the simplest hiking route to see the Green Lochan, this is the right guide for you. We’ll show you an efficient and straightforward route to see this mesmerising lake. If you’re not convinced about the beauty of the Green Lochan, check out our YouTube production below to fuel your hiking wanderlust. Otherwise, this guide will cover all the necessary details you’ll need for visiting the Green Lochan.

For another adventure in the Cairngorms National Park, read our guide on hiking to Ben Macdui – Scotland’s second-highest mountain.

The Green Lochan | Half Day Trip

Visiting the Green Lochan is a worthwhile itinerary addition when exploring the Cairngorms National Park. Hiking the Green Lochan Circuit should only take a couple of hours. So, unless you plan on chilling out or swimming at the lake, you’d probably only need half a day to explore the Green Lochan.

Green Lochan Hike Preview

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 6.7km
  • Time: 1.5 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 130m
  • Difficulty: Very Easy
  • Trailhead: Free street parking near Glenmore Forest Park Visitor Centre

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Green Lochan Circuit

Starting near the Glenmore Forest Park Visitor Centre, you’ll initially pass the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre to your right. A defined path will then lead you to a fork, turn right and you’ll begin to gently ascend towards the forest. Keep an eye out for blue waymarkers, which lead you by some gorgeous Scot Pines in the Glenmore National Nature Reserve.

 Scot Pines in the Glenmore National Nature Reserve
Scot Pines in the Glenmore National Nature Reserve

As you gain elevation, you’ll have sweeping views of the Cairngorm mountain ranges to your right. Interestingly, even well into summer, the ranges hold a hefty chunk of snow. The trail will soon start to narrow and become rougher underfoot. You’ll then reach a series of boardwalks that descend towards the Green Lochan. In this section of the trail, you’ll be surrounded by forest and so it feels very calming. Eventually, you’ll converge onto a large dirt path, that leads you directly to the Green Lochan.

Beck admires the Green Lochan
Beck admires the Green Lochan

The wide trail runs adjacent to the lake; so, we’d recommend following the trail to access the northernmost section of the lake. On your way, you’ll catch glimpses of the loch through the dense forest that really highlights its amazing green colour. From the northern tip of the lake, the views are absolutely stunning.

Views from the northern tip of Green Lochan
Views from the northern tip of Green Lochan

Otherwise, there are many different side trails leading down to different entry points into the lake. Find one that suits you!

Dan hiking up one of the many side trails leading to the Green Lochan
Dan hiking up one of the many side trails leading to the Green Lochan

Return Journey

After you’ve explored the Green Lochan, it’s time for the return hike. Simply retrace your steps on the wide dirt trail and then turn left on the outward route that descends the glen. This wide dirt trail is flat and gently winds its way through the forest, back towards Glenmore. Given the simple trail and easy terrain, this is a great stretch of the route to speed hike.

What is speed hiking? Read our definitive guide on speed hiking to find out more. You may already be a speed hiker without even knowing!

This outward track will eventually reach a fork. Turn right for the quickest exit route to the Glenmore Park Visitor Centre, which continues to follow the blue waymarked track and runs parallel to Glenmore Lodge Road. However, depending on where you parked (more information on parking below), it may be better to turn left at the fork. By doing so, you’ll follow only a slightly longer route, passing Glenmore Lodge to your right and following the purple waymarked route. You’ll then turn right when this path meets a track positioned next to the stream of Allt na Feithe Duibhe. With the quaint cascading stream to your left, the trail will lead you back to Cairngorm Road where your adventure concludes!

The Green Lochan Recap

The Green Lochan is a mesmerising natural attraction, that is easy to access with the hiking route described above. By following this route, you’ll be visiting one of the highlights of the Cairngorms National Park. So, make sure to add it to your to-do list when hiking in the area.

For more information on how to get there, a fantastic nearby accommodation option and hiking essentials, continue below.

There are many great spots for a photo at the Green Lochan
There are many great spots for a photo at the Green Lochan

For more hiking content in Scotland, check out our West Highlands, Loch Lomond and NC500 guides.

Getting to Scotland

Flights: To do this trip from abroad, fly to Inverness. When booking flights, use Skyscanner to search for the cheapest flights. When flying abroad, we always get the ball rolling with a Skyscanner search. Although, with the pandemic, we recommend booking directly with the airline, because it will be much easier to cancel or reschedule flights if need be.

Additionally, if you’re UK or US-based, you should sign up to Jack’s Flight Club for the best flight deal alert service. By simply subscribing to the free weekly newsletter or buying premium membership, you could save lots of money on international travel. For the Aussies, we recommend subscribing to I Want That Flight for the best flight deal alerts.

Getting to the Green Lochan

Using public transport, it’s possible to get a bus (M10/M90) from Inverness to Aviemore and then the 37 bus from Aviemore to the Glenmore Forest Park Visitor Centre, which is the trailhead for the Green Lochan Circuit. However, this would be a time-consuming way to get there and so, we recommend driving. There is free street parking (see pin below) near the Glenmore Foret Park Visitor Centre. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, consider renting with RentalCars.com – they have an unbeatable free cancellation policy.

Accommodation

After camping in the West Highlands for six nights, we decided to treat ourselves with a proper roof over our heads for a couple of nights.

When searching for accommodation in the Cairngorms National Park, you’ll find most options are located in Aviemore and are very expensive. Thankfully, OYO Braeriach Hotel in Newtonmore is a fantastic option for those wanting to stay in the Cairngorms without the ridiculous prices. For only £43/night (if they’re still offering this special rate), you’ll be based opposite the magnificent Grampians mountain range and only a half an hour drive to the Green Lochan Circuit trailhead.

At the OYO Braeriach Hotel, expect friendly and accommodating staff, who help with a seamless check-in. The rooms are warm and cosy with beautiful mountain views. Despite the rooms being small, they’ll have everything you need for a pleasant short stay. Conveniently, there’s a pub downstairs and free street parking.

OYO Braeriach Hotel is a great budget option for staying in the Cairngorms National Park
OYO Braeriach Hotel is a great budget option for staying in the Cairngorms National Park

Five Hiking Gear Essentials for the Green Lochan

These are our five hiking gear essentials for exploring the Green Lochan. For a more comprehensive hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Otherwise, for a general summary of everything you’d need for a trip, visit our Ultimate Packing Checklist.

Hiking Essential

Why do you need this?

See it in action

These hiking boots are super comfortable and are well suited for the Green Lochan Circuit

When visiting the Cairngorms National Pak, you'll need layers. This jacket is a high-quality fleece that is warm and compact

Scotland sees plenty of rain; so, a waterproof jacket is a must for hiking here. Beck loves the North Face Venture 2 Jacket. It's a high-quality waterproof and windproof jacket that keeps her dry on wet days hiking

A fantastic backpack for hiking, which has plenty of storing capacity and a convenient compartmet for a hydration bladder

The GoPro Hero 9 is the best action camera on the market

Trail Navigation

The Green Lochan Circuit is a simple and easy route to follow; but, if you’re unfamiliar with the area, it may be worth having GPS directions. Feel free to use our Wikiloc GPS-guided map.

For those not so prepared, if you’re needing navigation help during your hike and don’t have any phone reception, consider using Maps.me. Although, you need to have at least downloaded the map of the general area beforehand.

Bonus Tips

  • Visit early: the Green Lochan is a fairly well-known attraction. After hiking to the Falls of Glomach in the West Highlands in the morning, we arrived for the Green Lochan Circuit around mid-afternoon. By this time, the trail was fairly busy and quite a few people were at the loch. Visit early for a more peaceful and quiet experience!
  • Explore other areas of the Cairngorms National Park: there’s obviously more to the Cairngorms than just the Green Lochan. This national park has plenty of other beautiful trails to explore.
  • Head to Newtonmore Grill: if you end up staying in Newtonmore, you must eat at Newtonmore Grill. Whether it’s a hearty Scottish breakfast or greasy fry-up of an evening, you’ll be pleased with a meal at this local institution.

Please leave us a comment belowwe’d love to answer any of your questions about the Green Lochan.


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