Hiking Ben Lomond is one of the best, not to mention the most popular walks in Scotland. The outstanding mountain track to Ben Lomond can be found in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, just a short distance north of Glasgow. If you’re looking for a challenging yet straightforward Munro to bag, then Ben Lomond is the mountain for you.
In this guide, we’ll talk a little about where Ben Lomond mountain is and how to get there. We’ll provide a GPS map and trail description, before discussing the best time of year for hiking Ben Lomond as well as where to stay. Lastly, we’ll look at other hikes to do in the area, what to pack and answer a few commonly asked questions regarding the Ben Lomond walk.
To see footage of the Ben Lomond walk in Scotland, please watch our 2 Phenomenal Loch Lomond Hikes YouTube production.
For other incredible mountain hikes in Scotland, check out our guides on The Ring of Steall, Beinn Alligin and Bidean Nam Bian. Otherwise, read our 2 Phenomenal Loch Lomond Hikes in 1 Epic Day post, where we give an overview of how to squeeze two excellent walks into one awesome day of hiking.
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About Ben Lomond Scotland
Ben Lomond is the most southerly of all Scotland’s Munros. At 974m high, it’s by no means Scotland’s highest peak, but the walk, views and proximity to Glasgow make Ben Lomond easily one of the most popular Scottish mountains for keen hikers.
Ben Lomond mountain lies within the Ben Lomond National Memorial Park – a war memorial to commemorate all those who have fallen in battle. It’s managed by National Trust for Scotland. The wider area around Ben Lomond lies within Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. The park itself is the fourth largest national park in the UK and contains 21 Munros. So, hiking Ben Lomond isn’t the only excellent mountain walk to be had in these southern parts of the Scottish Highlands.
The name Ben Lomond, means ‘beacon mountain’, no doubt in reference to the large mountain being a meeting point of various ancient boundary lines. In Scottish Gaelic, Ben Lomond is known as Beinn Laomainn.
When hiking Ben Lomond, the main walking track is referred to as the Mountain Path or ‘tourist route’. This trail has a slightly more gentle ascent up Ben Lomond mountain, on often paved or stone sections. The trail traverses the Sròn Aonaich Ridge, before a steep climb to the summit.
After the tourist route, the most popular ascent to Ben Lomond is hiking via the Ptarmigan Ridge track. This trail option is steeper and rockier. Dan and I combined both routes, ascending via the Mountain Path and descending via the Ptarmigan Ridge path, making a truly excellent looped trail.
Where Is Ben Lomond?
Ben Lomond sits at the southern border of the Scottish Highlands. Its peak falls within the wider area of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, which lies a little north of the city of Glasgow and west of Stirling. Of course, Ben Lomond’s proximity to Scotland’s south and more densely populated areas means hiking here is extremely popular. It’s, by far, one of the most accessible of all of Scotland’s Munros, attracting 30,000 hikers each year.
How to Hike Ben Lomond
As touched upon, there are a few different routes to hiking Ben Lomond. These include:
- Mountain Path (AKA the Tourist Path): the most popular and easiest ascent of Ben Lomond. Although it’s worth noting, hiking Ben Lomond is no easy feat. With that in mind, most hikers will ascend and descend Ben Lomond mountain as an out and back using the Tourist Path.
- Ptarmigan Ridge: this slightly harder route provides some truly wonderful views of Loch Lomond. Dan and I chose to hike up Ben Lomond via the Tourist Route, and descend via Ptarmigan Ridge, so we’ll describe this trail option below.
- Gleann Dubh: known as hiking Ben Lomond via the back door, this trail option is infinitely quieter than the previous two but will require more hiking experience to complete. The climb through Coire a’ Bhaithaich alone makes this route a very worthwhile option.
How to Get to Ben Lomond
For the walk up Ben Lomond, you’ll need to get to the small village of Rowardennan, where you’ll find the start of the mountain hike. As Ben Lomond mountain sits to the south of the Highlands, accessing the walk here is very straightforward. Ben Lomond mountain is just an hour’s drive and 33 miles (53km) from both Glasgow and Stirling. In fact, arriving from Edinburgh isn’t totally out of the question either at just a two hour and 74 miles (119km) drive away.
The easiest way to get to Ben Lomond and Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park is with your own set of wheels. If you don’t have a car, then we recommend hiring something. When hiring a car, we always get the ball rolling with a search on RentalCars.com. Booking a car with Rentalcars.com is easy and stress-free, plus they offer an unbeatable free cancellation policy too.
Of course, you may prefer to do the Ben Lomond walk using public transport. If that’s the case, then your best option is to get to either Glasgow or Stirling and travel from there. But, there is no direct transport to the trailhead all year round.
Glasgow to Ben Lomond
If using public transport, you will need to take the train from Glasgow Queen Street Station or the bus from Buchanan Street to Tarbet. You can check the bus timetable here and the train timetable here.
From Tarbet, you can take a summer ferry (April–November) across to Rowardennan and to the trailhead for the hike to Ben Lomond. The crossing of Loch Lomond takes around 45 minutes and you can check fares and timetables here. So, as you can see, if using public transport, it’s only really viable to walk to Ben Lomond mountain in the summer.
Ben Lomond Car Park
The car park for hiking Ben Lomond, either the Mountain/Tourist Route or the Ptarmigan Ridge route, can be found in Rowardennan. The Ben Lomond Car Park sits right on the banks of Loch Lomond and this lakeside spot is the perfect place to relax after hiking Ben Lomond mountain. Plus, you’ll get to soak up more of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.
You can also find toilets here.
The car park, understandably, fills up quickly. If the Ben Lomond Car Park is full, you’ll find an overflow car park 400 metres (0.25 miles) south of Rowardennan. Please don’t park in laybys or park illegally. Aside from being a hazard and preventing emergency vehicle access, you’ll likely get a ticket too. Having said all that, Dan and I hiked Ben Lomond in the afternoon and managed to grab a spot in the main car park. But, perhaps our luck was in.
There is a small charge for parking in Ben Lomond Car Park. When we visited in 2021, it was £5 for the day and only payable by coins. As far as we know, the overflow car park is free. But, please do let other travellers know in the comments below if there are some updates on pricing and payment methods.
This small village is mostly set up for hikers and campers. Especially those completing the West Highland Way hike, which passes through. Aside from hotels and other lodgings, you won’t find much in the way of amenities in Rowardennan. For snacks, packed lunch options, or fuel, you should consider stocking up around the Glasgow area first.
Hiking Ben Lomond Map & Preview
- Trail Type: Loop
- Distance: 12.5km
- Time: 4–6 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 1,000m
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Trailhead: Ben Lomond Car Park
- Map: Wikiloc
Ben Lomond Hike
Below, we’ll describe hiking Ben Lomond via the Mountain (Tourist) Path and descending via the Ptarmigan Ridge track. The 12.5km route, with 1,000m elevation gain is a tough climb. But, with the volume of other hikers, you’ll be in good company as you dig deep to reach the summit. Fingers crossed for good views!
Ben Lomond Trailhead
From the Ben Lomand Car Park, you’ll find the trailhead at the information building. Head through here and continue the path straight on. The initial stages of the hike lead through the Creagan Breac woodland, which makes for a beautiful start to the hike, teasing views of the surrounding Highland landscape as you climb ever higher.
At around the 1.4km mark, you’ll cross a small footbridge, before the final few sections of the woodland walk. Soon enough, you’ll have climbed above the Creagan Brac and will enter an open section of the trail.
Loch Lomond Views
After exiting the tree cover, you will now get your first views of Loch Lomond from this elevated position. The famous loch stretches as far as the eye can see and looks incredibly impressive. Who knew there were so many islands dotted within? Still, there is work left to be done to summit Ben Lomond mountain.
Ben Lomond Track to the Summit
From here, the track to Ben Lomond is open and steep. You’ll continue a steady ascent until you reach Sron Aonaich (577m). This marks the shoulder of Ben Lomond mountain and is actually where the trail elevation eases slightly. A long rocky track leads the eye toward the final summit cone of Ben Lomond.
From this minor plateau section of hiking Ben Lomond, you’ll find the views are truly beautiful back over Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.
Ben Lomond Peak
The final push to the Ben Lomond peak sees two short switchback sections of track completed before the last stretch to the summit. It’s hard going but the peak of Ben Lomond is so close. A cairn marks the highest point.
The summit views from Ben Lomond are spectacular. As well as the incredible views of the islands of Loch Lomond to the south, you’ll also get to enjoy an amazing view east over the Trossachs, with Loch Chon and Loch Àrd in the distance.
Dan and I had a fair bit of low cloud to contend with on our hike, but let’s hope you get to enjoy the marvellous 360° views of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.
To return, you can retrace your steps the way you came, or, for something a little more challenging, continue down the Ptarmigan Ridge.
As most visitors seem to return back down the Mountain Path, continuing the Ben Lomond trail on the Ptarmigan Ridge track offers a much quieter hiking experience. In addition, you’ll find more incredible mountain views. The more typical steep drops and dramatic craggy edges.
From the trig point on the top of Ben Lomond, you’ll initially head in a northwest direction. You’ll pass a col before the path takes a southwest direction to, you guessed it – Ptarmigan (729m). The Ben Lomond track to Ptarmigan is steep, much steeper than any section of the Mountain Path ascending Ben Lomond mountain. Take your time.
On the way hiking back down Ptarmigan Ridge from Ben Lomond, be sure to look out for the distinctive outline of Ben Arthur (AKA The Cobbler) in the neighbouring Arrochar Alps.
Return to Ben Lomond Car Park
The steep descent eventually tapers as a more gently sloped track continues through luscious green forestry, with Loch Lomond now to your right. It was at this point of the hike that we could get back to some speed hiking after the steep rocky descent forced us into a more measured approach.
From here, you’ll descend further, meeting the forest once again. You’ll pass a lovely waterfall, the Rowardennan Youth Hostel and a sculpture marking the Ben Lomond National Memorial Park, as you return lakeside where it all started! Make sure to spend a moment taking in the spectacular Loch Lomond!
What’s speed hiking? It’s pushing the pace, covering that trail quicker without losing any of the joy of soaking in your surroundings. Find out more here.
Recap of Hiking Ben Lomond
Don’t ever be put off by a busy hiking trail. They’re usually busy for a reason and hiking Ben Lomond is one of the best day hikes in Scotland. It’s also super family-friendly and we saw plenty of parents taking their young kids out for a challenging hike.
Of course, the elevation gain of hiking Ben Lomond is not to be sniffed at. Certainly, 1,000m is no small climb, but, this hike and its splendid views are surely worth it. Similar to climbing Ben Nevis, Ben Lomond attracts hikers of all ages and abilities. Of course, a general level of fitness is definitely recommended; but, if you set yourself enough hours in the day to accomplish the hike, pack smartly and know your limits, then hiking Ben Lomond is achievable.
When Is the Best Time to Hike Ben Lomond?
As with most of Scotland, hiking Ben Lomond is best to do in the summer months. The summer months in Scotland tend to run from April–October. But, it’s important to remember it’s not unusual to see snow encroaching on either side of this period. If there is still snow in the mountains, then you should definitely reconsider hiking.
Ben Lomond Weather
Dan and I always check the weather before hiking in Scotland. This helps to make an informed decision on the conditions including rain, low mist and wind. You can check the weather forecast for Ben Lomond here. Additionally, you can check a mountain forecast here.
Can You Climb Ben Lomond in Winter?
The mountain is open to hiking all year round, meaning hiking Ben Lomond in winter is certainly possible. However, hiking in winter conditions is very different from summer. Snow-covered trails and peaks present their own dangers. Especially if you’re not accustomed to hiking in these conditions. With that said, hiking Ben Lomond in winter should only be done by those with mountaineering experience, including the use of specialist equipment and the knowledge to use it.
Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park have plenty of other trails which are not a problem to hike in the winter, so, there’s still much to enjoy here in the winter months.
Accommodation For Ben Lomond
If you’re not day hiking from Glasgow, Stirling or Edinburgh, you’ll likely be wanting somewhere to stay close by to Ben Lomond. With so much to enjoy in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, you’ll not be short of accommodation options. As one of Scotland’s busiest and most popular tourist destinations, there’s something for everyone.
Hotels: Ben Lomond
Below, we’ll take a look at some of the best budget, mid-range and luxury hotel options close to Ben Lomond.
Rowardennan Youth Hostel – Budget
Your best budget option, with a great location to boot, is undoubtedly the Rowardennan Youth Hostel. This fantastic lodging option in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park has delightful views of both the loch and the mountains. You can choose to stay in either a dorm or private room and you can even bring your pooch along for the stay.
Rowardennan Hotel – Mid-range
For unbelievably close proximity to Ben Lomond, you can’t go wrong with a stay at the Rowardennan Hotel. This mid-range hotel offers a range of room types, all with ensuite. You can also enjoy some hearty Scottish meals from their onsite bar – The Clansman, as well as Loch Lomond views from the beer garden or rugging up next to the cosy fire in the lounge.
Ben Lomond Lodge – Luxury
Located in Rowardennan, the Ben Lomond Lodge is quite the place to unwind and relax after hiking Ben Lomond. The chalet comes with three bedrooms and enjoys its own beachfront location on Loch Lomond, overlooking the incredible National Park and wider Trossachs area.
Ben Lomond Camping
Close to the Ben Lomond Car Park and trailhead is the Lochan Maoil Dhuinne Campground. This lochside location requires a permit to stay, which you purchase, online before you arrive. You’ll need a permit to camp at Lochan Maoil Dhuinne between March–September. Outside of these months, it’s free to pitch up. Take note, it’s not uncommon for rangers to pass by and ask to see your permit, so make sure you buy one. You can purchase your permit here.
Forestry and Land Scotland operate a campsite a little further down the access road to Rowardennan between March and October. Facilities at Sallochy are basic, but the location is hard to beat. Sallochy requires a booking and is for a tent pitch only.
As with most of Scotland, wild camping is permitted in unenclosed areas. With that in mind, campers need to follow a standard set of guidelines. These include respecting the countryside and staying safe. Read here for more information on wild camping in Scotland.
How Long Does it Take to Walk Ben Lomond?
Walking to Ben Lomond mountain and back can take between 4.5–6 hours.
Can Beginners Climb Ben Lomond?
In short, yes. Ben Lomond is a doable climb for beginners. The trail to the summit is never too steep and the path is well-maintained and easy to follow. So, in that regard, hiking Ben Lomond is actually a fantastic introduction to Munros in Scotland. But, bear in mind there are around 1,000m of elevation gain to be had, which is nothing to sneeze at. In addition, if the weather conditions are poor (white-out, snow etc.) then beginners with less hiking experience should consider waiting to hike Ben Lomond on a clearer day.
Should I Climb Ben Lomond or The Cobbler Ben Arthur in Scotland?
Both! No really, climb both. We did both on the same day, which was amazing if you’re short on time. But really both hikes offer something a little different. The Cobbler will be a quicker hike, whereas Ben Lomond will likely be a busier hike. Both offer incredible views across Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. But, if it’s Munros you’re wanting to bag, then hiking Ben Lomond is the one to go for, as The Cobbler only has Corbett status.
How Easy Is it to Climb Ben Lomond?
If you don’t encounter any adverse weather, then hiking Ben Lomond is generally considered one of the easiest mountains to climb in Scotland. The trail to Ben Lomond is always busy, but the track is well-maintained and very clear to follow. Descending (or ascending) via Ptarmigan Ridge is slightly more difficult. We rate the Ben Lomond walk we did as moderate due to the Ptarmigan Ridge element.
Although the hike is not technically hard, if you are new to hiking, consider summiting Ben Lomond via the Mountain Path track as an out and back.
How High Is Ben Lomond?
Ben Lomond stands at 974m above sea level and is the furthest south Munro in Scotland. In the rankings of Scottish mountains, Ben Lomond is only the 258th highest, with Ben Nevis, of course, taking the title of the highest mountain in Scotland and the whole of the UK.
Where Do You Park to Climb Ben Lomond?
Ben Lomond parking is found at the visitor centre at the trailhead for the walk, in Rowardennan. The Ben Lomond Car Park is pay and display and can fill up quickly. You can find an overflow car park outside of Rowardennan along the access road to Ben Lomond.
Other Nearby Hikes
Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park is more than just hiking Ben Lomond. Although, of course, this popular mountain trail will always be a huge draw to the area. Some other quality hikes around Loch Lomond include the following.
- The Cobbler (Ben Arthur): a superb introduction to the Scottish Highlands is found on the hike to The Cobbler.
- Ben More: the highest of the Munros in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, Ben More deserves a hike if you’ve managed to complete Ben Lomond. The 1,300m ascent is a step up from Ben Lomond, but the views are exquisite and you can see across to Ben Lawers, Loch Tay and to another worthy hike, the Tarmachan Ridge walk.
- Ben A’an: sometimes known as the miniature mountain, the short hike up Ben A’an is another incredibly popular hike in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. The 4km route should only take you a few hours to complete.
- West Highland Way: this splendid multi-day hike begins in Milngavie and traverses 154km to Fort William. The trail passes by the base of Ben Lomond, as the path winds up the eastern shore of Loch Lomond. I suppose, if you were up for it, you could detour from the West Highland Way and walk to summit Ben Lomond. I’ll leave that with you.
- Beinn Narnain: a rough and rocky ascent awaits those wanting to bag this Arrochar Alps Munro. Beinn Narnain can also be combined with the tallest mountain in the Arrochar Alps – Beinn Ìme.
- Beinn Luibhean: a splendid hike up and through Glen Croe leads to the more underrated peak of Beinn Luibhean. This mountain can be hiked as an out and back or a much longer loop.
Five Hiking Essentials
These are our five hiking gear essentials for hiking Ben Lomond in Scotland! For a more extensive hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Alternatively, for a general summary of everything you’d need for a hiking trip to Scotland, visit our Ultimate Packing Checklist.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: these hiking boots are super comfortable and lightweight.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for hiking, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: an excellent warmth:weight ratio fleece jacket that’ll help keep you warm.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a value for money pair of water-resistant convertible trousers.
You should also pack water, snacks and sunscreen.
- Midge Watch: beware, that in summer, you’ll be greeted by many midges whilst hiking Ben Lomond. We didn’t have much time to rest at the summit before being eaten alive. Incredibly, there’s Midge Watch, so you can keep track of the number of pesky little flies out and about. Additionally, we found buying a Smidge Net completely game-changing! Especially when camping before and after hiking Ben Lomond.
- Early start: as mentioned, Ben Lomond is an extremely popular walk in Scotland. Start early for a quieter trail and to make sure you bag a parking spot.
- Other Ben Lomonds: Such is the popularity of Ben Lomond in Scotland, the name has been adopted in many other countries too. You’ll find a Ben Lomond in New Zealand, Australia and the USA.
- Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park: There’s so much more to see of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. Get Your Guide offer some fantastic tour options for exploring.
How did you find hiking Ben Lomond? Let us know in the comments below!