The Conic Hill Walk is a very popular hike with amazing views on the eastern shores of Loch Lomond. This is a fun opportunity for day walkers to enjoy portions of the iconic West Highland Way long distance hike.
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The Conic Hill hike begins on a wide gravel trail, working its way upward through a lush, green forest. Very old trees loom overhead, while dense grasses, moss and ferns blanket the forest floor.
About halfway up, you leave the forest and enter a windblown meadow, with nothing larger than a fern growing. It’s here where the views start to become amazing.
Walking up the hill, your back will be to the lake, but the views of the rolling hills of the Scottish Highlands are amazing. Take a peek behind you and you will gasp at the beauty of the lake and its surroundings.
The trail keeps going up with several opportunities to stop at viewpoints along the way, but the best are found when you reach the summit. From up here, the 360-degree views are astounding and a wonderful reward for your efforts.
The best part? The walk back to your car is all downhill with incredible views of Loch Lomond!
Conic Hill Hike Stats
Distance: The total round-trip distance of this hike is 3.3 miles / 5.3km.
Elevation Gain: This hike is mostly uphill with approximately 1,180 feet / 360m of total elevation gain. There are some sections of this hike which are steep stairs or extended uphill walks, but anyone in reasonable shape ought to be able to do it.
Difficulty: We’d rate The Conic Hill Walk as ‘moderate’. This isn’t an easy stroll through a meadow, but it’s not summiting a munro either. Our 3 & 5 year old kids did this entire hike themselves, with very little difficulty. There were many kids hiking Conic Hill and they all seemed to be doing just fine.
Duration: This hike took us 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete, which is bang-on to their typical pace. Without kids, we could have completed this hike in about an hour.
How to Get There: The Conic Hill Walk trailhead is in the Balmaha Car Park, where you will also find a Loch Lomond National Park Visitor Centre. The trail goes about 5 feet before coming to a T-intersection – go right.
This is a very popular hike, so get here early. We arrived shortly after 9am on a sunny Saturday morning in July and easily got a parking spot. When we returned to the parking lot midday, and then again late afternoon after our lakeside walk to a beach, there were many cars circling the parking lot waiting for someone to leave to get a spot.
Conic Hill Trail Map
You can download the Conic Hill trail map on your phone by using the GAIA GPS app. Once in the app, search the hikes for “Conic Hill”. Select the trail and download the map on your phone before you head out for your hike.
The Conic Hill Walk Highlights
- The trail winds through a very lush forest during the first leg of the hike. The ancient trees are beautiful and are complimented by the dense green foliage growing along the forest floor. Wildflowers are everywhere, including some very showy purple fox gloves. The sound of birds were everywhere during this stretch of the hike.
- Once you clear the forest, the views of Loch Lomand, its islands, the surrounding rolling hills and mountains is amazing.
Hiking Conic Hill Walk with Kids
- There are bathrooms in the Balmaha Visitor Centre (open from 9:30-4:00). Be sure to use them as there are not many opportunities to find privacy along this very busy trail, especially once you leave the forest.
- There are no water bottle filling stations on this hike; be sure to fill your hydration packs before leaving home.
- Once the trail leaves the forest, you will be fully exposed to the elements. We did this hike on a partly cloudy day and were continually taking off and putting on layers. We didn’t start with sunscreen on but did apply it after an extended period of sunshine.
- Be prepared for any weather; wear clothing in layers, bring lots of water, sunscreen, rain gear, and something to repel the midges if they are out.
- This trail is not stroller accessible, but many parents had their little ones on their backs in a baby or toddler carrier.
- Dogs are allowed on Conic Hill Walk. I think the rule is to have them on a leash, but hardly anyone did.
- The gravel trail can get quite slippery going downhill after the summit. You may need to hold hands with little ones to prevent them from slipping and falling.
- The Balmaha Visitor Centre is worth a stop for its many interesting displays and kid-friendly activities.
- There’s a small playground in the parking lot to let kids play at before or after the hike.
Where to Stop for Lunch or a Break
There are many viewpoints along the way on this hike which make good spots to stop and have a break or a picnic lunch. There are places to stop and eat along the summit, but the wind can get very strong up there.
Try to find a better, more sheltered spot a little lower. We stopped for lunch at the final clearing before re-entering the forest.
The Conic Hill Walk is situated on the Highland Boundary Fault Line, which quite literally separates the Scottish Lowlands from the Scottish Highlands. The Visitor Centre has a great display inside showcasing this unique geological feature.
What to Bring
The trail surface on this hike varies quite a bit. There are sections of smooth gravel, wooden stairs, and uneven rocks jutting out of the dirt. A good pair of shoes is sufficient for this hike, but real hiking shoes would be better.
Loch Lomond Resources
- Our full list of the best things to do in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park with kids.
- Something for everyone; here are 5 easy walks in Loch Lomond National Park.
- Though not technically in the Loch Lomond National park, the Whangie walk with kids is the perfect day hike for the whole family.
- Don’t miss the incredible views hiking to the top of Ben A’an trail with kids.