Forest walks

Live in London or the surrounding area, and wishing there was an outdoor space where you could go on dreamy walking trails and be at one with nature? And that isn’t your local park?

Well, let me introduce you to Epping Forest, London’s best kept secret. Epping Forest offers lots of trails perfect for long and short walks that are also suitable for all fitness levels.

Where Is Epping Forest Located

Epping forest is an ancient woodland spanning over 5,900 acres that’s located between the Forest Gate area in London and the Epping area in Essex. Being in such close distance to London, Epping Forest is perfectly located for a day out filled with walks in a former royal forest.

Whether you’re looking for a day out with the family, or to escape it all and spend some time alone forest bathing, Epping Forest is the place for you.

TIP: This is a great alternative for those who usually flock to London’s royal parks, but want something different.

Map Of Epping Forest Trail Walks

Map of Epping Forest
Map of Epping Forest copyright of City of London

Contact Information

Phone Number: 020 8532 1010

Address: Loughton IG10 4AF

As you can see from the map, Epping Forest is a large area of greenery with lots to offer in the way of nature and wildlife. There are also many trails on offer here, so you won’t have to worry about getting easily bored when you’re on your Epping Forest walks.

How To Get To Epping Forest

There are many ways to get to Epping Forest from London and the surrounding area to enjoy walks in the forest. So read on below to find the best option for you, whether you plan on arriving by car or public transport.

By Car

Of course, driving is the easiest way to reach Epping Park with the drive being around 53 minutes from central London. You can get your mapped out route from home to Epping Park here.

Parking At Epping Forest

Once you arrive at Epping Forest of course you’re going to want to park. You’ll be glad to know that there’s 19 parking areas within the vicinity to choose from. And yes, free parking is available too.

Free Parking Areas
  • Free Public Parking in Epping Forest:  Loughton IG10 4AE
  • Chingford Plain Car Park: London E4 7AZ

By Public Transport

Of course, like most Londoners’s not everyone will have access to a car, but you’ll be glad to know that you can reach Epping Forest by public transport too.

The Nearest Stations

  • Epping Tube Station
  • Theydon Bois Station
  • Redbridge Station
  • Wood Street Station
  • Snaresbrook Station

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Epping Forest Walks

Forest walks
Forest walks

Now onto the main event, the best Epping Forest walking trails. There are nine waymarked trails to follow in Epping Forest, to ensure you can explore the grounds in a safe tried, and tested manner. And if this is your first time in the forest you won’t have to worry about getting lost or relying on Google to explore the forest. Instead, you will be able to mentally disconnect, follow the signs and simply enjoy your walk in Epping forest.

TIP: For the solo visitors who will be exploring the Epping Forest trails alone, I would highly recommend that you follow the waymarked trails. Remember, safety first always!

Things to note:

  • The trails have signposts that you can easily follow
  • They are circular, so you can start or stop anywhere along the trail that’s convenient to you
  • The trails start and end close to parking areas and local stations, so you can easily follow them regardless of how you arrive to the park

Summary of Waymarked Trails

  1. Beech Trail: 2.5 miles / 4 km and approximately 1.5 – 2 hours long
  2. Chestnut Trail: 3.25 miles / 5.2 km and approximately 2 hours long
  3. Gifford Trail: 1.25 miles / 2 km and approximately 1 hour long
  4. Holly Trail: 2.5 miles / 4km and approximately 1 hour long
  5. Hornbeam Trail: 3.5 miles / 5.75 km and approximately 1.5 hours long
  6. Lime Trail: 1.5 miles / 2.5 km and approximately 30 – 40 minutes long
  7. Oak Trail: 6.6 miles / 10.6 km and approximately 3- 4 hours long
  8. Rowan Trail: 1.5 miles / 2.4 km and approximately 45- 60 minutes long
  9. Willow Trail: 2.5 miles / 4 km and approximately 1 hour long

*Be sure to click on each of the links above to access each of the walking trails.

If just the thought of attempting the trail has got asking, “What is there to eat at Epping Park”? Well, be rest assured that I’ve covered you covered. On each of the trails below, I’ve noted which ones have picnic areas, restaurants, cafés, and other amenities that you may need during your Epping forest walks.

Beech Trail

Forest walks
Forest walks

The beech trail starts at the High Beach car park entrance and will take you through uneven terrains including steep inclines and surfaced forest tracks. This trail will take you around the ancient mounts in Loughton camp whilst giving you the opportunity to spot speckled wood butterflies along the way. So be sure to keep your eyes peeled for them!

Beech Trail Tips

  • Start at High Beach car park
  • Has toilets and a picnic area near the entrance
  • The High Beach visitor centre is also located at this entrance
  • The Oyster Shack & Seafood Bar is available near the entrance
  • 2.5 miles / 4 km long and will take approximately 1.5 – 2 hours to walk

Chestnut Trail

Chestnut Leaves that can be spotted on your Epping Forest Walks
Chestnut Leaves that can be spotted on your Epping Forest Walks

The Chestnut Trail starts from the Warren road entrance and will take you along the main tracks through the open grassland. This is an easy route consisting mostly of flat grounds and with only a few gentle inclines along the way. Along your walk on the Chestnut trail at Epping Forest, you’ll see the Grotto (an ornamental boathouse) as well as the Ornamental Water amongst other ponds.

Chestnut Trail Tips

  • Start at the Warren Road entrance
  • Close to Redbridge station
  • Have toilets near The Temple Visitor Centre
  • There’s a cafe located in between the Perch pond and the Heronry pond.
  • The Wanstead Golf Course is close to the entrance
  • There’s fishing available in the Ornamental Water and Perch Pond along the trail
  • 3.25 miles / 5.2 km long and will take approximately 2 hours long to walk

Gifford Trail

The Gifford Trail starts from the Sergeant’s Green Lane entrance and will take you across uneven ground and through the newly planted forest of Gifford Woods. This new kid on the block was freshly planted in 2013 by local volunteers and school children and named in honour of the late Lord Mayor Gifford.

Gifford Trail Tips

  • Starts at Sergeant’s Green Lane
  • Bus C3 & 213 stops on Horsehoe hill road close to the entrance
  • Parking is available near the Upshire Village Hall
  • You’ll go past Saint Thomas’s Church of England along the trail
  • The Horseshoes Country Pub & Dining Room Restaurant is along the route
  • You can spot Fallow Deer along this trail
  • 3.25 miles / 5.2 km long and will take approximately 2 hours long to walk

Holly Trail

Holly at Epping Forest
Holly at Epping Forest

The Holly Trail starts at the Chingford Plain entrance and follows the surfaced forest path through the open grassland. This is an easy to moderate route that includes gentle inclines. Along the way be sure to look out for Muntjac deer as they are popular in the forest. Though they are much smaller than fallow deer, so they may be harder to spot.

TIP: As the name suggests, Holly can be found on this forest trail. But do remember, its red berries are poisonous to humans!

Holly Trail Tips

  • Starts at Chingford Plain
  • The Summer Overflow Car Parks and Chingford Plain Car Park are near the entrance
  • The closest train station is Chingford station
  • Chingford Golf Course is near the entrance
  • You can access the Willow Trail from the Holly Trail if you fancy a spot of fishing
  • Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge and The View & Butler’s Retreat can also be accessed locally from here
  • 2.5 miles / 4km long and will take approximately 1 hour long to walk

Hornbeam Trail

The Hornbeam trail starts at Snaresbrook road and follows the mainly flat forest track through the open grassland and woodland areas. Though do note, that there is a steep incline on this trail between the areas of Canada Plain and Waterworks Garden.

TIP: Whilst you’re on your Epping Forest walk along this trail, be sure to look out for the hornbeam trees. You can identify its leaves by their oval shape and serrated edges.

Hornbeam Trail Tips

  • Start at Snaresbrook Road
  • There are four parking areas along this route
  • The Hornbeam trail at Epping Forest includes a walk around Hollow Pond
  • Hollow Pond offers rowing boats for hire and a fishing area
  • There are two play areas near Hollow pond which is perfect for families visiting Epping Forest with kids
  • Near 157 Whipps Cross Road Parking you’ll find, the Lakeside Diner, Whipps cross tea hut, and The Log Cabin
  • The Hornbeam trail is 3.5 miles / 5.75 km long and will take approximately 1.5 hours long to walk

Lime Trail

Woodpeckers can be spotted On Your Epping Forest Walks
Woodpeckers can be spotted on your Epping Forest Walks

The Lime trail starts at the Harrow road sports pavilion entrance and follows a route along mostly levelled ground through the grassland and woodland. This trail is perfect for anyone looking for an easy walk in Epping forest.

TIP: Don’t forget to listen out for the kek calls of the woodpeckers that lives in this area.

Lime Trail Tips

  • Starts at the Harrow Road Sports Pavilion which is perfect for anyone that wants to play football in Epping forest before or after their walk
  • This trail is perfect for anyone visiting the Harrow Road Playing Fields
  • There is an Easy Access Trail route available here which circles around the Jubilee Pond which also offers a fishing platform
  • There are a cycle parking area and two car parks available near the entrance, making this perfect for anyone driving to or cycling in Epping Forest
  • There’s a Model Airfield close to the Lime trail at Epping Forest that you can enjoy after your walk
  • There’s a playground nearby for those visiting the forest with kids
  • The Lime Trail is 1.5 miles / 2.5 km long and will take approximately 30 – 40 minutes long to walk

Oak Trail

Fallow Deer can be spotted at Epping Forest on your walks
Fallow Deer can be spotted at Epping Forest on your walks

The Oak Trail starts at Theydon Bois Underground station and will take you through an uneven and challenging path ahead. This walking trail at Epping Forest will take you along tracks, pavements and well trodden paths. Although this trail is the most challenging on this list of Epping Forest Walks, there are lots to see and enjoy during your long walk on the Oak trail.

Oak Trail Tips

  • Starts at Theydon Bois Underground Station perfect for those arriving from London by tube
  • This trail will take you pass The Deer Sanctuary which was established in 1959
  • There are seven car parks along the trail
  • This trail circles around the Theydon Bois Golf course
  • There are lots of bars and restaurants available near Theydon Bois Station
  • The Oak Trail is 6.6 miles / 10.6 km and will take approximately 3- 4 hours long to walk

Rowan Trail

Water Lilies can be spotted
Water Lilies can be spotted

The Rowan Trail starts at the Knighton Lane Car Park and is an easy to moderate route that will take you along mainly flat routes on this Epping Forest walk. Though be mindful that there is a gentle slope on this trail, that will take you over some uneven ground.

TIP: Look out for the water lilies, dragonflies and amphibians around the Knighton lake.

Rowan Trail Tips

  • Starts at Knighton Lane Car Park, the only car park on this route
  • There’s a play area on this route, perfect for the little walkers on their Epping Forest walks
  • Roding Valley and Buckhurst Hill stations are in walking distance of this route
  • The Rowan trail is 1.5 miles / 2.4 km and will take approximately 45- 60 minutes long to walk

Willow Trail

Willow Trees
Willow Trees

The Willow Trail starts at the Connaught Water lake and will take you on a no fuss walking trail through Epping Forest. This is an easy walking trail that will take you through various surfaced tracks and grasslands. Though do note that there is a short but steep slope when approaching the trail from Chingford Plain.

Willow Trail Tips

  • Starts at the Connaught Water lake which offers two fishing platforms
  • There is a play area close to the lake that is perfect for families visiting the forest
  • There is an easy access trail available here that circles around the Connaught Water Lake
  • The Willow trail is 2.5 miles / 4 km and will take approximately 1 hour long to walk

Practical Information To Plan Your Day At Epping Forest

Walking And Running Groups

If you plan on enjoying one of the many Epping Forest walks, you don’t have to go at it alone. You can join one of the many guided walking groups below, giving you the chance to make new friends whilst learning a thing or two and being at one with nature.

Epping Forest Heritage Trust: The Epping Forest Heritage Trust offers many guided walks in Epping Forest. If you plan on undertaking one of them be sure to prebook your Epping Forest Walks in advance.

West Essex Ramblers: The West Essex Ramblers group both helps people to enjoy short and easy walks safely, whilst also enabling them to protect the forest.

Wanstead Flats Parkrun: The Wanstead Flats Parkrun group, holds a free weekly 5 km timed runs every Saturday at 9 am. Regardless of whether you’re a beginner or a marathon runner, everyone is welcome to join in and run at their own pace. Don’t forget to register here.

The Weather

Anyone that is familiar with the British Weather, knows that it can be very unpredictable. So be sure to check The BBC Weather London before heading on your forest walks to ensure that you are prepared for what to come.

If rain is in the cards for the day, don’t forget to wear a waterproof raincoat that will act as your shell against the elements. This will be a lot easier to enjoy your run, walk or hike than carrying an umbrella all day long.

Must Have Items For Your Walk

The Veiled Explorer Takeaway

Well, there you have it. All nine trails offering amazing Epping Forest walks for the solo walker and the whole family. I hope these have inspired you to venture out of London’s parks and explore this little hidden gem in London. Don’t forget to leave a comment down below, to let me know which is your preferred trail!

The Best Epping Forest Walks & Hikes Trail Guide

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