The Epping forest map was first separately documented in the 17th century. Before this, it was considered a part of the Waltham forest. The British Royal family used to hunt in the area during the reign of King Henry VIII.
Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge acts as evidence of this fact. Another formerly built hunt standing in the Loughton district currently acts as the Forest Headquarters.
Epping Forest is a beautiful place for those loving a walk in nature. Bellow mentioned are several long and short trails for walking and hiking here.
All about Epping Forest
Hangman’s Hill Epping Forest History
Hangman’s Hill in Epping Forest is well-known among locals for its many gruesome theories. There are many tales about how the hill got its name. The common story is a serial killer who hunts a victim at night.
This killer brought victims to the bottom of this hill, tied a rope around their neck and dragged them to the top. Then, chop their heads and bury them in the ground.
Another story is that three men were wrongfully accused of crimes they never committed and were eventually hanged atop this hill. It can’t be said which story is true, but something probably did happen and led to this place being known as a haunted area.
Epping Forest was initially used as a hunting ground for the British Royal Family. Up until the reign of King Henry VIII, it was named Waltham Forest and served the sole purpose of being a hunting ground. In the 17th century, hunting in the forest gradually stopped.
After the Epping Forest Act was passed in 1878, the name Epping was introduced. This Act stated that the Corporation of the City of London would be the Conservator of this forest. Before this declaration, many wealthy groups tried to expand their property here.
They would usually deforest these lands and use them for their purposes. Thus, the Epping Forest Act saved the area from experiencing a similar fate.
How big is the Epping forest?
Epping Forest is 339 km², a 2,400-hectare vast ancient forest managed by Britain’s capital city, London, which falls under the county of Essex in southeast England. The woodland’s 4,270 acres (1,728 hectares) are conserved for special scientific interest.
The forest is about 12 miles (19 kilometres) long on the north-south side and 2.5 miles (4 kilometres) east-west. The east-west path is narrow in most places, consists of forests, grasslands, heaths, streams, reservoirs and ponds, and has loamy soils. Epping Forest is on a ridge between the Lea and Roding river valleys.
Epping Forest Yacht Club
Alfred I. Dupont and Jessie Ball DuPont built the Epping Forest Yacht and Country Club in the 1920s. This 58-acre estate was used as their permanent residence. It’s a giant mansion with intricate architecture and design. The inside was decorated with expensive marble and tiles.
There were 25 rooms in it. After the duPont’s death, this mansion’s ownership changed and ultimately fell into the hands of Gate Petroleum Corporation in 1984. The company turned it into the Yacht and Country Club for the people of Jacksonville and Epping.
It’s now a recreational centre with swimming pools, fitness centres, and tennis courts for the club members. There is also an activity centre for children. The members gather occasionally to indulge in family activities and tennis championships. Tennis lessons are also provided here.
Where is Epping Forest
Epping Forest lies in Essex County in the Epping Forest district, named after the forest. The forest is in the northeast of Greater London and southwest of Essex. It forms an elevated land between the two rivers, Lea and Roding.
Address: 6 Rangers Road, Chingford, London, E4 7QH
Epping has tropical rainforest weather. The highest temperature is recorded in July. The temperature during this time ranges between 15℃ – 20℃. February is the coldest month here.
Best time to visit Epping Forest
Even though London residents visit Epping frequently, the forest is at its best from January to May.
Epping Forest visiting time and entry fee
Epping Forest is open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday throughout the year. The gates open at 10 am and close at 5 pm.
No price is required to be paid for entrance. Entry is free for all.
Epping Forest Visitor Centre
The Epping Forest Heritage Trust has maintained the Epping Forest visitor centre since 2014. It’s responsible for looking after visitors and helping them get the most out of their visit.
The centre is open 365 days a year from 10 am to 4 pm. It has a few feeding stations for birds so that people can observe them from a closer distance.
They also arrange activities like scavenger hunts to bring children close to nature. A help desk will serve you with a map of Epping Forest or directions if needed. A gift shop also exists.
Address: Paul’s Nursery Road, High Beach, Loughton, Essex, IG10 4AF (behind Kings Oak pub).
Epping forest Directions
Several buses reach the Epping Forest, such as the 20 and 397. If you haven’t already, I recommend downloading the Citymapper app, it will give you every detail of information about the London transport route. The app also notified expected strike or repair work in London.
Train Booking: Rail Europe and Trainline are the best websites to book trains anywhere in Europe, and both are easy to manage online and track your journey.
How to reach Epping Forest
Epping Forest can be reached from London in three ways:
- Subway: Take the Central Line of London’s underground tube system and enter Epping Forest tube station.
- By road: Epping Forest is 20 km from London. It’s 1/2 hour to reach and the fastest way to travel.
- Train: Take a train to Chingford from Liverpool Street to reach the Epping district. It’s a 30-minute ride. Walk the remaining distance to the forest.
Epping forest entrance by road
- Epping Forest Visitor Centre at Chingford at 6 Rangers Road, Chingford, London, E4 7QH. Adjacent Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge.
- Epping Forest Visitor Centre at the Paul’s Nursery Road, High Beach, Loughton, IG10 4AF.
- The Temple at Wanstead Park is located off Warren Road, London, E11 2LS
- All these Epping forest visitor centres have parking facilities.
Epping Forest Car Park
Car parking is available around the forest, but it’s limited on busy days. If travelling by car, consider arriving earlier to secure a parking spot for your ride.
They have plenty of parking zones, like
- Bakers Lane car park, CM16 5EG
- Civic Offices car park, CM16 4BZ
- Cottis Lane car park, CM16 5DQ
Car park costs approx
- Monday to Friday – 08:00 am to 18:00pm Up to 1 hour £0.90
- Weekends – 08:00a.m to 18:00pm Up to 18:00 £1.00
Different trees in Epping Forest
Pedunculate oak, European beech, European hornbeam, and silver birch are the chief trees in the forest. It also has the maximum number of ancient trees in the country.
There are 55,000 ancient trees in total. Some of these trees have been here since the Anglo-Saxon period. Apart from these, conifers, small shrubs and bushes, creepers, and decaying trees are found here.
It’s also a well-known place for exotic mushrooms. Some of these mushrooms reach high prices for their rarity.
Wildlife in Epping Forest (Includes animals, birds, reptiles, and butterflies)
Epping Forest is known for its impressive butterfly population. Of the 28 butterfly species in this forest, Small Heath and Small Blue are two endangered species. Some rare stag beetles are found here, resting on the ancient trees.
Animals that can be seen are – deer, muntjac deer, hedgehogs, foxes, rodents etc. Bats also comprise a big part of the wildlife at Epping Forest. Ten species of bats have been recorded here to date.
Activities in Epping Forest
Epping Forest is nature’s heaven, welcoming people from all sorts of life. Sunday mornings are all about small family picnics under the shade of a giant tree.
Regular visitors are going out for a hike on one of the many beautiful trails in the forest. There are also cycling trails alongside. All these trails are marked and well-maintained.
The vast open areas are used for golf, football, fishing, etc. The High Beech Riding School offers beginner horse riding lessons in designated areas.
10 Epping Forest Circular Walks, Trails and Directions
- Beech Trail
- Gifford Trail
- Chestnut Trail
- Holly Trail
- Hornbeam trail
- Lime trail
- Oak trail
- Rowan trail
- Willow trail
- The grand Epping Forest circular walk
1. Beech Trail
The Beech Trail is an exciting circular loop trail. The trail stretches for a total distance of 4 km that can be covered in an hour. It starts from the High Beach car park and follows a moderately uneven path of a few highs and lows. As the name suggests, the entire path is lined with beech trees.
These trees show a lovely transformation of red and brown leaves during autumn, making the trail even more beautiful. A hillfort from the Iron Age named Loughton Camp is the highlight of this trail. The entire way is marked with signs to help hikers find their way easily.
2. Gifford Trail
Belonging to the official walking route of Epping Forest, this trail is 2 km long. It’s a well-marked trail from Lodge Hall and proceeds to Gifford Woods. It passes Copped Hall, Upshire and Warlies Park on the way. The trail is relatively newer than the others. The Gifford Forest was formed with an initiative by local volunteers and school children in 2013.
You can see a special species of deer, called Fallow deer, in this area. Huge native trees adorn the path.
3. Chestnut Trail
Chestnut Trail is among the more leisurely walks here. The official trail goes circularly, starting from the Warren Road entrance. The walk is 5 km long and has a precise altitude throughout. It’s your typical walking trail for all ages.
The surrounding view of forest landscapes and grassland is amazing. After crossing Wanstead Park, the trail is decorated by three lakes: Ornamental Water, Heronry Pond, and Perch Pond. The view around these water bodies makes the trail more appealing.
4. Holly Trail
Holly Trail starts at Chingford and follows a circular path with a slight elevation. It’s an official hiking trail with marvellous wildlife and nature.
Bury Wood, a specific tree seen on this trail, can sometimes be hundreds of years old. Many animals like squirrels, porcupines or birds take shelter inside their large trunks. There’s a chance to witness another deer species on this trail, known as the Muntjac deer. The total distance is 4 km.
5. Hornbeam Trail
The trail gets its name from the Hornbeam trees, which are abundant around this trail. It begins from the Snaresbrook Road car park beside the Eagle Ponds. The majority of the route is smooth. A little elevation can be observed between Canada Plain and Waterworks Wood. Forest authorities properly mark all 6 km of this trail.
6. Lime Trail
This 2.5 km trail starts at Harrow Road Sports Pavilion. The walk is mostly through plain, flat grasslands with occasional wooded forests. The trail gets its name from common lime bark, a leafy plant that grows on the bark of trees. It can be frequently seen in the trees of this area. The entire trail can be covered within 40 minutes.
7. Oak Trail
Oak Trail is the longest and most challenging of all Epping Forest trails. It starts at Theydon Bois Underground Station and continues a circular path of 11 km from there. The trail involves the rough, uneven way and cut and smoothened way. This makes the hike interesting and relaxing at the same time.
Quite a few interesting points fall on this track. The Great Gregory’s Farm at Epping Thicks is close to the starting point. Next comes the historical point with Ambresbury Banks’ earthen works. These are ancient artefacts from the 1st B.C. and are valuable in today’s world. The concluding highlight of this trail is the Deer Sanctuary.
Fallow deer is conserved here and provides safe grazing for over 100 animals. The whole place is for animals only.
8. Rowan Trail
This trail falls among the shorter trail categories. It’s officially marked, from Knighton Lane car park until the end. The total distance of this trail is 2.4 km. With a gentle elevation, it takes approximately 45-60 minutes to finish the hike.
Knighton Lake provides a magnificent view during the hike. It’s adorned with reeds and water lilies, giving it a wild and beautiful appearance. As the name suggests, Rowan trees are commonly found here. A red berry-like fruit grows on these trees.
While taking this trail, you might come across bright blue-coloured male Emperor dragonflies. Their colour gives them a spectacular look and makes them stand out.
9. Willow Trail
Willow Trail is a beautiful route in Epping Forest, which is 4 km long, starts at Connaught Water and takes an hour to complete the hike. Most of the path is on even land except for one steep slope at Chingford Plain to reach the lake. Various trees are found in the area, among which Willow trees are the most prominent.
You will come across a 350-year-old oak tree on your way there. There are various birds around the lake, which makes it a good spot for bird watching. Longhorn cattle is nearby
10. The Grand Epping Forest Circular Walk
The Grand Epping Forest Circular Walk is the longest and grandest of all the marked hiking routes in Epping Forest. It’s a 25.4 km walking trail, considered the most challenging. The trail starts and ends at Chingford.
The circular path loops around the whole park, with a few elevations here and there. The path has few obstacles, but completing the entire length can be difficult. Giant forest trees in some parts shade it while others are under the open sky.
Stick to the waymarked region to avoid any problems. Carry enough water when covering this trail; the long distance can be exhausting.
What 8 things to do in Epping Forest
- Visit the Epping Forest district museum to learn about the area’s history.
- Spend the night in Epping forest by camping overnight.
- Go to the Epping Forest Visitor Centre to see birds being fed from up close.
- Visit the gift shop to buy a present. You can also get a map here.
- The authorities arrange certain events and special walks throughout the year. Participate in those for a good cause.
- Visit the Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge on Rangers Road, Chingford
- Learn horse riding at High Beech Riding School.
- Fishing is allowed in 25 water bodies inside the forest.
Tips before you visit Epping Forest Walks
- Get proper hiking shoes or waterproof shoes, as the ground is muddy most of the time.
- Washrooms are mainly found in High Beech.
- If you opt for a longer trail, carry necessities like refreshments and water sufficient for 3-4 hours.
- Always carry a good map of the area or at least of your trail.
- Try to be quiet to see deer, birds and other wildlife from up close.
- Carry medical aid to be safe.
Where to stay in Epping Forest
- Kings Oak High Beach Hotel
- The Epping Forest Hotel
Where is Epping Forest located?
The forest is located in Greater London and Essex between Epping in Essex at its north and Forest Gate in Greater London at its south.
How old is Epping Forest?
The forest is more than 800 years old.
How big is Epping Forest?
The forest is spread across a total area of 5900 acres (2400 hectares).
How to get to Epping Forest from London?
You can take a train, cab or tube to reach Epping Forest from London.
Are there paths in Epping Forest?
There are 9 officially marked walking trails in Epping Forest.
Apart from its natural beauty, Epping Forest has a reputation for being a crime spot. There are legends of crimes happening here from the 18th century. The story of Hangman’s Hill, the Babes in the Wood murders (1970), and Britain’s most notorious hitman (1989) are some of this place’s few popular crime stories. The crime rates have drastically decreased in recent years, but these legends still survive the test of time.