All about Epping forest trails and 10 walks

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.

How big is the Epping forest?

Epping Forest is 339 km², 2,400-hectare vast ancient forest managed by Britain’s capital city London falls under the county of Essex in southeast England. The woodland’s 4,270 acres (1,728 hectares) is 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.

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Epping forest and walks
All about Epik Epping forest and 9 walks

Table of Contents

History of Epping Forest

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 Conservators 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.

Epping forest yacht club

The Epping Forest Yacht and Country club was built in the 1920s by Alfred I Dupont and Jessie Ball DuPont. 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 marbles and tiles. There were 25 rooms in it. After the death of the duPont’s, the ownership of this mansion 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 center with swimming pools, fitness centers, and tennis courts for the club members. There is also an activity center for children. The members gather on certain occasions 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 itself. 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. 

Epping weather

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 residents of London daily visit Epping, the forest is at its best from January to May.

Epping Forest visiting time

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.

Epping Forest in Spring
Epping Forest in Spring

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 in helping them have the most out of their visit. 

The centre is open 365 days a year from 10 am to 4 pm. It has 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. There is a help desk to 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).

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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, and 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.

Epping Forest entry fee

No price is required to be paid for entrance. Entry is free for all.

Epping Forest in winter
Epping Forest in winter

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 get down at 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 Epping district. It’s a 30 minutes ride. Walk the remaining distance to the forest.

Epping forest entrance by road

  1. Epping Forest Visitor Centre at Chingford at 6 Rangers Road, Chingford, London, E4 7QH. Adjacent Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge.
  2. Epping Forest Visitor Centre at High Beach at Paul’s Nursery Road, High Beach, Loughton, IG10 4AF.
  3. The Temple at Wanstead Park is located off Warren Road, London, E11 2LS
  4. 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 zone. like

  • Bakers Lane car park, CM16 5EG
  • Civic Offices car park, CM16 4BZ
  • Cottis Lane car park, CM16 5DQ

Car park cost approx

  • Monday to Friday – 08:00am 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 even 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.

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Wildlife in Epping Forest ( includes animals, birds, reptiles, and butterflies)

Epping Forest is known for its impressive butterfly population. Out of the 28 species of butterfly 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, hedgehog, fox, and 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 playing golf, football, fishing, etc. The High Beech Riding School offers horse riding lessons to beginners in designated areas.

10 Epping Forest Circular Walks, Trails and Run

Epping forest is a wonderful place for those loving a walk in nature. There are several long and short trails for walking and hiking here. 

  1. Beech Trail
  2. Gifford Trail
  3. Chestnut Trail
  4. Holly Trail
  5. Hornbeam trail
  6. Lime trail
  7. Oak trail
  8. Rowan trail
  9. Willow trail
  10. The grand Epping forest circular walk
Walking Trails in Epping Forest
Walking Trails in Epping Forest

1. Beech Trail

The Beech Trail is an exciting circular loop trail. The trail stretches for a total distance of 4 km that can cover in an hour. It starts from the High Beach car park and follows a moderately uneven path of a few highs and lows. As suggested by the name, 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 during this time. 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 that starts 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 easier walks here. It’s an official trail here that 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.

Gorgeous woodland in Epping Forest
Gorgeous woodland in Epping Forest

4. Holly Trail

Holly Trail starts at Chingford and follows a circular path with slight elevation. It’s an official hiking trail with marvellous wildlife and nature.

Bury Wood, a specific tree seen on this trail, can be hundreds of years old sometimes. 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 Muntjac deer. The total distance is 4 km.

5. Hornbeam trail

The trail gets its name from the Hornbeam trees, which are found in abundance around this trail. It begins from 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 on 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 several interesting points fall on this track. Close to the starting point is the Great Gregories Farm at Epping Thicks. Next comes the historical point with Ambresbury Banks earthen works. These are ancient artefacts from 1st B.C and have great value in today’s world. The concluding highlight of this trail is the Deer Sanctuary. Fallow deer is conserved here and also provides safe grazing for more than 100 animals. The whole place is for animals only.

Epping forest London walking trails
Epping forest London walking trails

8. Rowan trail

This trail falls among the shorter trail categories. It’s officially marked, starting from Knighton Lane car park, till 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 ones.

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 long walking trail and is considered the most challenging trail of all. The trail starts and ends at Chingford. The circular path loops around the whole park with a few elevations here and there. The path does not have many obstacles on its way, 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 as the long-distance can be exhausting.

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What 8 things to do in Epping Forest

  1. Visit the Epping Forest district museum to learn about the history of the area.
  2. Spend the night in Epping forest by camping overnight.
  3. Go to the Epping Forest Visitor Centre to see birds being fed from up close.
  4. Visit the gift shop to buy a present. You can also get a map here.
  5. The authorities arrange certain events and special walks throughout the year. Participate in those for a good cause.
  6. Visit the Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge in Rangers Road, Chingford
  7. Learn horse riding at High Beech Riding School.
  8. Fishing is allowed in 25 water bodies inside the forest.
In Epping forest london
In Epping forest London

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, be sure to 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

  1. Kings Oak High Beach Hotel
  2. The Epping Forest Hotel

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Hangman’s Hill Epping Forest history

Hangman’s Hill in Epping Forest is a well-known spot among locals for its many gruesome theories. There are many tales behind 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, three men were wrongfully accused of crimes that they never committed and were eventually hanged on top of 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.

Strawberry Hill Pond in the Epping Forest
Strawberry Hill Pond in the Epping Forest

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 The 5900-acre (2400-hectare).

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.

Crime in Epping Forest

Apart from its natural beauty, Epping Forest has a bit of a reputation of 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.

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