Epping Forest in north-east London covers three London boroughs as well as part of the neighbouring county of Essex. Easily within reach from the Central Line, the forest is one of the most accessible natural woodlands in London with activities for the whole family!
“….shall at all times keep Epping Forest unenclosed and unbuilt on as an open space for the recreation and enjoyment of the people”Epping Forest Act 1878
There are four visitor centres where you can pick up maps of the area and suggestions of where to walk:
- The View near the Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge in Rangers Road, Chingford
- The Visitor Centre in High Beach
- Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge
- The Temple, Wanstead Park
7 family-friendly things to enjoy in the forest
- Forest walks: There are 9 waymarked circular trails around the forest
- Cycling: Great for family cycling as well as mountain biking with several routes crisscrossing the forest
- Horse riding: High Beech Riding School offers horse riding lessons for young beginners
- Ancient Longhorns: You can find the Epping Forest Longhorn cattle around Butler’s Retreat
- Tea Huts: Pop in for a brew in one of the historical tea huts at High Beech
- Asian Muntjac: The cute Muntjac is a small Asian deer that was originally introduced by the 11th Duke of Bedford that escaped and spread to Epping Forest.
- Angling: You can fish in 25 ponds and lakes in the forest as long as you stick to the fishing rules and have a rod license
Family-friendly attractions in the Epping area
In addition to enjoying the beautiful nature and wildlife, there’s a few attractions close to the forest to enjoy:
- Lee Valley Park Farms – two farms combined in one visit, including a working dairy farm where you can buy fresh milk straight from the farmer. London’s many farms are great places for city kids to learn about animals and how we get our food.
- Royal Gunpowder Mills – organising special family events like “mad lab” which includes rocket making and launching
- Epping Ongar Railway – a heritage railway operated by volunteers
Where can I find easy walking trails through the forest?
There are 9 marked walking trails that you can follow through the forest. You’ll find official maps at the Visitor Centres or you can go to City of London’s Epping Forest website and download pdf versions of the maps. Here are the 9 trails and their starting-points:
- Beech trail (2.5 miles) – High Beach Visitor Centre
- Chestnut trail (3.25 miles) – Warren Road Entrance
- Gifford trail (1.25 miles) – Sergeant’s Green Lane
- Holly trail (2.5 miles) – Chingford Plain
- Hornbeam trail (3.5 miles) – Snaresbrook Road
- Lime trail (1.5 miles) – Harrow Road Sports Pavillion
- Oak trail (6.6 miles) – Theydon Bois Underground Station
- Rowan trail (1.5 miles) – Knighton Lane Car Park
- Willow trail (2.5 miles) – Connaught Water
What’s the best long woodland walk?
If you’re up for a challenge, this 13 miles long Circular Route takes you through the main part of the park and is a great way to enjoy the ancient forest with its wide range of wildlife. The park is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and has a prestigious history, with Henry VIII famously using the area for hunting.
Family Cycle Route
Epping Forest is just perfect for families starting to get into off-road/mountain biking. The terrain is mostly flat on shared gravel paths. If you’re looking for long traffic-free cycle paths in London without having to constantly worry about your kids’ safety, this is an obvious choice.
This circular 11 miles long cycle route is a great way to get to know the park:
Is the forest open during COVID lockdown?
Yes, Epping Forest remains open for daily exercise in line with government guidlines.
How do I reach Epping Forest by public transportation?
You can take the Central Line to either Loughton, Theydon Bois or Epping. Chingford Rail Station is closest to the Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge.
Is Epping Forest worth a day-trip?
Epping Forest is London’s biggest green space area and you can easily spend a full day out if you enjoy being out in nature.
What’s the nearest tube stations to Epping Forest?
Loughton, Theydon Bois or Epping
What are the things I can do in Epping Forest?
The most popular activity is to take a forest walk through the ancient woodlands.
Where can I go for a day hike close to London?
In Epping Forest in north-east London, you’ll find several long trails through ancient woodlands great day trips from London.
Is Epping Forest in London?
Epping Forest stretches through both Greater London and Essex although the whole forest area is managed by the City of London Corporation.
Is this a family friendly place for walks?
Yes, you’ll find several easy walking trails through the forest great for young kids.
Where can I find walking trails through the forest?
You’ll find trail maps at the Visitor Centre in High Beach which is a good starting point for forest walks through Epping Forest?
What’s the least visited park in London?
Epping Forest is London’s biggest park, but it’s also one of the least visited green spaces.
Are there marked walking trails in Epping Forest?
Yes, there are nine marked trails in the forest:
Beech trail starting from High Beach Visitor Centre
Chestnut trail starting from Warren Road Entrance
Gifford trail starting from Sergeant’s Green Lane
Holly trail starting from Chingford Plain
Hornbeam trail starting from Snaresbrook Road
Lime trail starting from Harrow Road Sports Pavillion
Oak trail starting from Theydon Bois Underground Station
Rowan trail starting from Knighton Lane Car Park
Willow trail starting from Connaught Water