3 - 4
FATMAP difficulty grade
Lochnagar is an iconic hill, settled majestically over the royal Balmoral estate with its steep southern flanks falling into the shores of Loch Muick.
When you picture rugged Scottish hills and glens, this is it.
The route is a demanding and rewarding one, climbing steeply and quickly up from the loch's shores, you traverse the plateau with the option to take in 5 munros during the circuit.
Plenty of stiff climbing and hike-a-biking is punctuated by full throttle rugged and open singletrack, with views open as far as the weather will allow! The final push brings you out onto the crown itself, Lochnagar.
Just make sure you go to the cairn at the true summit for your celebratory photo! Once the view has been savoured, it is time to steel yourself for what is arguably the most technically demanding descent this side of Scotland, the Glas Allt.
A gentle opener lulls you in before the first of many steep rugged and misshapen staircases of uncut granite.
The stairs are both steep and tall and a steady feather of the brake and looking far ahead is what will bring you safely to the end.
The trail then opens up and is punctuated by water bars that even a 29er couldn't roll over! Breaking in the final section, the trail turns the gradient and exposure back to 11 before finally delivery you shaking back to the shores of Loch Muick.