North of Aberfoyle the road built in 1886 to cater for Victorian tourists to the Trossachs climbs steeply up the hillside. Close to the top of the climb and a mile from Aberfoyle a turning on the right leads to the extensive car parks of the Lodge Forest Visitor Centre.
Forest Lodge is a visitor centre operated by the Forestry Commission and stands in the Achray Forest, itself part of the huge Queen Elizabeth Forest Park. The lodge was gifted to the Forestry Commission by the Carnegie Trust in 1960 and has since been extended to provide a range of facilities for visitors. Though technically within the forest, the location of the lodge gives it magnificent views, especially to the south.
The lodge comprises a number of distinct elements. The café provided visitors with a wide range of good value eating and drinking options and caters for people who are health conscious and enjoy a variety of tastes. (Continues below image...)
Also within the lodge is an information centre and an exhibition which includes screens for remotely watching the ospreys who live in the Achray Forest and other birds. In the grounds of the lodge is a play area. For the much more active there is a "Go Ape" adventure course which includes what was at one time the UK's longest zip wire.
Somewhere in the middle on the scale of exertion are the extensive network of waymarked walking trails starting and finishing at the lodge. These range in length from a mile to four miles. The lodge is also linked to National Cycle Route 7.
For those who want to explore the Achray Forest by car, the Forestry Commission has established the 3 Lochs Forest Drive. Open from Easter to September, it provides seven and a a half miles of winding forest road and is accessed from the main road about a mile and a half north of Forest Lodge.
Not far from the lodge, along a path that forms the start of several of the walks, is a life-sized statue of a woman holding an axe and surveying the surrounding countryside. This is dedicated to the women who served in the Women's Timber Corps, as "lumberjills", between 1942 and 1946. The statue was commissioned by Forestry Commission Scotland and created by Malcolm Robertson. It was unveiled on 10 October 2007.