West of Braemar spreads the National Trust for Scotland's Mar Lodge Estate, one of the country's most important nature conservation areas, covering 7% of the Cairngorms National Park. The £4 million legacy that allowed the trust to purchase the property in 1995 stipulated that, as well as promoting conservation and public access, the trust should continue to run Mar Lodge as a sporting estate. So alongside walking trails and forest regeneration there is salmon fishing and deer stalking.
Several easy, waymarked walks start from the Linn of Dee car park, 6.5 miles west of Braemar, including the Linn of Dee, a narrow gorge that extends downstream from the road bridge, and Glen Lui. Numerous long mountain walks (for experienced hill walkers only) also start from here, including the adventurous 24-mile walk through the Lairig Ghru pass to Aviemore.
Another short walk (3 miles, 1½ hours) begins 4 miles beyond the Linn of Dee at the Linn of Quoich – a waterfall that thunders through a narrow slot in the rocks. Head uphill on a footpath on the east bank of the stream, past the Punch Bowl (a giant pothole) to a modern bridge that spans the narrow gorge, and return via a 4WD road on the far bank. A longer walk (10 miles) is to follow the 4WD road up Glen Quoich to a beautiful remnant of Caledonian pine forest (return the same way).