Terrain: Good path on the ascent, with steps. The detour from the West Highland Way up to the summit involves a short rocky scramble.
Time: 2 - 3 h
The walk begins from the huge car park in the centre of Balmaha, which also has an information centre. The path leaves from the very back of the car park close to an information board. It immediately divides at a t-junction; turn right here along the track, and at the next junction turn left onto a path; this section of the walk is marked by the Thistle symbols of the West Highland Way. The well-made path now climbs up through the trees before leaving the forest via a small gate, with Conic Hill in view ahead. The path climbs steeply with flights of wooden steps, aiming for the gap between Conic Hill and its nearer neighbour.
Stay on the main path as it curves round between the two hills; there are good views back over the lower reaches of Loch Lomond. The path aims for a West Highland Way marker post ahead, and at this point it swings right to climb across the far flank of Conic Hill. By this point the views of Loch Lomond and the hills on the far side are superb.
After about two hundred and fifty metres a clear but rough grassy path goes off to the right to reach the ridge line of Conic Hill. From here the views along the ridge are even better; the ridge is on the exact line of the Highland Boundary Fault and so has great variety. The string of islands across Loch Lomond lined up with the ridge are all on the fault line. Turn left to follow the ridge towards the summit. There is a very steep section where the ground has been eroded to the conglomerate bed-rock. This can be slippy to ascend so care is needed - it is easiest on its left edge. If you decide against this ascent you could simply remain on the West Highland Way path below instead, or arrive at the summit of Conic Hill via the descent route.
A false summit is reached before a short descent and the final climb to what most regard as the summit. The mountains clustered around the upper end of Loch Lomond include the Arrochar Alps and Ben Lomond in a quite sensational view (keen baggers looking to reach the true highest point will need to detour further along the ridge to a less dramatic cairn). Descend back to the dip and then follow a clear path that cuts steeply down to the West Highland Way (this path also provides a slightly easier route to the summit for those wishing to avoid the rocky scramble).
The simplest return route is to turn left along the West Highland Way and retrace your steps - no hardship with such superb views ahead. A longer alternative - making a circuit - instead follows the West Highland Way to the right, passing round the northern side of the hill before descending to a footbridge over the Burn of Mar. This route continues along the Way, crossing a second footbridge before passing through an area which has been felled and replanted, and eventually reaching a signed junction of forestry tracks. A right turn here leads down a track which becomes Crietyhall Road and descends to Milton of Buchanan, a road walk of just over 2km east of Drymen. If intending to follow this circuit, it is perhaps better to reverse the whole route in order to have the Conic Hill views revealed suddenly and enjoyed on the descent.