Macclesfield Forest is managed by United Utilities. The visitor centre lies within Macclesfield Forest, just across the road from Trentabank Reservoir (postcode SK11 0NE). The car park has a compacted sandstone surface, with tarmac entrance road and three parking spaces reserved for disabled people close to the toilets. There is a toilet suitable for disabled people for which a RADAR key is required (a key is available when the Rangers' Room is open). The Ranger’s room is sometimes open, with its display of local fauna and flora; at other times information can be obtained from boards and leaflets (available from dispensers). There is a mobile refreshment van behind the visitor centre, which is open at weekends, and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the summer. If you want advice about access to Macclesfield Forest, please contact the Peak District National Park Authority warden for Macclesfield Forest on 01260 252832.
There is a pleasant grassy picnic area behind the building, with a number of picnic tables, one of which is wheelchair-accessible via the compacted limestone path.
Macclesfield Forest is a scenic blend of coniferous forest, lakes and moorland with extensive variety of wildlife, including a heronry. The forest is a workplace which produces timber, and the Ridgegate and Trentabank reservoirs are a source of drinking water. Access in the forest is by public footpath, or concessionary paths and bridlepaths. Macclesfield Forest was once the centre of a Royal Forest created by the Norman conquerors for the purpose of hunting game such as deer, wild boar and wolves. This particular forest stretched from the modern Disley down to the River Dane, and was the preserve of the Earls of Chester. This has always been an isolated and sparsely populated area, and it still is.
Both the Ridgegate and Trentabank reservoirs are home to many wildfowl. At different seasons you may see tufted duck, goldeneye, pochard, teal, little grebe, great crested grebe, and coot. Trentabank is also home to a large heronry – the larch trees at the eastern shore are the nesting sites.
Way-marked trails in the forest follow public footpaths, concessionary paths and bridleways. Any of the way-marked trails through the forest may be followed on foot, all of which start from the visitor centre at Trentabank. Visitors are recommended to wear stout shoes or walking boots, as the paths are sometimes uneven, and often muddy! The way-marked trails in places are also designated as concessionary paths and bridlepaths, which may be used for horse-riding or cycling. The five way-marked trails are colour-coded, and may actually be followed without a map - at each 'junction' in the route there is a colour-coded marker post just before the junction, and one just after the junction. A leaflet is available showing the 5 way-marked trails:
- Yellow route (1km) is a short walk on steep paths.
- Blue route (5km) is a route taking you steeply uphill through the forest to the moorland edge.
- Red route (9km) is a route taking in both sides of the forest.
- Green route (1km) is an easy access route through the forest with one very short uphill section.
- Brown (Mushroom) route (2km) is an easy access route around the side of Ridgegate Reservoir.