Ballyhoura Trail Centre has the largest mountain bike trail network of its kind in Ireland and provides many options for off-road cycling. Forest road climbs lead you into tight twisty singletrack with loads of ups and downs, tight turns and technical rocky bits. The trails range from the moderate 6 kilometre Greenwood loop to the demanding Castlepook loop, over 50 kilometres in length! Tough forest road climbs are rewarded with sweeping fast descents guaranteed to leave you smiling! The trail system, designed by Dafydd Davis, one of the world leaders in the sport, is an exciting network constructed to give a challenging and rewarding ride. Each of the loops here presents riders with a combination of narrow singletrack and boardwalk sections and also has sections of forest road climbs over short and long distances. For the walker there are a range of waymaked trails that allow you to explore the hills, valleys, glens of the Ballyhouras. Enjoy!
(€5 fee in coins on entry)
Park opening / closing hours
08.00 – 22.00 sharp (Jan-Dec)
Things to do
The trails are laid out in 5 loops and each loop leads onto the next. The loops are waymarked in one direction - just pick the colour of the loop you want to ride and follow the arrows. The Green/Greenwood Loop (6kms, 45 mins, moderate) is a good introduction to the MTB trails. The Brown/Mountrussell Loop (17kms, 2 hours, difficult) is some technical features on it with more climbing and descending. The White/Garrane Loop (35kms, 4 hours, difficult) is a lot more challenging in terms of distance with sections of tight turns, steep descents and features such as small rock steps, exposed roots and elevated timber boardwalks. The Blue/Streamhill Loop (41km, 5 hrs, severe) is challenging in terms of distance but will take you to the remoter parts of the forest. Finally there is the Red/Castlepook Loop (51km, 4-6 hours, severe) thatis the ultimate loop of the Ballyhoura trails, being the longest and most demanding. It goes right to the southern fringes of the forest and presents you with the biggest climbs and most rewarding descents.
Please ensure you are equipped fully to undertake this adventure sport and respect other trial users at all times. The trail can be quite exposed on the upper slopes and can be very windy in poor weather - dress accordingly. Have fun!
There are three looped walking trails starting and finishing at the main trailhead. The Nature Trail (2kms, 40mins, moderate) has a number of information points and woodland animals to be seen and is ideal for children ; the Greenwood Trail (4.8 kms, 1hr 50 mins, moderate) is a delightful trek through the forest taking in local streams; the Blackrock Loop (11 kms, 4.5 hrs, strenuous) combines forest and mountain walking with some spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.
There are 23 permanent orienteering controls in the Ballyhouras. They are organised into two courses, SHORT and LONG for you to choose from depending on your fitness and skill levels. For schools, the orienteering can be combined with an opportunity to learn more about the great outdoors through the Primary and Secondary education workbooks.
The hen harrier is a resident in the Ballyhouras, along with Peregrine falcons, red squirrels, hares, deer, badgers, frogs galore who all enjoy this 6000 hectare block of forest and mountain upland.
Don’t miss our hidden gem
Nestled in the countryside this deceptive forest has so many activity choices that it warrants a day or weekend trip. Coupled with a warm Ballyhoura welcome, you will not be disappointed.
Visitors Facilities on site
Bike Hire on site, contact Trailriders