Gougane Barra Forest Park
An area of wild and beautiful scenery, this magnificent Forest Park covers over 137 splendid hectares (339 acres). It is tucked in a lush valley at the edge of the Sheehy mountains, the ideal place to hike, get in touch with nature, picnic and inhale the fresh air. Think Canadian Rockies with its sharp crags, high pine forests and panoramic views sweeping down the lake. It is in these hills where the majestic River Lee rises, flowing to Cork Harbour approximately 89km away. Steeped in history, there is a tiny island at the edge of the lake at the entrance to the Forest Park where St. Finbarr, patron saint of Cork, founded his early Christian monastery in the 6th century. A place for all seasons, visit the park in spring when the new growth mellows the stark winter landscape, or in Summer when the sounds of birdsong on the high trails ring out in the hills.
Things to do
Walk: There are six walking trails to suit all levels of fitness, each one with its own unique story to tell. The Slí an Ghaorthaidh (0.5kms, 30mins, multi-access) is a nature trail with 10 stops; Sli na Laoi (1.3kms, 1hr, moderate) is a delightful trek along the floor of Coomroe following the course of the infant Lee to the head of the valley; Slí Dhoire na Coise (1.8kms, 45mins, easy) is a gentle walk along the Lee to the lake and back; the more energetic can tackle the Slí an Easa (1.8kms, 1.5hrs, strenuous); Slí na Sléibhe (2.5kms, 2hrs, strenuous) is the most majestic of all the trails in the park – high into the mountains with spectacular views; for those pressed for time, Slí an Choim Rua (0.5kms, 30mins, moderate) gives a glimpse into the wonder of the park at the back of the forest valley.
Cycle: The 318 kilometre-long Cork City-Beara-Gougane Barra cycle route finishes in Gougane Barra.
Scenic drive: The looped 3 km motor trail boasts spectacular views of the deep valley and its walled sides.
Explore nature: Immerse in the rich diversity of plant, animal and bird life. Long heather and Moor grasses are abundant on the slopes, while rock faces are covered with mosses, lichens and primitive plants including the rare Fox’s Cabbage.
Don’t miss our hidden gem
On your approach to the Forest Park, St Finbarr's Oratory or Small Church on the lake island, with beautiful old stations of the cross and lovely stained glass windows. A popular and magical setting for weddings.
Visitors Facilities on site
(€5 fee in coins on entry)