Monicknew woodlands form the boundary between the counties of Laois and Offaly. Adjacent to the Slieve Bloom Way trailhead is Monicknew Bridge through which the Glen river flows. This bridge is known locally as the Glen Bridge and is in the style of a Roman arch. The bridge, built of sandstone in 1840, is dated on the keystone. The arch is quite impressive when viewed from below on the riverside walk, being 10 m high from the river bed.
The Glen river is a “young” river in geological terms. Mountain streams such as this tend to cut out straight paths and will eventually do so irrespective of whatever natural obstacle may lie in its way. The presence of alder on the banks of the Glen river plays an important part in preventing erosion.
In May bluebells occur in profusion.
There are a number of waymarked trails in this forest to suit all abilities of walker. The trails are located on both sides of the Glen river and range from easy to strenuous in terms of length and distance. Some usage of the public road is necessary when walking parts of some trails, so care should be taken on these sections.
As a curiosity, above the bridge on the public road, guess which way the road descends. Then, try it in your car! Is it an optical illusion?
Things to do
Walk: Monicknew has three waymarked trails and is also the site of a trailhead for a section of the Slieve Bloom Way. The three trails all start at the car park and all follow the river for various lengths. The names of the trails are; The Riverside Walk (1.5kms, 30mins, easy) a walk for the whole family and taking in a stretch of the river and a place to relax before heading back to the car park; The Monicknew Valley Walk (3.5km, 1 ½ hrs, moderate) this walk can be split and you can do a 2 km stretch or you can go for the full 3.5 km and be rewarded with fine views before heading back; The Bocadh Lodge Walk (7km, 2 ½ hrs, moderate) This longer trail crosses both dark forest and open unplanted lands, giving good views to the boglands and forests below. The trail mostly follows forest road and crosses some farm tracks also. Please ensure that any stiles that are crossed or gates that you go through are left as you found them. The ruins of Bocadh lodge are passed along the trail leading back to the car-park.
Visitors Facilities on site
Car Parking – 15 cars