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14 great Irish forest walks
Explore the great Irish outdoors with a forest walk.
Sprawling woodlands, waterways and wildlife spotting make Ireland’s forests a great escape from the everyday. Whether it’s a laid back family stroll or something a little more strenuous, wandering the country’s trails is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in nature.

Here’s our guide to Ireland’s most inspiring forest walks.

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1Ards Forest Park, Co Donegal

With its varied trails, Ards Forest Park’s habitats range from beaches with Atlantic views to oak woodland. Pick a family-friendly walk, like the 0.5km Salt Marsh Trail, or rise to the challenge of the 13km Red Trail. To make a day of it, stitch together the paths to complete a full circuit. As you tour around the park, keep an eye out for ringfort ruins, a holy well and megalithic tombs, or visit the playground with its wheelchair-friendly swing. To refuel, stop at a picnic table or pop into the Ards Coffee Tree for a treat.

Couple walking Ards Forest Park, Co Donegal
Pick a trail at Ards Forest Park.
2Hazelwood Forest, Co Sligo

In a beautiful spot by Half Moon Bay, the Hazelwood Forest trail hugs the shore of Lough Gill. This nature walk for all abilities can be taken as the full 3km loop or enjoyed over shorter distances. As you follow the track past wooden sculptures by Irish and international artists, enjoy the unfolding lake views. When it's time for a snack, unpack your picnic and relax for a spell.

Half Moon Bay at Lough Gill in County Sligo in autumn
Enjoy the views of Half Moon Bay.
3Portumna Forest Park, Co Galway

Gather the gang and follow the Forest Friendly Walking Trail in Portumna Forest Park to the viewing platform overlooking Lough Derg. You can include your furriest family members, as it's also dog friendly. This is a gentle stroll but, for more of a workout, try the Rinmaher, Woodland or Bonaveen trails. Whichever you choose, be on the lookout for deer, red squirrels, foxes and badgers along the way.

People in Portumna Forest Park in Co Galway
Take a stroll together at Portumna Forest Park.
4Dromore Wood Loop, Co Clare

Wind through a nature reserve with a rich diversity of life. On the easy Dromore Wood Loop, keen-eyed walkers can spot hares, stoats and dozens of other creatures. This dog-friendly trail at the Burren's edge takes you from woods to the lake shore, with views of the spectacular O’Brien Castle and Dromore Lake as added highlights. Look out for the unique features of the region as you pass turloughs (disappearing lakes), callows (flooded meadows) and limestone pavements. 

A family at the O'Brien Castle in Ennis, County Clare
Explore O'Brien Castle at Dromore Wood.
5Curragh Chase Glenisca Trail, Co Limerick

The moderate Glenisca Trail with its century-old yews and rugged cliffs provides a dramatic backdrop for reconnecting with nature. Along with lakes and mixed woodland, the forest also holds surprises like the remains of Irish poet and author Aubrey de Vere’s old home, an arboretum and pet cemetery. The Curraghchase Café within the park is a handy place to pause and pick up a hot drink and a light snack.

Experience the Curragh Chase Glenisca Trail in Co Limerick.
Experience the Curragh Chase Glenisca Trail in Co Limerick.
6Glanageenty Loop, Co Kerry

Immersed in myth and Irish folklore, the 4km stretch of the Glanageenty Loop in Kerry weaves through riverbanks and thick woodlands that are home to thriving birdlife and even the odd wild goat. Follow the trail and take a break in the glen – you'll find a plaque here commemorating the execution of Gerald the Earl of Desmond, the last to hold the once-revered title. Continue along the loop and uncover the remains of Desmond Castle where the ill-fated figure once lived. 

7Gougane Barra Forest Park, Co Cork

One of Irish nature’s wildest landscapes, Gougane Barra also has a place in history. At the park entrance, look out for the lake and its tiny island. It’s here in the 6th century that St Finbarr, Cork’s patron saint, founded his monastery. With six walks to choose from, for an easy option try the Slí Dhoire na Coise by the River Lee that takes you to the lake shore. The strenuous 2.5km Slí na Sléibhe is the toughest of the park's trails, but also the most picturesque as it takes you high into the mountains for amazing views.

Gougane Barra Forest Park, Co. Cork

Photo credit: @apperture_2.0

Explore the wild and beautiful Gougane Barra Forest Park.
8Avondale Forest Park Centenary Trail, Co Wicklow

The Centenary Trail at Avondale Forest Park celebrates 100 years of Irish forestry. Feel the age of the place as you walk through a collection of specimens from the four corners of the globe. The easy, family-friendly trail can be walked in either direction and there are 20 stops along the way. This showcase of the most impressive trees on the Avondale estate delights with stunning views across the Vale of Avoca and the Avonmore River.

Talk in the views in Avondale Forest Park.
Talk in the views in Avondale Forest Park.
9Donadea Forest Park, Co Kildare

The diversity of Donadea Forest Park makes every turn of the trail interesting. See the remnants of Donadea Castle and its walled gardens or reflect at the 9/11 Memorial with its scaled limestone replica of the Twin Towers. The Lake Walk is a lovely wheelchair accessible option that clocks in at around 1km, while the Aylmer Walk with its lime tree avenue leads you all around the park. In your wanderings, take a break at the onsite café.

Donadea Forest

Photo credit: @mrzullo

Enjoy a hot drink in the onsite café at Donadea Forest Park.
10Mullaghmeen Forest, Co Westmeath

At peaceful Mullaghmeen, lose yourself in Ireland's largest planted beech woods with three looped walks and a multi access trail. On the easy 3km Red Walk, there are wonderful views of Lough Sheelin and in springtime, you'll be treated to a carpet of bluebells. For a trip into history, along the moderate 8km White Walk you'll find relics dating back to the Famine period of the 1840s. 

Appreciate the quiet in Mullaghmeen Forest.
Appreciate the quiet in Mullaghmeen Forest.
11Lough Key Forest and Activity Park, Co Roscommon

With trails for all fitness levels, Lough Key Forest and Activity Park has a scenic multi-access path by Lough Key with a loop around Drummans Island. Try a different kind of walking experience on the 300m long Tree-Top Walk or get pulses racing with zip-lining. To cap off the excitement, tuck into something sweet at the onsite Lakeside Café and Food Truck.

A family on the Tree-Top Walk at Lough Key Forest and Activity Park in County Roscommon
Take in Lough Key Forest and Activity Park from new heights.
12Dún na Rí Forest Park, Co Cavan

Along the banks of the River Cabra, steeped in legend Dún na Rí is said to be where Cú Chulainn once camped overnight. Four signposted paths from a River Walk to an Access for All Trail take you through Norway spruce and oak trees. Watch for glimpses of hares, stoats and otters and you can also see the ruins of the original Cabra House near the Wishing Well.

Dún na Rí Forest Park in County Cavan
Follow in the footsteps of Irish legends at Dún na Rí Forest Park.
13Killykeen Forest Park, Co Cavan

By the shores of Lough Oughter, you’ll find Killykeen Forest Park. Ringed around the lake are woodlands of spruce, ash, oak and beech where you can choose from four walks. Each signposted trail is a pleasant, family-friendly route with areas for picnicking and swimming.

Head for a leisurely stroll in Killykeen Forest Park.
Head for a leisurely stroll in Killykeen Forest Park.
14Ticknock Fairy Castle Loop, Co Dublin

The views from the 5.5km Ticknock Fairy Castle Loop live up to its magical name. Ascend the moderate climb of 210m summits at Three Rock and be rewarded with sweeping panoramas of Dublin city and the bay. You’ll also pass the trail’s namesake Fairy Castle, an ancient passage tomb under a mysterious stone cairn.

Ticknock, Dublin Mountain Walking Trail
Take in wonderful views from the Ticknock Fairy Castle Loop.
Get out and enjoy Ireland’s incredible walks

Check out more fresh air inspiration and plan your next walking and hiking adventure in Ireland.

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