From the daily commute to the weekend rides, you’re probably spending plenty of your time on the road. So how about a change of scenery – because where we’re going, you don’t need roads! Mountain biking (MTB) is a significant change of gear for cyclists, but whether it’s the adrenaline, the challenge, or the rewards that await having negotiated a trail, it’s as exciting and enjoyable a venture as you’ll find.
It’s easy to get started, too; Ireland is dotted with perfect spots to get your first taste of trail riding. So grab your diary and your GPS, and get some plans in place to hit the hills – here are five of the finest destinations to get you started…
BALLYHOURA COUNTRY, CO. CORK, LIMERICK & TIPPERARY
You might wonder how three different counties can lay claim to this one; when we explain that this area totals more than 90km of trails, it might become clear! Perhaps the ultimate destination for mountain biking in Ireland, the choice of routes is varied enough to cater for any level, and the Greenwood Loop is a lovely way to get started. The best news is that once you’ve mastered it, other challenges await a mere stone’s throw away!
PORTUMNA FOREST PARK, CO. GALWAY
Covering a whopping 450 hectares, the Western attraction is something of a Mecca for the outdoorsy type – and that includes MTB enthusiasts. A pair of trails, both suitable for riders of all levels, offer beautiful scenery through the woodlands to the lakeshore. As an added bonus, there’s also a family-friendly loop to Portumna town, and even a tarred circuit perfect for little ones trying life in the saddle for the first time.
Find Out More: https://www.coillte.ie/site/portumna-forest-park/
TICKNOCK, CO. DUBLIN
While the elevation means a decent level of fitness is recommended – at the foot of the Ticknock mountain trail, you’ll begin 270 metres above sea level – the variety of trails that stretch across the area mean there’s something for just about everyone. It’s a location to remember for later, too; along with neighbouring Stepaside, this patch of Dublin contains some of the most enjoyable, if slightly more difficult, mountain trails in the nation.
Find Out More: https://www.coillte.ie/site/ticknock/
MUCKROSS, CO. KERRY
Also a popular walking route, this loop around Muckross Lake will send you on a counter-clockwise trip through one of the most scenic spots in the south-west – and while the views might take your breath away, the exertion shouldn’t! It’s an excellent option for an impromptu biathlon, too; if you pack your togs and a towel, you might just find the waters irresistible!
Find Out More: https://killarneyrentabike.com/routes/
SLIEVE BLOOM, CO. OFFALY
Soon, there will be 100km of bike trails draped across an area destined to become an MTB must-see; indeed, the first two routes opened are already worth getting excited about. The Kinnitty Trailhead is the most difficult on this list, so it’s probably worth saving for when you’ve had a little more experience – but from the panoramic views to the high-speed descents, it’s something very special that you’ll have to look forward to…
Find Out More: https://slievebloom.ie/biking/mountain-biking
Make sure you’ve a good breakfast in your belly before you set off! Try these banana pancakes with Matcha…