Southwest of Dublin and southeast of Shannon, the Ballyhoura Trails Mountain Bike Centre provides access to numerous mountain bike loops totalling about 96km. It is considered the largest trail network in Ireland. There are steep climbs through dense forest, and rolling winding singletrack. The trails range from 6km loops up to 50km loops.
The one-way loops are waymarked with color codes signs, and the loops are stacked such that one loop leads to the next.
There is car park and trailhead for these trails is located 2 kms south of Ardpatrick village in County Limerick off the R512 road.
To reach the Ballyhoura Trails Mountain Bike Centre from Limerick, take the N20 south through Charleville and continue 2kms further on to Ballyhea. Turn left just after Ballyhea church and drive for 10kms to reach Ardpatrick village. Turn right and continue for 2.5 kms. Take the turn to the right, signposted Ballyhoura Forest, the car park is 1km up this road. From Dublin: take the M7 south to Limerick and join N20. From Shannon: take the N18 south to Limerick and join N20. From Cork: take the N20 to Mallow, follow the N72, signposted Waterford through the town, shortly outside the town rake a left onto the N73 signposted Mitchelstown, travel for approx. 13 km, turn left onto a minor road, signposted Ardpatrick. The car park is approx. 10km up this road. Alternatively, from Cork, take the M8 as far as exit 13, signposted Mitchelstown. Continue onto the Mitchelstown bypass, take the 2nd exit at the 3rd roundabout, signposted Kildorrery, in Kildorrery village take a right onto the R512, continue on approx. 11.5km, the turnoff for the carpark will be on your left.
Greenwood Loop (6km) - This is the first of five loops in the trail system in the Ballyhouras and is called the Green Wood loop. This trail takes you through the lush hillsides underneath Seefin Mountain and Black Rock and is used as the outward and inward legs for the rest of the trail network.
Mountrussell Loop (17km) - The Mountrussell Loop is a more technical and physically demanding version of the Greenwood Loop and follows this as far as Waypoint 1, from where the trails become a bit more technical, narrower, rockier and steeper with more climbing and more descending.
Garrane Loop (35km) - The Garrane Loop ventures westwards from Waypoint 3 taking in some long and fast singletrack descents as well as some long and demanding climbs on forest roads, tracks and singletrack trails.
Streamhill Loop (41km) - The Streamhill Loop provides an initial detour from the Garrane Loop giving a longer ride before rejoining to climb higher into the mountains. It detours again from the Garrane Loop higher up and starts some of the most demanding of the trails here with fast descents and longer climbs.
Castlepook Loop (51km) - This is 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. Be prepared!
Overall, Ballyhoura Mountain Bike Centre is the 11th most popular mountain bike trail of all 14 mountain biking rides in Ireland.