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 one-way loops are waymarked with color codes signs, and the loops are stacked such that one loop leads to the next.
The 6km Greenwood Loop 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.
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.
The Greenwood Loop is the perfect introduction to mountain biking with easy climbs and fun singletrack descents and is the shortest of all the loops giving a great flavour of the Ballyhoura Trails. It is essentially one gradual climb followed by one long descent with all but 1.5 km of the loop on narrow, twisty singletrack trails.
The singletrack trails are quite technical in places and feature some elevated timber boardwalk sections with exposed edges. Some of the trails can be quite slippery in wet weather. The singletrack trails are all very narrow (not more than 1m wide) and have very variable surfaces including, loose rocks and gravel, mud, water and protruding roots. There are also likely to be encroaching vegetation and trees throughout.
Overall, Greenwood Loop is the 11th most popular mountain bike trail of all 14 mountain biking rides in Ireland.