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 17km 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.
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 Mountrussell Loop features some steep climbs on forest roads and singletrack as well as long singletrack descents. All of the singletrack trails have extremely varied and sometimes very uneven surfaces, including rocks, loose gravel, mud, water and roots and are often very narrow (not more than 1m wide) with lots of tight turns, encroaching vegetation and with trees and boulders very close to the trail. There are also long sections of elevated timber boardwalk with exposed edges and uneven and sometimes slippery surfaces.
Follow the Brown waymarkers all the way to Waypoint 3 where you begin the inward leg of the Loop and eventually pick up the Green waymarkers that lead you back to the car park. Along the way you will pass Waypoint 2 where you can take a shortcut back to the car park by going left up the hill to pick up the inward leg of the Loop.