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 35km 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.
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 Garrane Loop has technical singletrack in places with numerous very tight turns, steep descents and features such as small rock steps, exposed roots and elevated timber boardwalks. Trail surfaces vary a lot including loose gravel, rocks, mud and water and can be very uneven and extremely narrow with encroaching vegetation, boulders and trees.
From waypoint 3 (reached by following the Green then Brown waymarkers) you pick up White waymarkers passing Waypoints 4, 5 and 6 along the way. These waypoints provide opportunities to either cut short the loop or to extend but the white waymarkers eventually bring you all the way back to Waypoint 3, from where you follow the Brown then the Green waymarkers all the way back to the car park.
This loop features numerous long climbs and takes in areas of high ground that can be exposed to bad weather.
Overall, Garrane Loop is the 10th most popular mountain bike trail of all 14 mountain biking rides in Ireland.