In response to the increasing demands for recreational forest use by mountain bikers, the Irish forestry company Coillte have developed a small number of purpose built mountain bike trails in some of their forests around Ireland. There has been widespread recognition throughout Europe of the importance of recreational forest use. So to some extent this box has been checked now by Coillte. We at MountainBiking.ie have ridden these trails and bring you reviews of Ballinastoe, Derroura, Ballyhoura and Portumna Trails and their facilities aswell as GPS Maps and Directions.
I've been living in Sweden for the last seven years and when a mate of mine suggested going mountain biking on a recent return to Ireland, it seemed like a great idea. Now, here's the thing - mountain biking looks easy but if you're coordination and balance is atrocious as mine, the sport is a bit trickier than you might think.
Portumna Forest Park is located on the northern shores of Lough Derg and formed part of the Clanrickarde family estate which was purchased by Coillte in 1948. The park offers walking trails, nature trails, Views of the lake and the opportunity to see deer and other wildlife. The Portumna mountain bike trails are almost identical. They are a bit different to the usual Coillte trails, in that they are shared with walkers.
There are three mtb trails in Portumna Forest Park, Bonaveen & Rinmaher mountain bike trails run for 10.5 km and are graded moderate. Bonaveen is marked red, Rinmaher is green. Woodland is the blue trail and it is only about 10 min long and perfect for children.
Colour coded brown, the Mountrussell loop is considered by our forum members to be the best Coillte MTB trail to ride in Limerick. The Mountrussell loop takes about 2hrs to ride at a relaxed pace.
The five Ballyhoura MTB Trails begin at the car park and turn back individually at various points to form individual loops. The Mountrussell loop is the second shortest loop and we measured it at 15km. It is an easy trail to cycle because the ground is well compacted and smooth. However there are some technical areas which may not be suitable for beginners. The total climb is 162m this compares to 210m for Ballinastoe MTB Trail over a similar distance.