Fantastic Forest Parks in Ireland Perfect for Families

Jill Holtz

July 10, 2022

forest parks in Ireland

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Forest Parks are a great place to take the kids, for walking, cycling, picnicking and general outdoor fun. We have 12 forest parks in Ireland that are run by Coillte, all with great facilities to enjoy.

And even better, they are all free to visit (aside from some having parking fees), so are a good way of having a low cost family day out. These forest parks in Ireland really are perfect for family adventure!

Fantastic Forest Parks in Ireland

Coillte’s 12 Forest Parks are spread all around the country and offer a wonderful array of facilities including children’s playgrounds, picnic sites, marked walking and cycling trails alongside the beautiful scenic woodlands.

They are ideal places to take the family and have a ramble, spot some nature, have a picnic if the weather permits, spot wildlife, and do some fun outdoor activities and games!

Ards Forest Park, Donegal

Ards Forest Park outdoor places in Donegal

The sea is one of the real treasures of Ards Forest Park and there are several trails, the Binngorm Trail, the Salt Marsh Trail and the Sand Dune Trail, which offer an opportunity to experience the sea in all its facets.

The park covers approximately 480 hectares (1200 acres) with a variety of habitats, among them sand dunes, beaches, salt marshes, salt water lakes, rock face and, of course, coniferous and deciduous woodlands. With such a variety of landscapes, it is possible to spend many hours exploring this wonderful park.

Ards Forest Park is situated 5km north of Creeslough on the N56. Amenities include toilets, picnic area, playground, barbecue area, walking trails.

There is a parking fee, payment can now be made by credit or debit card.  The Car park opens at 8am to 9pm (April-September) and 8am to 5pm (October-March).

Dun a Ri Forest Park, Cavan

Dun A Ri, Forest Park

Dun a Ri Forest Park located north of Kingscourt on the R179 to Carrickmacross offers walking trails with plenty of nature and wildlife. At different seasons you can enjoy lots of wildflowers including snowdrops, bluebells, wood anemone, woodrush, foxgloves, wood sorrel and a wide range of ferns.

Walking is a great way to experience the delights of Dun a Ri, there are four signposted walks, Nature Trail, Village Walk, River Walk and the Access for all Trail. Download the trail map before you go.

Amenities include picnic area and toilets, walled garden, duck pond and lake.

There is a parking fee, payment can now be made by credit or debit card.

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Killykeen Forest Park, Cavan

Killykeen Forest Park, Co Cavan

Killykeen Forest Park is very scenic as it lies on the shores of Lough Oughter which is part of the River Erne system. As well as walking trails that lead through dark forests, over bridges and along river banks, there are picnic areas and children’s playground.

There are four signposted walks ranging from 500m to 5.6km, and a family cycle trail in Killykeen Forest Park. Boating, canoeing and fishing are also available.  Download the trail map before you go.

Toilets avaialable.

Cavan Burren Park, Cavan

Cavan Burren Park

Cavan Burren Park is located 4km south of the village of Blacklion.

With huge sinkholes where streams disappear, a sunken valley and the ‘Giant’s Leap’ among some of the amazing features found here (similar to those found in the Burren, Co. Clare). There are more than 80 archaeological monuments from the ‘Giant’s Grave and ‘Calf-House Dolmen’ to stone circles and rock art throughout the Park.

All of this along with breathtaking views of Cuilcagh Mountain and the surrounding landscapes of Lough MacNean, Cavan and Fermanagh and the wider Global Geopark.

Amenities include picnic site, toilets, walking trails as well as an Interpretive centre with visitor information.

Rossmore Forest Park, Monaghan

Rossmore Forest Park Playground

Rossmore Forest Park, located 3.5km south west of Monaghan town has forest and lakeside walks, nature trails with viewing points as well as picnic areas. Amenities include

  • Fantastic children’s playground, picnic area and toilets.
  • Castle Trail taking you through the more historical area of the park past the ruins of Rossmore Castle, the walled garden, Fish hatchery and reservoir.
  • Lakes Trail passing various lakes and water courses in the park
  • Nature Trail follows a tarmacadam track through the wood which is adjacent to the car park. There is also a tarmacadam path leading to a picnic area and a viewing point overlooking Barnhill Lake. This trail is suitable for wheel chair users.
  • Giant Sculpture trail – spot the Giants on your way round!
  • Cycle friendly trail
  • Fishing – apply to local anglers club for permission.

Download the visitor map or there you can download the Rossmore Forest Park App free via the App Store or Google Play for guides, quic history and more.

Lough Key Forest Park, Roscommon

best campsites in Ireland for families

Lough Key Forest Park is located on the N4 13km west of Carrick on Shannon and 4 km east of Boyle.

The ‘Lough Key Experience’ will take you on an engaging audio journey through the history, flora and fauna of the Park using the 19th century underground tunnels with the refurbished Moylurg viewing tower.

There’s also a Tree Canopy Walk, this 300m long creation of timber and steel gently rises 9m above the woodland floor offering an engaging ‘birds eye’ view of nature as it meanders through the treetops offering panoramic views of the island-studded lake.

The innovative weather independent Boda Borg is a unique Swedish concept containing fun-filled activities, imaginative puzzles and enjoyable tasks but no instructions!  Once you enter the challenging two-storey Boda Borg only teamwork using countless different skills, ingenuity, trial and error will allow you to progress from room to room.

You can also stay in their Caravan and Camping Park for a few nights and take time to explore the 350 hectare estate from its 19th century parkland with majestic trees, follies, bridges and canals to the numerous walks and trails through the native woodlands, Bog Garden and Coillte forests.

Amenities include toilets, picnic and bbq areas, boat launch, Campsite and Caravan park.

Portumna Forest Park, Galway

Portumna Forest Park

Portumna Forest Park is adjacent to Portumna town, Co. Galway on the northern side of Lough Derg.

There are looped trails in Portumna Forest Park ranging from a multi-access trail suitable for all visitors of approx 1km length, to a long multi-use trail of over 10kms for walkers and cyclists.

  • There are 2 mountain bike trails; both open and flowing with gentle gradients through beautiful woodland and along the lake shores. These are ‘easy’ grade and are suitable for almost all riders
  • Family cycling: The inner loop is 1.5kms long and with a tarred surface, it is ideal for teaching kids to cycle and for all range of bikes – toy bikes, tag-a-longs and child seats.
  • Leisure cycling: There is now a loop which connects to the town along forest roads with smooth and compact surfaces. Leave the car-park and follow the family friendly route bringing you down to Castle Harbour and into the town.
  • Orienteering: Adult course.
  • Wheelo: One wheel chair orienteering course.
  • Permanent Orienteering courses: there are 3 courses to suit primary/secondary schools and adults.
  • Birdwatching: From the new bird hide near the viewing platform.

Amenities include toilets, picnic area. Car park closes at 6pm in Winter and 9pm in Summer.

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Donadea Forest Park, Kildare

donadea forest park

Donadea Forest Park is located 8 KM south of Kilcock on R407 to Naas.

Donadea has some lovely woodland walks with lake and ducks, and many historical remains. There are plenty of picnic spots throughout park. Explore historical features including the remains of the castle and walled gardens, St. Peter’s church, an ice house and boat house. The Lime tree avenue planted in the 19th century formed the original entrance to the estate.

Another feature of the park is the 9/11 Memorial, a scaled replica of the twin towers carved in limestone. The small lake is brimming with flora and fauna including mallard duck, waterhen, fish and a beautiful display of water lilies in the summer. There is a café open throughout the year.

Amenities include toilets, picnic area, orienteering course, trails, gardens.

Car parking can be paid by debit/credit card.

Avondale Forest Park, Wicklow

Beyond the Trees Avondale Forest PArk

Journey Beyond the Trees at Avondale Forest Park, with its incredible Treetop Walk & Viewing Tower. The views from within and above the forest are breathtaking, looking out widely over the Wicklow mountains, Avonmore river valley and the Vale of Avoca. You can take the slide for a fantastic descent from the top of the Tower!

Uncover the story of Avondale House, where Irish forestry began and where one of Ireland’s greatest statemen, Charles Stewart Parnell, was born. Enjoy forest park trails or take a leisurely stroll through the walled gardens. Explore the Coillte Pavilion and learn about the essential role forests play in all our futures, or just take some time out in the Seed Café.

Amenities include Arboreta/Gardens, toilets, picnic tables throughout the Forest Park, playground in the Walled Garden.

Discover the wider Forest Park on the trails throughout:

  • Centenary Trail looped walk: (2.6kms, 1 hour, Easy) – meet trees from many corners of the world that have become established in the Irish climate and landscape. The trail guides you through a showcase of tree species found on the estate. Due to the re-development the walk detours slightly back to the start.
  • Railway Walk linear walk: (2.1kms, 1 hour each way, Moderate) from Rathdrum railway station through the woods to Avondale House, and could have been used by Parnell on his frequent journeys. It is often used by locals as a looped walk starting in Rathdrum, down into the Park and back along the footpath beside the road back into Rathdrum.
  • The River Walk (5.2kms, 2 hours, Strenuous) is the longest and hardest walk at Avondale with some steep descents and climbs, therefore strong footwear is recommended. Walking alongside the river you pass under two railway bridges, still used today. There are magnificent river views and further up the hill you can see Lovers Lookout.

Car Park: 7am-10pm April to September and 8am-5pm (October to March)

Curragh Chase Forest Park, Limerick

Curragh Chase Park

Curragh Chase Forest Park is located 22km west of Limerick on the N69 coast road close to Kilcornan and Askeaton.

Nature lovers will be spoilt for choice with so many habitats and associated flora and fauna. The main jewels are the Yew woodland, the lake and its feathered residents, the bats who reside in the big house and the many specimen trees in the Arboretum.

There are a number of looped way marked trails in the park to suit all visitors. They vary from the multi-access trails suitable for wheelchair users and family walkers to the longer Curragh and Glenisca trails suitable for those looking for more demanding walking and cycling. There are many wonderful features of the de Vere estate dotted around the Park for you to find, including; the impressive Arboretum, a pet cemetery and a memorial cross.

There are two extensive playgrounds in the Park and lots of picnic tables and BBQ stands to use at the main car parking area. A permanent orienteering course has been laid out in Curragh Chase with controls spread out across the Park. This is a great way to see Curragh Chase while keeping fit and honing your navigation skills.

Amenities include toilets, boat launch, orienteering, walking, cycling, gardens.

Cashless payment available for car park. Opening hours 7am – 9pm (1st April to 31st October), 8am – 6pm (1st November to 31st March)

Farran Forest Park, Cork

farran forest park playground

Farran Forest Park is located 20km west of Cork city and just north of the N22 towards Macroom.

Farran Forest Park has ample car parking, toilets, and a playground.  The wildlife enclosure holds a small herd of Red and Fallow deer which can easily be viewed from the waymarked Enclosure Trail that skirts the boundary fence. Adults and children alike get great enjoyment from being able to observe these beautiful animals.

The duck pond, which was originally a ‘flighting pond’, includes duck species such as; Mallard, Teal, Widgeon, and Shoveler along with Greylag, White Fronted, Barnacle, Snow and Egyptian geese.  An old shooting lodge adjacent to the wildlife enclosure has been converted into a woodland ecology display centre.

The children’s playground, just a short distance from the car park, has an adventure trail to captivate the imagination of the adventurous and energetic children. The challenge here is to get around it without touching the ground.

There are 2 waymarked looped forest trails in the park: the Enclosure Trail (1.1 kms, 25 mins, Easy) will take you around the perimeter of the deer enclosure and duck pond offering clear viewing of the mammals and birds while the Woodland Loop (3 kms, 1hr, moderate) gives the walker a chance to experience the full park which include the homeward leg beside Inniscarra Lake. There is a spur trail at the back of the Park down to ‘Mallard Cove’ where it is possible to see the fish jumping.

Amenities include Public toilet, Picnic Site, Playground, Orienteering Course, Walking Trails, Viewing Points. You can also enjoy Zipit Aerial Trails with over 800 metres of Ziplines for you to enjoy at the Park.

Cashless payment at the car park. Opening hours 8am-9pm (April to September) and 8am-5.30pm (October to March)

Gougane Barra Forest Park, Cork

Gougane Barra Forest Park – ICP (1)

Gougane Barra Forest Park is located 7 km south west of Ballingeary, off the R584.

There are 6 different trails of varying distances and degrees of difficulty. Each one has its own story to tell and show off the spectacular panoramas of mountain, valley, stream and lake.

  • Slí an Ghaorthaidh (0.5kms, 30mins, multi-access) is a nature trail with 10 stops
  • Slí an Choim Rua (0.5kms, 30mins, moderate) gives a glimpse into the wonder of the park at the back of the forest valley.
  • Sli na Laoi (1.3kms, 1hr, moderate) is a delightful trek along the floor of Coomroe following the course of the infant Lee to the head of the valley
  • Slí Dhoire na Coise (1.8kms, 45mins, easy) is a gentle walk along the Lee to the lake and back
  • Slí an Easa (1.8kms, 1.5hrs, strenuous) good for the more energetic
  • Slí na Sléibhe (2.5kms, 2hrs, strenuous) is the most majestic of all the trails in the park – high into the mountains with spectacular views; for those pressed for time

The looped 3 km motor trail boasts spectacular views of the deep valley and its walled sides.

Amenities include picnic site, toilets, trails, viewing points.

Parking Fee of €5.00 per car for the day (Coins Only)

Fantastic Forest Parks in Ireland Perfect for Families - Mykidstime

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Published On: July 10th, 2022 / Categories: Ireland / Last Updated: July 17th, 2022 / Tags: , , , /

About the Author: Jill Holtz

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Jill is one of the co-founders of Mykidstime and a mum of 2 girls

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