Ballyhoura is the premiere trail center in Ireland. The trail system features a number of increasingly lengthy, but not necessarily more difficult, nested trails. In addition, there are three shorter "Tech" segments that offer more advanced features such as tight and sweeping bermed turns and short jumps.
This loop mostly follows the Garrane Loop (White Loop)
, but it hits all the Tech segments along the way. Much of the trail passes through a crazy green forest. Sections have been logged (the land manager is a logging company) but these offer great views of the, also crazy green, surrounding countryside.
Bring 5 EUR (coins) for the car park. The trailhead features toilets, showers (for both people and bikes), and bike hire.
The fun starts right from the car park. Head west to quickly reach the Skills Training Shortcut
which goes quickly downhill and then turn right at the bottom to catch the last part of the Skills Training Loop
which takes you back to the car park in short order.
If that hit the spot, head back into the forest and take the second right after .25 miles (.04 km) onto the full Skills Training Loop
. You'll head rapidly downhill through the forest with a number of tight switchbacks in short succession. Theres a little bit of a tricky water crossing at the bottom around the halfway mark and then you'll begin a very gentle climb back to the car park. If you also enjoyed that, you won't have any issues with the technical features on the rest of the loop. Go back into the forest a third time and following the Garrane Loop (White Loop)
proper and continue past the skills training area.
Garrane features a series of several gentle 150-300 foot (50 to 100 m) climbs and descents. The path is mostly singletrack connected with some short forest road segments. There are a number of boardwalk sections to protect particularly sensitive areas of the forest floor. These sections of the forest are unbelievably green. The singletrack sections twist and dip through the forest with rocks and roots seeking to impede your progress along the way. And because Collite manages the land for both recreation and commercial purposes, you'll pass through sections of dense forest as well as recently logged and regenerating forest. From the logged sections, you'll enjoy long distance views of the surrounding countryside which is also amazingly green.
Just before the seven mile mark (11 km), riders will reach the turnoff (veer right) for Tech Loop 1
. The trail rides fast as it's mostly downhill, and you can carry speed through the many bermed turns. There are a couple of jumps along the way that will allow you to get some flying time, but nothing an intermediate rider should have any trouble with. This is most appropriately followed with the Tech 2 Loop which is similar in character to Tech Loop 1
. When you get back to the main trail, turn right for a couple hundred meters to the entrance to Tech Loop 2
(veer right again).
After Tech Loop 2
, you'll again follow the Garrane Loop (White Loop)
. This resumes your normal program of 150-300 foot (50 to 100 m) climbs and descents with alternating singletrack and forest road. The last descent, starting around 20 miles (32 km) after the Greenwood Loop (Green loop) merges with the trail, is a nice way to end the ride. It's one of the steeper descents, most of it is singletrack, and it passes through a dense forest with a number of boardwalk sections.