In addition to Rock of Dunamase, Emo Court and Heywood Gardens Barrow Way, there are other, lesser-known, but gorgeous walking trails in Laois.
The Looped Walks on Slieve Bloom Mountains
There is a wonderful variety of landscapes waiting for you in the Slieve Bloom Mountains, from bogs and forestry paths to mountain streams and waterfalls. There are 16 different walks available and you can read about them here.
Bocadh Lodge Walk
One of our favourites is the 7km long Bocadh Lodge Walk. It crosses the Glen River Bridge, forest roads, grassy paths and valleys. You will also have nice views of the boglands and will walk past the ruins of Bocadh Lodge. This is the longest of the trails, which starts from Monicknew’s trailhead.
Glenbarrow Eco Walk
Glenbarrow Eco Walk at 8.5km is a little more demanding and will see you venturing across forest trails and roads! With waterfalls and a steep valley this route includes some of the most scenic parts of the Slieve Bloom area. Glenbarrow is the source of the River Barrow, the 2nd longest river in Ireland, and home to hares, foxes, badgers, fallow deer and many species of birds. Try to keep your excursion buddies silent for a little while, and there will be a good chance of a wildlife encounter!
We would also highly recommend walking boots, plenty of fluids, snacks, and hiking clothing for this walk. This trail may be a bit too much for kids; so for families, we’d recommend walking up to the waterfall and then returning to the car park where there are picnic benches.
Brittas Lake Loop
Most of the Brittas Lake Loop passes through mature trees and it leads to the secluded Brittas Lake. There will be ruins of a bridge, forest roads and the River Clodiagh on your beautiful nature walk.
Mountain Bike Trails
There are also mountain bike trails with trailheads at Kinnitty and Baunreagh. These trails range from moderate to difficult and are designed specifically for mountain bike use. There is currently 35km of mountain bike trails available, and eventually, there will be 100km of biking tracks to explore.
The Laois Camino
This is a relatively new initiative that started in 2018 and is intent on unveiling the hidden gems across county Laois while also supporting local businesses and charities. With so much heritage, woodlands, bogs, water and mountains to be explored and discovered in this county, a group of proud locals decided to organise the yearly Laoise Camino walk. Eventually, outside of the event, there will be individual walks for people to complete too!
Bonus: Slieve Bloom Way
The Slieve Bloom Way is a 75km trail and it’s estimated to takes 3 days to complete the circuit. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do it in one go, you can select different sections of the trail and walk them one at a time. Either way, the rewards will be great — Slieve Bloom Mountains stand alone in Ireland’s Central Plain and have some fantastic views, green forest trails and wildlife! There are five key trailheads that provide the best access to the trail; start at one of these points and you’ll find car parking and informational map boards.
The trailheads are located close to shops, accommodation, restaurants and public transport. Make sure you have your hiking boots on and are prepared with drinks, snacks, and waterproof hiking clothing (just in case).
Maldron Hotel Portlaoise
Maldron Hotel Portlaoise is a fantastic base for you to stay in while you are exploring the Slieve Bloom Mountains and County Laois! The hotel is located close to the motorway and around 20km from some of the most popular trailheads. Relax in the leisure centre’s swimming pool after a full day of walking and then grab a delicious bite to eat in the Grain & Grill restaurant.