1. Gougane Barra Forest Park – Sli Sleibhe Hike
One of 6 hiking trails in the Gougane Barra Forest Park, the Sli Sleibhe trail is the longest, definitely the most taxing but also offers the most spectacular views. A strenuous hike, allow around 2 hours to complete the 2.5kms which will take you through forest tracks towards picture-perfect views of the Sheehy Mountains.
2. Ardgroom - Pulleen Loop
This one is a gorgeous loop walk if you’re looking for something a bit more chill, but still with a bit of distance. The trail is around 5km and will take 2 hours to complete at a moderate pace. You’ll take in archaeological sites, sea caves, a beach, and the Canfie Stone Circle. This loop is part of the Beara Way so if you come to the end and you’re not done exploring, there are plenty more hikes literally at your feet!
3. Old Head of Kinsale Loop Walk
At 6km, this is a trail that will suit most levels of fitness and takes around an hour and a half to complete. The head itself overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and the views throughout the walk are spectacular on a clear day. Start at the Speckled Door Bar & Restaurant and make the most of the day by taking a detour through to Garretstown Beach.
The Ballyhoura Mountain Biking Trails technically start in Limerick but winds its way into County Cork so that’s good enough for us! With biking trails starting at a manageable 6km and skyrocketing up to an expert 50km, there’s a trail here to fit lots of skill levels and bike hire is available close by so you don’t have to BYO gear. If you’re keen to experience Ballyhoura but aren’t convinced on the cycling option, there are also waymarked walking routes in this area so you can take your time exploring!
5. 7 Heads Walk
If you have a long weekend free and are stuck for something outdoorsy to do, consider tackling the 7 Heads Walk. At 42.5km, the 7 Heads will take you the best part of 2 days, and if you’re pacing yourself, more like 4. There are a few shorter route options if you’ve got more of a day-walk in mind but either way, take your binoculars and keep an eye out for the stunning birdlife in this area!
Around 20 minutes outside of Cork City in Farran Forest Park, Zipit Farran Wood is a ‘high wire forest adventure park’ focused specifically on ziplining, that caters to a range of ages and levels of ability. Climb the treetops, traverse high-wire bridges, scale across cargo nets, and sail through the forest canopy. 5 different circuits ranging in length are on offer; off-the-ground heights start at 1m and go all the way up to 15m!
7. Sheep’s Head Way
If the 7 Heads Walk felt like a casual stretch, you might be ready for Sheep’s Head Way. 150km, 7 days hiking and a 300m overall vertical ascent, this long-distance trail is one of the best on offer in County Cork. Starting in Bantry Sheep’s Head Way is a circular route taking you the length of the North Coast Peninsula with plenty of villages to stop and stay along the way. Keep an eye out for dolphins & whales off the coast and if you’re looking for a shorter hike, there are 20 different day trails to choose from!
Image Credit: https://twitter.com/ntwamley
8. The Beara Way Cycling Route
Most people think of the Beara Way as a walking track but it’s a brilliant option for cycling too! You can break the full route up into 5 sections ranging in length from 14 to 32km or, if you’ve got a bit of time on your hands, are looking for more than just a weekend activity and have access to plenty of Voltarol, then you can go for the full 8+ day tour of West Cork! It’s a strenuous trail and at 196km long, it’s not for newbies!
While you’re exploring the Beara Way, make sure you stop off at the bottom of the peninsula to check out Dursey Island and Ireland’s only working Cable Car! Take the car over the sea and explore Dursey Island for the day. The island itself has a few semi-permanent residents but no shops, pubs or restaurants so make sure you pack a lunch. The area is home to a migratory plethora of wildlife and the views across rolling hills and rugged coastlines to the Atlantic Ocean are spectacular.
10. Ballincollig Regional Park (Fairy trails, walking trails, open space etc.)
In summer, this 130-acre park is open from 9am - 8pm and is the perfect spot for a more family-friendly walk. With a skate park, walking & cycling trails, full-sized soccer & rugby pitches plus a playground and real live Fairy Trail there’s not much you can’t do here! Gunpowder was manufactured on site up until the turn of the 20th century and there are still multiple canals, sluices & buildings intact from the Gunpowder Mill days!
So basically, whether you’re heading a for a chilled day out with the famjam, are looking for a full day’s hike with a mate or are going serious-business on it and want a few overnighter’s, then you need to get yourself to Cork, STAT!