Trail User Advice

trailuser

 


 

Overview of Irish Trails.

 

There is a large variety of walking and cycling trails available for people to use and enjoy in Ireland. Horse riding and canoe trails are also being developed. While there are many trails within the country, all trails listed on this website are waymarked with directional signs to assist users along the route.

Walking trails range in length from longer multi-day trails to shorter trails which can be completed inless than an hour. The type and character of every trail is determined by the landscape through which it passes and locality where it is developed. This varies from coastal to upland areas, from river bank to forest and from semi-urban environments to some of the more remote parts of Ireland including our off-shore islands.

Cycling trails vary from relaxed, off-road flat land trails suitable for all, to more rugged and challenging mountain bike trails. Road based routes are also available catering for all abilities from the casual to the experienced cyclist.

A large network of National Waymarked Trails have been established for walkers ranging in distance from 25km to over 200km. Many of these trails can be enjoyed as day walks or can be walked in their entirety over a number of days. In recent years a growing number of shorter looped walks have been put in place linking into National Waymarked Trails.

Over 150 National Looped Walks have also been developed throughout the country. These walks are predominantly located off-road, ranging in length from an hour, to half-day and full-day walks, and are all designed so that users do not have to retrace their steps.

Coillte, Ireland's state forestry company, provide recreational trails in its forest properties throughout the country. Coillte also facilitates and manages a number of off-road cycling trails.

This website provides information on all trails, either directly through this website or through links out to a number of partner websites.

 


 

Trail Categories

 

Trails listed on the Irishtrails.ie website are categorised as follows:

 

  • Walking Trails: Refers to waymarked walking trails.
  • Cycling - Off-Road: Refers to low level / easy cycling trails (suitable for family groups).
  • Cycling - On-Road: Refers to waymarked cycling routes on public roads.
  • Mountain Biking Trails: Refers to technical / waymarked trails suitable for mountain biking only.
  • Walking / Cycling Trails: Refers to trails that are developed for both walking and cycling, sometimes referred to as Greenways.
  • Horse Riding Trails: Refers to trails that are developed for horse riding (none listed at present).
  • Canoe Trails: Refers to water based trails that are developed for kayaking and paddle touring (none listed at present).

 


 

Irish Trails Standards and Trail Quality

 

Trails listed on Irishtrails.ie have been assessed against the Management Standards for Recreational Trails in Ireland. Standards have been set for information, waymarking and signage, trail surface quality, vegetation, litter control and trail furniture.

A system to indicate the quality of each trail listed on this website is provided in the table below:


Quality Indicator:

***These trails fully comply with the standards.
**These trails are generally in good condition but require some work to fully comply with the standards.
*These are basic trails that do not comply with all aspects of the standards.

 

If no quality indicator is shown, this indicates that the trail has yet to be assessed against against the Management Standards for Recreational Trails in Ireland.


More detailed information on Irish Trails Standards is available from the Sport Ireland - National Trails Office website

 


 

Estimated Time to Complete a Trail

 

Estimated time to complete a trail walk or cycle are indicated for each trail listed on this site. Times given are quite conservative and some trails may be completed much quicker than the time indicated.

 

 


 

Trail Grading System (in Ireland)

 

  • All trails listed on Irishtrails.ie are graded to give trail users an indication on how easy or difficult a trail may be.
  • A trail is graded based on the entire length of a trail, the distance, gradient, general difficulty and underfoot conditions on each trail.
  • Listed below is information on different grades for walking, cycling and other trails in Ireland.
  • For more information on Trail Grading refer to the publication Classification and Grading for Recreational Trails.

 


Grading Levels for Walking Trails

Grade TitleDescription
Multi-AccessFlat smooth trails, suitable for all users including people with reduced mobility, wheelchair users, people with a vision impairment, using crutches, with a buggy, with small children, older people and so on. Normal outdoor footwear can be worn.
EasyGenerally flat trails with a smooth surface and some gentle slopes or shallow steps. These trails are generally suitable for family groups including children and the elderly. Normal outdoor footwear can be worn.
ModerateThese trails may have some climbs and may have an uneven surface where the going is rough underfoot, with some obstacles such as protruding roots, rocks, etc. The routes are appropriate for people with a moderate level of fitness and some walking experience.  Specific outdoor walking footwear and clothing is recommended.
StrenuousThese are physically demanding trails, which will typically have some sections with steep climbs for long periods, while the going underfoot can be extremely rough including many obstacles. Suitable for users accustomed to walking on rough ground and with a high level of fitness. Specific outdoor walking footwear and clothing required.
Very DifficultThese routes are predominantly in remote upland areas. They will typically include steep slopes and very variable and rough underfoot conditions on sometimes indistinct trails. They may be unmarked so the use of a map and navigational skills will be required. Suitable only for very fit and competent mountain walkers with a high level of experience. Specific outdoor walking footwear and clothing required.

 


Grading Levels for Off-Road Cycling / Mountain Biking Trails

Grade TitleDescription
FamilyTraffic-free trails suitable for all ages and all types of bikes. Very even surface (usually sealed) and essentially flat (very low gradient).
EasyConsistent, generally even surfaces suitable for off-road bikes only. Low level of bike control ability required. Of low gradient with some features in trail such as minor dips or occasional minor pot-holes. Average Gradient 1:20 or 5%.
ModerateVariable and slightly uneven surfaces suitable for mountain-bikes only. Low level of bike control ability and physical fitness required. May have some dips, hollows, pot-holes and protruding roots. May include some wide timber boardwalk sections and moderate gradients. Average Gradient 1:15 or 6%.
DifficultVery variable and uneven surfaces suitable for mountain bikes only. Not suitable for children under 11 years old. Requires a high level of competency in bike control and a high level of physical fitness. Technically challenging with features such as tight turns, small rock steps, narrow boardwalk sections and may cross steep exposed side slope. Average Gradient 1:10 or 10%.
SevereExtremely variable and uneven including large loose material, large rock steps, protruding root systems, severe grade reversals and very narrow boardwalk sections. Requires extremely high levels of bike skill and physical fitness. May require climbs and descents greater than 600m over distances greater than 35km. Mountain bikes with suspension only.
Very SevereExtremely and suddenly variable, rocky, very uneven surfaces with features of the above and also rock slabs and exposed severe gradient rock outcrops. Only to be undertaken by those with the highest levels of technical bike skills, physical fitness and personal survival skills in remote and very exposed environments. Mountain bikes with full suspension only.

 


Grading Levels for Road-Based Cycling Trails

Grade TitleDescription
EasyRoute uses cycle lanes or quiet virtually traffic free roads.  The roads on the route are generally flat with some gentle slopes. Suitable for all cyclists including those with a low level of fitness and family groups with children over 11 years of age under supervision. (Not suitable for small children). Any sort of bike would be suitable.
ModerateSome sections of the route or junctions on the route may be on regional roads. The roads on the route are undulating with some slopes requiring a reasonable level of effort to climb. Suitable for cyclists with a moderate level of fitness and experience cycling on public roads. Any sort of bike with a selection of gears would be suitable.
AdvancedThe route may use national, regional or unclassified roads including mountain roads with steep gradients both to be ascended and descended. Overall ascent or gradient is unlimited. A bike, well maintained and suitably equipped to cope with long climbs and steep descents is recommended.

  


Grading Levels for Horse-Riding Trails

Grade TitleDescription
EasyTrails with gentle slopes and a good surface throughout. Generally suitable for social groups and those with a basic level of skill and horse and rider fitness.  
ModerateThese trails may have some moderate slopes and include variable surface conditions, gates and other obstacles. Generally suitable for those with an intermediate level of riding skill and fitness, and a horse with some trail experience and training. Knowledge of basic horse health, including first aid, is highly desirable.
AdvancedChallenging single trail and/or fire road with many obstacles, variable surface, and steep sections.  Some trail routes may not be waymarked  Riders should have a high level of skill, fitness and extensive riding experience. Navigation and personal survival skills are highly desirable. Horse health knowledge is essential. An experienced guide is recommended for riders with limited remote area experience.


Grading Levels for Canoe Trails:

Water based trails should only be developed on waters suitable for inexperienced users. It is recommended that no Grading or Difficulty Rating system is required for developed canoe trails.