Ballyhoura Forest Park in Counties Limerick and Cork, Ireland has gained a fair bit of recognition following the planning, design and development of a mountain bike trail system back in 2006. The forest is owned by Coillte, the trails were planned and designed by Trails by Dafydd Davis and the funding was put together by the community group Ballyhoura Development.
The initial trails were designed to be accessible in order to grow the mountain bike market in Ireland, which at the time was relatively small, and to have low management impacts for Coillte, who needed to continue harvesting timber commercially at the site.
With an extensive trail system of over 50km at the Ballyhouras, along with another 4 sites which were developed on Coillte land in conjunction (Ballinastoe, Derroura, Curragh Chase and Portumna - see link to map below) and other developments in Ireland, the market has since shown considerable growth.
Coillte Outdoors Map of Sites
So now it's time to step it up a bit in terms of the type of trails at the Ballyhouras.
Phase 2 includes the construction of a new inward and outward route, a skills area near the trailhead and three new sections of more challenging trails. In addition, detailed designs are being put together for up to 13km of additional trail, to be constructed during a further phase of works.
The construction of the 3 new sections and skills area is currently underway by Euroservices Contracts - these are to be complete in time for the European Marathon Championships 2014 to be held at the Ballyhouras on the 14th and 15th June 2014.
Happy biking :-)