The first new section of the Slieve Bloom Bike Trails
The long wait is over to try out a section of the Slieve Bloom Bike Trails.
Coillte opened a small looped section of the new cross mountain tracks just before Christmas to give people a taste of what's to come.
The trail will eventually offer 100km of exciting biking tracks, varying in difficulty, from Baunreagh in Laois across to Kinnitty in Offaly.
For now, the public can try a 4km section near Kinnitty village, with one 800m downward single track section not for the fainthearted.
Coillte advise bikers to wear their helmets, and not to encroach on other unfinished sections, or it will delay their final surfacing.
"The descent is fast in sections, so as with all MTB trails, make sure you ride within your ability and always wear a helmet" Coillte says.
To access the trails which are open, drive to and park in Kinnitty village, Co. Offaly and cycle towards Kinnitty Castle/ Clonaslee. Follow blue waymarkers along the road and turn into the forest just after the GAA pitch. Sections of doubletrack will take you into the trail system with a long road climb and singletrack descent. Follow the blue waymarkers throughout.
Phase 1 with 35km of tracks in Laois and Offaly is to open in mid April. Coillte had planned to finish it by last October 2018 but the project was beset by delays caused by the hot summer. Read that full story here.
Coillte is building the trails in partnership with Offaly and Laois County Councils, funded by both councils and by substantial government grants. Fáilte Ireland has joined in support of completing the €5 million project.
The trail is expected to attract thousands more tourists to the Slieve Blooms and boost income for surrounding areas.