An announcement has come from Coillte on the long awaited Slieve Bloom Mountain Bike Trails.
Phase I has just been announced as complete by landowners Coillte, with a challenging 6km trail on the Laois side for expert mountain bikers and a gentler 14km trail in Offaly.
"We are really delighted to announce the first phase of the new Sieve Bloom mountain bike trails will be open for the Christmas break. Head to Kinnitty or Baunreagh to hit the blue and red grade trails."
Two trails covering 80km will eventually meet across the Laois Offaly mountains offering a major visitor attraction to the region.
They describe the trails in detail.
"Welcome to the Slieve Bloom Mountain Bike Trails. This is a network of purpose-built singletrack trails and forest roads that are designed for use by mountain bikes on waymarked circular routes. The routes are graded blue (moderate) and red (difficult/severe).
"This first phase on the Laois side, takes riders through beautiful forest and deep valleys with fantastic views across Baunreagh. Forest road climbs lead you into tight twisty singletrack with loads of fast descents, ups and downs, tight turns and technical rocky bits, guaranteed to leave you smiling! This phase is graded red, so not for novices (head to the Offaly side for easier trails). The trails are waymarked in one direction, please follow the arrows."
"On the Offaly side of Slieve Blooms, starting in Kinnitty, the first phase takes riders through beautiful forest and open land with fantastic views over Kinnitty castle and village and beyond. Forest road climbs lead into tight twisty singletrack with loads of fast descents, ups and downs, tight turns and technical rocky bits."
It is the first phase of an extensive trail system being built in the Slieve Blooms. When complete, there will be more than 80kms of trails ranging from blue to black grade trails, complete with full trailhead facilities at Baunreagh near Mountrath in Laois, and visitor services in Kinnitty village in Offaly. The trails will cover a vast swathe of Coillte’s forests from Offaly to Laois and back.
The trails are developed in partnership with Offaly and Laois County Councils and are funded by the Dept of Rural and Community Development.
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan who turned the sod on construction 18 months ago, welcomed the opening.
“I am delighted that the first phase has been complete and will be open in time for Christmas break. The trail represents the biggest investment in tourism in both Laois and Offaly in recent years. Outdoor recreational and adventure tourism is a key growth sector worldwide and it has been identified as a priority for Irish tourism,” he said.