Summer is officially here, and there’s no better way to explore our place than by bike. Northern Ireland offers some great cycling trails to suit all ages and abilities. We’ve put together a short guide to some of the top track and trails to explore this summer.
You don’t have to cycle for miles to enjoy cycling in Northern Ireland. Country parks, forest parks and tow paths are all home to routes that are less than five miles and many are traffic free so perfect for the family.
Gosford Forest Park, Markethill, Co. Armagh
This location is not only a fantastic cycle trail but a wonderful forest filled with incredible flora and fauna. The trail combines forest roads with two short sections of single track and is suitable for cyclists with basic off-road cycling skills. It should take around one hour to complete.
Castle Archdale Family Cycling Trail, Irvinestown, Co. Fermanagh
Situated 15km North West of Enniskillen, this six mile cycle route weaves its way through 230 acres of mature forest situated on the shores of Lower Lough Erne, enabling the cyclist to explore over 1,000 years of history.
Belfast Lough, Co. Antrim
A flat section of the National Cycle Network along the shoreline of Belfast Lough taking in views of a truly historic shipyard, Harland and Wolff. The route runs on a path parallel to the motorway where you can also observe the birds of Belfast Lough from special bird watching hides.
Medium cycle routes offer the perfect day ride and provide a great way to explore some of the most rural and picturesque areas of Northern Ireland.
Craigavon Cycle Trail, Portadown, Co. Armagh
This easy-going trail passes through a landscape of waterways and picturesque old coaching roads, with over a third of the way on traffic-free paths. Following routes nine and 94 of the National Cycle Network you will make your way along the shores of Lough Neagh passing attractions such as the Point of Whitecoat Bridge, Moneypenny’s Lock and Oxford Island.
Knockchree Cycle Route, Kilkeel, Co. Down
A beautiful circular cycle route between Kilkeel and Attical, this route passes through some lovely countryside with dramatic views of the Mourne Mountains. Points of interest include Cranfield Beach, Greencastle Castle, Mill Bay, Carlingford Lough, Tamlaght Graveyard, Hanna’s Close and Church of the Narrow Place.
Bann Valley Cycle Route, Garvagh/ Kilrea, Co. Londonderry
Enjoy the quiet country roads traversing the fertile landscape of the Bann Valley, with views towards the Bann corridor and beyond towards the Antrim Hills. The busy rural market towns of Garvagh and Kilrea offer opportunities to explore local heritage and culture and enjoy traditional hospitality.
Drumlins and Canal, Banbridge, Co. Down
A scenic route with a variety of landscapes, this route takes in stunning views of Loughbrickland Lake. The route also passes through the award winning village of Scarva where its famous tearooms offer a welcome break.
Pack up you panniers and explore Northern Ireland on a long distance tour. There are seven long distance routes on offer to touring cyclists who want a relaxing and gently undulating journey with the option of more challenging terrain in the Mourne Mountains and the Sperrins Mountains.
Kingfisher Trail, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh
The Kingfisher Trail has been named after the kingfisher, a bird long associated with the lakes, fishing and the tranquillity of the rural setting. This is a beautiful rural area of quiet country roads well suited to cycling as there is very little traffic. The 230 mile trail was the first mapped and signed long distance cycle route in Ireland and is still regarded as one of the most enjoyable.
Loughshore Trail, counties Antrim, Armagh, Down, Londonderry and Tyrone
The Loughshore Trail is a unique cycleway, not only because of its location but because it uses quiet country lanes and consists of mainly flat terrain. As well as providing breathtaking views the trail also incorporates over 30 major sites of interest including marinas, nature reserves, parks and sites of archaeological interest. When cycling the trail it is advisable to purchase a route map and it can be completed in one day or over a few days.
Coast Road, Co. Antrim
A rural winding road that hugs the coastline with sea views on one side and rugged steep hillsides on the other. The route follows the Causeway Coastal Route so traffic is heavy during summer and holiday periods and provisions are needed before you start as there are no shops for 11 miles.
Cycling routes in the Sperrins, Co. Tyrone
The Sperrins offer excellent options of 12 circular waymarked routes where you can discover a unique landscape, rich in natural and archaeological heritage and folklore. The routes vary in distance from 11 miles to 41 miles and are suitable for the average cyclist. All the Sperrins Cycle Routes are clearly waymarked with brown and white route markers which indicate the route number and provide directional markings.
This year has seen four new mountain bike centres open up all within 90 minutes drive of each other which has transformed Northern Ireland into the next ‘must-visit’ destination in the UK and Ireland for mountain bike enthusiasts. The newly opened purpose-built trails are:
Davagh Forest, near Cookstown, Co. Tyrone
31km of exciting cross-country mountain bike trails designed by Phil Saxena of Architrail, who designed the Olympic Mountain Bike course in Beijing 2008. Suitable for a wide range of levels including families, beginners, intermediate and advanced.
Rostrevor, Co. Down
21km of cross country trails which includes two downhill trails – the only purpose-built downhill trails in Ireland. Suitable for intermediate to advanced riders.
Castlewellan, Co. Down
25km of purpose-built cross-country mountain bike trails which are suitable for a wide range of levels –including families, beginners, intermediate and advanced.
Barnett Demesne / Mary Peter’s, Belfast
12km of purpose built mountain bike trails just 10-15 minutes drive from Belfast city centre which is suitable for beginners and intermediate mountain bikes. There is also a purpose-built jumps park for advanced mountain bikers.
Make a Break of it
Why not go for the full outdoor adventure experience in Northern Ireland with a short break – you’ll find great offers on unique accommodation including camper van hire, glamping, camping and cosy cottages! Our great value breaks start from £49 per room: discovernorthernireland.com/accomfinder/