10. Ards Outer Loop

I have already included Ards Forest park as an easy route (4) because of the variety of short to medium trails to be found there. However, if you want a more demanding three hours plus hike the outer ring, a distance of approximately 16km, is just the job!

Located between Creeslough and Dunfanaghy on the N56, Ards Forest Park, a Coillte property, provides a great choice of trails that are graded to various lengths and served by colour-coded waymarking.

The park entrance is approximately 3.6km north of Creeslough village and is clearly signposted. There is a car park fee of €5 and this needs to be paid in coins at a meter. It is also possible to park at Ballymore National School about a half Km past the entrance and enter the park through the old tunnel. The route is the Red Trail as shown on the map below. You do need to pay careful attention to the waymark posts as there are a number of other colour coded trails in the park. If you are experienced and fit enough the day can be lengthened further by taking the Blue Trail from the start at the car park round the western side of the park. This is a beautiful section that has coastal views and crosses a small beach, and also takes the walker close to the Franciscan Friary. This full day route also takes you past historical sites such as holy wells and mass rocks.

  • Trailhead: Ards Forest Car Park / Ballymore National School (Not on school grounds.)
  • Toilets: Available at car park.
  • Length: 16 km approx. Can be extended to 18 km
  • Time: 3 – 4 hours. Packed lunch and snacks advisable.
  • Ascent: A number of short moderate climbs throughout.