As we said goodbye to the 5km rule and hello to the ability to explore our lovely little county again – we’ve been keeping an eye out for the best walking trails in Laois.
Here is our updated list of Laois’s must do walks.
Some are obvious, some are hidden gems but they are all stunning and unique in their own ways.
Lace up your boots and get out there this summer – and if you come across any we’ve missed, let us know.
Togher woods is just outside Portlaoise town and is hugely popular with local walkers and runners.
It has a couple of routes to explore, and there’s always something interesting to see along the way.
It’s a comfortable, flat walk – a good place to start if you’re just getting going!
Barrow Way/ Canal Walk Vicarstown
A lovely walk along the river Barrow. Starting in Vicarstown, this route can bring you all the way to Athy, County Kildare.
There are some coffee spots along the way, and you can even rent a bike if you don’t feel like walking. A must do!
If you’re craving water, get yourself over to Brittas Lake in Clonaslee and soak in the sights and sounds of the water.
You’ll be welcomed by a host of ducks along the bank. It’s a peaceful stroll, suitable for all the family.
There is just something about Emo Court that can take you into a world of your own and help you switch off for half and hour.
On site is a tea room if you’re looking for a refreshment after!
The picturesque mountain range atop Cullahill village boasts a few stunning routes for you to explore on a clear day.
The Healthy Way Loop Walk and the Binnianea Loop are popular routes with substanial ascents – guaranteed to get your heart racing.
The views are incredible, with a viewing bench half way to relax and take it all in. Featured in the Irish Independent Walk of the Week back in 2011, it still stands up as a beautiful amenity.
Stradbally Woods (Oughaval)
Stradbally woods is another spot with a few different options. There are three looped trails to chose from – The Mass Rock Walk (2km), The Beech Way Walk (2km) and the Cobbler’s Castle Walk (6km).
There are several ‘off the beat’ routes too and they don’t tend to contain many people – so you can ramble in peace if that is what you are after!
Abbeyleix Bog Walk
Nothing says a fresh Sunday like a good old bog walk and Abbeyleix has a good one.
This 8km trail takes approximately 2 hours to get around and there is plenty to see on the way and according to a piece done in the Irish Times, it is a “place of many riches”.
There’s a coffee cart there too!
Leafy Loop Walk, Durrow
This one is a bit tougher but very popular! The Leafy Loop Walk is set in Dunmore Woods and is a total of 22km! It is recommended to allow yourself five and a half to six hours to complete it.
So, you might want a sturdy pair of boots and comfortable clothes if you’re going to take this one on!
Monicknew, Slieve Bloom Mountains
Another beautiful area. There are many trails to choose from here. Bocadh Lodge Loop (7km), Monicknew Valley Loop (3.5km), Riverside Loop (1.5km) and the Slieve Bloom Way (5km).
It is located in the Monicknew woodlands which form the boundary between Laois and Offaly and has plenty to offer the eye on the way around.
Glenbarrow, Waterfall Loop
At the source of the River Barrow, this is one of the most scenic parts of the Slieve Bloom area with its waterfalls and steep valley.
The area has four way-marked marked trails. The trails all start at the car park and all follow the river for the first section.
They are The Flat Rock loop (3km), The Waterfall loop (7km), The Old Mill loop (12km) and The Eco walk (10km). So, you’ve plenty to choose from.
Dysart wood is the true forest experience. Take a stroll through the beautiful trees and immerse yourself in the twists and turns of the popular walking trail.
You can also check out the Rock of Dunamase while you’re in the area
There is a lovely route from Abbeyleix to Wolfhill which takes you by the gorgeous Masslough lake and Fossey Mountain.
Takes about 2-3 hours, so start early and make the most of the extraordinary views.
Ridge of Capard
There are a number of walking routes at the Ridge of Capard, the shortest being the blue 4km route which is mostly along the boardwalk.
The Stony Man – a stone cairn which was built when quarrying was carried out in the area – is located approx 2km from the Capard trailhed but it is not on a specific waymarked looped route. It can be reached by heading up the boardwalk and following the Slieve Bloom Way which is shown by the yellow walking man symbol. There is no looped option which means that the return leg is back along the same route.
A bonus of the Ridge is that the finest viewing point is only a very short 300-metre walk on the boardwalk from the car park, making it possible for an older person to experience the views without having to go too far.