Updated: Aug 3, 2021
Avondale Forest Park, on the outskirts of Rathdrum, is situated 18km from Arklow. The impressive Avondale House, dating from the 1770’s, was in the ownership of the Parnell family in the 1800’s and was the birthplace of the great Irish statesman, Charles Stewart Parnell.
The state purchased Avondale in 1904 and its magnificent 505-acre estate. Many tree species were planted and trialled for the first time in experimental plots, laid out along the lines of a continental forest garden, which are still visible today along the majestic sweeping lawn known as the ‘Great Ride’. A highlight of visiting Avondale is to explore the vast expanse of the ‘Great Ride, through majestic stands of Sequoia, Spruce and broadleaves and down along to the steep-sided river valley.
Today, the Forest Park provides a network of trails for walking and family cycling of varying lengths. Keep an eye out for the Park wildlife including red squirrels, foxes, hedgehogs, and a wide variety of birds including woodpeckers.
The River Walk / White Route (5.2 km, Graded Moderate):
This is the longest walk at Avondale with a couple of sections with steep descents and climbs. Walking alongside the Avonmore River you pass under two railway bridges, still used today. There is a lot of interest on this trail as it meanders alongside the river views. Further up the hill you can visit ‘Lovers Leap’ and enjoy wonderful views out over the valley.
Exotic Tree Trail / Red Route (2 kms, Graded Easy): On the Exotic Tree Trail you will meet trees from many corners of the world that have taken happily to the Irish Environment. This looped trail guides you through a Eucalyptus grove, by some immense Western Red Cedars, under the Giant Sequoia, and through Silver Fir and Monkey Puzzles, amongst others. Dotted along the route are interpretive panels with more information about the trees.
Railway Walk (2 kms each way, Graded Easy): This is a linear walk to Rathdrum railway station and town centre, through the woods from Avondale House.
Leisure Cycling Trail (1.5kms, Graded Easy):
Avondale is a perfect destination for family cycling This is a dual purpose (walking and cycling trail) please respect walkers during your cycle.
Orienteering Routes: There are 3 permanent orienteering courses (short, medium, and long courses) with course.
Avondale House is currently closed pending a significant re-development by Coillte, in partnership with Fáilte Ireland and Wicklow County Council. An exciting new visitor destination will take visitors ‘under’ and through the trees, to an incredible viewpoint high over the Avonmore river valley. A new ‘living history’ experience in Avondale House will open the life and times of Parnell to visitors in a highly engaging way. In advance of the re-development, Avondale House and Café will not be open but the wider Forest Park remains open every day. Stay tuned!
Parking: Carpark onsite – take note of seasonal opening times as you enter as the gate will automatically lock at closing time (free parking currently)
Toilets: Public toilet block onsite. Disabled toilets are not available at the Park currently.
Picnic Site: Tables are provided near the trailhead with BBQ grills.
Grade: Easy to Moderate.
Some areas suitable for Wheelchair users.
Robust buggies will cope with most routes except the Riverwalk.
Small children’s playground onsite.