For families with little ones, Arklow and its surrounds offers a great variety of short and flat cycle options. Some of the most popular are:
A 3km Riverwalk loop, shared by leisure cyclists and walkers, begins from the edge of the 19 Arches Bridge and The Bridge Hotel. Follow the paved path by the river on a journey inland under the enormous weeping willows which tip the water’s surface in places. Wildlife abounds and you will see plenty of swans, geese, otters, squirrels and even ponies along the way! As you leave the riverbank continue along the path towards the Vale Road, keeping left uphill on the footpath. After 500m take a left onto the Coomie Lane, a short section of unpaved trail, where you can enjoy good views of the remains of the Ormond Castle walls to your right as you make your way back onto the riverbank.
Several interesting art installations are to be found along the route including a low wall covered with hand-painted ceramic tiles designed by primary school children from Arklow and Chateaudun in France. Dotted along the walk are several hand-carved wooden sculptures depicting native animals.
Parking: in the adjacent Bandstand/Main Street Car Park (charges apply)
Public Toilets: adjacent within the Car Park
Arklow Nature & Wildlife Reserve
The Arklow Nature and Wildlife Reserve nestles beneath the North Coastal Walk on Arklow’s north shore. Around the Lake which forms the centrepiece of the Nature Reserves, is a 2km trail suited to walkers, family cycling and scooting. The path is a mix of paved and unpaved but is flat and easy to navigate for leisure cyclists.
This area is made up of several diverse habitats, home to many water bird species such as ducks, geese, swans, grebes, and gulls. Stop off for a break at one of the viewing decks on either side of the lake to view the birds up close. Three-spined Stickleback fish shelter in the reed, which also provides shelter and nest sites for the Moorhen and the Little Grebe and vital nesting material for the Mute Swan. Yellow Flag Irises thrive beneath the canopy of broadleaf trees and Duckweed carpets the surfaces providing a refuge for the Common Frog and the Smooth Newt.
As you leave the paved trail and head around the end of the lake the un-paved path runs through a copse of silver birch. Along this path you can veer off to The Arklow Bay Hotel and enjoy Afternoon Tea or a drink on the lawns that meet the edge of the trail. The adjacent Kynock’s Park and Coastal Walk are a nice addition to your ramble in this area. The Playground, Skatepark, Dementia Friendly Garden and Coral Leisure Centre and Pool are also adjacent.
Parking: Along the adjacent Seaview Avenue (free)
Public Toilets: Main Street Car Park – 15 minutes walk
Avondale Forest Park
A little further afield, Avondale Forest Park which is managed by Coillte, on the outskirts of Rathdrum is situated 18km from Arklow. The 505-acre Forest Park provides a network of trails for walking and family cycling of varying lengths.
The paths are on forest track and gently undulate as they pass under majestic stands of Sequoia, Spruce and broadleaves. 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’. Keep an eye out for the Park wildlife including red squirrels, foxes, hedgehogs, and a wide variety of birds including woodpeckers.
Leisure Cycling Trail (1.5kms, Graded Easy):
Avondale is a perfect destination for safe off-road, family cycling. This is a dual purpose (walking and cycling trail) please respect walkers during your cycle.
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.
Small children’s playground onsite