The Ballinastoe Woods walk is one of the more popular walks in Wicklow
Mainly thanks to a section of the Ballinastoe Woods boardwalk looking a bit like a scene from Lord of the Rings.
Part of the mighty Wicklow Way, Ballinastoe Forest is a fine little stop-off point if you’re doing the Sally Gap Drive and you want to hop out of the car for a ramble.
In the guide below, you’ll find info on the three different ways to tackle the Ballinastoe Woods walk, where to park and more.
Some quick need-to-knows about the Ballinastoe Woods Walk
So, the Ballinastoe Forest Walk isn’t as straightforward as the likes of the nearby Djouce Mountain Walk. Take 20 seconds to read the below points as they’ll save you hassle in the long run:
You’ll find Ballinastoe Woods in Wicklow, at Sraghmore, Oldtown, to be precise. It’s a stone’s throw from Lough Tay and a short drive from Roundwood Village.
2. Several walks
There are several different walks of varying lengths that you can tackle here, and they range from 30 minutes to 3.5 hours+ in length. More on this below.
3. Ballinastoe Woods car park
So, which Ballinastoe Woods car park you head for will depend on which way you want to tackle the walk. There are three main car parks for the trails. I’ve marked each one on the map below.
4. Getting into the woods
So, previously you could enter the woods down near Pier Gates Car Park, but there’s (damaged) barbed wire fencing here and we probably legally can’t recommend you entering here. There is, however, a nice entrance point a little up the hill. See below.
Ballinastoe is a popular spot for mountain biking, so it’s very important to stay on the main trails and to keep alert for any approaching bikes. They’ll be coming at a fair speed, so you need to be vigilant and avoid going on the main track.
Ballinastoe Forest Walk map
So, the Ballinastoe Forest Walk can cause a load of confusion if you’re not familiar with the lay of the land.
The map above will hopefully make visualising things a little bit easier (click into it to open it up properly). Here’s what each of the markers and lines shows:
1. The Purple markers
These show the various Ballinastoe Woods car parks. Now, there’s some things to be aware of with each of these:
- Pier Gates Car Park (the bottom marker): This is only open at the weekend from 09:00 to 19:20 (times may change)
- Ballinastoe Mountain Bike Trail Car Park (far right marker): This is for the Slí na Sláinte trail that doesn’t include the boardwalk
- The Ballinastoe Car Park (top left): This is the one I generally head to. It’s at the top of the hill and a nice start for the walk
2. The blue line
The blue line shows where the Slí na Sláinte trail takes you. This is a looped walk that takes around 1.5 hours. Find an overview of the trail below.
3. The blue marker
This is where you’ll find the JB Malone Memorial. Although neither trail ‘officially’ goes to this point, it’s well worth a short detour, as the views from here out over Lough Tay are incredible.
4. The red line
This shows the trail that takes you up/down along the Ballinastoe Woods boardwalk. This line stretches from the Pier Gates Car Park to the JB Malone Memorial via the boardwalk.
The different Ballinastoe Woods walk options
Below, you’ll find a speedy overview of the different Ballinastoe Woods Walk options.
I’ve roughly outlined these trails on the map above, but you may need to click into the map and select the trail to see it.
Option 1: The short walk (3.5 km / .5 – 1 hr)
If you’re after a short ramble and you just want to see the Ballinastoe Woods boardwalk and the view from the JB Malone Memorial, do this:
- Park at either car park and walk up/down through the forest (see red line on the map above)
- If you park at the upper car park, head to the memorial first and then down the boardwalk (retrace your steps to the car park)
- If you park at Pier Gates, walk up through the forest and on to the memorial and then retrace your steps
Option 2: The long walk (10km / 3 – 3.5 hrs)
The second version of the Ballinastoe Forest Walk is the exact same as the first except, after leaving the JB Malone Memorial, you continue on to include the Slí na Sláinte trail (the blue line on the map).
This is a lengthy walk that can take from 3 to 3.5 hours. You could argue that the best part of this version is the walk up through the woods and over to the Memorial.
If you do this version of the walk, pleeeeeease be mindful to not stray off the track and make sure to listen out for approaching bikes.
Option 3: The Slí na Sláinte (5km / 1.5 hrs)
Our third version of the Ballinastoe Woods Walk (the blue line on the map) doesn’t actually include the now-iconic boardwalk, however, you can modify the route to include it, if you fancy!
Park where the Biking.ie lads are set up (see map above). The trail starts from the car park and follow posts with yellow arrows.
After you leave the Ballinastoe Woods car park, the route takes you uphill along forestry tracks until it runs adjacent to the JB Malone Memorial.
This may not be overly obvious, so it’s worth having Google Maps out to see when it’s coming up. Walk across to the Memorial. It’s from here that you’ll grab incredible views out over Lough Tay and beyond.
The trail then continues down and back to the Ballinastoe Woods car park (see map above)
The entrances points if you just want to see the Ballinastoe Boardwalk
If you don’t fancy doing the Ballinastoe Woods Walk and you just want to see the boardwalk, it’s pretty straightforward.
The first is to get parking (see map above) and then choose an entry point into the woods. There’s three to choose from and from your entrance you can follow the red line in the map above:
1. Half way up the hill
This is the way I generally head when doing the Ballinastoe Forest Walk. You’ll find it here on Google Maps and it’s half way between the Pier Gates Car Park and the Ballinastoe Car Park.
When you walk in here you need to keep going until you come to a little junction (after about 2 minutes). Take a left to come to the Ballinastoe Boardwalk. Takes 20 – 25 minutes max.
2. At the top of the hill
So, the chances are you’ll end up parking here if you arrive mid-week, as it’s the biggest car park near Ballinastoe when the Pier Gates one is closed.
You’ll find it here on Google Maps and you can start the trail just to the left of the sign in the photos above.
This follows a stoney path through forest downhill for 5 – 10 minutes before veering right down onto the boardwalk. Takes 30 – 35 minutes max.
3. At Pier Gates
As mentioned above, we can’t recommend that you enter here, as there’s a barbed fence cordoning it off. However, in years past we may have walked in through here.
It’s just at the edge of the Pier Gates Car Park (here on Google Maps). Note that, when you’re here, it looks like there’s no clear trail in, and care is needed.
This brings you in right near the end of the boardwalk (note: if you enter here you do so at your own risk). Takes 10 – 15 minutes max.
What to do after the Ballinastoe Forest walk
One of the beauties of this is that it’s a short spin away from some of the best places to visit in Wicklow.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from the Ballinastoe Forest walk (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. Walks galore
There are plenty of other walks to try nearby. You can do the Djouce Mountain walk, the Lough Tay to Lough Dan walk, the Djouce Woods walk and the Lough Ouler walk.
2. The Sally Gap Drive
If you fancy rounding off the Ballinastoe Forest walk with a spin, set off on the Sally Gap Drive. You’ll see everything from Lough Tay to Glenmacnass Waterfall on the way.
FAQs about the Ballinastoe Woods Walk
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from where do you park for the Ballinastoe Forest walk to how long it takes.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Where is the Ballinastoe Woods car park?
As you can see on the map above, there are 3 car parks for the Ballinastoe Woods walk. Which one you choose will depend on the route you want to do.
How long does the Ballinastoe Forest walk take?
It ranges from 30 minutes to 3.5 hours, depending on the route (see the different options on the map above).
Where is the Ballinastoe Woods boardwalk?
You’ll come to the boardwalk if you do the Ballinastoe Woods walk that’s marked with the red line on the map above.
Wednesday 18th of May 2022
Are there any picnic tables anywhere near here?
Wednesday 27th of April 2022
The Pier gates car park is where I start correct and the red line is the boardwalk through that iconic scene noted above on the site and it will take me to JB Malone memorial viewpoint then I can loop back to the JB Malone car park right? I am finding so many different bits of info on this hike and want to make sure I start off at the right place as I’m visiting from Canada and will be taking a taxi to the start of the hike. Thank you for your time.
Monday 24th of January 2022
Great day out, thank You!
Saturday 22nd of January 2022
Love the Ballinastoe looped walk! It’s a good one with older children as well over age 6 as it gets steep at some places but the view is weel worth it! Not suitable for buggies!
Monday 13th of December 2021
Love it Keith! Always been a fan of your site - very helpful!
Tuesday 14th of December 2021