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Ballinastoe Woods Walk Guide: Parking, The Trail And The Boardwalk (+ Google Map)

Ballinastoe Woods Walk Guide: Parking, The Trail And The Boardwalk (+ Google Map)

The Ballinastoe Woods walk is arguably one of the best-known of the many 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 hopping 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

Ballinastoe forest walk

Photo by Derek O Bryan (shutterstock)

So, the Ballinastoe Forest Walk isn’t as straightforward as the likes of the nearby Djouce Mountain Walk. Here are some quick need-to-knows (cheers to Greg Kennedy and Hugo Gallagher for their help with this one!):

1. Location

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.

2. The 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 trail. I’ve marked each one on the map below.

4. Safety

Ballinastoe is a popular spot for mountain biking, so it’s 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

Right – 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:

The Purple markers

These show the various Ballinastoe Woods car parks. The one one the far right is for the the Slí na Sláinte trail that doesn’t include the boardwalk. The one of the bottom left is for the Pier Gates Car Park (cheers Greg!) and the third is for another car park if the others are full.

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.

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.

The red line

This shows the trail that takes you up along the Ballinastoe Woods boardwalk. As you can see, it starts from Pier Head Gates car park and cuts up through the woods. We’ll go through this route now.

Ballinastoe Woods walk (the one with the boardwalk)

Ballinastoe woods car park

Photo by PhilipsPhotos/shutterstock.com

If you fancy seeing the Ballinastoe Woods boardwalk, you’ll need to decide what way you’re going to tackle the route. There’s a short and a long option to choose from:

Option 1: The short walk (3.5 km)

If you just want to see the boardwalk and the view from the JB Malone Memorial, park at the Pier Gates car park and walk up through the forest (see red line on the map above).

Continue on until you get to the Memorial and take some time to soak up the views. From here, either walk back the way you came or walk from the Memorial to the JB Malone car park.

To finish this version of the Ballinastoe Forest walk, you continue back down along the road (be very careful) to the gates. This entire route stretches 3.5km max.

Option 2: The long walk (10km)

The second version 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.

Ballinastoe Forest Walk 2 (The Slí na Sláinte)

ballinastoe forest walk

Map via the Irish Heart Foundation

Our second version of the Ballinastoe Woods Walk doesn’t actually include the now-iconic boardwalk, however, you can modify the route to include it, if you fancy!

This version of the trail is one of the Irish Heart Foundation’s official Slí na Sláinte routes, and it’s well worth a lash. Here’s the need-to-knows.

Parking

Stick Ballinastoe Woods car park into Google Maps. It’ll take you to the car park right next to where the Biking.ie lads are set up. There’s a decent bit of parking here, but it fills up fast at the weekends, so try and arrive early.

Where it starts

Unlike the previous Ballinastoe Forest Walk, the starting point for this trail is right from the main car park, so you’ll have no hassle kicking things off on the right track.

Length

This trail stretches for around 5km and should take you around 1.5 hours to complete. It’s looped, and the trail is easy enough to follow (look out for the posts with the yellow arrows).

Trail overview

After you leave the Ballinastoe Woods car park, the route takes you uphill along forestry tracks with a mix of conifers towering above the trail on either side. 

Keep an eye out for the sections of the trail where bikers cross – they’ll be coming at a fair speed, so caution is required.

Keep on walking until you reach the section of the trail that 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)

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

Djouce walk

Photo by Semmick Photo (Shutterstock)

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

a narrow road near Lough Tay

Photo by Dariusz I/Shutterstock.com

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.

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