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MTB is Booming in the Midlands

Little did Coillte know that when they started to plan for new trails with the two local council’s in the Slieve Bloom Mountains that it would have this much of an impact on mountain biking in Ireland.

I have met many people from all parts of Ireland on the Kinnitty and Laois trails and would have, were it not for the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, met many more.

I’m no expert on mountain biking by any means. I’ve always had some form of mountain bike whether it’s an iron horse or a cheap hardtail. My friends and I would go around some of the fire roads around the Slieve Bloom Mountains. But I would never have dreamed of trails like these coming to the mountain only twenty minutes from me.

Family mountain biking in the Slive Bloom mountains
The Slieve Blooms offer trails to suit all levels

The first trail I got to ride from the Kinnitty MTB Trailhead at the Slieve Bloom Mountain Bike Trails was ASAP and it was brilliant. It got me hooked so much that one trail bike and one enduro bike later I am addicted to MTB. The trail itself is fast flowing and has been upgraded to a red trail after some work was carried out fixing issues due to the amount of use it is getting. Adding a couple of extra rock gardens has just put a different twist on things adding that little bit of spice. It’s great to see the trail builders adding these extras preventing trails from going stale and keeping them maintained.

I’ve brought my own kids on the blue section and they love it.

There will eventually be trails to suit all levels. From family-friendly to expert level black trails for the rider looking for the adrenalin rush.

I’ve brought my own kids on the blue section and they love it. The climb up is just enough to challenge them and show them if they want to come down you have to go up. It is a nice length so that you could fit multiple laps in if you have the time. And with possible variations, you can mix it up every time. When you’re done the trail conveniently delivers you back to the car park.

If you’re looking for more miles then the loop that heads out from the bottom of ASAP is a good leg burner. Heading across the road the trail follows the side of a valley and eventually climbs back up to a fire road. A short stretch along the fire road drops you back onto a single track following the river. The single-track stretch emerges back on to the fire road aiming you at more red trails. Along this stretch, you can see a few of the future trails that are waiting to be officially opened. These will eventually offer a lot of different route options. For now, the existing trail sends you up the Valley Run climb offering great views of the new trails and the surrounding area. Completing the climb brings you to the start of another red downhill section with plenty of features to get the blood pumping. At the bottom of the descent, the views will help to settle your heart rate.

Stunning scenery in the Slieve Bloom hills
Catch your breath and enjoy the views

At the top of the next climb, you will find yourself at the start of Catch Me if You Can. If you have the legs to push the trails offers a great berm towards its end allowing you to carry brilliant speed.

Back up the hill along the fire road and up the Ista climb. Once at the top of the climb you have the choice of riding the Blue trails back to the car park or if you have the energy left in your legs, the start of ASAP is a short climb away.

If you do head for the car park, there is a lovely cafe with plenty of food and beverages to suit everyone’s taste in the village.

These trails have given this quiet little village of Kinnitty a boost that is great to see. With two places to hire bikes, it’s making its mark in the Irish MTB scene.

There are more trails in the works on the Laois side of the Slieve Blooms. These are taking a bit longer to get fully up to speed for one reason or another but still offer some good quality trails. With a nice handy car park which will eventually have its own cafe they offer easy access.

You only have to look at Strava to see the trails that haven’t been officially opened yet. It is great to see the new trails added every few months. I don’t envy any of the trail builders as some of the terrain they are building on is not the easiest to work with. There is a lot of peaty ground in the Slieve Blooms so to get trails built on them takes a lot of effort.

Slieve Bloom mountain biking trail
Stephen McEvoy
Stephen McEvoy

Stephen is a self-proclaimed mountain biking addict.

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