Located at the heart of the midlands region, County Offaly is one of Ireland’s hidden gems. This oft-forgotten county boasts wild expanses of bogland, enchanting wooded valleys, and mystical rivers, and it shares the breath-taking Slieve Bloom mountains with neighbouring County Laois.
Offaly’s beautiful landscape offers the perfect setting for a diverse range of walks and trekking adventures for all fitness levels, from leisurely strolls to more challenging and lengthy hikes.
Here we round up the five best walks and hikes in County Offaly to try before you die.
5. Croghan Hill – for panoramic views
Rising from the stunning Bog of Allen, Croghan Hill consists of the remains of a 234m-high extinct volcano, topped by an ancient pre-Christian burial mound.
The area has strong monastic associations and notably, is the site of the discovery of Old Croghan Man, a remarkably preserved bog body dating from the early Iron Age.
Although the site is in an isolated location, parking is available in the nearby village of Croghan. Alternatively, there are a number of safe spots to pull in along the roadside.
If approaching from the east (the most popular choice), the route will lead you past the Old Croghan Cemetery, a perfect spot to stop, explore, and take a quick break! A few minutes from here, you will reach the summit and be rewarded with uninterrupted panoramic views of several of Offaly’s neighbouring counties.
This climb is one of Offaly’s lesser-known excursions and is suitable for all levels of fitness, taking approximately 20 minutes from base to summit.
Location: Croghan Hill, Rhode, Co. Offaly
4. Lough Boora Discovery Park – for perfect family outings
Next on our list of the best hikes and walks in County Offaly is the Lough Boora Discovery Park. Located between Tullamore, Birr, and Clonmacnoise, this park is one of Offaly’s most beautiful locations.
The park offers trails ranging from short strolls to lengthy jaunts and can be enjoyed by all age groups and fitness levels—a perfect outing for the whole family! All routes start and end at the Visitor Centre, offering a range of facilities including toilets, a picnic area, and a café.
Lough Boora has plenty to appreciate, and if you’re looking for something a little bit different, the Sculpture Park Route is spectacular. This 3.3km circuit is perfect for a leisurely stroll and features a stunning collection of innovative land and environmental sculptures.
Inspired by the legacy and industry of the surrounding landscape, the artists have brought art and nature together and have created some truly striking pieces.
Location: Lough Boora Discovery Park, Leabeg, Tullamore, Co. Offaly
3. Knockbarron Wood Eco Walk – for nature lovers
Located close to the idyllic village of Kinnitty, Knockbarron Wood is an absolute must if you want to immerse yourself in nature. This is a 5km looped walk and takes about 1.5 hours to complete.
Moderate fitness is required, but with 10 “eco stops,” you can enjoy this trek at your leisure and see one of the best-preserved ecosystems Ireland has to offer.
Knockbarron is an ecological paradise and is home to an abundance of unique flora and fauna that change with each passing season. No two visits to Knockbarron are the same, and if you want to be awash in a sea of bluebells, we definitely recommend visiting in May.
To get there, take the Rath/Kilcormack road from Kinnitty and follow this stretch for 2.2km. At the crossroads, take a right, and you will see a sign indicating the start of the Knockbarron Eco Walk. Continue for a further 1km to the car park.
Location: Knockbarron Eco Walk, Kinnitty, Co. Offaly
2. The Offaly Way – for stunning midland views
If you have a limited timeframe but want to see as much of Offaly as possible, this hike is for the bucket list.
The Offaly Way is a linear walking route of approximately 37km and is typically completed over two days. This terrain is generally flat, and the hike is of easy to moderate difficulty, offering stunning views of the midlands.
Starting in the quaint village of Cadamstown and ending near the early Christian monastic site of Lemanaghan, the trail follows an old mass path along the Silver River, crossing Boora Bog, Turraun Nature Reserve, and the Grand Canal.
Along this route, walkers can access a number of sites of interest, including Turraun Wildlife Park, the Boora Mesolithic Site, Kilcormac 16th Century Pieta, and St. Managhan’s Shrine, to name only a few. This is a perfect opportunity to get a real taste of Offaly!
Location: The Offaly Way, Cadamstown, Co. Offaly
1. The Slieve Bloom Way – for jaw-dropping natural beauty
As always, we saved the best for last!
Topping our list of the best hikes and walks in County Offaly, the Slieve Bloom Way is the ultimate way to experience the county if you are looking for a challenge that is off the beaten track.
At 75km, this circular walking trail is usually completed over three to four days. The trek consists of mixed terrain and can be quite strenuous at parts, but believe us—it’s worth it!
Detailed route maps are available to download online, and the route is best accessed at one of the five key trailheads, which provide information and car parking.
This long-distance trek encompasses the Slieve Bloom Mountains Environment Park, an area of outstanding (and jaw-dropping) environmental beauty.
Featuring picturesque wooded glens, rocky outcrops, waterfalls, heathery ridges, and lofty summits, the Slieve Bloom Way is the way to go if you want to experience the core of Ireland’s hidden heartlands.
Location: Slieve Bloom Mountains, Co. Offaly