Green lights for both sections of a 73km mountain bike trail planned by Coillte
The first two obstacles have been cleared smoothly for Coillte's proposed mountain bike trail in the Slieve Blooms, and excitement is growing that the trail may become a reality in the next year.
Planning applications have now both approved by Laois and Offaly County councils. Offaly gave the green light last Friday February 3, days after Laois planners gave their approval.
The trail will be 72.8km long, around the mountains.
When lodging the applications, Daithi De Forge from Coillte Recreation said that the first stage of the trail will be ready for use by summer 2017.
“The development of these trails will have a major impact on tourism numbers in the Slieve Blooms and surrounding area. We are very excited about this major tourism project for the economic and recreational benefit it will bring not just to the midland region but the wider Irish community,” said Coillte.
The project is expected to cost €4 million, with funding not yet announced by the government.
However Coillte has been approved for a €90 million loan from the European Investment Bank to plant new forests over the next 20 years, and part of that money is for forest walks and mountain bike trails.
The project is in the pipeline since 2010, widely welcomed by local businesses, hostelries, and tourism groups. A similar trail in the Ballyhoura Mountains in Limerick brings in about 40,000 visitors a year.
Laois has 40.6km of the Slieve Bloom bike trail, starting from a trailhead with bike facilities in Baunreagh, going through Monicknew, Bockagh, Baunrush, Bordowin, and Castleconnor.
The proposed development includes the renovation and extension of a building to include a cafe, bicycle hire facilities and carpark.
The trail on the Offaly side is 32.2km long, from Castletown, Kinnitty, Pigeonstown, Coolcreen, Glinsk, Glenletter, Forelacka, Glenregan and Glendossaun, linking to the Laois side along the R440 road.
A temporary building is proposed at Castletown, Kinnitty for bicycle hire, with parking, a bike wash, a wastewater treatment plant and percolation area with associated works, boundary treatment, signage, and water connection from a group water scheme. Phase 2 will be a permanent building for bicycle hire and associated services.
The bike trail, approximately 0.6m wide (within a corridor width of 100m), will include boundary treatments, signs, and structures for river and road crossings.