Forests help to slow down climate change and there are over 100 forests you can visit in Northern Ireland. Public facilities are continually improved with better play areas for children and waymarked off-road cycling/ walking trails for a wide range of users including those with disabilities. Some have camping facilities.
Forests with improved facilities
Watch the video below to see the improvements that you can enjoy in Garvagh Forest, Gortin Glen Forest Park near Omagh, Gosford Forest Park near Markethill and Hillsborough Forest.
Garvagh Forest on the outskirts of Garvagh now has a network of cycle trails of varying degrees of difficulty and includes over 8 miles of red cycle trails for cyclists who like a challenge. The paths have been improved for walkers of all ages.
Gortin Glen Forest Park
At Gortin Glen Forest Park near Omagh the visitor experience has been greatly improved with a network of 5 waymarked trails from easy to extreme for walkers, cyclists or mountain bikers. The playpark includes equipment suited to children with disabilities and the café and education building have been refurbished for schools, youth and scouting groups to enjoy.
Gosford Forest Park
Gosford Forest Park outside Markethill in County Armagh has a 16 km trail network made of 4 trails for walkers, cyclists and adventure sports. Includes a trail for wheelchair users and those with limited mobility. The outdoor play area for children has equipment suited to children with disabilities.
At Hillsborough Forest the children’s playpark includes equipment suited to children with disabilities. Pathways have been widened for prams and wheelchairs and there are six viewing platforms with seating to enjoy views of the lake and the wildlife.
Explore our forests
Forests in Northern Ireland have much to offer including walking, cycling, camping, caravanning and touring facilities, horse riding and you can organise events and activities in forests. To find forests to visit in your area, go to public forests in Northern Ireland
Walking in forests
There are maps, apps, guides and booklets with information about various walks, trails and activities to enjoy in forests. More about this at walking in forests.
Forests you can cycle in
You can cycle in some of the public forests in Northern Ireland and enjoy mountain biking or leisure cycling. Find out which forests you can cycle in.
Some forests offer camping in a tent, caravan, motorhome, campervan, folding caravan or trailer tent, they include Castlewellan Forest Park, Drum Manor Forest Park, Glenariff Forest Park and Tollymore Forest Park. These are well-equipped long stay sites where visitors can stay for up to 14 nights depending on availability.
Touring in the Trees annual permits allow you to stay at nine touring caravan sites where you can explore the forests and surrounding countryside. These forest sites are reserved for annual permit holders only. You cannot stay for longer than three nights in a row at one site.
Find out more at camping and touring sites in forests.
Northern Ireland’s forests offer a variety of horse riding opportunities.
Organising events and activities in forests
To arrange a special event or activity in a forest managed by Forest Service in Northern Ireland, you may need to get a licence.
Get a grant to plant lots of trees
The government in Northern Ireland is aiming to plant 18 million trees and create 9,000 hectares of new woodland by 2030 in partnership with the public, private sectors as well as citizens. This will mean more green space for everyone to enjoy and will help to boost the fight against climate change.
To help achieve this, Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) is offering farmers, private landowners or public sector organisations the opportunity to apply for a DAERA grant that covers all costs to plant a woodland or forest on your land. If eligible, you’ll also get an annual payment for 10 years.
See advice from those who’ve done it and find out more at grant for landowners to plant trees on their land.
Photo: Woodland planted at the beginning of 2021 on a farm in the Mourne Mountains.