The shoreline of Lough Derg is just as thrilling as its waters. And the best way to experience the beauty and vastness of Ireland’s largest lake is from the saddle of a bicycle. There are plenty of hills to break a sweat on, twisting roads to race around and of course, our favourite part of cycling, coffee shops and villages to stretch your legs and inhale some cake in. There are ample cycle routes and bike trails in the Killaloe/Lough Derg Region, all just waiting to be explored.
1. Ring of Lough Derg Cycleway
The jewel in the crown of Lough Derg’s cycling scene has got to be the Ring of Lough Derg Cycleway. It is exactly what it says it is, a loop of the entire iconic lake. Do it in a day or better yet break it into two and stay with us in the midst of your microadventure. The terrain is mostly flat but a few steep climbs are scattered throughout to keep you on your toes and out of the saddle occasionally. The views of the three counties it encompasses are simply breathtaking. You can pick up on the cycleway, which is signposted in both directions, anywhere along the route.
2. The Keeper Hill Cycle
If you want to boast that you have pedalled up the 117th highest mountain in Ireland, then you’ll have to take on Keeper Hill. Just south of Nenagh, Co Tipperary this gem of a route is fully signposted and makes for a great day out. The highlight being the climb up Keeper Hill, which offers up some scintillating views of the Silvermines area.
The North Tipperary Cycle Routes
On the eastern shores of Lough Derg, there is a fabulous set of routes known as The North Tipperary Cycle Routes. It features three loops of varying distances with Nenagh as its central hub.
3. The North Tipperary Cycle Route: Loop 1
This spin takes you alongside the lakeside villages of Dromineer and Terryglass. There is also an option to make the loop shorter if time is of the essence or you’re bringing the kids along for the ride: 1a(11km), 1b (28km) and 1c(46km).
4. The North Tipperary Cycle Route: Loop 2
The second loop takes place along quiet public roads encompassing the delightful villages of Portroe, Castlelough and Garrykennedy. Expect great views of Lough Derg plus a plethora of great little pubs and restaurants to refuel in.
5. Nenagh to Birdhill
Distance: Approx. 40km
If you would prefer to not do a loop but a one-way route, then this cycle from Nenagh to Birdhill is a beauty. Starting from Nenagh, head on out to Garrykennedy (where we recommend stopping for some tea and scones!). From there, it’s on to Castlelough and Killaloe (opportunity for another stop here if you are feeling peckish). Finally, pedal on out to Birdhill., where we recommend timing your arrival to coincide with the train times to take you back to Nenagh. Or else you can always cycle back if the legs are feeling strong.
6. Bonaveen Cycling and Walking Trail (Portumna Forest Park)
Portumna Forest Park is better known for its stunning walks, however, the Bonaveen Trail makes for a great little cycle too that is suitable for all the family. The route takes you by the lake to the lovely Bonaveen Point. Starting from the carpark, the cycle starts off on singletrack through thick areas of Scots Pine. Link into the green waymarked loop of the Rinmaher trail to further extend your cycle.
7. Bike Park Ireland
If you are keen to get in some mountain biking during your staycation, a trip to Bike Park Ireland is a must. It is decked out with an uplift service to drop you to the top of the trails after your run, Ireland’s largest pump track, an endure climb trail and some superb routes for the beginner to the expert and everything in between. There’s also a café, shower, changing facilities and bike hire facilities on site.