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Fantastic Forest Parks to Visit with The Kids County Cork

County Cork, located in the southern part of Ireland, is home to a number of beautiful forest parks that offer a fun and educational experience for families with kids. From nature trails to wildlife spotting and adventure activities, these parks have something for everyone.

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Summary Table - Forest Parks in Cork

Forest Park Location Activities/Attractions Wildlife
Fota Wildlife Park Carrigtwohill Free-roaming animals, feeding times, train ride, playground Over 70 species, including giraffes, zebras, lions
Doneraile Wildlife Park Doneraile Walking/cycling trails, playground, picnic areas, guided tours of Doneraile Court Deer, swans, ducks
Glenbower Wood Killeagh Fairy trail, walking trails, picnic areas, playground Otters, badgers, red squirrels
Gougane Barra Forest Park West Cork Mountains Walking trails, 6th-century church on an island in the middle of a lake, waterfall, picnic area Otters, foxes, birds of prey
Lough Hyne Near Skibbereen Swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, walking trails, guided kayaking tours Variety of plant and animal species
Castlefreke Woods Near Clonakilty Walking trails, guided tours of Castlefreke ruins, picnic areas, playground Badgers, foxes, birds of prey
Ballinamona Woods Near Shanagarry Adventure park with zip-lining, climbing walls, and archery, walking trails, picnic areas Red squirrels, badgers, birds of prey
Knockomagh Wood Near Baltimore Walking trails, viewing platform, picnic areas, café Otters, seals, birds of prey

 

In this guide, we’ll explore the best forest parks to visit with kids in County Cork.

1. Fota Wildlife Park

Located on Fota Island in the town of Carrigtwohill, Fota Wildlife Park is a must-visit for families with kids. The park is home to over 70 species of animals from around the world, including giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, and kangaroos. The park is also home to a number of endangered species, such as the Rothschild's giraffe and the Asian lion.

One of the unique features of Fota Wildlife Park is the free-roaming animals. Visitors can walk among the animals in their natural habitats, which provides a more immersive experience than traditional zoos. There are also daily feeding times and talks from park rangers, which are great opportunities for kids to learn about the animals.

In addition to the wildlife, Fota Wildlife Park has a number of other attractions for kids, including a playground and a train that takes visitors around the park. There are also picnic areas and a restaurant on-site.

2. Doneraile Wildlife Park

Doneraile Wildlife Park, located in the town of Doneraile, is one of the oldest and most beautiful parks in Ireland. The park covers over 400 acres and is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, swans, and ducks.

One of the highlights of Doneraile Wildlife Park is the 17th-century Doneraile Court, which is open for guided tours. The house has a rich history and is filled with antique furniture and artwork. The park also has a number of walking and cycling trails, as well as a playground and picnic areas.

3. Glenbower Wood

Glenbower Wood, located in the village of Killeagh, is a beautiful forest park that offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life. The park covers over 1,000 acres and has a number of walking trails that wind through the forest.

One of the unique features of Glenbower Wood is the fairy trail, which is a fun and interactive way for kids to explore the park. The trail is filled with fairy doors, toadstools, and other whimsical decorations.

Glenbower Wood is also home to a number of wildlife species, including otters, badgers, and red squirrels. There are also picnic areas and a playground on-site.

4. Gougane Barra Forest Park

Gougane Barra Forest Park, located in the West Cork Mountains, is a stunning park that is steeped in history and legend. The park is home to a number of walking trails that wind through the forest and along the banks of the Gougane Barra Lake.

One of the highlights of Gougane Barra Forest Park is the 6th-century church that is located on an island in the middle of the lake. The church is said to be the site where Saint Finbarr, the patron saint of Cork, founded his monastery. Visitors can reach the island by crossing a bridge or taking a boat ride.

In addition to the church, Gougane Barra Forest Park has a number of other attractions, including a waterfall and a picnic area. There are also a number of wildlife species in the park, including otters, foxes, and birds of prey.

5. Lough Hyne

Lough Hyne, located near Skibbereen, is a unique and beautiful forest park that is home to Ireland’s only inland saltwater lake. The commonly known as a marine lake, Lough Hyne is a designated nature reserve and offers a variety of outdoor activities, including swimming, kayaking, and snorkeling.

The park also has a number of walking trails that wind through the forest and offer stunning views of the lake and surrounding landscape. Along the trails, visitors can see a variety of plant and animal species, including wildflowers, birds, and butterflies.

One of the highlights of Lough Hyne is the daily guided kayaking tours, which are a great way to explore the lake and learn about its unique ecosystem. The tours are led by experienced guides who provide information about the history, geology, and wildlife of the area.

There are also a number of picnic areas and a small café on-site, as well as a visitor center with exhibits about the park’s history and ecology.

6. Castlefreke Woods

Castlefreke Woods, located near the town of Clonakilty, is a hidden gem that offers a peaceful and secluded retreat for families with kids. The park covers over 220 acres and is home to a variety of wildlife, including badgers, foxes, and birds of prey.

The park has a number of walking trails that wind through the forest and offer stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Along the trails, visitors can see a variety of plant and animal species, including wildflowers, butterflies, and birds.

One of the highlights of Castlefreke Woods is the ruins of Castlefreke, which dates back to the 16th century. The castle is open for guided tours and provides a glimpse into the history of the area.

There are also picnic areas and a playground on-site, as well as a small café that serves refreshments.

7. Ballinamona Woods

Ballinamona Woods, located near the town of Shanagarry, is a beautiful forest park that offers a range of outdoor activities for families with kids. The park covers over 80 acres and has a number of walking trails that wind through the forest.

One of the highlights of Ballinamona Woods is the adventure park, which offers a range of activities such as zip-lining, climbing walls, and archery. The park is a great place for kids to burn off some energy and have fun in the great outdoors.

The park is also home to a number of wildlife species, including red squirrels, badgers, and birds of prey. There are also picnic areas and a café on-site, as well as a small gift shop.

8. Knockomagh Wood

Knockomagh Wood, located near the town of Baltimore, is a beautiful forest park that offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside and the Atlantic Ocean. The park covers over 100 acres and has a number of walking trails that wind through the forest and along the coast.

One of the highlights of Knockomagh Wood is the viewing platform, which provides panoramic views of the area. Visitors can see as far as the mountains of Kerry on a clear day.

The park is also home to a number of wildlife species, including otters, seals, and birds of prey. There are also picnic areas and a small café on-site.

SUMMARY

In conclusion, County Cork is home to a number of beautiful forest parks that offer a range of outdoor activities and educational experiences for families with kids. From free-roaming animals to fairy trails and adventure parks, these parks have something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or an action-packed adventure, County Cork’s forest parks are sure to delight both kids and adults alike.