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Fun Forest Parks for Families in County Donegal

County Donegal is a spectacularly scenic and wild part of Ireland. With rugged coastline, towering mountains, rolling hills, and tranquil lakes, it's a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. And for families with children, there are plenty of fun forest parks to explore.



Summary Table - Forest Parks in Donegal:


Park Name Location Features
Ards Forest Park Rosguill Peninsula Beach, Fairy Trail, BBQ areas, campsites, playground
Glenveagh National Park Derryveagh Mountains Hiking trails, Glenveagh Castle and Gardens, Junior Ranger program
Grianan of Aileach Inishowen Peninsula Hillfort with views, Visitor Center, Ring of Stones
Oakfield Park Near Raphoe Gardens, lakes, woodland, miniature railway, playground, petting zoo, events
Doe Castle Sheephaven Bay 16th-century castle, guided tours, moat, views
Lough Derg County Donegal/ County Fermanagh Lake with forest, pilgrimage site, walking trails
Glenholme Country House Gardens Churchill 20 acres of gardens, playground, picnic area, events


In this article, we'll take a look at some of the best forest parks for kids in County Donegal, and what makes them special.

1. Ards Forest Park

Ards Forest Park is a stunning 480-acre park located on the Rosguill Peninsula in northwestern Donegal. It features a variety of walking trails, picnic areas, and a playground. The highlight of the park is the breathtaking Ards Beach, which is a great place to swim and explore the rock pools. There are also several designated BBQ areas and campsites within the park, making it a great destination for an overnight stay.

One of the most unique features of Ards Forest Park is the Fairy Trail. This trail takes you on a magical journey through the forest, where you can discover fairy houses, toadstools, and other whimsical creations. Kids will love searching for the fairies and using their imaginations to create stories about them.

2. Glenveagh National Park

Glenveagh National Park is one of the largest national parks in Ireland, covering over 40,000 acres of land. Located in the heart of the Derryveagh Mountains, it's a place of incredible natural beauty, with pristine lakes, mountains, and forests. There are plenty of hiking trails to explore, ranging from easy walks to more challenging hikes.

The park is also home to the historic Glenveagh Castle, which was built in the 19th century. The castle and its gardens are open to the public, and guided tours are available. Kids will enjoy exploring the castle and learning about its history, as well as playing in the gardens.

For younger children, the park offers a junior ranger program, which is a fun and educational way to learn about the wildlife and natural features of the park. Kids can earn badges by completing activities such as birdwatching, scavenger hunts, and nature walks.

3. Grianan of Aileach

Grianan of Aileach is a hillfort located on the Inishowen Peninsula in northern Donegal. It dates back to the 6th or 7th century and was once a seat of power for the Kings of Aileach. Today, it's a popular tourist destination and a great place to explore with kids.

The hillfort is surrounded by a ring of stones, which kids will love climbing on and exploring. From the top of the hillfort, there are stunning views of the surrounding countryside, including Lough Swilly and the hills of Donegal. There's also a visitor center on site, which provides information about the history of the site and the people who lived there.

4. Oakfield Park

Oakfield Park is a 100-acre estate located in the heart of Donegal, near the town of Raphoe. It features beautiful gardens, lakes, and woodland, as well as a miniature railway that kids will love riding on. The railway takes you on a tour of the estate, passing through the gardens, around the lakes, and through the woods.

In addition to the railway, there's also a playground, a petting zoo, and a picnic area. Kids will love interacting with the animals, which include pigs, goats, and rabbits. The estate also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including music concerts, food festivals, and a Christmas Wonderland.

5. Doe Castle

Doe Castle is a 16th-century castle located on the shores of Sheephaven Bay, in northwestern Donegal. It was built by the Mac Doe family and was used as a stronghold for many years. Today, the castle is a popular tourist attraction and a great place to explore with kids.

The castle is surrounded by a moat and is accessible via a narrow causeway. Kids will love crossing the causeway and exploring the castle's many rooms and staircases. From the top of the castle, there are stunning views of the surrounding countryside and the bay.

There's also a visitor center on site, which provides information about the history of the castle and its importance in the region. The castle is open to the public from April to October and guided tours are available.

6. Lough Derg

Lough Derg is a large lake located on the border between County Donegal and County Fermanagh. It's a popular destination for fishing, boating, and water sports, but it's also a great place to explore with kids.

The lake is surrounded by a dense forest, which is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, foxes, and badgers. There are several walking trails around the lake, ranging from easy strolls to more challenging hikes.

One of the highlights of Lough Derg is the pilgrimage site located on its shores. The site has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries and is believed to have been visited by Saint Patrick himself. Kids will enjoy exploring the ruins of the old church and learning about the history and traditions of the site.

7. Glenholme Country House Gardens

Glenholme Country House Gardens is a beautiful estate located in the town of Churchill, in central Donegal. It features over 20 acres of gardens, including a walled garden, a rose garden, and a woodland garden. Kids will love exploring the different areas of the gardens, which are filled with flowers, plants, and trees.

In addition to the gardens, there's also a playground and a picnic area on site. Kids can play on the swings, slide, and climbing frame, while parents relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

The estate also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including music concerts, theater performances, and garden festivals. It's a great place to spend a day with the family, exploring the gardens, playing in the playground, and enjoying the entertainment.


In conclusion, County Donegal is a fantastic destination for families with children, with plenty of fun forest parks to explore.

From Ards Forest Park and Glenveagh National Park to Grianan of Aileach and Lough Derg, there's something for everyone. Whether you're looking for hiking trails, historic sites, or beautiful gardens, Donegal has it all. So pack a picnic, grab your hiking boots, and head out to explore the beauty of County Donegal with your family today!