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06th Oct 2023

Best woodland walks to see autumn leaves in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands

Brought to you by DiscoverIreland.

We’ve got some great recommendations the whole family will love during your next getaway.

Autumn is here, and this beautiful season calls for long family days spent outside exploring new parts of Ireland on a weekend break.

This time of year, our forests and parklands are particularly beautiful, and for the young and young at heart, nothing feeds the soul quite like hearing the crunch of a fallen leaf beneath our feet.

Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands are home to some exceptional forests, and this autumn they’re waiting for you and your family to explore on your next short break. Take in the wonder of the changing seasons and embark on an adventure with your little ones through some of the country’s most breathtaking walks.

And, when the post-walk hunger hits, we’ve highlighted some of our favourite nearby cafés and restaurants to stop by for a bite to eat. So layer up, pop on your best walking shoes and get ready to soak up that cool autumnal atmosphere in some of our favourite forests, parklands and woodlands in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands.

Lough Key Forest and Activity Park and Lakeside Café (Co. Roscommon)

This 19th century parkland in Roscommon is home to many walking routes for all abilities, but for families, we’d recommend the Drumman’s Island Trail. This multi-access trail is flat, 3.5 km long and takes walkers along the tranquil lakeshore as well as the forest road, where you can check out the changing leaves. On this walk, which takes about an hour to complete, you’ll also get the chance to admire the intricate fairy bridge – a site to see all year round!

After you’ve taken in the changing leave and braced the fresh autumnal elements, swing by the Lakeside Café and warm up with a coffee, some hot chocolate and plenty of sweet cakes to indulge in.

Cavan Burren Park and the Olive Grove Coffee Shop (Co. Cavan)

Cavan Burren Park boasts over 10km of walking trails, and the 2.7km Giant’s Leap Trail is ideal for families. Whatever the weather, this unique landscape is striking, so set out with your little ones and enjoy beautiful scenery, spectacular views and bog bridges. This trail also allows walkers to check out one of Ireland’s most intact megalithic wedge tombs – a sight to behold for people of all ages!

Afterwards, stroll in to the picturesque town of Blacklion and enjoy a spot of casual dining with a garden view at the Olive Grove Coffee Shop.

Nature Loop Murroe (Co. Limerick) and the Ponaire Café (Co. Tipperary)

With dense woods, flowing streams and crystal clear waterfalls along the way, the nature loop at Murroe makes for a beautiful walk any time of year, but it’s particularly striking as autumn rolls around. This family-friendly trail is under 2km so make sure you stop along the way to really take in your surroundings and breathe in the crisp autumn breeze. Enjoy a break by the river and keep your eyes peeled for some of the fauna – birds, squirrels, deer – that call this area home.

Once you’ve taken in the beauty of this area, head across the county border to Tipperary and visit Ponaire Café. This café is renowned for its coffee, but with a wide selection of baked goods, your little ones will enjoy it too.

Belvedere House, Gardens and Park and Lakeside Café (Co. Westmeath)

Visiting Westmeath on your next family break? Make sure you add Belvedere House, Gardens and Park to your itinerary. Take in the changing colours of autumn as you explore the six kilometres of ancient woodland in this parkland. In addition to the picturesque walking trails, there are four children’s play areas including a 30 metre zip-line. Come rain, hail or shine – your little ones will have so much fun here!

All this playing and adventuring will have no doubt worked up a bit of an appetite, so pop by the Lakeside Café on the grounds, where you’ll find an array of wholesome soups, toasties and sweet treats.

Lake Boora Discovery Park and The Organic Kitchen Café (Co. Offaly)

Explore the beauty of Co. Offaly on your next family trip with a visit to Lake Boora Discovery Park. This park is home to many beautiful trails to catch some autumn leaves, but the Fairy Route is particularly popular with younger visitors. This 1.3km route invites families to stroll through Fairy Avenue and leads little ones to a bug hotel, a wishing seat and an enchanting maze.

For a bite to eat after rambling through Lake Boora Discovery park, visit the Organic Kitchen Café, which is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 5pm. The menu here is packed with plenty of tasty organic, local produce and great coffee for parents – the ideal way to warm up after spending the day embracing autumn’s cool weather.

Brought to you by DiscoverIreland.

Whatever the weather it’s always perfect weather to Keep Discovering. Plan your next short break at

The Leave No Trace principles help us make as little an impact as possible on the incredible Irish landscape as we explore the outdoors this autumn and beyond. Keep outdoor areas safe, clean and free from waste/hazards, and help protect the natural environment. Love this place, leave no trace.