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Cairn Wood, Down

Badger Rating 3.5/5
Plenty of height to play with, with some great singletrack and forest paths in this semi-natural deciduous forest.

Getting There

3 miles East of Holywood.  Easily accessible from Helen's Tower. 

Trail Description

There is an excellent singletrack trail in the western half of the forest, as well as a selection of forest paths, and a path to/from the top of Carngaver Hill at the mast.

Circa 1 km of flowing downhill, which, from the car park, takes you right down to the other gate at the road then about ½ km of fairly flat pedalling which takes you right back to the main entrance. From the car park:

  • Follow the path up the hill
  • Take the first proper path on the right
  • Cross over the logs on your right beside the path
  • Cross over the ridge on the left
  • Follow the trail down to the road
  • Either exit here or turn right and take the track back to the main entrance

There are also a few trails around the bottom of the forest in the west half. The best way to get to these is to go just past the end of the car park then climb over the fence. This cuts out some nettles and brambles.

You can ride from Helens Tower along the Ulster Way and come out on the Ballybarnes Road. Go down to the Ballysallagh Road and then it’s about 1Km along the road to the car park.

Also rumours of a track leading from the south-eastern corner of the forest straight down to the Ballybarnes Road - let us know if you find it.


trail head marker Trail Head

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Reviews for this trail

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0 5
1= Rubbish      5= Badgertastic!
  • Some of the nicest natural trails Ive been on...Clandyboye Estate,CairnWood,Helens Tower for a good ride.You could ride this area all day....
  • used to come here as a boy its a great spot, with huge potential. I still ride my bike here 15 years later. the riverbed run from the view point in cairn wood to the ballybarnes Road ( you just gotta look for it).
  • Rode today tried the horse trail link between helens tower and Cairn wood, easy enough to find, goin good after recent dry spell and no trees blocking approx 400 metres of flowy single track
  • It would appear that you get less hassle if you stay to the right of the main path ie MTBers to the right and walkers to the left. Nice trails around the top near the quarry.
  • went there this morning found some good tracks going through the wood.hardly anybody around not bad for 1030 in the morning.built some good speed up coming down from the top towards the bottom carpark.
  • Been up the back and found way into top of wood. Lots of wee small trails at top and no one to be seen even on a sunny Easter holiday. Trees are wide apart so can tear throught them and a steep section near road with earth wall for ramp, what moreU need. Walked link to Clandyboye a few years ago, but horse riders had chewed it up :( Will go back soon and check it out more.
  • This place has so much potential for being really good. I have tried building bits and pieces, but a certain gimp always tends to tear it down??
    theres some nice natural gaps and jumps, just need to have a good search.
  • yeah decent courses like for being on mi doorstep its brilliant craic and reali easy to gt there heading up there thursday 18th dec 2008
  • There is no official mountain biking allowed in Cairn Wood - beware of the ranger!
  • super trails, what more can i say
  • Some good bits of single track once if you can find them. PLenty of height if you can be bothered to pedal to the top first
  • The horse trail (might be the one you mention in the directions above) is also worth a look if the trees have been cleared off it, I haven't been up in a while. Drains well so isn't too muddy. Can be linked to helens tower/leadmines/lord wardens/ulster way for a real epic if you want.

NOTE: The trails on this site have been ridden before, but you should not interpret their inclusion as an indication that mountain-biking is officially sanctioned on them. Seeking permission from landowners is your own responsibility, as is conducting yourself in a manner that is courteous, respectful to the environment, and conscious of the safety of others.