The forest is home to many small animals including Pine martins, otters, red squirrels, badgers, hares and stoats
If you are looking for a more demanding route it is possible to follow the forest paths to and from the village of Clonbur. The Guinness family once owned this forest and made trails and tunnels so that they could travel through their estate without using the public roads. Today the same trails offer safe off road walking and cycling for all the family.
The intrepid walker can extend their walk further to take in the route to the summit of Mount Gable and from there take in the panoramic views across the head of Lough Corrib to Connemara. Alternatively you may extend your walk into the forest around Ballykine and take in the ruins of the castle, the shore of Lough Mask and White Island.
Ashford Castle lies immediately to the south of the village of Cong. There is a charge to access the grounds. The walk to the castle takes less than 10 minutes from the village. Within the grounds of the Castle there are many fine walks linking the formal gardens with woodland areas. To the south east of the Castle is the woodland of Kinlough which affords excellent views across the mouth of the Cong River to the Castle. To the west of the castle it is possible to follow the lakeshore of Lough Corrib from the Castle to the Chalet where there is an obelisk erected in the memory of Lord Ardilaun (it is possible to complete the latter part of this route without entering the Castle grounds). To the east of the Castle it is possible to follow the Castle driveway to the Lodge at Ashford Castle and exiting the Lodge grounds turn left to Lisloughrey Pier. Just beyond the Pier is a small woodland area with many historical features including crannogs and the old beacon that was built in the 19th century to guide the Galway Steamer safely home.
Beyond the immediate area of the village there are many opportunities for walking in Connemara and the Joyce Country ranging from the flat topped hills of Maamtrasna to the demanding ridge walks of the Maamturks. More information about walking in these areas is available in the following guidebooks:
West of Ireland Walks – Kevin Corcoran – includes a chapter on Cong.
Connemara and Mayo – A Walking Guide – Paul Phelan.
More information about walking in Mayo is available from Mayo Walks
Local guides are available to lead walks in the local area and throughout the West of Ireland.