This trail follows explores the forest around the boundary Hillsborough Forest Park.

Set within 150 acres of mixed woodlands this is the ideal place to walk and relax in nature. The forest is rich with bird life and larger mammals, including foxes and badgers may also be seen. Fishing, by permit only, is also available. The forest is open from dawn till dusk every day. Admission and car parking is free.

Within Hillsborough Forest, the 17th Century Hillsborough Fort can be seen, built on the sight of an old stronghold, founded by Peter Hill in 1630. The square fort features a parapet wall and was granted Royal Fort status by Charles II.

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Walk Route

Hillsborough Forest, Fox Fort Trail

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  • The boundary is partially rough terrain with multiple tree roots and it can sometimes be very muddy and slippery. Walking shoes are needed for this path. This can only be walked by people with good mobility.
    The lake contains multiple bird types, eg, swans, geese, ducks, cormorants and grey heron.
    The fort is worth visiting and there is a childrens’ playpark.
    Parking was free when I visited.

    Phil at 2:38 pm
  • County Down

    Distance 2.3 miles

    OS Map Sheet 20

    Terrain Moderate, steep in places

    Nearest Town Hillsborough

    Route Shape Circular

    Grid Reference J24346 58413

    Route Type Forest, Woodland

    Route Description

    From the main car park follow the path to the lake. Here turn right and follow the trail to the far end of the lake. At the point where the trail splits into a V turn right and continue following the trail as it picks up the boundary of the forest. A loop section will take you around the Fox Fort.

    Reaching the lower edge of the forest follow the trail to the lake and Hillsborough Fort. Managed by the NI Environment Agency the fort is accessible from the path. Having explored the fort turn right and follow the lake back to the car park.

    Point of Interest

    The tree fringed lake attracts a wide variety of wildfowl, ancient rath

    Getting to the start

    The main A1 Belfast to Dublin road passes close by the village, with access signposted via the roundabout at the north end of the village and easy access over a bridge at the south end. The Forest entrance is located at the end of Park Street and this is signposted from the main road through the village.

    Public transport

    Translink –

    Dog Policy

    Dogs are allowed. All dogs should be kept under proper control. Dogs must not be allowed to foul on footpaths – please clear up and use the dog fould bins provided at the forest car park and at several points en route around the forest trails.


    Car parking / picnic facilities / ice cream and confectionery is sold from a mobile van. Several cafes, restaurants and shops are located close by in the village. Public toilets with wheelchair access are available at Hillsborough Fort and in the village beside. The Lake is also a publicly owned fishery (stocked with rainbow trout). Fishing is by permit only, issued by DCAL Inland Fisheries.