I found myself with a couple of hours to spare last week and decided to go and explore the Ballard waterfall trail near Mountain Barrack in Cork. We had seen the signs for the waterfall when we were walking the Blackwater Way from Mountain Barrack to Fermoy and I’d seen pictures of the waterfall on the internet so I really wanted to see it for myself.
How to get to Ballard Waterfall
Set your sat nav for Mountain Barrack and park in the car pack opposite. There’s a sign in the car park that gives directions to the waterfall. With the building at the crossroads facing you, you can set off to the right (recommended), or walk the road behind you until you come to the left turn leading into the forest and to the waterfall. You can’t miss it. There are lots of signs up saying you can’t park there. If you drive this far in the car, you’ll probably have to drive back and park in the car park.
Alternate Waterfall Loop
The Ballard waterfall loop is approximately 5km in length, but I decided I’d set off over the opposite side of the road and tie in an extra few kilometres as I was looking for Buddha. I haven’t gone all spiritual or anything. A friend had posted photos of a giant Buddha after our last section of the Blackwater Way and had asked had we seen him. Of course, as our path that day had gone in the opposite direction, we hadn’t come across him.
There’s a good track that’s easily followed around to the left in a loop that ends up back out on the main road. It adds about 5km onto the waterfall loop which gave me a decent walk after driving an hour to get to Mountain Barrack.
It was tempting to follow some of the smaller, more interesting tracks. But I thought I’d leave those for another day as I wanted to get a photo of the waterfall in the sunlight, and there were some dark clouds that were threatening me from above.
By the time I came out of the forest and onto a minor road, that dark cloud had settled right above me. But I found Buddha – a huge concrete statue that seems to be part of a display at Gorse Lodge who manufacture garden ornaments. I have been looking for a nice Buddha statue for the garden for a while so I might head back there some day to have a better look. But this giant Buddha was certainly impressive.
I walked on down the laneway leaving Buddha and his friends behind me and turned left onto the main road again. I eventually came to a right turn that led into the forest towards the waterfall.
The waterfall trail is well marked all the way and easy to follow. It’s a bit steep at one section and there’s a lot of loose stone, but it’s very manageable.
A small wooden bridge crosses over the stream here. There’s another small bridge near it but obviously I didn’t feel it was as picturesque so I didn’t include it here. (Or maybe it was just the way I took the photo).
These stone steps are the final section of the trail. Care should be taken on these as some were quite muddy and slippy the day I was there. But, all in all, the trail seemed very well maintained, and I didn’t see any litter.
The waterfall is stunning! There’s a viewing platform with a bench where visitors can sit down. It’s not a very big area though so when a couple appeared with two children, I made myself scarce so they could have a turn to enjoy the view.
On the way back I thought I’d have a scoot up the trail below and see where it led. I sort of hoped it would be a handy shortcut out onto the main road, but when I got to the top there was a ditch in front of me. So, rather than jump down into the unknown on the other side, I headed back the way I came.
Ballard Waterfall Review
I loved this trail. Even taking into account the ill fated “shortcut” I took at the end, I really enjoyed the walk and the scenery. The waterfall, the steps and the little bridges make a gorgeous hike for children. The viewing area at the waterfall is quite small though so it’s probably best to try to visit this at off peak times. All in all, it was worth the hour’s drive out to Mountain Barrack to see it.