Gougane Barra is a truly magical spot, with craggy mountains and pine forests sweeping down to a mountain lake, the source of the River Lee. St Fin Barre, the founder of Cork, established a monastery here in the 6th century. He had a hermitage on the island in Gougane Barra Lake (Lough an Ghugain), which is now approached by a short causeway. The small chapel on the island has fine stained-glass representations of obscure Celtic saints.
Beyond the lake, a loop road runs through the forest park (€5 entry per vehicle, coins only), but you're better off slowing down and walking the well-marked network of paths and nature trails through the woods.
The park is signposted on the R584, which runs between the N71 at Ballylickey and Macroom on the N22.