32 Hikes in 32 Counties
To celebrate St Patrick’s Day we’re celebrating all our favourite Irish adventures!
We have the greatest playground in the world right on our doorstep and we can’t wait to get out exploring and enjoying hikes in Ireland again. In this blog we look at 32 hikes in all 32 counties of Ireland from exhilarating mountain climbs for the more experienced walkers, to long thru hikes to short gentle woodland walks, this list has something for everyone.
Let us know how many you’ve completed and share your adventures with us online @53degreesnorth.ie #HappyOut
Causeway Coast Way Walking Route (Carrick-a-Reed – Giant’s Causeway)
This breath-taking walk is just one section of the 53km Causeway Coast Way Walking Route from Portstewart to Ballycastle. It takes in two of Northern Ireland’s most famous attractions, The Giant’s Causeway and the Carrick-a-Reed rope bridge. The path is signposted and brings you along the coast but certain sections might not be passable at high tide so make sure you plan ahead and do some research – we promise it’s worth it for the views!
Slieve Gullion Looped Walk
Slieve Gullion is the tallest peak in Co Armagh and this looped walk is a great way to take in the sights. Slieve Guillion means mountain of the steep slope and while there is a defined path post of the way it’s known to get wet and boggy so dress appropriately and give yourself plenty of time.
Barrow Way (Graiguenamanagh – St Mullins)
The full length of the Barrow Way is 113km which will take you from Roberstown in Kildare to St. Mullins Co. Carlow. For this article we’ve picked a relatively family friendly section, the picturesque woodland section from Graiguenamanagh to St. Mullin’s. Flat, peaceful and not too long this route is suitable for most ages. The grassy towpath is soft but can get wet and boggy in wet weather so waterproof shoes are recommended! And remember, it runs alongside the River Barrow so always be careful particularly if you have little hikers with you.
Killykeen Forest Park
The walk in Killykeen Forest is a short, woodland loop suitable for hikers big and small with beautiful views over the lake. They don’t call it the Lakeland county for nothing, it’s a popular spot amongst anglers and paddlers so it might be worth bringing the kayaks with you!
Cliffs of Moher Cliff Walk
A different way to experience the Wild Atlantic Way. The Cliffs of Moher Cliff Walk takes you 18km from Liscannor to Doolin along some of Ireland’s most breath-taking scenery. This route takes you along exposed cliff top, rocky sections with steep ascents and descents. Anyone attempting this should be fit, healthy and familiar with hillwalking. It’s tough going but you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views.
Old Head of Kinsale Walk
The Old Head of Kinsale is a narrow promontory into the Atlantic Ocean with a beautiful Lighthouse at the end. Surrounded by ocean on all sides you’re guaranteed great views and it’s relatively short so suitable for hikers big and small. For a longer walk you can start at the clifftop walk at the stunning Garretstown beach which will bring it to 10km.
Banagher Forest Walk
This is a stunning looped walk of Banagher Glen, offering great views of Altnaheglish Reservoir and Dam. It’s a mixed surface walk with good inclines but worth bring a map and navigational equipment with you.
The walk up and down Donegal’s striking highest peak is challenging but manageable. Although it’s just 3km up and 3km back down there’s good incline. There’s little in the line of markings so it would be advisable to have some navigational equipment with you. The start can be very wet and boggy with lots of scree around the summit so waterproof footwear and gaiters would be advised as well as hiking poles.
The highest mountain in Northern Ireland, Slieve Donard is the peak of the majestic Mourne Mountains. While this is a challenging walk it’s not too technical and mostly on path which can make it good for newcomers hillwalking. On your way you’ll get fantastic views of the scenery but also keep an eye out for the famous Mourne Wall. This is one of the granite dry stone wall’s Ireland is famous for but what makes this one different is it stretches across the mountain range for 35km and crosses 15 mountains.
Ticknock Loop (Fairy Castle Loop)
Dublin is conveniently nestled between the mountains and the sea so that no matter where you are, you’re never far from adventure. One of our favourite walks is the Fairy Castle loop up at Ticknock just south of Sandyford (and very close to our store in Carrickmines!). This is a relatively easy walk with a few inclines but good paths mean it’s suitable for all the family. When you get to the summit of Three Rock on the loop you’ll be treated to excellent views of the City and Dublin bay. It’s also a hit with mountain bikers if you’re looking for even more adventure!
Cuilcagh Mountain (Stairway to Heaven)
Part of the Cuilcagh Way the hike up the Culcaigh Mountain Summit and back has become extremely popular over the last few years with the introduction of a wooden boardwalk and stairway making it more accessible. It’s worth nothing the boardwalk is only 1.5km towards the end of the route, the first few kms are along a gravel path. The staircase stops before the summit so if you want to reach the top you’ll want proper hiking boots so you can traverse the rest of the boggy way. More experienced walkers might prefer the Cuilcagh Hikers Trail, an 18km loop walk mostly off trail in truly remote countryside. Either way you’ll be treated to scenic views of the Fermanagh wilderness and a good day you’ll get clear views of Lough Erne and surrounding counties.
In the heart of Conneamara National Park stands Diamond Hill. Challenging at times in good weather this walk should be suitable for most abilities if you have a reasonable level of fitness. The views over the park are stunning taking in the Galway coast. You can even spot the historic Kylemore Abbey from the top. One of the best parts? There’s a café and tea room at the bottom so you’ve something to look forward to at the end!
Carrauntoohil – Ireland’s highest peak
No list of hikes in Ireland is complete without Carountoohill, Ireland’s highest peak at 1039m. A challenging hike, to be sure, but this majestic mountain rewards you with unparalleled views once complete. This hike should be saved for experienced hikers or bring a guide with you. The weather is changeable in the Macgillycuddy Reeks and can prove dangerous if appropriate care isn’t taken. The Devil’s Ladder is the most popular route but includes a steep incline that has become quite eroded over the years, many people prefer to opt for the slightly longer Brother O’Shea’s Gully route now although there are still steep rocky climbs to manager on this route.
Whichever way you decide to go you’ll need to do your research, wear the right gear and have navigational equipment with you. This means proper hiking boots, warm layers, waterproof gear, plenty of water, snacks, maps and a compass. Avoid in inclement weather – the mountain will still be there when the sun comes out! If you do it properly and safely it’s a challenging but beautiful ascent you won’t forget.
Grand Canal Way (Hazelhatch to Sallins)
The Grand Canal Way stretches a full 117km from Dublin to the River Shannon. The full thru-hike takes about 5 days to complete but this short section in Kildare can be enjoyed in an afternoon. Walking along the canal is peaceful and quiet and doesn’t require the navigational skills the mountains do. Perfect for the whole family you can take in the peace and quiet of the countryside and nature while spotting a few brightly coloured barges along the way.
Nore Valley Way (Kilkenny – Bennettsbridge)
This is the first section of the Nore Valley Way taking you from Kilkenny City to Bennettsbridge. A lovely peaceful walk this has little incline but lots of charm so a great option for newcomers to hillwalking. You can enjoy the picturesque scenery and peace and quiet. Remember it is along a river though so appropriate footwear is advised, it can get very boggy in section. Whichever way you walk it you’ll have plenty of cafés waiting for you at the end if you need a little extra motivation along the route!
Glenbarrow Looped Walk (Slieve Bloom)
This walk crosses over into a little bit of Offaly as well but we still thought it deserved to be included! The Slieve Blooms are bursting with life and this loop walk is the prefect taster. Strenuous at times you’ll enjoy beautiful forestry, rivers and waterfalls.
The walk to the bottom of Eagle’s Rock in Leitrim is worth it for the dramatic views. At 330m it is Ireland’s highest freestanding tower and as such creates an eye-catching rock formation. While not the longest walk it is tough terrain so appropriate gear is a must.
Ballyhoura – Blackrock Loop
Well known as the largest network of mountain biking trails in Ireland, Ballyhoura also has plenty to offer the walkers among us. Many will be familiar with the 90km Ballyhoura Way but if you don’t have 3 days to spend in the mountains this loop is a nice taster!
Royal Canal Greenway (Clondra – Longford)
The whole Royal Canal Way is 144km from Clondra, Co. Longford stretching all the way to Dublin. While completing the whole route is a great feat it can also be completed in sections. This section starts at the beginning of the route in the picturesque town of Clondra bringing you to the busier Longford. It’s a lovely, leisurely walk that’s almost completely flat so great for all abilities. It’s also a popular cyclist route so just aware if you’re heading off that it’s a shared space.
Slieve Foy Loop
If you’re looking for views over Carlingford Lough, Slieve Foy is hard to beat. A moderate hike this route has a few steep inclines but for the most part is manageable and worth it for the incredible views.
The tallest peak in Connacht, Mweelrea is striking even from a distance. Although beautiful this is a strenuous hike and should not be attempted unless you are an experienced hillwalker or with a guide. Perched between the stunning Killary Fjord and dramatic Doolough Valley there’s breath taking views on either side. A challenging but rewarding climb this route is not marked so navigation equipment is essential. You’ll need proper waterproof gear sturdy hiking boots, gaiters in bad weather and we definitely recommend lots of warm layers. Don’t leave without plenty of water and snacks!
Kells Girley Bog Eco Walk
Suitable for the whole family this is a relatively flat walk but on uneven terrain – if bringing little hikers, you’ll definitely want proper boots for them! What makes this walk special is it’s location. This raised bog is a special area of conservation and is home to some rare species of bird, plant and wildlife.
Rossmore Forest Park
This scenic park is perfect for family walks, easily accessible the terrain is suitable for all abilities and the younger hikers can be rewarded for their efforts with some time in the playground! The Preistfield Lake Loop of 3km is the most scenic but if you’re looking for a longer walk the full Rossmore Loop is 8km or you can link up with the Ulster Canal Greenway.
Known as the most isolated hill in Ireland, Croughan Hill reaches 234m rising above the Bog Of Allen. Best for panoramic views and a slice of history! The mound at the summit Croghan Hill is thought to be a bronze age burial place and the bog body, Old Man of Croughan was found in the area.
National Famine Way (Strokestown – Tarmonbarry)
The National Famine Way is 165km in total, taking you from Strokestown Park Estate all the way to Dublin. If you embark on this hike you’re following in the footsteps of 1,490 people who walked from Strokestown to the ships at Custom Quay in Dublin to emigrate. The path is well marked and flat so not too strenuous. On your way keep an eye out for bronze shoes that mark the way and tell the stories of the first people to take this path.
Queen Maeve’s Trail - Knocknarae
Located near the seaside town of Strandhill, well known for surfing, Knocknarae offers a gorgeous hike suitable for most levels. The 6km loop walk brings you around the hill and to the summit with a large cairn which, legend says, is the final resting place of Queen Maeve. As a burial place it’s considered sacred, and you shouldn’t climb it. At the summit you’ll be treated to breath-taking views of Sligo bay and the beaches below. As it’s mostly path and wooden boards it’s suitable for the whole family although there are some steep steps.
Galtee Mountain Horseshoe Loop
Some of the highest peaks in Ireland, the Galtee Mountains are rich in history and beautiful scenery. This is a strenuous hike with good incline. We recommend this one for experienced hillwalkers with navigational experience or take a guided hike. It’s a very rewarding walk but it’s work taking the time to plan, make sure you won’t run out of daylight and good gear is an essential for this one. This means study waterproof boots, waterproof jacket and lots of extra layers, hats and gloves. Be sure to bring snacks and water with you too!
Davagh Forest Trail
The adventurers amongst us will know Davagh Forest for it’s great network of mountain bike trails but there’s also a short looped trail here if you’d rather explore by foot than by bike. A gentle riverside walk that’s suitable for the whole family.
Coumshingaun Loop Walk
One of the most breath-taking views in Ireland comes from the Coumshingaun loop, looking down on the corrie from the steep cliffside. This is a moderate trail with steep inclines, best recommended for people with some experience in hillwalking and navigation and you’ll definitely be rewarded. Remember in Ireland the weather can change quickly so plan ahead and pack appropriately, the path can be steep at times so if the weather is inclement don’t risk it. The rocky mountain terrain here is also popular with rock climbers!
Mullaghmeen White Walk
Lovely forest trail with several viewpoints over the lake and neighbouring counties. It’s strenuous at parts but relatively manageable. The route is sparsely marked so make sure you have a map and familiarise yourself with the landmarks or it can be easy to get lost.
Forth Mountain Trail
This is a moderate walking that starts with a steep incline but as you go on it becomes gentler eventually opening up to beautiful views of the coast including Rosslare, Saltee Islands, Hook Head lighthouse (on a good day of course!) The route is fairly straight forward but it’s always worth packing extra warm layers as well as hats and gloves so you can warm up if needs be.
The Spinc Glendalough
Probably one of the most instagrammed spots in the Wicklow Mountains and it’s easy to see why. The Spinc (white route) takes you up above the Glendalough Valley, after a moderate climb the trail brings you around the valley with stunning views. It’s well marked and usually quite busy so safe enough for people new to hillwalking, ready for a bit of a challenge but who aren’t comfortable navigating themselves just yet.
No matter where your adventures take you the most important thing is to stay safe and respect the space. Follow the principals of Leave No Trace - Take only photos, leave only ripples.