Hiking Ireland: Best Irish Hiking Trails

an Irish hiking trail

The Emerald Isle, a beautiful blend of nature and culture, beckons outdoor enthusiasts with its stunning landscapes and diverse natural beauty. Ireland’s varied terrain ranges from rugged coastlines to pristine beaches, lush green valleys, and rolling hills. Rich in history and adorned with ancient ruins and castles, for those that like hiking, Ireland offers an experience beyond the ordinary. The flora and fauna, coupled with the warm welcome of friendly locals, makes it an ideal destination for those seeking a tranquil escape. Let’s dive into the best Irish trails!

Carrauntoohil, County Kerry

Carrauntoohil, one of the best Irish hiking trails

Reaching 3,407 feet, Carrauntoohil in County Kerry is Ireland’s highest mountain and part of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountain range. This sandstone range stretches 12 miles from the Gap of Dunloe in the east, to Glencar in the west, and contains most of Ireland’s sharpest and tallest mountains.  Should they brave the trek, Carrauntoohil provides the adventurous an opportunity to find views from unparalleled heights. 

The Devil’s Ladder Route, the most popular trail to the summit, clocks in at 7.3 miles and is considered challenging. This well-trodden path leads hikers between two glorious lakes, Lake Gouragh and Lake Callee, before entering steep gullies filled with loose scree. Popular and demanding, the reward is worth the push. At the summit, visitors are rewarded with panoramic views of the MacGillycuddy mountain range, pristine lakes, and lush Irish valleys. Look out for rare birds like the Green-winged Teal, Ring-billed Gulls, and Kumlien’s Gull.

If the Devil’s Ladder isn’t thrilling enough, the Coomloughra Horseshoe Loop hits three of Ireland’s tallest peaks: Beenkeragh, Carrauntoohil, and Caher in less than half a mile of additional trekking. This loop is a serious mountaineering route with exposed rocky sections, scrambling, and strong route-finding skills required. Proceed with caution, or go with a guide! 

The Wicklow Way

The Wicklow Way hiking trail in Ireland

Known as Ireland’s best multi-day thru-hike, The Wicklow Way winds its path south from Dublin through the prized Wicklow mountains. Covering 82 miles, this 8-10 day experience is a dedicated hiker’s dream, and the crowning jewel of Irish thru-hikes. Established in 1980, it was the first such trail in Ireland and is part of a network of long-distance self-guided walking trails known colloquially as ‘way-marked ways.’ 

The trail combines easy accessibility with a wide variety of scenic experiences, including a section that goes through Dublin, allowing hikers to explore the cosmopolitan city. Highlights along the route include the Guinness Factory, the Book of Kells, St. Stephan’s Green, EPIC Museum, Glendalough Monastic Settlement, Powerscourt Estate, and Waterfall, offering a blend of historical, cultural, and natural wonders.

The Causeway Coast Way

The Causeway Coast Way in Ireland

For a coastal adventure, The Causeway Coast Way spans 32 miles, providing a 2-3 day thru-hike from Port Stewart to Ballycastle on the northeasternmost tip of Ireland. With a moderate difficulty level, this low-lying coastal walk is a section of the Ulster Way trail. Passing through some of the biggest tourist attractions in Northern Ireland, including the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge, Dunluce Castle, and the Bushmills Distillery, this trail offers a wide range of terrain and experiences. 

From rugged cliff sections to sandy beach walks, promenade strolls, and breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. Hikers can enjoy one of the best Irish trails with straightforward navigation while spotting seabirds and marine life alike. An easy addition to any list of the best Irish trails.

Croaghaun Cliffs, County Mayo

Croaghaun Cliffs, County Mayo

The Croaghaun Cliffs in County Mayo boast the highest sea cliffs in Ireland, towering three times higher than the Cliffs of Moher, and reaching 2,257 feet in height. The out-and-back trail to the summit is a rigorous 5.8 miles, with 2,929 feet of elevation gain. A challenging, yet popular trek, it begins in Keem Bay and ends at Croaghaun Cliffs. 

As with most hiking in Ireland, it is recommended hikers possess strong navigation and route-finding skills for this adventure as trails can be difficult to find and trail markers few and far between. Once summited, this unique location offers sweeping views of Keem Bay and dramatic cliffs surrounding it, as well as a peaceful sense of isolation in this wild and remote area of Ireland. Visitors are rewarded with a deep connection to nature in an unspoiled, secluded nature experience.

Croagh Patrick Pilgrim Trail

Croagh Patrick Pilgrim Trail

For a spiritual journey, the Croagh Patrick Pilgrim Trail covers 4.4 miles out and back with a 2,437-foot elevation gain. Widely considered Ireland’s holiest mountain, Croag Patrick is the fourth-highest peak in the country. The rocky and muddy terrain along the gentle ascent is complemented by spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, and a beautiful coastal landscape. 

Look out from the summit to the azure waters of Clew Bay and its 365 islands.Some say this is the best panoramic view in the country. Legend has it that Saint Patrick spent forty days fasting at the summit in 441 AD, making it the site of an old pilgrim route attracting thousands of visitors each year on the last Sunday of July, Reek Sunday. 

Mount Errigal, County Donegal

Mount Errigal, County Donegal Ireland

Situated in Northern Ireland, Mount Errigal is a visually striking mountain offering a 3.4-mile out-and-back trail with 1,657 feet of elevation gain. The tallest peak of the Derryveagh Mountains, Errigal’s distinctive quartzite peak rises above the surrounding landscape. The challenging hikes provide spectacular sunrise or sunset views, a 360 degree panorama, and a perfect vantagepoint to view the Derryveagh Mountains, Poisoned Glen, the Atlantic coastline, and even the neighboring countries on clear days. 

The trail includes a walk along One Man’s Pass, a tight, narrow passage to a nearby peak, offering a unique and magical experience. The rewards extend to associated mythical tales, steeped in history and local lore, making it one of Ireland’s best hiking trails.

Torc Waterfall Loop, Killarney National Park

Torc Waterfall Loop Trail, Killarney National Park Ireland

In the heart of Killarney National Park, the Torc Waterfall Loop offers a 5.5-mile circuit with a moderate difficulty level and 1,184 feet of elevation gain. This highly-trafficked trail takes hikers to one of the best waterfalls in Ireland, the Torc Waterfall. Surrounded by picturesque cascades, lush flora, moss-covered rocks, and amazing views of the National Park, visitors will feel they have entered a fantasy movie set. 

The diverse trail showcases woodland and open landscapes, lush vegetation, indigenous Irish trees like Oak, Beech, and Holly, and plentiful opportunities to spot wildlife like red deer, Eurasian jays, Robins, and various songbirds. There are many myths surrounding the names of the waterfall, as Torc means boar in Irish. Some say a man was cursed and turned into a boar every night, and when his secret was revealed, he disappeared into the Devil’s Punchbowl lake that flows over Torc Falls.  

Guided Ireland Hiking TOUR

Tips for Hiking Ireland

As with most outdoor activities in Ireland, it is wise to carry a waterproof jacket, rainpants, and an umbrella. The dynamic weather patterns can be hard to navigate and it’s common to experience brilliant sunshine quickly followed by deluging rains. Stay prepared by packing waterproof clothing, warm layers, and sturdy hiking shoes. 

The trails can become dangerous and slippery during heavy rain, and are challenging to navigate during extra cloudy and misty mornings. Always do the research ahead of time to ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience. Or join our guided Ireland hiking trip and hike the best Irish trails while also enjoying quaint accommodations, local cuisine, and convenient transportation.


About Shelby Lynn

Shelby Lynn Wildland blog contributor

Shelby is a whimsical writer, and wanderer. Her curiosity constantly introduces her to new and inspiring escapades. Her passion for rock climbing fields adventures near and far. And rarely is she without a small library in tow. She currently resides in Salt Lake City but will forever call the Pacific Northwest home.

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