Now it is a must-visit for walkers of all levels to explore wild beauty and stunning, rugged mountain scenery against a historic backdrop.
Wicklow Mountains National Park
Despite its ability to immerse you in wilderness and isolation, Wicklow Mountains National Park is easily accessible making it the perfect destination for a short walking break. You can explore endless trails as part of your visit to Wicklow or join routes together for a longer walking break.
Entry to Wicklow Mountains National Park and the information office are free. In Glendalough, there are two paid car parks for visitors to the valley: the Visitor Centre car park and the Upper Lake car park.
Here are 7 way-marked hillwalking jewels that sparkle in the crown of Wicklow Mountains National Park. Kick off your adventure at the National Park Information Office in Glendalough Valley, download a Nature Trails leaflet and follow your chosen route.
The 7 great walks
Miners’ Road Walk (Purple Route)
Time: 1 hour 10 mins
This easy 5km walk takes you along the Upper Lake at Glendalough with views across its dark glassy surface to St Kevin’s Bed, the one-time retreat of Saint Kevin who founded the monastery in Glendalough in the 6th century. Park in the Upper Lake car park which is near the start of the trail. As you amble through the Scots pine woodland path watch out for a peregrine falcon or feral goats. It’s not long before you reach the ruined Miners’ Village where you can stop to take in the views before returning back down the valley.
The Spinc and Glenealo Valley (White Route)
Time: 3 hours
From the Miners Village, climb up the valley along the river that feeds the lake, with some cool pools suitable for a dip. When you reach the boardwalk continue the moderate climb to 380 metres with jaw-dropping views over the Upper Lake. This popular route known as The Spinc circles along mountain edge with some fantastic viewing points before descending 600 wooden steps through the trees and along the side of the Poulanass Waterfall to the car park. The loop walk takes around three hours depending on how long you stop to picnic and take in the views.
Poulanass and St. Kevin’s Cell (Bronze Route)
Time: 30 mins
Park in the Upper Lake Car Park and follow the edge of the lake until you hear the Poulanass Waterfall where you will climb steeply alongside the rushing waters. This short trail leads you through the Glendalough oak woodlands, then winds gently down to the site of St Kevin’s Cell. Your efforts will be rewarded with a scenic viewpoint overlooking the Upper Lake, which is a favourite spot for birdwatchers. Explore Reefert Church before completing your walk.
Green Road Walk (Green Route)
Time: 50 mins
If you’d prefer a leisurely stroll on flat ground or have young children, the 3km easy Green Road Walk which goes from the Upper Lake Car Park along the boardwalk is a good option. Discover Glendalough oak woodlands and marvel at the flora before arriving at the Lower Lake wetland edge. Unforgettable views of the majestic round tower and monastery are in the distance, and you may spy a lizard, dragonfly or frog.
Spinc and the Wicklow Way (Red Route) to Glenmalure
Time: 4 hours 30 mins
There are lots of incredible hikes along the Wicklow Way and the 13.5km route from Glendalough to Glenmalure is one of the easier ones. From the Glendalough Visitors Centre take the Green Road into the Valley and head up the steps at the majestic Poulanass Waterfall before you climb up to the boardwalk on Lugduff. You’ll descend down the valley on trails through the forest into Glenmalure. Watch for deer and birds such as ravens, merlins and kestrels along the way.
Poulanass (Pink Route)
Time: 40 mins
After a short but steep climb by the Poulanass Waterfall and plunge pools cross above the waterfall stopping to take in the dramatic scenery below. Next, drop down through mixed woodlands to the valley floor. Listen for woodland birds, in particular jays, while you enjoy the sounds of nature. This is a moderate walk suitable for families with older children but is not ideal for pushchairs.
Woodland Road (Silver Route)
Time: 1hr 15 mins
The Woodland Road is known as one of the most secretive routes in Glendalough. Start your 4km ramble trails and woodland from Glendalough into neighbouring Glendasan Valley where it joins St Kevin’s Way. A track takes you back into Glendalough Valley along the Glendasan River to the boardwalk along the Lower Lake.
With all of that hillwalking, you’ll be ready to tuck into something tasty. Between Laragh and Glendalough, there are two hotels and a restaurant serving hearty meals and tasty snacks. In season, Glendalough has stalls for chips and ice creams at the Upper Lake car park and beside the Monastic City. In Laragh and other nearby towns, you’ll find shops selling groceries and ready-made food, as well as cosy tea rooms.
So, with seven hillwalking trails packed full of adventure, wildlife and panoramic scenery, which one will you choose first?