The Muckross Estate is at the heart of Killarney National Park. The stately home is surrounded by landscaped gardens and it draws most of the crowds. But it doesn’t take long to reach the wilder, quieter areas of the park. You can spend an entire day getting lost among the lakes, waterfalls, mountains and trees. Spanning 10, 236 hectares, Killarney National Park is huge, but its network of walking and hiking trails make exploring easy.
Killarney National Park Walks
1. Muckross Lake Loop
Distance – 15 km
Muckross House is a natural starting point for a visit to Killarney National Park, so it’s no surprise that lots of walking routes begin here too. The lake loop is suitable for anyone who’s able to walk for a few hours, and the route takes in the intricate gardens and historic buildings of the estate.
A scenic path leads walkers away from Muckross House and down to the shores of the lake. From there, the trail meanders out to the Muckross Peninsula, which separates Muckross Lake from Lough Leane. From here, wander through Reenadinna Wood, keeping an eye out for red squirrels and red deer. On the western edge of Muckross Lake, you can stop for coffee at Dinis Cottage, before following woodland and lakeside paths back to Muckross House.
There’s also the option of taking an additional trip to Torc Waterfall, which takes about 2 hours.
2.Torc Waterfall Loop
Torc Mountain towers over some of the prettiest sections of Killarney National Park and its tumbling waterfall is one of the highlights of the park. To complete the Torc Loop, begin at Muckross House and follow the signposts. A woodland trail and a series of stone steps lead to a viewpoint of the 18m high waterfall. After heavy rain, the falls are even more impressive. The trail eventually rejoins the Muckross Lake Loop Walk. You can also park at the base of Torc Mountain and hike to the summit. The beauty of Torc makes it one of the unmissable Killarney National Park walks.
3. Circular Walk, Knockreer
This walk is close to Killarney town centre, making it one of the most accessible routes in the park. It’s an easy walk, and unless you decide to have a side-adventure, you’ll be on paved paths. The Deenagh Lodge is the starting and end point for the walk, and the lodge is located at the entrance to Killarney National Park, opposite St. Mary’s Cathedral. There are a few different paths, so follow the signs for Knockreer House. The path meanders past Knockreer, before opening up to incredible views of Lough Leane and the McGillycuddy Reeks. After crossing a section of open parkland, you can then follow the Riverbank Path or just head straight back towards Deenagh Lodge.
Library Point, Ross Island Walk
Ross Castle is one of the most visited places in Killarney National Park. This has a lot to do with its location – it’s situated on the eastern shores of Lough Leane and the McGillycuddy Reeks tower in the background. But it’s also a fascinating 15th structure, with a history that’s steeped in legend. The castle is open to visitors from April to October.
The 2 km trail from Ross Castle to Library Point winds through woodland and alongside the lake. It ends by a low fence at the edge of the peninsula. Underneath the fence is Library Point – a limestone rock formation on the edge of Lough Leane. From here, you can look out across to the shores of Inisfallen Island. There’s a network of walking trails on Ross Island and you combine them, if you have more time to explore.
5. Old Kenmare Road
Distance: 16 km
If you’re up for a longer and more challenging trek, then grab your trail shoes and head for the Old Kenmare Road. The trail is part of the ‘Kerry Way’, a long-distance walking route that winds around the Iveragh Peninsula.The variety of the landscape, combined with the sense of isolation, makes it very special. It passes over hills, through woodland and across sections of marsh and exposed uplands. A good place to start is at the upper carpark of Torc Mountain. The main challenge with this route is that it’s not a loop. You could arrange transport from Kenmare, spend a night in the town, or retrace your steps if you’re feeling really energetic.
Not as well-known as other trails in Killarney National Park, the Blue Pool is a serene woodland area that’s located off the main road to Muckross. To find it, turn left immediately after the entrance to Muckross Park Hotel. Tucked away, behind a subtle entrance are the starting points for two trails – Cloghareen and Blue Pool. Whichever one you choose, you’ll follow a rugged track through dense woodland, pass a rushing river, and eventually, end up at the vivid Blue Pool itself. Both trails are signposted and loop back to the entrance.Hiking in Gougane Barra Forest Park