A designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 1981, Killarney National Park is where you’ll find one of Ireland’s most important habitats. If you feel like escaping into nature for a day, it’s the perfect place to go. It’s easy to spend an entire day outdoors here, exploring the trails. From lake loops to forest walks, here are six Killarney National Park walks:
The Muckross Estate is at the heart of Killarney National Park. The stately Victorian mansion, Muckross House, 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 could spend hours 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.
6 Killarney National Park Walks:
1. Muckross Lake Loop Walk
Distance – 15 km
Muckross House is a natural starting point for a visit to the national park, so it’s no surprise that lots of Killarney National Park walks begin here too. The Muckross Lake Loop is suitable for anyone who’s able to stroll 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 from the Muckross Lake walk.
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 walk the entire Torc Waterfall 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. Torc Waterfall is at its most dramatic after heavy rain.
If you’re looking for more of a challenge, Torc Mountain offers some of the most accessible hiking in Killarney National Park. A steep track winds all the way to the summit of Torc, so it’s impossible to get lost. And on a clear day, the views out over the surrounding landscape are hard to beat. You could combine the Torc Mountain hike with the Torc Waterfall Loop if you’re feeling energetic.
3. Circular Walk, Knockreer
The Knockreer route is close to Killarney town centre, making it one of the easiest walks in Killarney National Park. Unless you decide to have a side-adventure, you’ll be on paved paths throughout. Deenagh Lodge is the starting and end point of 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 – the castle sits on the eastern shores of Lough Leane, while the McGillycuddy Reeks tower in the background. But besides its scenic location, Ross Castle is also a fascinating 15th-century 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 alongside the lake and through woodland. 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. And If you’re looking for more walking trails in Killarney National Park, it’s worth combining some of the Ross Island routes.
5. Old Kenmare Road
Distance: 16 km
If you’re up for a longer and more challenging trek, 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 a sense of isolation, makes it very special. The Old Kenmare Road 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 break the route up into sections over a couple of days.
6. The Blue Pool, Killarney
Distance: 3 km
Not as well-known as other walks in Killarney, the Blue Pool is a serene woodland area that’s hidden just 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 end up following a rugged track through dense woodland, past a rushing river, and eventually, around the vivid Blue Pool itself. Both trails are signposted and loop back to the entrance.
Need help planning walks in Killarney?
- You can download a map of Killarney National Park walks here.
- You can also pick up maps from the Killarney tourist office in the centre of the town.
- From Cork City, Killarney is roughly a 1 hour and 15-minute drive.