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The Benbulben Forest Walk Guide: Parking, The Trail, Map + Handy Info

The Benbulben Forest Walk Guide: Parking, The Trail, Map + Handy Info

It’s hard to beat the Benbulben Forest Walk.

It’s one of the handier Sligo walks, the views are great and it’s a fine way to stretch the legs in one of the most beautiful counties in Ireland.

It’s also a stone’s throw from many of the best things to do in Sligo, which means that you can pair it up with other nearby attractions.

In the guide below, you’ll find everything from the trail to follow, how long it takes and which Benbulben car park to start the walk from.

Some quick need-to-knows about the Benbulben Forest Walk

benbulben walk

Photos via Shutterstock

With its instantly recognisable flat top rising up to a gaudy 1,726 ft, Benbulben Mountain in Sligo is an imposing sight that dominates the Sligo countryside.

There are several Benbulben walking routes, but you don’t need to climb it to appreciate its majesty. Here are some quick need-to-knows about the walk.

1. Location

The starting point for the Benbulben Forest walk is 15 minutes from Rosses Point, 20 minutes from Mullaghmore, just over 10 minutes from Sligo Town and 25 minutes from Strandhill.

2. Benbulben car park

If you stick ‘Benbulben Walk’ into Google Maps, it’ll bring you to a car park of the same name. You’ll find it here on Google Maps.

3. How long it takes

Coming in at a breezy 5.5km, this Benbulben walk should take you around 1.5 hours to complete in full. Add on a bit of time if you want to gawp at the mountain or take in the sea views.

4. Difficulty level

As this ramble doesn’t actually involve climbing the mountain, the trail is quite flat and should be no bother for those with even a medium-level of fitness! Its length and simplicity also make it ideal for families.

An overview of the Benbulben walk

benbulben car park

Map via Sport Ireland

Also known as the Gortarowey walk, this Benbulben walk is a looped trail that starts in a sheltered forest before emerging alongside the grandeur of Benbulben.

It’s a very handy trail to follow, but I’ll break it down for you so you have a fair idea of what to expect.

Starting the walk

After you leave the Benbulben car park (see above) the initial stretch is a short walk through shaded woodland that nicely hides the splendour of what’s to come.

Once you’re through the first section of forest, you’ll emerge into an opening where the vast form of Benbulben rises up on your right-hand side. Follow this gravel path.

Reaching the forest

Once you’re parallel with the mountain summit, thick forest on the left-hand side starts to form and will stay alongside the path for the majority of the trail.

The path continues to the right, providing the best chance of getting up close and personal with the mountain. From there, you’ll loop left and the landscape totally changes, presenting gorgeous sloping views beyond fields, forest and roads towards Donegal Bay.

Views, views and more views

On a clear day, the jagged peaks of Slieve League should be visible across Donegal Bay, as should the stately spires of Classiebawn Castle and the rest of Mullaghmore head.

Continuing the path along the forest and with Benbulben to your left, you’ll eventually be treated some more spectacular vistas, except this time it’ll be Sligo Bay that you’re looking towards.

Making your way back to the car park

The path will eventually turn left, and you’ll head back along a forest trail and towards the car park where the loop comes to an end.

This is a finely kept trail and it’s nice and easy to follow, as you can see in the map above (it’s literally one big loop).

Things to do near after Benbulben Forest Walk

One of the beauties of the Benbulben walk is that, when you finish, you’re a short spin about from many of the best places to visit in Sligo.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from where the walk ends, from more hikes and rambles to beaches and much more.

1. Devil’s Chimney (15-minute drive)

devil's chimney sligo

Photo left: Three Sixty Images. Right: Drone Footage Specialist (Shutterstock)

Arguably one of the most unique walks in Sligo, the Devil’s Chimney walk kicks off just 15 minutes from the Benbulben Forest walk. Here’s a guide to the walk.

2. Glencar Waterfall (15-minute drive)

Glencar waterfall walk

Photo left: Niall F. Photo right: Bartlomiej Rybacki (Shutterstock)

The Glencar Waterfall walk (Sligo) is another solid option. This combines a visit to the waterfall with a nearby hillwalk. See our guide for more info.

3. Gleniff Horseshoe (20-minute drive)

Gleniff Horseshoe drive

Photos via Shutterstock

If you fancy a nice scenic spin after the walk, the Gleniff Horseshoe Drive is a great option, and it’s a short 20-minute drive away. Here’s a guide to the walk

4. Heaps more stuff (20-minute drive)

Knocknarea Mountain Walk

Photo by Anthony Hall (Shutterstock)

There’s plenty more to see and do nearby, with some of the best things to do in Strandhill, in particular, a short spin away. Here are some of our favourites:

FAQs about the Benbulben Forest walk

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from how long does the Benbulben Forest walk take to where do you park.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

How long is the Benbulben Forest walk?

You’ll want to allow around 1.5 hours to complete this version of the Benbulben walk. Allow more time if you fancy stopping off and soaking up the views.

Where is the Benbulben car park?

For the walk about, you can literally stick ‘Benbulben Forest walk’ into Google Maps and it’ll bring you to the starting point. Or, you’ll find links to the car park on Google Maps above.

Is this Benbulben walk hard?

No. This is a relatively handy walk that’ll suit most levels of fitness. The only thing that’ll prove hard for some is its length.

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Thursday 4th of January 2024

Hey Keith! If we only had time to do one - would you recommend the benbulben for walk, OR the queen maeve/knocknarea mountain hike ? (Fitness levels aside - we would be capable of either).


Keith O'Hara

Friday 5th of January 2024

Hey Karly - The queen maeve trail definitely. The Benbulben walk is great, but the trail up Knocknarea treats you to glorious views out over Sligo. Enjoy!

Mark Cooper

Monday 30th of January 2023

Hello James, my sincere compliments for your detailed website. I'm presently planning a road tour in July 2023 around Ireland setting off from Northern Italy in a motorhome. I would like to do the Benbulben forest walk setting off from the car park, but when I go into the street view on Google maps it only leads me to a closed metal gate, is there access to the car park?? because I really don't want to do that narrow road in reverse with a motorhome!! Thank you for your help and keep up the good work. Yours sincerely Mark Cooper.

Keith O'Hara

Monday 30th of January 2023

Hi Mark - Keith here. I was in the car park this summer and it's definitely accessible, however, I can't recall whether or not there's a barrier that blocks vehicles of a certain height. I'd love to be of more help, but I can't for the life of me remember. The road up is definitely long and narrow in places, so I can understand your reluctance. Sorry I can't be of more help to you and the best of luck with the trip planning!

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