Glendalough Walks And Hikes: 8 Mighty Rambles To Try Today

glendalough walks
Photos via Shutterstock

If you’re looking for some Glendalough walks or hikes to try today, tomorrow or this weekend, then you’re in the right place.

In the guide below, you’ll discover some of the best Glendalough walking trails, from handy strolls to strenuous hikes.

This scenic corner of the county is home to many of the best walks in Wicklow, which make it the perfect destination for those in search of an active weekend.

A post-adventure pint (or coffee!) always tastes better when you feel like you’ve earned it. And a walk through the spectacular Wicklow Mountains will certainly put you through your paces!

The best Glendalough walks and hikes

Although famous for its stunning monastic ruins, Glendalough is also the starting point for a host of walks of differing distances and difficulties (it’s also home to many of the best things to do in Wicklow!).

So, whether you’re an experienced hiker looking for a challenge or you just want to go for a little ramble around the area and take in the scenery, there’s plenty of options.

Handy Walks in Glendalough

Our first section tackles the handier walking trails Glendalough has to offer. Below, you’ll find the Poulanass and St. Kevin’s Cell Walk (30-45-minute stroll).

You’ll also find the slightly longer Miners’ Road Walk (takes around 70 minutes to complete). 

The Poulanass and St. Kevin’s Cell Walk (Bronze Route)

one of the easiest Glendalough walks
One of the handiest Glendalough walks: Photo by Falk-Photo (Shutterstock)

A short 30 to 45-minute walk to get you going, the Poulanass and St. Kevin’s Cell Walk has more of an incline than some of the other shorter Glendalough walks but at just 1km it shouldn’t be too taxing on the legs.

Rising up beside the majestic Poulanass Waterfall, the track is steep but eventually descends down to St Kevin’s Cell where you’ll be treated to some deadly views over the Upper Lake and is also a good spot for birdwatching.

Before you finish your walk, don’t forget to stop by the quaint remains of the 11th century Reefert Church.

Walker tip: Start this Glendalough walk from the Information Centre (200 metres from the Upper Lake Car Park) and follow the bronze arrows.

Miners’ Road Walk (Purple Route)

Miners’ Road Walk (Purple Route)
Photo via Pablesku on shutterstock.com

Almost entirely flat with a few gentle inclines here and there, the Miner’s Road Walk is a 5km ramble alongside the Upper Lake that should take around 1 hour 10 minutes to complete.

An easy walk for the inexperienced, the Wicklow Mountains rise up on either side and you’ll be able to explore the old mining works when you reach the end of the trail.

Look out for the wildlife here too, including feral goats and occasionally Peregrine Falcons passing by overhead. 

Walker tip: This Glendalough walking trail kicks off from the Upper Lake Car Park and follow the purple arrows.

Moderately Difficult Glendalough Walking Trails

The second section of our Glendalough walks guide tackles the moderately difficult walks that the area has to offer.

Below, you’ll find the Glendalough Woodland Road trail (1 hour and 45 minutes) and the Derrybawn Woodland Trail (should take around 2 hours to complete).

Glendalough Woodland Road (Silver Route)

Glendalough Woodland Road Walk
Photo via Alasabyss on shutterstock.com

The secluded Woodland Road walk is a 4km journey through thick woods up into the Glendasan Valley.

Taking around 1 hour 45 minutes to complete, it’s suited for those with a reasonable level of fitness and comes to a total climb of 90 metres.

Following the Glendasan River back towards Glendalough, the trail can get a bit muddy at times due to the soft ground so make sure you’ve got some sturdy boots with you!

Walker tip: This Glendalough walks starts at the Upper Lake Car Park and follows silver arrows for the duration.

Derrybawn Woodland Trail (Orange Route)

Derrybawn Woodland Trail in Glendalough
Photo via FearghalO on shutterstock.com

Climbing back past our old friend the Poulanass Waterfall before heading up into Derrybawn Mountain, this 8km ramble should take around 2 hours to complete.

Although if it takes longer then that’s probably because you’ve been taking in some of the gorgeous views of the whole valley.

Flanked by larch and pine trees, this scenic route is good for those seeking a longer Glendalough walking trail but who probably aren’t at a level to take on a full hike up into the mountains.

Red Squirrels and Treecreeper birds will likely accompany you along the way before the trail drops back down to the Green Road alongside the Lower lake and through the elegant oak forests to the car park.

Walker tip: This trails starts at the Upper Lake Car Park and follows orange arrows for the duration of the walk.

Tough walks in Glendalough

The next section of our Glendalough walks guide looks at the longer walks and hikes that you can head off on in the area.

Now, if you’re an amateur walker, please be aware that the walks in our final section are more taxing than those mentioned above. 

Below, you’ll find the Glendalough Spinc Loop (2 – 3 hours), the Glendalough Spinc and Glenealo Valley Walk (3 hours and 30 minutes) and the Spinc and the Wicklow Way route (4 hours plus).

Glendalough Spinc Walk (Blue Route)

the spinc loop - one of the tougher walks in glendalough
Photo by AndyConrad/shutterstock.com

A shorter version of the popular Spinc and Wicklow Way route, the blue route is still a challenging looping walk that will involve climbing a total of 300 metres up to the stunning Spinc ridge overlooking Glendalough.

At 5.5km, it’s actually a shorter walk than the Derrybawn Trail but will take slightly longer to complete (2 hours 15 minutes) due its hills and inclines.

Heading into the Lugduff Valley and past Poulanass Waterfall, you’ll then take on a steep climb bringing you up onto the boardwalk.

Hugging the cliff of the Spinc, the boardwalk trail runs on for 1.2km before it cuts down through the forest and leads back to the Information Office in Glendalough.

The views from the Spinc are absolutely savage so don’t forget to spend a moment just taking it all in (bring some snacks to keep you going)!

Walker tip: Like many of the Glendalough walking trails, this walk starts at the Upper Lake Car Park. You’ll then need to follow the blue arrows.

Glendalough Spinc and Glenealo Valley Walk (White Route)

Glendalough Spinc and Glenealo Valley Walk
Photo via heikoneumannphotography on shutterstock.com

With a distance of 9.5km and an estimated completion time of around 3 hours 30 minutes, the Spinc and Glenealo Valley Walk is one of most strenuous Glendalough walks so it’s important to prepare properly for it. 

However, with a highest point of 500 metres, you’ll be rewarded with some breath-taking vistas along the way.

Following the same initial walk as the Blue Route and up 600 wooden steps, you’ll head past the Upper Lake on the boardwalk and into the beautiful deer-filled landscape of the Glenealo Valley.

The rough and rocky trail then leads back down towards the old miner’s village and along the Miner’s Road before finishing up in Glendalough.

Walker tip: This walk starts at the Upper Lake Car Park and follows white arrows from start to finish.

The Spinc and the Wicklow Way (Red Route)

Spinc and the Wicklow Way Glendalough
One of the toughest Glendalough walks: Photo via Uniacke on shutterstock.com

The ultimate Glendalough walk, the Spinc and Wicklow Way route should only be taken on by those who are well-equipped and possess a high fitness level.

At 11.5km and with an estimated completion time of around 4 hours 15 minutes, this is the longest of all the Glendalough trails and features a demanding climb of 490 metres.

Therefore, navigational experience, food, rainwear and strong footwear are all required to take on this mighty walk.

You’ll follow the same route as all the other Spinc trails before heading off in the direction of Lugduff Mountain. It’s likely here you’ll see birds like Ravens, Merlins and Kestrels as well as herds of deer.

The trail then links up with the Wicklow Way track which will take you back down to the Information Office in Glendalough.

Walker tip: This walk starts at the Upper Lake Car Park and follows red arrows from start to finish.

Frequently asked questions about Glendalough walking trails

We’ve had a lot of questions about the best walking trails in Glendalough over the years. You’ll find some of the most FAQs below.

If you have a question that you’d like to ask, or if you have any info that you’d like to pass on, you can do so in the comments section.

What are the best walks in Glendalough?

  1. The Spinc and the Wicklow Way (Red Route)
  2. Glendalough Spinc and Glenealo Valley Walk (White Route)
  3. Glendalough Spinc Walk (Blue Route)
  4. Derrybawn Woodland Trail (Orange Route)
  5. Glendalough Woodland Road (Silver Route)
  6. Miners’ Road Walk (Purple Route)
  7. The Poulanass and St. Kevin’s Cell Walk (Bronze Route)

Which walking trails in Glendalough are best if you don’t fancy a tough hike?

  1. The Poulanass and St. Kevin’s Cell Walk (Bronze Route – takes 45 minutes)
  2. The Miners’ Road Walk (Purple Route – takes 70 minutes)

Is there a map with the Glendalough trails outlined?

If you’ve made plans to visit Wicklow then check out the Walking Trails of Glendalough map. This is a downloadable leaflet with detailed information on each walk and, most importantly, an excellent map with colour-coded walking routes around the area.

1 COMMENT

  1. There’s a new path, replacing the wooden steps if you approach from the Poulanass start of the white trail.. I usually start at the miners village. They’ve done an amazing job!! It used to get quite crowded and was very narrow

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