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A Guide To The Quad Killer That Is Cardiac Hill In Killarney (Parking, The Trail + More)

A Guide To The Quad Killer That Is Cardiac Hill In Killarney (Parking, The Trail + More)

If you’re thinking about tackling Cardiac Hill in Killarney, you’ve landed in the right place.

The first time I did the walk up Cardiac Hill was the day after a few of us did a section of the Ring of Kerry cycle.

My legs were already banjaxxed. Thankfully, they didn’t know what they were in for on day 2 of our Kerry road trip

Cardiac Hill is tough. It’s steep, there’s hundreds of steps and it’s just a bit of a battle to complete. However, it’s more than worth it for the views you’re treated to!

Some quick need-to-knows before setting off for the Cardiac Hill walk

cardiac hill parking

Where to park (photo via Google Maps)

Unlike some of the walks that we covered in our Killarney walks guide, this hike isn’t as straightforward, as there are several starting points to choose from.

Below, you’ll find everything from where to park if you fancy conquering Cardiac Hill in Killarney to the trail you need to follow.

1. Location

You’ll find Cardiac Hill a stone’s throw from Killarney Town, which makes it perfect for those of you that want to dodge the crowds (it’s much quieter than Killarney National Park) and stretch your legs.

2. How long it takes

The Cardiac Hill walk takes around 1.5 hours and the entire trail stretches for 8km. Allow longer if you fancy stopping to take in the views.

3. Parking

There’s a couple of places to park for this walk. The one I’m going to recommend can be found at 52.005017489490385, -9.514583696151027. It can be very tricky to get parking here at times, so try and arrive early.

4. Difficulty 

This is a tough aul walk. It’s a steep and, in parts, tricky ascent with hundreds of stone steps to conquer as you make your way up the slopes of the mighty Torc Mountain. If you fancy a handy ramble, visit our Killarney walks guide.

The Cardiac Hill in Killarney: An overview of each stage of the trail

cardiac hill in killarney

Photo left: Britishfinance. Right: Sheila Berrios-Nazario (Wikimedia Commons)

I’ve broken up the different sections of the trail below, to hopefully make it a little easier for you. Pay particular care when crossing the road to the car park, as cars fly here.

Also, hopefully it’ll go without saying that decent footwear, a bottle of water and some snacks, if you fancy, are all necessary. 

Section 1: The start of the trail

First things first – never leave any valuables on display. Once you’ve your bits locked up, cross the road (be careful here!).

Once you’ve hit the other side, you should be able to see the trail heading off to the right. This is your starting point, so get strolling!

You’ll want to keep tipping along this path until you reach the sign that indicates the start of the Cardiac Hill steps – this is where the real slog begins!

Section 2: Tackling the Cardiac Hill steps

As you begin your ascent, you’ll start to make your way up through some dense foliage that surrounds you on both sides.

When I last did this, I struggled… I could blame it on the cycle the day before, but it’s steep climb and you’ll find yourself huffing and puffing in no time.

Or maybe you won’t and I just need to get my act in gear… After some time, a handrail appears, which comes in useful, at points. There’s also little corners where you can stop for a moment, if needed.

After 30 or so minutes, you’ll reach the top of the steps on Cardiac Hill and that’s, thankfully, when things level out.

Section 3: Level ground and Torc Waterfall

After leaving the steps behind, you’ll have some nice level, gravely path to saunter along, which will give the legs a welcome break.

Keep an eye out for gaps in the trees as you stroll, as you can soak up some mighty views of the surrounding area from this section of the walk.

Keep on going until the trail starts to make its way down hill (you can’t miss the steps). Continue on down until you reach a junction, of sorts, as it’s here that you’ll need to turn to head for Torc Waterfall.

After soaking up the sights of Torc, you can head out onto the road and walk back to the carpark (be VERY careful on this road).

Things to do after conquering Cardiac Hill in Killarney

One of the beauties of Cardiac Hill in Killarney is that it’s a short spin away from a clatter of other attractions, both man-made and natural.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Cardiac Hill (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).

1. Get fed in Killarney

food in Killarney

Photos via the Shire Café & Bar on Facebook

If you’ve worked up a hunger you’re in luck – there are loads of restaurants in Killarney that’ll make your belly happy. There’s also loads of decent places to grab breakfast in Killarney, if you do the walk early.

2. Walks, walks and more walks

climbing carrauntoohil

Photo by Timaldo (Shutterstock)

There are an almost endless number of walks in Killarney itself, but there are twice as many nearby, like the Carrauntoohil hike and the Gap of Dunloe walk.

3. Plenty more to see and do


The gap of Dunlore

Photo by Stefano_Valeri (Shutterstock)

As Cardiac Hill is on the Ring of Kerry, there’s no end to the number of things to do and places to visit nearby. Here’s a few suggestions:

FAQs about climbing Cardiac Hill in Killarney

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from where to park for the Cardiac Hill walk to how long it takes.

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.

Where do you park for the Cardiac Hill walk?

In the guide above, you’ll find a link to coordinates on Google Maps. This will lead you to a car park just down the road from Torc Waterfall, where you can start the walk from.

How long does the Cardiac Hill walk take?

The walk takes between 1.5 and 2 hours, depending on pace and how much time you spend soaking up the views at the top.

Is the climb up the Cardiac Hill steps difficult?

It’s not easy, anyway. You’ll definitely need a reasonable level of fitness to do this walk, as it’s step in a lot of places at the start.

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