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Croagh Patrick Hike: Map, Difficulty + Parking Info

Croagh Patrick Hike: Map, Difficulty + Parking Info

The Croagh Patrick hike is a tough, 7km linear trail that takes between 3 and 4 hours to complete, depending on pace.

Nicknamed ‘The Reek’, Croagh Patrick Mountain stands at an impressive 764m (2,507 feet), which makes it the 4th highest mountain in Mayo.

The hike to the top of ‘Ireland’s holiest mountain’ (info on the St. Patrick link below) got a whole lot easier in recent years thanks to the addition of steps near the summit.

Below, you’ll find everything you need for climbing Croagh Patrick, from a map to where to get parking. Cheers!

Some quick need-to-knows about the Croagh Patrick hike


So, unlike some of the shorter walks in and around Westport, like the one out to Tourmakeady Waterfall, the Croagh Patrick walk needs a little bit of planning.

The 20 seconds you take to read the info below now will save you time later:

1. Height and length

Ireland’s holiest mountain stands at 764m (2,507 feet) in height, making it the 4th highest mountain in County Mayo. The trail is 7km in total from the main car park to the summit and back.

2. How long it takes

How long it takes to climb Croagh Patrick will depend on your pace and how often you stop. I’ve done this hike twice and on both occasions it has taken around 3.5 hours. I have some fitter friends that have done it in 2.5 hours and know of others that took 4.5 hours to complete it.

3. Difficulty

The Croagh Patrick climb is a tough one with a lot of incline right from the get-go. Good fitness and mobility is essential.


4. Parking

The main Croagh Patrick car park is right at the foot of the trail (here on Maps). If you can’t get space here, you’ll often see people parked around here on Maps. Note that there’s coach parking that shouldn’t be blocked.

5. What to bring

A lot of people that climb Croagh Patrick are woefully unprepared. In the warmer months, sun cream, adequate clothing/footwear and ample liquids are needed. In the cooler months, remember that you’ll be exposed to the elements, so warm clothing, water and snacks are needed. It’s also worth renting a stick from the place in the car park.

An overview of each stage of the Croagh Patrick climb

I’m going to break down the various stages of the Croagh Patrick climb, for those of you that like to know what to expect.

Make sure to check the weather ( is a good one) before setting off on your climb. The clearer the day the better – otherwise you’ll arrive at the top to a sea of misty cloud.


1. Before climbing Croagh Patrick, appreciate its history

old photo on croagh patrick

People climbing Croagh Patrick in 1910. Courtesy of the Irish Capuchin Provincial Archives

Considered to be Ireland’s holiest mountain, Croagh Patrick is renowned for its Patrician Pilgrimage in honour of Saint Patrick, Ireland’s patron Saint.

It was at the summit of the mountain that Saint Patrick fasted for forty days in 441 AD.

Stretching back 5,000 years from the Stone Age to the present day without interruption, the pilgrimage takes place on the last Sunday of July.

Known as Reek Sunday, it attracts over 25,000 pilgrims each year. The tradition began with the pagans, when people gathered here to celebrate the beginning of the harvest season.


2. Starting the walk

the statue of St. Patrick at the start of the walk

Photos via Shutterstock

Kick the Croagh Patrick walk off from the car park. I’d recommend that you nip in here and grab a stick (€4 a few years back).

You’ll find the Croagh Patrick Visitor Centre (aka Teach na Miasa) just past the car park where there’s a coffee shop, restaurant and toilets.

When you leave the car park, you’ll make your way onto a tarmac road and you keep going until you reach some steps. It’s from here that the Croagh Patrick climb really starts.


3. The Croagh Patrick hike begins

the steam you walk alongside on your way up croagh patrick

Photo via Shutterstock

From the steps, you’ll notice the ground underfoot start to become rocky, sometimes muddy and always uneven.

You’ll start to notice a gentle increase in the incline from here, as you walk up along a little stream.

The views start to open up a little behind you, and you get your first glimpse of the islands on Clew Bay.

There’s plenty of places to rest up if you need it.


4. The ‘half way’ point

the halfway point on the croagh patrick hike

Photos via Google Maps

Keep on going for around 40 minutes to 1 hour and you’ll come to a point where the ground levels out. This is the half way point.

It’s around 2km from the car park to this point. There’s a toilet here that, while not the Mae-West hygiene-wise, does the job.

When you’re ready, head towards the foot of what nearly looks like a second mountain. It’s time to make your final descent.

When I did this last, it took us 40 minutes to reach the summit from this point.

Note on toilet: it seems the toilets aren’t always open. There are definitely toilets in the car park!


5. The tricky scramble to the summit is no more

the section of the hike where you used to have to scramble

Photos via Shutterstock

The hardest part of the Croagh Patrick hike used to be the section that led to the summit.

As you’ll see in the photos above, it was covered in extremely loose stone/slate that was like walking on butter.

Thankfully, in recent years, a series of steps were painstakingly added to aid people in their final ascent to the summit.


6. The reward

Croagh Patrick hike

Photos courtesy Gareth McCormack/garethmccormack via Failte Ireland

When you reach the summit, you’ll be greeted (hopefully) with one of the best views in Ireland. In front of you, the mighty Clew Bay dazzles.

The story goes that Clew Bay has 365 islands – one for every day of the year. You’ll notice a little church at the summit, too.

It was on the summit of the mountain that Saint Patrick fasted for forty days in 441 AD and, according to The Book of Armagh, built a Church.

This was confirmed during an archaeological excavation on the summit in 1995 – the foundation of a stone oratory dating back to between 430 and 890 AD was unearthed.

The white Church that currently stands on Croagh Patrick was built in the early 1900s by Dr Healy, Archbishop of Tuam, and Fr Michael McDonald.

When you finish up at the summit, it’s time to get back down. Take your time and enjoy the views.


Things to do near Croagh Patrick

best things to do in mayo Ireland

When you finish the hike, you can either grab a bite-to-eat or continue ticking off the various things to do in Westport.

Here are some suggestions for where to eat and what to do nearby!

1. Post-hike food

If you’re in need of a feed after climbing Croagh Patrick, you’ve this lovely little pub just outside the car park where you can grab a victory pint and a bite to eat.

Or, there are plenty of restaurants in Westport and loads of pubs in Westport to drop into, too.


2. Nearby attractions

Many of the best things to do in Mayo can be found a short spin away from the Reek. Here are some suggestions:


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Sunday 23rd of April 2023

Thank you so much for your advice and tips, hoping to do the climb on 1st September this year,

Andrew Rome

Sunday 26th of March 2023

Just come across this great guide. Can you take a dog? I been going to Connemara all my life and seems to be getting less and less tolerant

Keith O'Hara

Monday 27th of March 2023

Hey Andrew! As a very passionate dog owner also, I'd love to help you here. But I can't find any info online about climbing Croagh Patrick with a pooch! Sorry - I know this isn't the reply you'll have hoped for!


Friday 30th of December 2022

This fantastic climb of Croagh Patrick has been made safer with the building of steps from the loose rocks, this tidy work was taking place over the last year, making the hike less difficult than it used to be, but caution is still required on this climb.

Great advice and info Keith 🙂

Peter Morley

Thursday 8th of September 2022

The visitor center was closed when we went today and you could only buy walking sticks at the cafe for Euro 4 with no refund for returning them. A lot of people do the walk without sticks but they do help. We wore boots but some people coped in trainers.


Tuesday 30th of August 2022

Thanks for taking the time to write the notes. We have just completed our fourth climb (August 22). The path has been improved recently to help prevent erosion. We found it made a huge difference. They have infilled and levelled parts of the lower path and have started to built steps towards the peak (not quite complete yet, but they have removed lots of the loose stones) It made a huge difference to the climb and for the first time we did complete it in three and a half hours. Previously it has taken up to six, as we had young children and were really cautious especially on the climb down. There are still plenty of places to sit and rest. Choose a good day, as the stones get very slippery when it is wet and l agree that views from the top are hard to beat. I did not see anyone walking bare footed this time and we have always climbed in hiking boots to protect our ankles and used the sticks! We have had lovely evenings in Campbell’s after the climb and the nearby hostel is fantastic. We have fitted up to four families in the larger rooms and the kids love it. There seems to be a wider choice of food at the Tavern but we stuck to Campbell’s, as they helped with a promise to reward my daughter with the biggest bowl of ice-cream in the world after her first climb a few years back.

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