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Climbing Mount Errigal: Parking, The Trail + Hike Guide

Climbing Mount Errigal: Parking, The Trail + Hike Guide

Climbing Mount Errigal in Donegal on a clear day really is hard to beat.

With its dramatic shape and pointed summit (it looks even more imposing in winter), Errigal Mountain near Gweedore is a sight to behold.

The tallest and steepest of Donegal’s Seven Sisters range, Errigal soars up to an impressive 2,464 ft and it’s one of the more popular hikes in Donegal.

Below, you’ll find everything you need to know if you plan on heading off on the Mount Errigal hike, from where to park to what to expect en route.

Some quick need-to-knows before climbing Mount Errigal in Donegal

climbing Mount Errigal

Photos via shutterstock

Although climbing Mount Errigal is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.

1. Location

The start point for the Mount Errigal walk is a 20-minute drive from Falcarragh, a 25-minute drive from Dungloe and Dunfanaghy and a 35-minute drive from Letterkenny Town.

2. Parking

The Mount Errigal car park is located along the R251 road (here on Google Maps) and it fits around 10 to 12 cars depending on how people have parked. Keep in mind it gets very busy on fine summer days.

3. Length and difficulty

The Errigal Mountain hike that we outline below is around 4.5km in length and should take between 2-3 hours to complete, depending on how long you spend at the summit taking in the views. This is a moderate to strenuous hike and some knowledge of mountain navigation is needed.

4. Safety and prep

As with any hike, you should let someone know where you’re going in advance and when you expect to return. A fully charged phone is essential. For this trail, a good pair of hiking boots are essential as the beginning is very boggy in places.

5. Numerous trails

There are several different ways to tackle the Mount Errigal hike, each of which varies in length and difficulty. Below, we look at the most popular and arguably the most straightforward of the trails.

About Errigal Mountain

mount errigal walk

Photo by Patrick Mangan on shutterstock.com

If you’re looking for active things to do in Donegal, a morning spent conquering Errigal Mountain really is hard to beat.

At 2,464 ft high, this is the highest peak in the Seven Sisters and it’s the tallest peak in the Derryveagh Mountains. If you tackle the Mount Errigal hike on a fine day, you’ll have views of everywhere from Slieve Snaght in north Donegal to Sligo’s Ben Bulben.

It’s a welcome sight as you spin around this corner of Donegal, especially at sunset as, thanks to its quartzite composition, it takes on a striking pink hue when the sun starts to drop.

According to legend, Errigal Mountain was named by the Fir Bolg – the forth group of people to settle on the island. The name means ‘oratory’ in Irish.

However, unlike Croagh Patrick, there’s no church to be found around the mountain itself, so it’s believed that the name may refer to the mountain itself being a place for worship.

An overview of the Mount Errigal hike

Now, please note that the map above is intended to give you a rough outline of what the route to the summit is like.

There’s no clear trail for the first chunk of the walk, but there’s a nice clear trail when you reach the scree.

Beginning the ascent

Mount errigal car park

Photo via Google Maps

Starting at the aforementioned car park, the initial section of the Mount Errigal walk can get very boggy and is something of a surprising slog considering you’re so early into your journey (and at such a low gradient).

This is where sturdy walking boots will come in handy. In dry conditions, regular walking boots should be fine but always keep an eye on your weather app when you’re planning the trip. 

Keep following the stream on your right-hand side and eventually, you’ll come across a rising visible path (keep an eye on the silvery/grey scree) and this is where the mountain ascent truly starts. 

Reaching the summit of Errigal

errigal mountain

Photos via Shutterstock

The trail up Errigal Mountain from this point is easy to follow but the terrain changes from boggy to lots of loose rocks and shale.

It can be slippy at times so be careful that you don’t lose your footing. This is also where the Mount Errigal hike begins to become much steeper, so rushing the climb is definitely not recommended (I’ve heard a few grisly stories about broken ankles here). 

The path continues up and begins to narrow while the hillside drops away on either side of the trail. You’ll need to do a little scrambling as you work your way up, but it should take around an hour or less to reach the top.

What to look out for

the summit of errigal in donegal

Photo by Mark Carthy/Shutterstock.com

One unique thing about the summit of Errigal Mountain is that it has two peaks! While the first one you reach is the tallest, the second one is joined by a narrow path called One Man’s Pass and the crossing is only 30-40 metres.

A thing to note, however, is that there isn’t a whole lot of room at the top and it can get extremely blustery if conditions are poor, so please be careful.

On a clear day to the north, you should be able to make out the (usually) snow-capped summit of Slieve Snaght in north Donegal, while looking south, Sligo’s Ben Bulben may also be visible.

Making your descent

looking at the horizon at Mount Errigal

Photo by luizandrade on shutterstock.com

The descent of the Mount Errigal hike will take between 40 minutes and 1 hour (potentially longer depending on pace), but the scree underfoot can arguably feel even slippier on the return leg so be careful.

Try to stay to the left towards the stream when you’re back down on the boggy ground. The last thing you want to do just before reaching your car is coat your shoes in wet mud!

If you’ve taken on the Errigal Mountain before and would prefer more of a challenge, then you could try and hike it from the north or western sides. These routes require more scrambling but are nowhere near as busy as the traditional trail.

Things to do after the Mt Errigal hike

One of the beauties of Errigal Mountain is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Donegal.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Errigal!

1. A post-hike feed (25-minute drive)

restaurants in Dunfanaghy

Photos via the Rusty Oven on FB

If you fancy a feed after the Mount Errigal hike, there’s plenty of decent restaurants in Dunfanaghy, a short 25-minute drive away (you can also head for a stroll on Killahoey Beach after!).

2. Glenveagh National Park (10-minute drive)

Glenveagh National Park walks

Photos via Shutterstock

One of the best things to do after climbing Mount Errigal is to take the 10-minute spin to the national park. There’s heaps of Glenveagh National Park walks to try of varying lengths. There’s also Glenveagh Castle, which is worth a nosey around!

3. Carrickfinn Beach (25-minute drive)

Carrickfinn Beach donegal

Photo left: Paul_Shiels. Right: Milan Gonda/shutterstock

If you fancy sucking down a bit of Atlantic air, the mighty Carrickfinn Beach is a short, 25-minute drive away. Arguably one of the best beaches in Donegal, this is well worth a visit.

4. Ards Forest Park (25-minute drive)

ards forest park in donegal

Photo left: shawnwil23, Right: AlbertMi/shutterstock

Another handy spot nearby is the brilliant Ards Forest Park. This is one of the most frequently overlooked places to visit in Donegal, but it’s a walkers paradise!

FAQs about climbing Errigal mountain

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘How long does it take to climb Mount Errigal?’ to ‘Where do you park for the Mount Errigal hike?’.

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 does it take to climb Mount Errigal?

The Errigal mountain hike that we outline above is around 4.5km and should take between 2-3 hours to complete, depending on pace.

Is climbing Mount Errigal hard?

Although this towering peak looks like a mammoth to conquer, it should be very doable for those with moderate fitness levels.

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jason

Wednesday 17th of August 2022

There is now a gravel path in the first leg. You can take bog route still if you want .There is also work under way further up creating steps with big stones which are steadier under foot

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