The Coumshingaun Lake Walk: A Guide To The Best Hike In The Comeragh Mountains

two photos of Coumshingaun
Photo left via Dux Croatorum. Photo right via Andrzej Bartyzel. (on shutterstock.com)

There are few hikes in Ireland as rewarding as the Coumshingaun Lake Walk.

In fact, with a glorious rugged beauty that only Irish landscapes seem to provide, there are few places in Europe that offer views as mighty as the walk up around Coumshingaun Lough.

Forming a majestic natural amphitheater, the pear-shaped Coumshingaun Lake is flanked on three sides by rocky cliffs and offers magnificent views across County Waterford from its summit.

In the guide below, you’ll discover everything you need to know about making the epic journey that’s widely regarded as one of the best things to do in Waterford.

Some quick need-to-knows about the Coumshingaun Lake Walk

Coumshingaun Lake loop walk
Coumshingaun Lough from above: Photo by Dux Croatorum/shutterstock.com

The Coumshingaun Loop Walk isn’t as straightforward as some of the other popular walks in Waterford – proper care is needed here, so please take note of the below need-to-knows.

1. Location

You’ll find Coumshingaun Lake tucked away in the breathtaking Comeragh Mountains, a short spin from the glorious Mahon Falls. It’s a 20-minute drive from Dungarvan, a 35-minute drive from Waterford City and a 30-minute drive from Clonmel (Tipperary).

2. Safety warning

The Coumshingaun Hike isn’t one you do without proper preparation – this trail is treacherous in places. Plan your walk for a day when the weather is good, wear decent hiking shoes (absolutely essential) and bring appropriate clothing and snacks. The trail is hard to follow in places, so the ability to navigate is required. This isn’t a walk for inexperienced hikers.

3. Difficulty

The Coumshingaun Loop Walk is hard and it gets very challenging in places. Good fitness levels are required as it gets very steep at times and you’ll also need to scramble over some rocks.

4. Length/time it takes

Although there’s a shorter ramble here that takes 2 to 2.5 hours, it’s the longer, 4-hour Coumshingaun Loop Walk that provides the most rewarding experience (and the most magnificent views).

5. Tackle the trail clockwise

Although you can do this trail clockwise or anti-clockwise, it’s recommended that you follow the trail clockwise. If you do the anti-clockwise trail, some of the descents are very steep and tricky.

An overview of the Coumshingaun Loop Walk

Coumshingaun lake walk
Photos via Shutterstock

Below, you’ll find an overview of the Coumshingaun Loop Trail. You’ll find info on where to park, where the trail kicks off and what to keep an eye out for.

This guide isn’t a substitute for good hiking experience and the ability to navigate a tricky trail, so please keep that in mind and use caution.

The Coumshingaun Lough car park

Coumshingaun Lough car park
Photo via Google maps

The easiest way to get to the starting point for the Coumshingaun Lake Walk is to drive (stick ‘Coumshingaun Lough Car Park’ into Google Maps).

This will bring you to Kilclooney Wood Car park on the R676 (see photo above). Now, this car park tends to get very busy at the weekends, so try and arrive early.

Starting the walk

The start of the walk is grand and handy and the start of the trail is easy to find from the car park. From the car park, you follow a pleasant stony path that heads west through shaded woodland with tall trees on both sides.

After a few minutes, you’ll reach a small woodland road where you’ll need to turn right. Keep an out out for the fake tree/big mast. Keep that on your left and follow the trail.

Leaving the forest

view of Coumshingaun Loop from the lake shore
Photo via Andrzej Bartyzel on shutterstock.com

After a while you reach a stile/some steps. Climb over this and then look for the wire fence. You need to keep this on your left and then step over the stone wall and then walk uphill through the gorse.

From here, it’s a steep walk uphill until you reach the lake. Now, you can detour from this point and head over to the lake – you’ll often see people picnicking here or dipping their toes in the water.

Then the hike really begins

This is where the Coumshingaun Lough walk starts to get challenging in places. This section up toward the ledge of the amphitheater is one of the most tricky on the whole trail and may take up to 40 minutes to complete.

It’s steep, rocky and it can be boggy in places. Once you’re up you can stop to take a breather and appreciate the magnificent panoramic views of the surrounding Comeragh Mountains.

Please beware of the cliff edge

Reaching the top (viewwwws)
Coumshingaun Lough: Photo via Dux Croatorum on shutterstock.com

From here you can also appreciate the steepness of the cliffs below! Make your way along the rocky ridge towards the Comeragh plateau. There’s no climbing for this section but it’s at a high elevation.

Just before you reach the plateau there’s a steepening with a sheer drop on either side so take this part carefully, particularly if you’re making walk during wet conditions. 

Views galore

Once safely on the Comeragh plateau, you’ll be able to enjoy some of the mightiest views Ireland has to offer! Coumshingaun Lake sweeps out before you and the cavernous cliffs form their spectacular theatre.

On a clear day, the vistas stretch out to the Knockmealdown Mountains, the Waterford lowlands and the distant glimmer of the Copper Coast and the Atlantic Ocean.

Getting back to the car park

Continuing the Coumshingaun Lough Walk loop, you’ll need to keep walking, following the trail clockwise. It’s along this stretch that you’ll see some of the lake’s most dramatic cliff faces.

You’ll start your descent shortly after. Keep on going until you reach the path that you took up to the lake and make your way back down through the forest to the car park.

Things to do after the Coumshingaun Loop Walk

One of the beauties of the Coumshingaun Loop Walk is that it’s a short spin away from several of the best things to do in Waterford.

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

1. Mahon Falls (15-minute drive)

Mahon falls
Photo by Tomasz Ochocki (Shutterstock)

The mighty Mahon Falls is a short, 15-minute drive from the Coumshingaun Lough car park, and it’s well worth a visit. It’s a handy 20-minute walk from the car park to the falls, and the stroll isn’t too taxing. Here’s a guide to the walk.

2. The Magic Road (10-minute drive)

waterford comeragh drive
Photo via Google Maps

You’ll find the Magic Road (not the one pictured above) about 10 minutes after you leave the car park. The road here is, well, a little bit mental. See what happens on it in this guide.

3. Dungarvan for food (20-minute drive)

Dungarvan food
Photos via Merrys Gastro Pub on Facebook

There are some solid restaurants in Dungarvan if you fancy a post-walk feed. There’s also plenty of things to do in Dungarvan, if you have time (the Waterford Greenway, Clonea Beach and much more).

FAQs about the Coumshingaun Lake Walk

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from how long does the Coumshingaun Lake Walk take to where to park nearby.

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 Coumshingaun Loop Walk?

You’ll want to allow between 3 and 4.5 hours to complete the Coumshingaun Loop Walk, depending on pace and how many times you stop to admire the views.

Is the Coumshingaun Lake Hike hard?

Yes. It is. This hike gets very tricky in places and some scrambling is needed during the ascent. A good level of fitness is required for this hike.

Where do you park for Coumshingaun Lake?

There’s parking at Kilclooney Wood Car Park. Just keep in mind that it can get insanely busy here at the weekends, so try and arrive early.

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