There are few hikes in Ireland as rewarding as the Coumshingaun Lake Walk.
However, while it’s widely regarded as one of the best things to do in Waterford, this is not a hike to be underestimated.
Sections of the Coumshingaun Loop Walk pose a real risk to safety. Find a map, warnings and a detailed trail overview below.
Some quick need-to-knows about the Coumshingaun Lake Walk
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.
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).
You park at the Kilclooney Wood Car park for this hike. Stick ‘Coumshingaun Lough Car Park’ into Google Maps and it’ll take you straight there. Now, a warning – this place fills up fast at the weekend, so try and arrive early.
3. Length + difficulty
The Coumshingaun Loop Walk is hard and it gets very challenging in places, so good fitness levels are needed. There’s plenty of scrambling over rocks in places. If you do the fill Coumshingaun hike outlined below, it’ll take you between 3 and 4 hours, depending on pace.
4. Tackle it 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.
5. 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.
Coumshingaun Loop Walk map
The Coumshingaun Loop Walk map above shows the rough trail I took recently when doing the hike. In theory (and on a fine day) it’s a nice straightforward loop.
However, the danger that really arises here is if you don’t prep properly and mist/fog descends. The trail can be tricky to follow on a good day.
On a day with reduced visibility, it can pose a real risk to your safety. Hit play on the video below to see a step-by-step walk through of the trail.
An overview of the Coumshingaun Loop Walk
If you hit play on the video above you’ll see the trail to follow from the moment you leave the car park.
If you’d rather skim, I’ll give you an overview of the Coumshingaun Lough hike below.
1. Starting the trail
The trail starts from the Coumshingaun Lough car park (Kilclooney Wood car park). Park up and look for the picnic bench.
This is where the trail starts. Follow the dirt trail up into the forest for around 5 minutes or so and you’ll reach a mini t-junction. Go right here.
2. Go left at the ladder and look out for the stone wall
Continue along the trail until you reach the little step ladder in the photo above. Take a left here and continue walking until you reach the stone wall.
You need to then climb over the wall and continue up through the bushes until you’re out into the clearing. This is where the Coumshingaun Lake walk starts to get tough.
3. Look out for the little ‘castle’
OK, so this thing clearly isn’t a castle, but it kind of looks like one from below. As we’re doing the Coumshingaun Loop Walk clockwise, we’re going to aim for this.
The climb up here was, in my experience, rough – it’s very steep from this point so don’t be afraid to stop, turn around and admire the views of the Comeragh Mountains behind you.
4. When you reach it, caution is needed
It’s from this point that the Coumshingaun Lake walk gets dangerous and you need to proceed with caution. For the most part of the route to the summit, there’s inner and outer trails.
The inner trails, in my experience, are dangerous in places and you’re often scrambling with a massive drop to your right.
On my recent visit, I opted to stick to the outer trails which were easier to navigate and just felt safer. Take your time and safely navigate your way through.
5. Then the summit will be in sight
After you clear the rocky area, you’ll have a very clear view of the summit (once the day is clear) and the trail to follow.
This is fairly steep, but you’ll be rewarded with views of Coumshingaun Lough shortly. Now, when you do get to the top, you’ll be met by bog.
After bad rainy, this can be a mess to wade through, and it’s here that waterproof hiking boots come in handy.
6. The view of the lake
If you tackle the Coumshingaun Loop walk, you’re in for a treat. After reaching the summit, continue rambling along and eventually you’ll be greeted with the view above.
On a clear day, there’s no where in Ireland like it. Just be extremely careful and make sure to keep away from the edge – if you slip here it’s game over.
7. Making your way down to the lake
I found the descend of the Coumshingaun hike a bit tricker to follow then the initial climb. Follow the trail around until you see the big formation/mound in the photo above.
It’s from here that the descend really begins. There’s no real trail to follow in places here, but you’ll see sections of the ground that have been trodden before to help guide you.
Keep an eye out for the edge of the lake. It’s there that you aim for (the video from earlier in the guide shows this clearly).
8. More mighty views of Coumshingaun Lough
When you reach the bottom you’ll be greeted with a magnificent view of the rugged cliff face that surrounds the lake. Photos don’t do this justice.
Although I’ve seen people swimming in Coumshingaun online, I opted to stick my feet in, as I was hiking solo. Kick-back here and soak up the views.
I thought the viewing point at the summit would be the highlight of the Coumshingaun Loop walk, but the view from the lake is just something else (especially with no one around!).
9. Finding the trail to the car park
When you finish up at Coumshingaun Lough you’ll have a clear sight of the trail that leads you back to the parking area. It’s a well trodden trail.
From here, you’re around a 20-minute ramble from your start point and a well-earned rest.
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)
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)
3. Dungarvan for food (20-minute drive)
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.
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.