Divis Mountain is just 6 miles from Belfast City Centre making it a popular spot to head to for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Northern Ireland’s capital.
Enjoy breathtaking panoramic views from the 478m summit. Managed by the National Trust, there are two popular hikes: the Summit Trail and the Ridge Trail.
Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about the Black Mountain Walk, from parking and toilets to how long it takes and more.
Some quick need-to-knows about Black Mountain in Belfast
Although the Black Mountain Walk is much more doable than the nearby Cave Hill Walk, there are still some need-to-knows that’ll make your trip that bit more enjoyable.
Believe it or not, Divis Mountain is just 6 miles northwest of Belfast city centre near Hannahstown. You can be pulling up in the car park and lacing up your boots less than 20 minutes after leaving the city, traffic permitting.
2. Two fine trails to tackle
There are two main trails for tackling Divis Mountain in Belfast and both have incredible views. The Summit Trail is a challenging 3 mile circular hike with red way-markers which takes at least 1.5 hours to complete. The alternative Divis and Black Mountain Ridge Trail has purple way-markers. This longer 4.2 mile route is moderate and takes at least 3 hours.
We’re going to recommend that you head for the car park near the Divis Barn Cafe here. This is close to the trailhead. The only issue here is it can fill up quickly, so try and get here early.
4. Views and pre-walk coffee
Every good walk requires fueling up, so grab yourself a cup of coffee before setting off. The Barn Coffee Shop is near the car park mentioned above. It is open daily 10am to 4pm for sustenance before and after your hike. Go on – you’ve earned a hot chocolate and a slice of homemade cake! The views are pretty stunning too.
About Divis Mountain and the Black Mountain
Presiding over the capital, Divis Mountain is the highest peak in the Belfast Hills. With an elevation of 478m, it is an area of moorland. The word “Divis” is derived from the Irish Dubhais, meaning “black ridge”.
Southeast of Divis summit is neighbouring Black Mountain at 389m. Both mountains have stupendous views taking in Belfast City, Strangford Lough, the Mourne Mountains and the uplands of Scotland and Wales on a clear day.
Once controlled by the Ministry of Defense, these mountains are now managed by the National Trust and are still used for Army training.
The Summit Trail has some areas of stone pitching. Whichever route you choose, brace yourself for a steep walk to the summit of Divis Mountain mainly through heathland.
Black Mountain Walk 1: The shorter trail
- Distance: 3 miles (4.8km)
- Time: 50-90 minutes
- Difficulty: Challenging
Where it starts
Our first Black Mountain Walk is the circular Summit Trail which starts from the car park and Barn Coffee Shop on Tipperary Road. Pass the pond on your right, go through the kissing gate and follow the red way-markers across heathland with areas of blanket bog.
Getting into the belly of the walk
Take the right fork and further on make a short detour to the viewing point. The views are breathtaking with many places of interest visible on a clear day. Now the ascent starts with areas of stone pitching These slabs of stone help preserve the mountain slopes from erosion by heavy footfall and running water.
Views and the descent
You’ll see Slemish Mountain in the distance as you climb. The trigonometry pillar marks the summit at 1562 feet/475m. You made it! Descend by keeping left of the mast and heading down a paved roadway with views of Belfast Lough and the Copeland Islands.
You can see the giant yellow cranes (Samson and Goliath) in the Titanic Quarter of the city. At the bottom of the hill turn right and return to the barn. The poles mark the route during mist or snowy conditions.
Black Mountain Walk 2: The longer trail
- Distance 4. miles (6.7km)
- Time 3 hours
- Difficulty Moderate with some rough sections
Where it starts
The more moderate Ridge Trail takes a longer, gentler anti-clockwise route but still delivers on breathtaking views of the city, Mourne Mountains and Scottish Mountains. Starting from the Barn Coffee Shop and car park on Tipperary Road, head towards the transmitter masts.
Getting into the belly of the walk
Bear right onto a wooden boardwalk following the purple way-markers. When the boardwalk ends, turn right onto a gravel trail heading up Black Mountain and passing the Bobby Stone along the way. Look out for red grouse, skylarks and peregrine falcons soaring above. In autumn, the mountain is carpeted in blue scabious flowers.
Views and the descent
A trigonometry point marks the summit. Pause and take in the amazing views before continuing along the ridge and crossing a stile. Before reaching Black Hill, the route leaves the ridge and descends to Long Barn, crossing another stile and the Collin River. At the access road, turn left to return to the Coffee Barn for a well-earned reward.
Things to do near Divis Mountain in Belfast
One of the beauties of the Black Mountain Walk is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Belfast.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Divis Mountain (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. Post-walk food in the city
Head into Belfast and stoke up on calories. There’s heaps of great restaurants in Belfast. Or, if you’ve tackled the walk early, try one of the places from our Belfast Breakfast or Belfast Brunch guides. On weekends, St George’s Market is foodie heaven. Closet to Divis, call in at Collin Glen Forest Park and fuel up in what’s one of our favourite spots for coffee in Belfast.
2. Heaps more hikes and walks
There are several more hikes in the Divis Mountain area including the easy 1.4km Lough Trail with views of Lough Neagh. Cave Hill Country Park and Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park both have excellent walks and the Botanic Gardens provide a leg-stretch in the city centre.
3. Belfast Zoo
You’re never too old (or too young) to enjoy a day at the zoo. Belfast Zoological Gardens is one of the oldest visitor attractions in the city. Home to over 1000 animals including some endangered species, this award-winning attraction is 6 miles north of the city near Belfast Castle.
FAQs about climbing Black Mountain in Belfast
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from the Glenveagh Castle Gardens to the tour.
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 Black Mountain Walk?
We’d recommend you park in the car park near the Divis Coffee Barn if you’re doing the either the Black Mountain or Divis Mountain Walk.
How long is the Divis Mountain Walk?
There are two trails here: The Divis and the Black Mountain Summit Trail takes between 50 and 1.5 hours while the Divis and Black Mountain Ridge Trail takes around 3 hours.
Are the walks at Divis Mountain in Belfast hard?
The shorter trail mentioned above is challenging while the second, longer trail, is moderate, but twice as long.
Gillian Birch is a travel writer and published author. She has travelled the world and uses her personal journals and memories to write about her many travel experiences, particularly those that involved adventures in Ireland.