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10 Of Our Favourite Forest Walks In Wicklow

10 Of Our Favourite Forest Walks In Wicklow

There are some mighty forest walks in Wicklow.

The ‘Garden County’ is a funny one when it comes to trails – the various hikes in Wicklow, like the Spinc, get a heap of attention online.

The result is that many of these trails are manic come the weekend. However, for some reason many (thankfully!) tend to overlook the various Wicklow woods walks.

Below you’ll find some of our favourite forest walks in Wicklow, from Crone Woods to the Red Kite Loop. Dive on in!

The Best forest walks in Wicklow

If you have a quick glance at the map above you’ll get a sense of where the various Wicklow forest walks can be found.

Now, this is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s packed we trails we’ve tried and enjoyed over the years!

1. The Ballinastoe Woods Walks

Ballinastoe forest walk

Photos via Shutterstock

Ballinastoe Woods is home to one of the more popular forest walks in Wicklow. You’ll find three trails of varying lengths and difficulty here.

Each immerses you in forest scenery but it’s worth mentioning that the different trails are served by different car parks.

Ballinastoe is arguably best known for the now iconic boardwalk trail that looks like a scene from a Lord of the Rings movie.

It’s a great little detour if you’re doing the Sally Gap Drive. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Distance: 3.5 km /5 km / 10 km
  • Time: 1 to 3.5 hours depending on the route
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Type: Linear or loop depending on the walk

2. Avondale Forest Walk

 Avondale Forest Park

Photos by Coillte via Failte Ireland

Considered the birthplace of modern Irish forestry, Avondale Estate and Forest Park is a superb place to explore.

There are a number of trails to follow here, each rated moderate, though more than manageable for anyone in reasonable shape.

You’ll find the River Walk (5.2 km), the Tree Trail (2 km), and the Railway Walk (2 km). In addition, they’ve recently launched one of the most unique forest walks in Wicklow – the 1.3 km all-access Tree Top Walk.

This boardwalk climbs 38 metres above the forest floor, taking you well above the treetops. Here’s some info on the trails:

  • Distance: 1.3 km / 2 km / 2 km / 5.2 km
  • Time: 1 – 2.5 hours depending on the walk
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Type: Loop

3. Djouce Woods Walk

Djouce Woods

Photos by Falombini (Canva)

Djouce Woods sits at the foot of the mighty Djouce Mountain. While the mountain walk is perhaps better known, there are two looped walks through the woods that are well worth making time for.

They’re both more than manageable if you’re in reasonable shape, and take in some decent views (although the photos above would lead you to believe otherwise!).

The Blue Loop is the shorter of the two, while the Deerpark Loop covers more ground and involves a little more climbing. Both reward you with fantastic views of the Powerscourt Waterfall.

If you tackle the Deerpark Loop, you’ll also grab an eyeful of Great Sugarloaf and Maulin Mountain. Here are some need-to-knows:

  • Distance: 4.5 km / 9 km
  • Time: 1.5 / 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Type: Loop

4. Crone Woods Loop

Crone woods to Maulin

Photos left and bottom right: Gabriel. Top right: Sebastian (Adobe Stock)

Known as the gateway to the Wicklow Mountains, Crone Woods is a superb place to explore and soak up some forest scenery.

The Crone Woods Maulin Loop is pretty tough going, with narrow, rocky paths climbing up the occasional steep incline.

It takes you up onto the shoulder of Maulin Mountain, though it’s easy enough to take a detour to the summit.

If you’re in fairly good shape, this should be a challenging but rewarding walk that boasts stunning views over the countryside. Here’s some info on this Wicklow woods walk:

  • Distance: 6 km
  • Time: 2.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
  • Ascent: 350 metres
  • Type: Loop

5. The Spinc Trail

the spinc hike Ireland

Photos via Shutterstock

The Spinc Walk is one of the most popular of the many walks in Glendalough. Now, this isn’t solely a forest walk – you’ll walk through a hape of trees at the beginning and end, though!

There are three Spinc routes in the park; Spinc Short/Blue Route (5.5 km), Spinc and Glenealo Valley White Route (9.5 km), and the Spinc and Wicklow Way Red Route (11.5 km).

Each takes in a tough climb and a section of boardwalk, all the way to the top of the ‘pointed hill’ that is the Spinc. Here’s some info:

  • Distance: 5.5 km / 9.5 km / 11.5 km
  • Time: 2.5 / 3.5 / 4.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Ascent: 300 / 380 / 490 metres
  • Type: Loop

6. The Devil’s Glen Walk

Devil's Glen

Photos via Shutterstock

Devil’s Glen Woods is an exciting and somewhat eerie place to ramble. The scenery is jaw-dropping, akin to an enchanted forest as it takes in moss-covered rocks, foreboding pines that tower above, and the crashing River Vartry.

There are two walks that take in all the best scenery; the Seamus Heaney Walk (4 km) and the Waterfall Walk (5 km).

Both are spectacular and allow you to feel at peace in the quiet forest, but for us, the Waterfall Walk is hard to beat.

As you near the cascade, you’ll hear the smashing and pounding of the waterfall as it crashes against the rocks, before eventually seeing it up close. Here’s some info:

  • Distance: 4 km / 5 km
  • Time: 2 / 2.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Type: Loop

7. The Red Kite Walk

Avoca Red Kite Loop

Photos courtesy Celtic Routes via Fáilte Ireland

The beautiful Red Kite Walk in Avoca is a fairly easy-going ramble that can typically be completed in about an hour.

It’s named after the birds of prey that have been reintroduced into the woodlands and you’ll often catch a glimpse of them swooping through the air.

The trail takes you through Kilmagig Forest and starts in the pretty village of Avoca of Ballykissangel fame.

As you traverse the woods, keep your eyes peeled for the magical fairy doors that are scattered throughout. Here’s some info:

  • Distance: 2.5 km
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Ascent: 80 metres
  • Type: Loop

8. The Blessington Greenway

Blessington Greenway

Photos courtesy Celtic Routes via Fáilte Ireland

The Blessington Greenway is a fantastic route to explore on foot or by bike. It’s well-paved and mostly flat, making it ideal for all abilities.

Starting in the beautiful village of Blessington, the trail then hugs the banks of the Blessington Lakes, before finishing at Russborough House, where you can grab a bite to eat, enjoy the attractions, and extend your walk.

Lovely scenery can be enjoyed throughout the walk, and there are plenty of opportunities to take the odd detour and enjoy some other sights, most notably Burgage Castle. Here’s the need-to-knows:

  • Distance: 5.5 km
  • Time: 1.5 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Type: Linear

9. Glen of the Downs

Glen of the Downs

Photos via Shutterstock

The Glen of the Downs is one of the more famous forest walks in Wicklow, but please be careful when entering and leaving the car park as it’s right on a busy dual carriageway. 

This Glen was once part of a 300 acre demesne known as Bellevue House. You’ll still find features from its past dotted along the trail, like the Octagon.

The Glen of the Downs Loop walk begins and ends from the trails main car park and it’s reasonably handy to follow. Here’s some info:

  • Distance: 3.6km
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Type: Loop

10. Vartry Reservoir

Vartry Reservoir

Photo left: Russell Taylor. Top right: Wojtek Piatek. Bottom left: rick734’s (Canva)

The last of our forest walks in Wicklow take us to the Vartry Reservoir near Roundwood. This reservoir provides the drinking water for Dublin!

Although there are three trails here, the one that takes in most of the woodland is, unsurprisnly enough, the Woodland Trail.

A good option for those looking for things to do in Wicklow for families, this trail isn’t too taxing and it provides some decent views. Here’s some info:

  • Distance: 3km
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Type: Loop

What Wicklow forest walks have we missed?

I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally left out some brilliant Wicklow woods from the guide above.

If you have a place that you’d like to recommend, let me know in the comments below and I’ll check it out!

FAQs about Wicklow woods walks

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Which is the quietest?’ to ‘Which is the toughest?’.

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.

What Wicklow forest walk tends to be quiet?

Most of the Wicklow woods walks mentioned above are quiet during the week – it’s at the weekend/during holidays that they can get busy. If you want to walk them when they’re quiet, arrive early before the crowds.

What is the most impressive forest trail in Wicklow?

It’s hard to beat the Devil’s Glen. Head here early in the morning and park in the second car park. From here, you’ve sever trails to choose from, the highlight of which is the waterfall walk.

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Wednesday 27th of September 2023

Hollywood forest trail. A 5km loop from the Hollywood Inn and back to it again. Food available there or in the nearby Hollywood Cafè

Keith O'Hara

Wednesday 27th of September 2023

Thanks Alan!

Terri Kenny

Sunday 24th of September 2023

The Lord’s Wood Walk in Baltinglass, West Wicklow . 2.2km long … mixed deciduous and evergreen woods with two footbridges and 3 information boards . Cubed seating at various stops in the woods .Small car park beside the woods entrance on the golf links road . A very popular walk with locals and visitors alike .

Keith O'Hara

Wednesday 27th of September 2023

Thanks for the recommendation and the detailed info Terri - a very useful comment!

Eddie McGlynn

Thursday 21st of September 2023

Tominafinoge woods near Tinahely. Last of the oak woods of Coollattin Estate. Linear walk and three loop walks. Magic place. Also five loop walks around Tinahely which take in forestry as well. Approx 45km ofcwalks

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