The stunning Glencar Waterfall can be found in Leitrim, right next to the Sligo border.
Which is why you’ll often see it in guides to both places to visit in Sligo and things to do in Leitrim.
In his celebrated works, WB Yeats managed to turn the world’s attention to the magical landscape of Glencar Lough and its now-famous waterfall.
In the guide below, you’ll learn how to discover it like he did, with info on everything from parking and the Glencar Waterfall Cafe, to the walk and more.
Some quick need-to-knows about Glencar Waterfall
Although a visit to Glencar Waterfall is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Just a stone’s throw from the Sligo border, Glencar Waterfall is one of the jewels of County Leitrim. You’ll find it a 20-minute drive from both Sligo Town and Rosses Point and a 30-minute drive from both Strandhill and Mullaghmore.
There’s a decent bit of parking at Glencar (see it on Google Maps here) and it’s rare that you’ll have any trouble getting a space (although there are always exceptions, usually during the summer months).
3. The walk to the falls
The walk from the car park to Glencar Waterfall is nice and short (5 – 10 minutes, max), and it should be doable for most fitness levels. Note: some people mistake this waterfall for the nearby Devil’s Chimney – the walk to see this waterfall is longer.
4. Cafe and toilets
The Glencar Waterfall cafe (the teaSHED) is a fine little spot for a pre or post-walk coffee. On a fine day, you can sit outside. There are toilets inside for customers, too.
5. The waterfall walk
The Glencar Waterfall walk is a 2-hour ramble that takes you from the car park, up to the waterfall and then back down the road and up a nearby hill. It’s a nice way to stretch the legs. You’ll find info on the trail later in the guide.
About Glencar Waterfall
Hidden away within lush forest just north of the lough, Glencar Waterfall isn’t the biggest waterfall in Ireland but it’s undoubtedly one of its most picturesque.
The green foliage, craggy rocks and cascading water all make for a gorgeous scene – basically, you can see why Yeats was so inspired!
The entire area, from the vast lough to the falling hills, is an atmospheric feast for the eyes, but the waterfall is the cherry on top so make sure you take the time to see it.
Ireland isn’t a country that’s short on literary heroes. And, like all the greats, the finest Irish writers wrote about what they knew.
So just as Joyce brought the streets of Dublin to life in his work, WB Yeats managed to turn the world’s attention to the magical landscape of Glencar Lough and its nearby waterfall. And it just so happens that there’s also a deadly little walk around the area too!
The Glencar Waterfall Walk
So, this version of the Glencar Waterfall Walk is just a slightly altered version of the Glencar Hill Walk (which starts and ends at the Doneen’s and Hudson’s Trailhead).
This walk takes in the waterfall itself, for those of you that fancy seeing the falls before heading off on a nice ramble.
How long it takes
The walk should take around 2 hours to complete, depending on pace and weather. Allow more time if you’re visiting the waterfall for the first time, as you’ll want to soak up the view.
While not overly long, the walk is steep at times and it can be muddy in places, too, so it’s considered a strenuous walk. Sturdy walking boots will come in handy, as well as other protective gear if the weather is poor.
Starting the walk
After leaving the Glencar Lough car park, head straight up to Glencar Waterfall itself and admire the views. If you fancy, you can nip into the Cafe for a coffee or a bite to eat.
When you’ve finished, walk back down towards the main car park. You have two options here: you can drive 50 seconds to the car park at the trailhead here.
Or you can take the 5-minute walk up the road (CAUTION is needed here, as there are no paths, so be vigilant).
Then the climb begins
The Glencar Waterfall Walk begins right from the trailhead, and you’ll be climbing from the get-go. Luckily, you’ll have views out over Glencar Lough after 2 or 3 minutes as a reward.
The views accompany you until you reach heavy forest. It’s from here that the scenery changes, as you’re engulfed by gorgeous woodland.
Reaching the top and getting back down
After some time, you’ll start to see a clearing up ahead. Eventually, you’ll reach a set of gates with steps. Climb over them carefully.
Now, it’s been a while since we’ve been here last – and I can’t remember if it’s to the right or the left (mind your footing) that you get a view out over Glencar Lough.
It should be obvious to you when you get to the top, anyway. To finish the Glencar Waterfall Walk, simply retrace your steps back down to wherever you parked up.
What to see and do near Glencar
One of the beauties of the Glencar Waterfall Walk is that it’s a stone’s throw from many of the best places to visit in Sligo.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from the falls, from Ireland’s highest waterfall to more hikes and walks.
1. The Devil’s Chimney (3-minute drive to trailhead)
Arguably the most popular nearby attraction is the Devil’s Chimney – the highest waterfall in Ireland. It only runs after heavy rainfall. Here’s a guide to seeing it.
2. Beaches galore (25 to 30 minutes away)
You have some of the best beaches in Sligo a short spin from Glencar: Rosses Point Beach (25-minute drive), Strandhill Beach (30-minute drive) and Streedagh Beach (30-minute drive).
3. Incredible walks (20 to 45 minutes away)
If you fancy tackling some more walks, you’re in luck – there are plenty to choose from. Here are some of our favourites:
- Benbulben Forest Walk (20 minutes away)
- Lough Gill (20 minutes away)
- Union Wood (30 minutes away)
- The Glen (30 minutes away)
- Knocknarea Walk (30 minutes away)
- Knockashee Walk (45 minutes away)
- Caves of Keash (45 minutes away)
- Gleniff Horseshoe (35 minutes away)
FAQs about the Glencar Waterfall Walk
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from where do you park to how long the walk takes.
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.
Is the Glencar Waterfall Walk hard?
If you just want to see the watefall itself, no – it takes 5 – 10 minutes to get to the falls. If you want to do the hill walk, too, it’s reasonably taxing.
Where do you park for the Glencar Waterfall Walk?
You can either park at the main car park and walk back up the road (care needed here) or you can park right across from the trailhead (see Google Map above).
How long does the Glencar Waterfall Walk take?
If you’re visit the falls and then doing the hill walk, you’ll want to allow around 2 hours.