The highest of the Silvermine Mountains, Keeper Hill is a challenge but the views from the summit are stunning.
And, although it’s one of the more overlooked walks near Limerick, it’s well worth a bash if you’re used to long-distance trails.
In the guide below, you’ll find info on everything from parking and the trail to what to look out for. Dive on in!
Some quick need-to-knows about the Keeper Hill Walk
Before you scroll down to the overview of the trail, it’s worth taking 30 seconds to familiarise yourself with the points below, first:
At a lofty 2,277 ft, Keeper Hill is the tallest of Tipperary’s Silvermine Mountains and a 30-minute drive from Killaloe (Clare), a 30-minute drive from Nenagh (Tipp) and a 35-minute drive from Limerick City.
The gravel car park at Keeper Hill is surprisingly large and comes in the form of a semicircle in the southwest corner of Keeper Hill. You’ll find the car park on a small road north of Bleanbeg Bog and just across the River Doonane (here on Google Maps).
Coming in at a solid 14km, the Keeper Hill Walk is a pretty lengthy trek that shouldn’t be taken lightly! It’ll take a good 3 hours to get through this linear walk so make sure to prepare properly for it.
Classed as a strenuous walk thanks to its length and ascent, you should make sure that you’re visiting with hiking boots or strong walking shoes (that’s an ascent of 550 metres, by the way!). It’s also worth bringing snacks, water and a fully charged phone for a walk of this length.
About Keeper Hill
Keeper Hill is also known as Slievekimalta, which is derived from the Irish Sliabh Coimeálta, meaning ‘mountain of guarding’.
In fact, Keeper Hill isn’t just the highest peak of the Silvermine Mountains, it’s also the highest point of the entire Shannon region and comes in as Ireland’s 58th highest (it’s up against some pretty stiff competition!).
In Bauraglanna townland on the northeastern slopes, you’ll find a stone circle and, historically, at the summit of Keeper Hill each August there used to be a Lughnasadh gathering held (an ancient Gaelic festival).
These days, however, all you’ll find at the summit are stunning panoramic views of the Silvermine Mountains, the Tipperary countryside and the distant Limerick landscape – not bad at all!
An overview of the Keeper Hill walk
- Difficulty – Strenuous
- Length – 14km
- Time – 3 hours
- Format – Linear
Kicking it off
Beginning at the car park, follow the waymarks with a red arrow on a white background northward along the laneway. You’ll also notice purple arrows, but the red arrows are for the longer trek to the summit of Keeper Hill (which is what we want!).
After almost 2km, the loop reaches a crossroads where you’ll need to turn right and then, after another 100m, enter Ballyhourigan Woods via the metal barrier ahead.
Then things start to get tough
Ascend along the forestry roadway in the direction of Keeper Hill. After 3km, the loop and trek separate at a 3-way junction. Turn left and follow the red arrows to the top of Keeper Hill.
This is where it starts to get steep so make sure those legs are working hard! But once you get to the stony summit, you’ll be gifted with some stunning 360-degree views of the rolling green landscape below.
The final stretch
When you’ve made your descent, you can go back the way you came, or you can continue to follow the purple arrows along the forestry roadway (where the loop sweeps south and descends to the townland of Boolatin – passing en-route a stone sweat house. After 4km you regain the trailhead).
The journey back along the linear trail will take around one hour to one and half hours and drops you back at the River Doonane trailhead.
Things to do after the Keeper Hill hike
One of the beauties of this ramble is that it’s a short spin away from many of the best places to visit in Limerick.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Keeper Hill (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. Clare Glens (12-minute drive)
Featuring a picturesque red sandstone gorge through which the Clare River flows amid several waterfalls, the Clare Glens Loop Walk is well worth tackling. Straddling the Limerick and Tipperary border, this is an easier walk than the Keeper Hill hike and, in our opinion, just as enjoyable.
2. Glenstal woods and abbey (20-minute drive)
Though Glenstal Abbey’s stone facade appears a lot older than it actually is, it’s still an impressive and elegant building that’s located just a 20-minute drive southwest of Keeper Hill. However, it’s the picturesque grounds of Glenstal Abbey that are the real reason to visit! Nearby Glenstal Woods are worth exploring also.
3. Knockanroe Woods (20-minute drive)
Home to a cracking 4.3km loop trail, the Knockanroe Woods are around a 20-minute drive from Keeper Hill and the walk here is much more gentle than this big trek! Featuring stunning wildflowers and located not too far from the beautiful little town of Cashel, these woods are well worth a visit.
FAQs about the Keeper Hill Hike
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Is it hard?’ to ‘How long is it?’.
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 Keeper Hill Walk?
This is a lengthy 14km trail that’ll take you around 3 hours to complete depending on pace/how many times you stop.
Where do you park for Keeper Hill?
There’s parking north of Bleanbeg Bog and just across the River Doonane. We’ve linked to it in this guide (at the top) and it’s fairly handy to find.