There are some mighty Mourne Mountain walks and hikes.
County Down’s famous mountain range boast some of Ireland’s most epic views and there are a ton of great walks to get stuck into in this dramatic landscape.
From tough aul slogs, like Slieve Donard, to slightly handier rambles, like Slieve Doan, there’s plenty of trails to choose from, as you’ll discover below!
Our favourite Mourne Mountain walks
The first section of the guide is packed with our favourite Mourne Mountain walks – these are rambles one or more of the team have done and loved.
Below, you’ll find Northern Ireland’s highest mountain, outstanding views and trails that’ll imprint themselves upon your mind forever more!
1. Slieve Donard (via Glen River)
The mightiest Mourne of them all is Slieve Donard which reaches a gaudy height of 850m (2789ft), making it the tallest mountain in Northern Ireland.
We recommend the trail to the summit that goes via the Glen River, and make sure to pack a pair of sturdy walking boots and a decent supply of food and water.
It should take between 4-5 hours to complete the linear route of around 4.6km (9.2km), depending on pace and weather.
Keep in mind that, as this is one of the most popular Mourne Mountain walks, it can get busy on fine weekends.
2. Slieve Doan (via Ott Car Park)
Few of the Mourne Mountains walks boast views like our next hike. Despite its status as one of the smallest mountains in the High Mournes, the views from Slieve Doan are arguably as good or better than any of its taller contemporaries!
Rising to 593 metres in height, Doan is surrounded on all sides by the other Mournes but its 360-degree panoramic views make this trek more than worth it.
The length of the hike via Ott Car Park is around 8 km (5 miles) return and will take 4-5 hours to complete.
While steep and challenging in places, the route is reasonably straightforward and should suit everyone from casual walkers to seasoned hikers.
3. Slieve Bearnagh Hike (via Hare’s Gap)
Slieve Bearnagh is one of the more distinctive mountains in the Mournes, thanks to the unique gap that makes it appear like it has two peaks!
And once you reach the top, you’ll get to see its massive tors up close too.
At just over 9km in length, the route via Hare’s Gap is a long old slog and should take between 3.5 to 4 hours to complete.
With steep pitches, rocky scrambles and ridges throughout the climb, this is one of many Mourne Mountain walks for seasoned hikers only.
4. Slieve Meelmore and Meelbeg (via Ott Car Park)
How do you feel about tackling two mountains in one walk? Not only are there some savage views to be enjoyed from Slieve Meelmore and Slieve Meelbeg, you’ll be able to say you climbed two mountains in one day!
Located in the West Mournes, the mountains are the 6th and 7th highest in the range with Meelbeg slightly taller at 702 m (2,303 ft).
Start from the Ott Car park and expect a walk of around 3.5 to 4 hours on this 11km loop trail, depending on fitness levels and stopping for snacks/photos.
More popular Mourne Mountain hikes
Now that we have our favourite Mourne Mountains walks out of the way, it’s time to see what other rambles the area has to offer.
Below, you’ll find everything from Binnian and the Silent Valley to some of the more overlooked Mournes walks.
1. Slieve Binnian (via Carrick Little Car Park)
Next up is one of several looped Mourne walks. This trail will take you to the broad summit of Northern Ireland’s third-highest mountain and is a journey you’re not going to want to miss!
Taken from the Irish Sliabh Binneáin, meaning ‘mountain of the little peaks’, Slieve Binnian soars to an impressive height of 747 metres (2,451 ft).
Kicking off from the Carrick Little Car Park, it’s one of the lengthy and more strenuous Mourne Mountains walks. It clocks in at 7 miles (11.2km) and should take between 3-4 hours to complete.
Make sure to wear sturdy walking boots and don’t forget to bring snacks, water and a fully charged phone on this long walk.
2. The Hare’s Gap (via Trassey Car Park)
While the trek up to the Hare’s Gap doesn’t culminate in a panoramic summit vista, it will reward you with one of Ireland’s most unique views!
A reasonably straightforward ascent from the Trassey Car Park, the linear walk has a total distance there and back of 4.35 miles (7km).
Therefore it’s one of the handier Mourne Mountains walks walk and this 2.5-hour trail should be very doable for most with a decent level of fitness.
And once you’ve tackled the ramble up to the Hare’s Gap, you’ll be able to enjoy one of Ireland’s most dramatic mountain passes!
3. Cloughmore Trail (Fiddler’s Green)
Just south of the Mournes is the gorgeous Carlingford Lough and the Cloughmore Trail is a cracking walk offers some lovely views over the grand lough.
Working your way through the equally lovely Kilbroney Park from Fiddler’s Green, this handy 2.5-mile walk follows a loop and passes by the famous Cloughmore Stone and the wonderfully-named Kodak Corner.
Enjoy some cracking vistas across the water all the way to the mighty Cooley Mountains of northeast County Louth.
Although this is one of the shorter Mournes walks, the views it treats you to are out of this world.
4. Silent Valley Reservoir (numerous trails)
Next up is one of the more unique Mourne Mountains walks. Located just to the west of Slieve Binnian, Silent Valley Reservoir is one of the most peaceful spots in the Mourne Mountains and its reflections look gorgeous on a sunny day.
Its actual job is to supply most of the water for County Down and Belfast, but who knew it would be this pretty?!
The reservoir is also home to several cracking trails with enough variety for every level of experience.
From the handy 2.5km Heritage Trail to the more challenging 10km Mountain Trail, you can pick and choose which walk to hit and space them out over different weekends if you like.
5. The Lough Shannagh walk
The largest natural body of water in the Mourne Mountains, Lough Shannagh is another peaceful lake that’s perfect to visit any time of year.
And, of course, the best way to experience it is to take on the Lough Shannagh Walk!
Kicking off from the Banns Road Car Park, it’s an 11km circular trail that heads north and then loops around the lough before returning home.
One thing to note is that the track from the car park is in constant use by farmers herding their sheep, so keep an eye out for any woolly friends!
Related read: Check out our guide to 8 of the finest Mourne Mountain hotels to use as a base camp
Forest walks in the Mourne Mountains
The final section of our Mourne Mountains walks guide looks at rambles that take you through some of the finest forests in the land.
Below, you’ll find everywhere from Tollymore and Castlewellan to some of the more overlooked Mourne walks.
1. Tollymore Forest Park
If you’d rather not put your legs through the trials and tribulations of mountain climbing, then you could always explore one of Ireland’s most enchanting parks.
Despite being located at the foot of the Mournes, Tollymore Forest Park is another world and feels like you’ve stepped into a Lord of the Rings set!
With its hanging trees and quiet trails, there’s plenty to do in the beautiful 630-hectare forest including camping, horse riding and orienteering.
There are eight superb walks to choose from, including the handy Stepstones Loop from Bryansford Road and the more challenging Horn Bridge – Waterfall Loop from Bryansford Road.
Note that, as Tollymore is home to some of the more popular Mourne walks, it can get busy at the weekend.
2. Castlewellan Forest Park
Only a few minutes’ drive north of Tollymore Forest, Castlewellan Forest Park covers 450 hectares and is an 18th-century walled demesne with mature parkland, woodland trees, forest planting, a lime tree avenue and an elaborate garden featuring terraces, fountains, ornamental gates and flower border.
All of which is to say, it’s a very pretty spot that you definitely won’t regret visiting!
Castlewellan Forest is also home to a steep walk to the summit of Slievenaslat (272 metres), but the reward is a deadly viewpoint looking towards the Mournes in all their glory.
3. Kilbroney Park
When a park contains a viewpoint known as Kodak Corner, you know it’ll be worth checking out!
Just next door to the cracking little village of Rostrevor, Kilbroney Park Forest features some gorgeous views over Carlingford Lough and towards the distant Cooley Mountains.
You’ll also be treated to riverside walks, an arboretum and the Cloughmore – a 30 ton stone that, as I mentioned earlier, has been the subject of all sorts of myth!
One good thing about Kilbroney Park is that it also features a two-mile forest drive, which is especially handy if you’re on a family visit with small children or grandparents who may find the walking trails a little tough to scale.
If you’re looking for family-friendly Mourne Mountains walks, this place is well worth considering.
4. Montalto Estate Woodland Trail
While forest trails generally won’t offer the same spectacular viewpoints as many of the Mourne walks above, they always excel when it comes to sheer variety of flora and fauna.
And in this regard, the Montalto Estate Woodland Trail is a superb walk for any fan of nature!
Noted for its many interesting and historic trees (such as birch, beech, douglas-fir, and sycamore trees), this trail north of the Mournes is a must for anyone with an interest in arboriculture and horticulture.
Also, on your way around, keep an eye out for birdlife including tree-creepers, buzzards, hawks, dipper kingfisher and – rarest of all – the great spotted woodpecker.
FAQs about the Mournes walks
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Which is the longest?’ to ‘Which of the Mourne walks has the best views?’.
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 is the easiest Mourne Mountain to climb?
One of the easiest Mournes walks is arguably Doan. Now, don’t get me wrong – it isn’t easy. However, it’s more straightforward than many of the others.
Which Mourne Mountain has the best view?
On a fine day, few of the Mourne Mountains walks can go toe-to-toe with the views offered by the mighty Slieve Binnian (747 metres/2,451 ft).
Where do I start walking in Mournes?
So, this is going to depend firstly on your fitness levels, as each walk varies in terms of difficulty. Above, you’ll get an overview of what to expect from each.