Getting to Donegal’s secret waterfall poses a serious risk to your safety, if you don’t plan your visit in advance.
The route along the coast to Largy Waterfall is extremely slippy and it’s crucial that you understand the tide times, or you could put yourself in danger.
It might sound like we’re being a bit overdramatic, but visiting the hidden waterfall in Donegal really isn’t to be taken lightly and, if in doubt, stay well clear of it.
In the guide below, you’ll find info on everything from parking and the route to what you need to know about the tide times.
Some quick need-to-knows before visiting Donegal’s secret waterfall
Unlike many of the places to visit in Donegal, Largy Waterfall (aka Slieve League Waterfall) comes with many warnings. Please take a moment to read the points below:
You’ll find the secret waterfall in Donegal on the Slieve League peninsula at Largy. It’s a 5-minute drive from Killybegs, a 10-minute drive from Carrick, a 20-minute drive from Glencolmcille and a 35-minute drive from Donegal Town.
2. Parking (warning 1)
There’s a tiny amount parking at Largy Viewpoint, a short walk from the entrance to the secret waterfall in Donegal (here on Google Maps). As this is a popular spot, parking fills up quickly. Do not, under any circumstances, park anywhere other than the designated space at the viewpoint and NEVER park along the road outside of the designated area.
3. The route (warning 2)
The route to the waterfall is treacherous – you need to walk along rocks and it’s extremely slippy. Great care is needed here as is good mobility. We’ve heard of countless people that have fallen here and broken wrists and ankles so attempt this as your own risk. Shoes with good grip are needed. More info on getting to the waterfall below.
4. Tide times (warning 3)
ONLY visit Donegal’s secret waterfall if you are 100% confident that you understand how to read tide times (we’d recommend asking locally if you’re unsure). It can only be accessed at low tide but, as John O’Hara mentions in the comments section, low tide varies greatly depending on day/time of year. This waterfall is inside a cave. If you don’t check the tide-tables in advance, you could easily be cut off by the incoming tide. And there’s no other way back.
5. Cracking coffee
There’s two spots for coffee near the entrance to the waterfall; there’s The Pod at Largy Viewpoint and Cookey’s Coffee (great iced coffee in summer!) near the entrance to the field. If you’re in doubt about the tide times, grab a coffee and ask the folks here for advice.
How to get to the hidden waterfall in Donegal
Getting to the hidden waterfall in Donegal isn’t overly straightforward when you visit for the first time. There’s also (again, yes) several warnings to take note of.
The waterfall is in Largy, an area between the towns of Killybegs and Kilcar. Park in the designated area at Largy Viewpoint and then look down the road towards Cookey’s Coffee.
You need to head for a point past that. Care is needed as there’s no footpath and it’s a busy road.
Step 1: Getting to the gate / entrance point
Access to the secret waterfall in Donegal is via a private field (pictured above and located here on Google Maps).
Last summer, the owner of the field was granting access to people – there was three signs on the gate instructing people to keep dogs on a lead, to note that the land owners weren’t liable for injuries and to not sit or stand on the gate.
When you visit, make sure that access is still being granted (check for the signs). If so, make sure to close the gate behind you and take any rubbish you bring back home with you.
Step 2: The trail to the waterfall
When you’re through the gate, it’s just under 500m to the coast. At this point, if you haven’t checked the tide times, please do so and take heed to the safety warnings above.
Here’s where the walk to the hidden waterfall in Donegal gets dangerous. You’ll need to walk around 350m from the exit point of the field down along the coast.
There’s no path, you’re walking along rocks and it’s very slippy, so be vigilant with each step.
Step 3: Arriving at the waterfall
You’ll hear the waterfall before you see it. Depending on your pace, it should take 20 to 25 minutes to get to the waterfall from where you exit the field.
It’s especially impressive after heavy rainfall when the water thunders down onto the rocks below. When you visit, please ensure to leave no trace behind you.
When you’ve finished, head back the way you came and make your way back to the parking area.
Places to visit near the Largy Waterfall
One of the beauties of visiting the secret waterfall in Donegal is that there’s plenty of things to do and places to visit nearby.
Below, you’ll find a handful of places within a 35-minute drive of Donegal’s secret waterfall!
1. Slieve League Cliffs (25-minute drive)
You’ll find the mighty Slieve League Cliffs a handy 25-minute spin back along the coast towards Donegal Town (there’s plenty of things to do in Donegal Town, too, and it’s only 30 minutes away).
2. Malin Beg (30-minute drive)
The mighty Malin Beg / Silver Strand Beach is arguably one of the best beaches in Donegal. Head here, park up and soak up the stunning views from the grassy verge above. Maghera Beach (35-minute drive) is also worth a visit.
3. Assaranca Waterfall (30-minute drive)
Assaranca Waterfall is a lot more accessible than the Largy Waterfall – in fact, you can drive right up next to it. It’s very impressive and the chances are you’ll have it all to yourself (see our Donegal waterfalls guide for more accessible falls).
4. Glengesh Pass (25-minute drive)
The beautiful Glengesh Pass is arguably one of the most unique roads in Ireland. It’s a handy spin from the hidden waterfall and it’s well worth the trip (it’s also close to Ardara, where you’ll find plenty of places to eat).
Secret waterfall Donegal FAQs
We’ve had hundreds of emails asking about how to get to the Slieve League Waterfall / how to gauge the tide times.
We’ll pop in the most FAQs below, but fire away with any others you have in the comments section below.
Wednesday 17th of August 2022
Visiting the secret waterfall was a wonderful experience …a hidden gem in South West Donegal.
Monday 15th of August 2022
This article is really useful and well written. Thank you!
Sunday 24th of April 2022
Just a tiny wee correction about the above information. In 'The Location' section, Largy is described as a village. It isn't: it's a townland; at most, it's a hamlet. So there isn't any official road-sign letting you know that you have arrived at Largy.
Tuesday 5th of October 2021
Hi, I visit there last saturday at low tide but unfortunately it was during a medium tide. Tides changes every 2 weeks and this location must be very tide dependant. Best time would be on the spring tide or at its peak of the ties duting this 2 weeks. The spring tide maybe -0.5m at low tide and +3.5m at high tide but when we arrived at low tide it was 1.5m. So check the Low tide. ensure its 0.5m or lower. We didn't get to visit the waterfall during the 1.5m meter, it is extremely dangerous and impossible at this 1.5m. We will have to arrange a revisit. If you plan on visiting please check the Tide table and check the Level of the Low tide. Low tide will be safest at 0.5m Low tide or lower, i maybe wrong in that but beware of the height of the low tide.
Thursday 30th of September 2021
A tale of warning. I recently attempted to visit this waterfall at low tide... I was almost there when I slipped on one of the rocks and badly broke my R forearm. 4 hours of surgery, 14 metal screws a large plate later I am facing the prospect of months out of work. I would NOT recommend visiting the waterfall. It is EXTREMELY dangerous.