The Slemish Mountain Walk: Parking, The Trail + How Long It Takes

slemish mountain walk
Photo left : By ShaunTurner. Photo right : By Ballygally View Images

The Slemish Mountain walk is one of our favourite Glens of Antrim rambles.

Rising to an elevation of 437 m (1,434 ft), Mount Slemish is a tough aul slog, and there’s a near vertical ascent in places.

However, those that reach the top of Slemish on a clear day will be treated to one of the finest views in Northern Ireland.

In the guide below, you’ll find info on everything from parking and toilets to what to expect on the trail. 

Some quick need-to-knows before you tackle the Slemish Mountain walk

mount slemish walk
Photo by ShaunTurner on shutterstock.com

Although the Slemish Mountain walk is much easier in comparison to some of the other hikes on the nearby Antrim Coast Road, it’ll still pose a challenge for most.

The walk up Mount Slemish is short (info below), but hard, thanks to the steepness of the mountain. Be sure to be prepared and check the weather in advance.

1. How long it takes

This is cracking little hike with an epic payoff that should take between one and two hours to complete, depending on the weather and your pace. The distance to the summit from the car park is 1.2 miles.

2. Difficulty

Though short, the Slemish Mountain walk is steep and rocky at times and the path will become slippery in wet weather. Still, those with a moderate level of fitness shouldn’t have too much trouble scaling Slemish. 

3. Parking + toilets

There’s a fine bit of parking right at the base of Slemish. If you’re not familiar with the area, just pop ‘Slemish Car Park’ into Google maps. You can’t miss it. There are toilets in the car par, too.

4. Safety

There’s often no clear path to follow on Mount Slemish. This can make the descent, in particular, tricky in places – especially if you visit when the ground is wet. Take care and wear walking shoes with good grip.

About Mount Slemish

Slemish Mouintain walk guide
Photo by Ballygally View Images on shutterstock.com

Just a cursory glance at the distinct shape of Slemish Mountain will tell you that it’s actually the central core of an extinct volcano.

Located in County Antrim, it rises to an elevation of 437 m (1,434 ft) and can be seen for miles around due to the surrounding land being relatively flat. 

After being captured by pirates at the age of 16, Saint Patrick was alleged to have worked as a shepherd on the slopes of Slemish for six years before escaping.

These days St Patrick’s Day sees people participate in an annual pilgrimage to Slemish, drawing large crowds prepared to make the climb to the summit.

An overview of the Slemish walk

Slemish car park
Photo via Google Maps

The information signs about Slemish Mountain are excellent, with info on everything from the mountain’s history, geology and wildlife. So, have a read before you set off!

Starting the walk

Follow the grassy track to the base of the mountain and at this point, you can choose your own ascent up towards the 400-metre summit. Rocky in parts, you may be required to do some scrambling at times, but the effort is all worth it!

Prepare for the views

Stunning panoramic views of the rolling fields of Antrim countryside are rewarded to those who reach the top. On clear days you should be able see the Antrim coast and the distant outline of the Scottish coast to the east. To the west lie the Sperrin mountains of County Tyrone. 

Making your descent

On a dry day, the descent on the Slemish walk is, you’ll be relieved to hear, much easier than the ascent. However, when wet, it can be very tricky, so wear walking shoes and take your time.

Places to visit near Mount Slemish

One of the beauties of the Slemish walk is that, when you’re finished, you’re a short distance from many of the best places to visit in Antrim.

Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Mount Slemish (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).

1. Post-walk food (15-minute drive)

ballymena restaurants guide
Photo left via Follow Coffee on Facebook. Photo right via Nobel Café on Facebook

If you’re feeling peckish, you’re a handy 15-minute spin from Ballymena. If you hop into our Ballymena restaurants guide, you’ll find plenty of places for a tasty bite.

2. Glenariff Forest Park (25-minute drive)

Glenariff waterfalls
Photo by Sara Winter on shutterstock.com

The incredible Glenariff Forest Park is a short spin away and it’s well worth a visit. There are some gorgeous trails to tackle here and the waterfall is one of the most impressive in Antrim.

3. Causeway Coastal Route (20-minute drive)

the giants causeway ireland
Photo by Kanuman (Shutterstock)

You can join the Causeway Coastal Route near Glenarm Castle, a 20-minute drive from the end point of the Slemish walk. Here are some spots to visit:

FAQs about the Slemish Mountain walk

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from how long the Slemish walk takes to where to park.

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 does it take to climb Slemish?

The Slemish Mountain walk can be up and down it in 1 hour, but you’ll want to allow 1.5 to 2 to soak up the views.

Is there a path up Slemish Mountain?

There’s no ‘man-made’ path for the Slemish Mountain walk, which is why good walking shoes are needed (especially after rainfall).

Is Slemish hard to climb?

The Slemish Mountain walk is tough in places – it’s steep and there’s no clear trail for the most part. However, it’s very doable with a moderate level of fitness.

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