The Ticknock walk is one of my favourite Dublin Mountains walks.
Aside from on the many occasions that I arrive to the main car park and find the place absolutely swamped, but more on getting parking below!
The Ticknock hike is a moderate, 1.5 to 2.5 hour walk, depending on pace and how long you linger at the top to soak up the views.
In the guide below, you’ll find an easy-to-follow breakdown of the trails along with everything you need to know about the Ticknock Fairy Castle Loop.
Some quick need-to-knows about the Ticknock walk
The Ticknock walk is fairly straight-forward, once you have a good sense of 1, the car park situation and 2, the trail. Here’s some handy info to get you up-to-speed:
You’ll find Ticknock Hill in the Dublin Mountains. It’s around 3 km south-west of Sandyford, and a handy half-hour bus journey (the 44B) or drive from the centre of Dublin.
2. Parking (warning!)
3. Opening hours
From what I can tell online (this could be wrong), the opening hours for the Ticknock car park are 06:00 to 22:00 during the summer months and 07:00 to 17:00 from the start of November. Again, I can’t find anywhere to confirm this online, so keep that in mind.
4. Two main trails
The Ticknock Fairy Castle Loop is the most popular trail here. To do it from the main car parK, just follow the green way-markers. If you start at Kilmashogue, follow the yellow way-markers and then join the green as soon as you see them (find an overview of the trails below).
5. Length + difficulty
If you start the walk from the main Ticknock car park, allow 1.5 to 2 hours. If you start it from Kilmashogue, allow 2 to 2.5 hours. There’s a lot of incline on this walk and a moderate level of fitness is needed.
About the Ticknock Hill walk
Ticknock Hill offers a glorious 10km of mountain and forest walks for those looking to stretch the legs and soak up views of Dublin City, the Wicklow Mountains and beyond.
Ticknock Forest is home to a huge number of trails, and it’s a popular destination for walkers, runners and mountain-bikers!
At the summit of Two Rock Mountain, you’ll find the Fairy Castle – a Neolithic passage tomb measuring 27 metres in diameter by 3 metres in height.
It’s believed that an entrance to the tomb was visible in the 1940s but, do to parts of the exterior collapsing, it’s no longer visible.
Three Rock Mountain (views)
If you’re doing the Ticknock hike for the first time, the summit of Three Rock Mountain is a good spot to stop off.
You’ll find some big boulders here (near the transmitters) that make a fine little seat. You’ll have views out over Dublin City right in front of you.
An overview of the Ticknock Mountain walk from the main car park
The first Ticknock walk is the one from the main car park. Now, if you’ve never been here before, the car park has a lower section and then a higher section.
Personally, I try and avoid the upper section of the Ticknock car park as it gets wedged up there at times and can be tricky to get out of.
The trail to follow
You can start this walk up through Ticknock Forest from the main car park (here it is on Google Maps). This is a well-signposted trail, just make sure to follow the GREEN arrows.
Follow the arrows up through Ticknock Forest to Three Rock Mountain and then continue on to the Fairy Castle. You’ll take a right after this and continue down towards the rifle range and then back to the car park.
This version of the Ticknock hike is moderate enough and it should prove to be reasonably handy for those with a half-decent level of fitness.
If you stick to the trail and don’t venture off into Ticknock Forest, you’ll be able to walk along a well-kept tarmac path for the most part.
This trail stretches for 5.5km and it takes roughly 1.5 – 2 hours in total to complete (with time spent admiring the views).
An overview of the Ticknock Forest walk from Kilmashogue
I’ve done the main Ticknock Forest Walk 5 or 6 times over the years. It wasn’t until last weekend that we parked at Kilmashogue Forest and walked from there.
This is a brilliant walk and (as you can see in the map above) it takes you up to the Fairy Castle and around to Three Rock (there’s some mighty views from both spots).
The only downside is that it isn’t a looped walk, so you have to retrace your steps to get back to the car park.
The trail to follow
Start in this car park (you can’t miss the beginning of the trail). It’s a steep aul slog for a good chunk of this trail, but there’s plenty of places to stop and soak up the views.
There’s only one section of this trail that can cause confusion, and that’s when you come to a fork in the road – take the path to the right (it’s the one going up) and keep strolling.
Soon after the trail will join up with the Fairy Castle Loop (see above where the yellow dots collide with the green).
This Ticknock walk, similar to the Howth Cliff Path walk, is reasonably strenuous at the beginning, as there’s a good bit of incline walking. However, if you have moderate fitness levels you’ll be fine.
We did this walk last weekend and it took us roughly 2 hours in total (that includes time spent sat up at Three Rock admiring the view.
Places to visit near Ticknock Mountain
There’s an almost endless number of walks in Dublin to tackle after you’ve conquered the Ticknock walk.
Below, you’ll find 3 of our favourites, from hill walks with mighty views to forest walks where, if you start early, you’ll dodge the crowds.
1. Cruagh Woods (15-minute drive)
If you were feeling particularly ambitious/energetic, you could take on the Cruagh Woods Walk straight after the Ticknock walk. Doubling up on these woods walks sounds a bit mad but they’re right next to each other and the Cruagh Woods offer some gorgeous views.
2. Tibradden Woods (15-minute drive)
Tibradden Woods is another great shout for a forest walk, and it’s a handy spin from Ticknock Forest. The trail here stretches for around 2.5km and it’ll take you roughly 2 hours to complete it, depending on pace.
3. Carrickgollogan Forest (20-minute drive)
The Carrickgollogan Forest walk is another of the more popular Dublin Mountains walks, and it includes the very unique chimney that you can see above. If you’ve had your fill of forests, Bohernabreena Reservoir (30-minutes drive) is well worth a visit.
FAQs about the Ticknock mountain walks
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Which is the handiest car park for the Ticknock hike?’ to ‘Is the Ticknock Walk buggy friendly?’.
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 the Ticknock Mountain walk take?
The walk from the ‘main’ car park will take you 1.5 – 2 hours. The walk from the second (quieter) car park mentioned above should take 1.5 to 2.5 hours, depending on pace.
Is the Ticknock car park really a nightmare?
If you visit at peak times on the weekend, yes! However, the car park at Kilmashogue Forest is a good alternative and you can join the main Ticknock walk from here.
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.