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17 Mighty Hikes And Walks In Donegal Worth Conquering In 2022

17 Mighty Hikes And Walks In Donegal Worth Conquering In 2022

There’s some magnificent walks in Donegal, once you know where to look.

This mesmerising county is home to the type of landscape and scenery that makes you want to reconsider where you call home.

And, while there’s plenty of tough hikes in Donegal, there’s lots of easy-going rambles too.

In the guide below, you’ll find our favourite Donegal walks, with something to suit most fitness levels. Dive on in!

Our favourite walks and hikes in Donegal

Mount Errigal

Photos via shutterstock.com

The first section of our guide is packed with what we think are the best hikes in Donegal – these are trails that one of the team has tackled once or several times over the years.

Below, you’ll find everywhere from Errigal and Muckish to the Pilgrim’s Path and some of the more popular Donegal walks.

1. Mount Errigal

mount errigal hike

Photos via shutterstock.com

Standing tall and proud as it stretches 751 metres (2,464 ft) to the sky, Mount Errigal is a dictionary definition mountain in every way. From its iconic triangle shape, snow-capped peak, and moody surroundings, it’s got it all.

It’s the tallest of Donegal’s Seven Sisters range and offers a wealth of different routes up to the summit. From the top, intrepid travellers are rewarded with amazing panoramic views that take in lakes, the Derryveagh Mountains, and even the coast on a clear day.

The trail is slightly challenging and you’ll need a sturdy pair of boots, but it’s well worth the effort! The views from Errigal on a clear day are what make this one of the best hikes in Donegal.

  • Type: Out and back
  • Distance: 4.5 km
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time: 2 – 3 hours

2. The Boyeeghter Bay trail

Boyeeghterbay car park

Photos by Gareth Wray

Next up is one of the newest walks in Donegal – the newly launched (April 2022) Boyeeghter Bay trail. Up until now, you’d have to either get here via the trail from Tra Na Rossan or hope that the field was accessible.

Now, however, there’s a 15 – 20 minute walk that kicks off from a new car park at Melmore (near the caravan park). Don’t let the short walk-time fool you – this is a tough aul slog that requires some real effort.

However, your effort will be well-rewarded with stunning views out over one of the most unique beaches in Donegal – Boyeeghter Bay.

  • Type: Out and back
  • Distance: 1-2 km
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time: 30 – 40 minutes in total

3. The Pilgrim’s Path

slieve league cliffs

Photo left: Pierre Leclerc. Right: MNStudio

This stunning trail follows the path of pilgrims who travelled to the ancient Aodh Mac Bricne’s Church, the ruins of which are still visible today. It takes in some stunning scenery, passing through an impressive U-shaped valley that runs between sea cliffs and Leargadachtan Mountain. 

Starting near the village of Carrick, an old green road takes you on a journey that boasts waterfalls, views over the Atlantic, and sights of the bustling Teelin Harbour.

The hike involves a bit of steep climbing towards the end, but the views from the Slieve League Cliffs make it all worthwhile. This is one of several hikes in Donegal that requires solid hiking experience.

  • Type: Out and back
  • Distance: 8 km 
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Time: 3 – 4 hours

4. Muckish Mountain

Muckish Mountain

Photos via Shutterstock

Meaning the “Pig’s Back” in Irish, Muckish Mountain isn’t for the faint-hearted. There are several routes up and down the mountain, including the marked Miner’s Path, an unmarked scrabble from Muckish Gap, and a looped trail that ascends up the Miner’s Path and returns down an unmarked trail.

For the sake of safety, we recommended sticking to the Miner’s Path to reach the summit and returning the same way.

This takes you on a challenging hike up the steep mountainside, through slopes of heather, craggy rock faces, rusted mining machinery, and the amazing lunar landscape of the summit.

At 666 metres above sea level, the views from the peak are absolutely stunning. This is another of the tougher walks in Donegal, so only attempt it if your an experienced hiker.

  • Type: Out and back
  • Distance: 4 km
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Time: 2 – 3 hours

5. Inishowen Head Loop

Inishowen Head Loop

Photos via Shutterstock

The Inishowen Head Loop enjoys some terrific scenery as you follow a mix of green lanes, country roads, bog paths, and clifftop trails. Steeped in ancient history, you’ll come across an array of monuments and ruins along the way, including Celtic Crosses.

More modern monuments include a World War Two watchtower, a lighthouse, and grand country houses.

The scenery on the Inishowen Peninsula is diverse, capturing everything from mountains to bogs, culminating in spectacular cliff-top views over the ocean and even as far as Scotland on a clear day.

There’s around 250 m of ascent to be conquered with this one, but the scenery will make up for all your huffing and puffing.

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 8 km
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time: 2.5 hours

6. The Malin Head Loop

malin head donegal

Photo left: RonanmcLaughlin. Right: Lukassek/shutterstock

Malin Head is the most northerly point of Ireland and it’s home to several of the more popular walks in Donegal. The area here is renowned for its breathtaking coastal scenery, towering sand dunes, ancient ring forts, and thriving bird populations.

This short yet moderate walk follows a clifftop trail that takes you to the very tip of Ireland, where you can enjoy excellent views out to sea and if you squint, you might even make out the hills of Scotland.

The scenery is spectacular along the entire route and while there’s a little bit of climbing, the purpose-built path is easy enough to follow.

Along the way you’ll come across ancient landmarks and natural phenomena such as Banba’s Crown (ancient stone ring fort) and Hell’s Hole, where the sea gushes into a natural grotto.

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 0.9 km
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time: 30 minutes

7. The Glencolmcille Tower Loop

Glencolmcille Cliffs

Photo via Shutterstock

I’ve two arguments – the first is that this next trail is arguably one of the most overlooked walks in Donegal. The second is that Glencolmcille doesn’t get half the credit it deserves.

The area is steeped in ancient and modern history, with countless things to see and do, such as the iconic folk village. This looped walk is a pleasant way to take in the natural beauty of the area, which boasts splendid cliff-top views, meadows strewn with wildflowers, and boggy lowlands.

Along the way, you’ll pass megalithic tombs, a Napoleonic watchtower, and several ancient stone crosses. The walk can be extended slightly by following signs for the Drum Loop, which for the most part follows the same trail, with a short extension and a little additional climbing.

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 10 km
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time: 3 hours

Donegal walks suitable for families or those looking to take it slow

Downings

Photos via Shutterstock

The second section of our guide looks a family friendly walks in Donegal (note: family friendly may not necessarily mean buggy friendly).

Below, you’ll find everything from waterfalls and coastal strolls to some of the more easy-going hikes in Donegal.

1. Glenevin Waterfall Walk

Glenevin Waterfall donegal

Photos by The Irish Road Trip

First up is one of the most popular family walks in Donegal – the glorious Glenevin Waterfall Walk. This beautiful riverside walk takes in gorgeous scenery as you ramble through a wooded valley, the bubbling stream flowing gently beside you.

Extremely well signed, you’ll come across a number of picnic tables along the way, blending in with the natural surroundings effortlessly.

As you follow the river, a series of footbridges cross back and forth. Continuing along, the path eventually leads to a stunning waterfall, gushing down a tree-studded rockface and crashing into the pool below.

  • Type: There and back
  • Distance: 1 km
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Time: 45 minutes

2. Drumboe Woods Loop

If you’re looking for handy forest walks in Donegal, get yourself to Drumboe Woods. This is a gentle walk that sees you wandering through the gorgeous Drumboe Woods. In a past life, the woods were part of a larger estate and in the 17th-century a castle stood on the site of the current car park.

Now that nature has reclaimed much of the woods, there are plenty of lovely scenes to take in. Traversing diverse mixed woodland, this really is a walk for all seasons. As the branches are stripped bare in winter, enjoy the mist rising from the forest floor.

The summer sun sees the woods coated in vibrant shades of green, while in autumn it’s awash with reds, yellows, and oranges. In spring, much of the forest floor is covered in a gorgeous carpet of bluebells.

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 2 km
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time: 1 hour

3. The Garden Trail at Glenveagh

Glenveagh National Park walks

Photos via Shutterstock

Glenveagh National Park is home to some of the most popular hikes in Donegal along with several easy-going rambles that’ll suit most fitness levels.

A wilderness of mountains, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, and gorgeous woodlands. Remote and haunting in its beauty, it’s also home to Glenveagh Castle and Gardens.

Visitors looking to enjoy a gentle stroll through the grounds can enjoy the looped garden trail. Following a gravel path through the gardens, you’ll take in a variety of scenes, including the fantastic walled garden, the awesome collection of garden ornaments, and an array of exotic trees and shrubs.

Accessible for buggies and wheelchairs, it’s ideal for all the family and is mostly flat with just a couple of small slopes.

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 1 km
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time: 1 hour

4. Ards Forest Park – Sand Dune Trail

ards forest park in donegal

Photo left: shawnwil23, Right: AlbertMi/shutterstock

Ards Forest Park is a 1,200-acre natural wonderland of ever-changing scenery that includes salt marshes, sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, saltwater lakes, and mixed woodlands. It’s home to a number of exciting walking trails and avid hikers could spend hours joining them all together to explore the entire park.

The Sand Dune Trail is one of the most family-friendly options, an easy-going 1 km walk along forest tracks and boardwalks. It passes through small sections of woodland before skirting the coastline and navigating sand dunes, all the while offering splendid views over the bay.

With access for buggies and wheelchairs, this is one of a handful of family-friendly walks in Donegal that will be suitable for most.

  • Type: There and back
  • Distance: 1 km
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time: 1.5 hours

5. The Donegal Boardwalk Trail

Next up is one of the more unique walks in Donegal. Located at the southern tip of Sheephaven Bay, the Donegal Boardwalk Trail offers a lovely walk through marshland and sand dunes before arriving at the gorgeous Carrigart beach, famed for its golden sands.

The raised, wooden boardwalk enables anyone, even buggies and wheelchairs, to cross the otherwise bumpy hinterland. Along the way you’ll be treated to beautiful views over the bay.

The boardwalk is part of a larger resort that boasts a restaurant, two playgrounds, sports facilities, and holiday villas. You can access the boardwalk any time and day, completely free of charge.

  • Type: There and back
  • Distance: 1.1 km
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Time: 25 minutes

Other popular Donegal walks

dunree fort military museum

Photo left: Lukassek. Right: Lucky Team Studio/shutterstock

The final section of our guide looks at some more walks in Donegal that are well worth doing when you’re having a mooch around the county.

Below, you’ll find everything from the Bloody Foreland Coastal Path and the Rougey Walk to some often-missed hikes in Donegal.

1. The Rougey Walk

the Rougey Walk

Photo by MNStudio on shutterstock.com

This looped walk is a must if you’re visiting the seaside town of Bundoran and it starts at the tourist office on the main street.

The trail follows the promenade, passes the blue flag Bundoran Beach, and circles the headland before traversing the clifftops. Amazing views can be seen all around, taking in bays, islands, and mountains.

One of the main attractions is the legendary “Wishing Chair”. Hewn from solid rock, it’s marked by an information board that provides instructions on how to make your wish successfully. 

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 4.5 km
  • Difficulty: Easy/moderate
  • Time: 1.5 hours

2. The Bloody Foreland Coastal Path

the bloody foreland

Photo via Shutterstock

If you’re looking for hikes in Donegal where you’ll often have the whole place to yourself, five this one a bash. This stunning coastal walk is actually a section of the long-distance Errigal Way (Slí an Earagail), which stretches for more than 77 km (48 miles).

However, the Bloody Foreland section is much shorter, anywhere between 2 and 8 km depending on where you start and end.

As you ramble along the cliff tops and beaches, the mighty Cnoc Fola (the Hill of Blood) looms in the background. The name comes from the red hue it takes as the sunlight shines upon the rocks.

Remote and stunningly beautiful, the walk takes in bog roads, seaside tracks, and country roads. Along the way, you’ll be treated to views of rugged cliff faces, impressive sea stacks, inhospitable coves, and marine life that, if you’re lucky, can include dolphins, seals, and maybe even brief glimpses of whales.

  • Type: There and back
  • Distance: 2 – 8 km
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Time: 1- 3 hours

3. The Tory Island Loop

photos of Tory Island In Donegal

Photos via shutterstock.com

There are few off-the-beaten-path walks in Donegal that are as off-the-beaten-path as our next ramble. Tory Island is a rugged crag of an island, just 4 km (2.5 miles) long and 1.2 km (¾ of a mile) wide.

This looped walk is an incredible way to take in the sights and cover all of the island. It starts and ends at the pier where the passenger ferry lands, making it easy to follow the well-signed trail.

The raw natural beauty of the island is absolutely breathtaking, with marvels at every turn. There’s also an abundance of birdlife and plenty of chances to see seals or even dolphins.

Additionally, you’ll come across ancient monastic ruins, a lighthouse, and two small towns. You can skip the east section if you’re short on time, reducing the walk to 4 km in total.

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 8.5 km
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time: 2.5 hours

4. The Fort Dunree Walk

dunree fort military museum

Photo left: Lukassek. Right: Lucky Team Studio/shutterstock

There are actually three walks at Fort Dunree, with each continuing from the other, so it’s easy enough to do all three or just as far as you can manage. The first is the easiest going, a clifftop walk that boasts spectacular views.

The second walk continues on with a steep climb up steps to the summit of the fort and from there circles the perimeter of the top fort. From here you can examine the historic guns that are still in place.

Finally, the third walk continues on a little further, before returning to the start. The fort is well preserved and the walks are all well-signed. Picnic areas, information boards, and benches round off the experience, ensuring a great time for everyone. 

  • Type: Loop
  • Distance: 2 km
  • Difficulty: Easy/moderate
  • Time: 1 – 2 hours

5. The Inch Wildfowl Reserve Walk

Last but by no means least in our Donegal walks guide is the stunning Inch Wildfowl Reserve Walk. This place is home to a wealth of birdlife and an idyllic spot for bird watchers and nature lovers alike.

It sits at the foot of Scalp Mountain on the shores of Lough Swilly, with bridges and boardwalks crossing over onto Inch Island.

The looped walk is easy-going and provides the best way to explore the various habitats that range from wetlands to woodlands to farmlands.

Along the way you can be sure to see an amazing array of birds, including geese, various species of waders, swans, ducks, and many more feathered visitors from distant lands.

  • Type: loop
  • Distance: 8 km
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Time: 2.5 hours

Hiking Donegal: Where have we missed?

I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally left out some brilliant walking trails in Donegal from the guide above.

If you have a place that you’d like to recommend, let me know in the comments below and I’ll check it out!

FAQs about walking trails in Donegal

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Which are the toughest?’ to ‘What would suit a family?’.

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 are the best walks in Donegal?

In our opinion, Muckish Mountain, the Pilgrim’s Path, the Boyeeghter Bay trail and Mount Errigal are hard to beat when it comes to Donegal hikes.

What are some good hikes in Donegal?

We’ve mentioned them several times already, but Mount Errigal and Muckish Mountain really are two excellent walks in the area worth considering.

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