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15 Of The Best Walks In Limerick: Forests, Mountains And Long Hikes

15 Of The Best Walks In Limerick: Forests, Mountains And Long Hikes

There’s some glorious walks in Limerick.

And, while many tourists visiting the county head straight to the city, there’s plenty of reasons to escape the hustle and bustle.

This is one of many counties in Ireland that’s arguably best on foot – there’s some stunning walking trails in Limerick, as you’ll discover below!

Our favourite walks in Limerick

Keeper Hill walk

Photos via Shutterstock

The first section of our guide is packed with our favourite hikes in Limerick – these are trails that one or more of our team have done over the years.

Below, you’ll find everything from the Canon Sheehan Loop and the Clare Glens to some of the most scenic Limerick walks.

1. The Canon Sheehan Loop

Canon Sheehan Loop  

Photo © Ballyhoura Fáilte via Ireland’s Content Pool

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 7 km
  • Time: 2.5 hours
  • Starting Point: Glenanaar Forest car park

This 7km loop walk in Ballyhoura follows the banks of the Ogeen River, crisscrossing the borders of Cork and Limerick. It includes the interesting Mass Rock, an open-air pulpit with incredible views.

Even the name has religious connotations as it was named after Canon Sheehan of Doneraile (1852-1913) a parish priest from the area.

Start in Glenanaar Forest car park near Ardpatrick and follow the arrows along the river, crossing bridges and venturing onto forestry roads in places.

Pass Mass Rock with fine views of the Blackwater Valley, Nagle and Knockmeal Mountains on your return.

2. The Clare Glens Loop

Clare Glens Loop

Photos via Shutterstock

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 4 km
  • Time: 1.5 hours
  • Starting Point: Clare River Bridge

Next is one of the more popular family-friendly walks in Limerick. It follows the clear waters of the Clare River for 2 km with an option to join the longer Glen Loop after the footbridge.

Highlights include a scenic sandstone gorge, numerous waterfalls and the chance to cross bridges taking you from Limerick to Tipperary and back.

The loop walk starts at Clare Bridge on R506 north of the village of Murroe. The signposted trail on forest trails follows the west bank of the river before crossing to Clare Falls and returning on the east bank. 

3. Keeper Hill

Keeper Hill walk

Photos via Shutterstock

  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Length: 14 km
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Starting Point: Ballyhourigan Forest entrance

Just 15 km east of Limerick City, Keeper Hill is the highest peak in the Slieve Mountains at 694m. The Gaelic name for the hill is Sliabh Coimeálta, which appropriately means “the mountain of guarding”.

Looking down on the Galtees and Devil’s Bit, it offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The trailhead is at Doonane Forest car park, 2 km west of Toor.

Red arrows direct you along this loop walk which heads to the summit of Keeper Hill on lanes and forest roads, passing gullies and “The Spout” waterfall.

4. Knockfierna

Knockfierna

Photos with thanks to @justcookingie on IG

  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Length: 9 km
  • Time: 2.5 hours
  • Starting Point: Ballingarry Village

Steeped in history and legend, there are several tracks up Knockfierna and they all start in Ballingarry. Breathtaking views from the summit include six counties on a clear day.

These include much of Co. Limerick, Thomond Park and the Shannon Estuary. Highlights to look out for are Donn’s Cave (Giant’s Cave) and a cairn at the summit. 

Highlights along the way include a Famine Memorial and several stone cottages which have been reconstructed since the village was abandoned during the Great Famine. 

This is one of the tougher hikes in Limerick but the views from the summit on a clear day are worth the effort.

5. The Lough Gur Trails

Lough Gur

Photos via Shutterstock

  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Length: Varies
  • Time: Varies
  • Starting Point: Lough Gur

I’d argue that Lough Gur is home to some of the most overlooked walks in Limerick! These trails are a wonderful way to immerse yourself in 6,000 years of history.

According to archaeologists, the area was settled in the Stone and Bronze Ages and the shores are littered with ancient monuments and historic sites. Pick up an audio tour from the Heritage Centre for €5 which covers many local legends and sites.

The 2.5km (red) Magical Lough Gur Trail includes Hangman’s Rock, a Wishing Seat, Lime Kiln and a short climb for stunning lake views.

The 4.5km linear Legendary Lough Trail (blue) passes 7th century stone forts at Carraig Aille, a Megalithic Grave and the Great Stone Circle, the oldest and largest in Ireland.  

6. The Attychraan Loop

Attychraan Loop

Photo © Ballyhoura Fáilte via Ireland’s Content Pool

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 5 km
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Starting Point: Galtee Woods car park

Explore the dramatic Galtee Mountains on the Attychraan Loop. It’s an excellent walk for novices and families with low level of difficulty and spectacular views.

This 5km walk take 1.5 – 2 hours and starts in Kilbehenny and follows a forestry road along the east bank of the Attychraan river before joining farm roads. The loop takes you through the dappled Galtee Castle Woods.

Alas, the 18th century castle/hunting lodge built by the Earl of Kingston was demolished in 1940, but you can see the stables and watermill. This is one of the more popular Limerick walks for good reason.

Long hikes in Limerick

Lough Derg

Photos via Shutterstock

Now that we have our favourite walks in Limerick out of the way, it’s time to see what else the county has to offer.

Below, you’ll find everywhere from the Slieve Felim Way and the Ballyhoura Way to some often-missed hikes in Limerick.

1. The Ballyorgan Loop

Ballyorgan Loop

Map with thanks to Sport Ireland

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 20 km
  • Time: 6 hours 40 minutes
  • Starting Point: Ballyorgan

Starting in the village of Ballyorgan, this 20 km loop trail offers varied terrain. The 5-hour route is marked by red arrows taking you across fields to Kilflynn Protestant Church and Graveyard.

Built in 1812, it has a stunning chancel window featuring the coat of arms of the Oliver-Gascoigne families. Apparently there has been a church here since 550AD when St Flynn founded a church and gave his name to the village of Kilflynn.

Next head to Ballydonohoe Bridge and follow the Keale River to Darragh Bridge before entering Castle Gale Woods. Rejoin the river and return to the car park.

As with any of the longer walks in Limerick, make sure to prep properly for this one.

2. The Ballyhoura Way

Ballyhoura walks

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 89 km
  • Time: 4 days
  • Starting Point: St. Johns Bridge

The mighty Ballyhoura Way is part of the longer O’Sullivan Beara Trail. Running for 90km, the Ballyhoura Way traces the footsteps of 17th century Clan Chief, Donal Cam O’Sullivan Beare.

Despite the length, this scenic hike is graded moderate as it takes in pastures, forest trail, rushing rivers and quiet green glades. It starts at John’s Bridge, North Cork and runs to Limerick Junction with four upland stretches through the Golden Vale, Ballyhoura Mountains and Glen of Aherlow.

You’ll also pass through the pretty villages of Kilfinane, Ballyorgan, Ballylanders and Galbally offering a comfy bed for the night.

3. Glenstal Woods Loop

Glenstal Woods Loop

Map with thanks to Sport Ireland

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 15 km
  • Time: 4 hours
  • Starting Point: Glenstal Wood Carpark

Glenstal Woods Loop is a 15 km hike with moderate difficulty, but oh what views it delivers over North Limerick, south Tipperary and lofty Keeper Hill! The trail is marked with purple arrows on a yellow background.

It starts and ends at Glenstal Wood car park near Murroe. It includes both surfaced and forest roads with some steady ascents. The return stretch overlaps with part of the long-distance Slieve Felim Way.

Towards the end, the route descends through woodland with a blaze of colour when the rhododendrons are in bloom.

4. The Slieve Felim Way

Slieve Felim Way

Photo via Shutterstock

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 43 km
  • Time: 2 days
  • Starting Point: Murroe

If you’re looking for some less-trodden walks in Limerick, our next trail may tickle your fancy. The Slieve Felim Way is the main long-distance trail through the Slieve Felim Mountains and is way-marked with a walking man sign.

It runs for 43 km through the foothills from Murroe village to Silvermines in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands. It’s generally agreed that this direction is the most rewarding for scenery.

The linear trail is moderately difficult and takes 2 days to complete along forestry roads, field footpaths and quiet lanes. The 870m total ascent delivers amazing views across the Silvermine Mountains to Lough Derg and Keeper Hill, the highest in Shannon at 694m. 

5. The Lough Derg Way

Lough Derg

Photos via Shutterstock

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 68 km
  • Time: 3 days
  • Starting Point: Limerick City

The Lough Derg Way is another of the better-known long-distance hikes in Limerick. This a moderate 68 km linear hike likely to take 3 days to complete. Follow yellow arrows on a black background as you head out of Limerick City to Dromineer.

It includes a 527 m total ascent. Start behind the Hunt Museum and follow the delightful River Shannon and its feeder canals en route to Lough Derg.

Landmarks include the villages of Clonlara, O’Briensbridge and Killaloe, once the seat of Brian Boru, an 11th century High King of Ireland. Lake and riverside offer gorgeous views and an abundance of birds and wildlife to keep you company along the way.

Family-friendly walks in Limerick

Castleconnell walk

Photos via Shutterstock

The final section of our guide takes a look at Limerick walks that are suitable for families (or for those looking for a gentle stroll).

Below, you’ll find everything from Curraghchase Forest and the Castleconnell River Walk to several easy-going walks in Limerick.

1. Curraghchase Forest Park

Curraghchase Limerick

Photos via Shutterstock

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: Varies
  • Time: Varies
  • Starting Point: Car park

Curragh Chase Forest Park is one of the most impressive family walks in Limerick. It offers three different walking trails ranging from the easy 1.3km Lake Trail to the longer 2.4 Curragh Trail and the 3.5km Glenisca Trail.

They are all multi-use trails for walking and cycling so kids can enjoy a bike ride as they explore the sights. The longer routes pass an old cave, limestone outcrops and an ancient yew forest.

You’ll also see a lake, arboretum with pet cemetery and plenty of birds, bats, flora and fauna.

2. The Keale River Walk

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 7 km
  • Time: 2.5 to 3.5 hours
  • Starting Point: Near Ballydonoghue Bridge

The Keale River Walk provides a ramble through a real Irish woodland and along a river with nature providing a host of shady greenery. In autumn you may spot salmon jumping the waterfall, sharing the river with otters, dippers, kingfishers and herons.

It’s a nature-lover’s delight! This is an easy level walk with several bridges over the Keale River. It extends for 7 very pleasant kilometres between Glenroe and Ballyorgan along forest roads, minor local roads, river paths, farmland and woodland trails.

Allow 2.5 to 3.5 hours to complete at a leisurely pace. If you’re looking for handyish Limerick walks, this is well worth doing.

3. Foynes Woodland

Foynes Wood Park

Photos via Shutterstock

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 1.5 km
  • Time: 30 – 45 minutes
  • Starting Point:

Foynes Woodland is a 17 acre mixed forest right on the banks of the broad Shannon River. The land was once part of the extensive Monteagle Estate and reminders of its heritage are seen with carriage paths, stone walls and the Lady’s Gate.

Although the woods are small in area, there are plenty of winding footpaths to explore with estuary views. There are way-markers indicating the shoreline access. Combine the walk with a picnic or fishing for a family day out.

As it’s so close to the city, this can be one of the busier walks in Limerick on fine days, but don’t let that put you off!

4. Castleconnell River Walk & Bog Walk

Castleconnell walk

Photos via Shutterstock

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Length: 6 km
  • Time: 1.5 hours
  • Starting Point: McGill’s Garden Centre

Finally, Castleconnell River and Bog Walk offer easy terrain and the chance to delve into a variety of different terrains including a waterlogged bog. Best visited in summer, it comes alive with wild flowers, insects and birds.

There are two out-and-back river walks totalling 6km and taking 1.5 hours to complete. They go in either direction along the river. The second one passes the castle ruins and Charco’s Pub. 

There are five trails making up the Bog Walk. From McGill’s Garden Centre follow the signposted bog road to a marshy pool and a stony track used for dirt bike rallies. Explore the different trails, retracing your steps back to the car park.

What Limerick walking trails have we missed?

I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally left out some brilliant Limerick walks 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 the most scenic Limerick walks

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What trails are buggy friendly?’ to ‘Which are the longest?’.

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 Limerick?

In our opinion, it’s hard to beat Knockfierna, Keeper Hill, the Clare Glens Loop and the Canon Sheehan Loop.

What are good long Limerick hikes?

If you fancy a long walk, the Slieve Felim Way, the Glenstal Woods Loop, the Ballyhoura Way and the Ballyorgan Loop are all good options.

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