So, the weekend is en route. The weather is (hopefully) set to be decent, and you fancy giving some hikes and walks in Wicklow a lash.
You’ve had a quiet Friday/Saturday night and you know the head’s going to be nice and fresh… you smug f*cker!
In the guide below, you’ll find a handful of brilliant walks in Wicklow, ranging from long and tough to grand and handy.
Don’t fancy walking? Nip into our guide to the best things to do in Wicklow (you’ll find everything from prison tours to whiskey distilleries to explore).
The best walks in Wicklow
I grew up in Dublin. So many of the walks and hikes that we did as kids took us out to the Wicklow Mountains on (usually) wet summer mornings.
Am I saying that the below hikes and walks are the only ones worth doing in Wicklow? Absolutely not! If we’ve missed a brilliant one, pop it in the comments section below!
1. The Ballinastoe Forest Walk
We’re off to Ballinastoe Forest first for a 1.5 hour 6km ramble through some glorious lush woodland that looks like something plucked straight from a Lord of the Rings movie.
You’ll find the starting point for this walk in a little car park (lash these coordinates into Google Maps: 53.107371,-6.217245).
This is one of the handier of the many hikes and walks in Wicklow, and doesn’t require a huge level of fitness to complete.
Leave your car and head up along the forestry tracks (you can’t miss them). You’ll follow this trail up to the JB Memorial, where the mountain opens up.
From here, you’ll enjoy mighty views of the surrounding countryside, the Sugarloaf and the Vartry Valley. You can follow the same trail back down again.
Note: Make sure that you keep an eye out for people zipping around on bikes – Ballinastoe is a popular destination for mountain bikers.
2. The Lough Tay to Lough Dan Walk
Many people that visit Lough Tay (aka Guinness Lake) only hop out of the car for a bit, admire the view and then head off on their merry way.
Obviously that’s fine, but if you fancy exploring more of the area, there’s a lovely walk that you can head off on that’ll take you up to Lough Dan.
Pop ‘Lough Tay Viewing Point’ into Google Maps – you’ll be taken to a car park where you can kick off your ramble.
Now, a quick note – this car park is pretty damn pokey, and it tends to fill up fast on fine days, so make sure that you arrive early.
The walk here can take around three hours and climaxes with a magnificent view out over Lough Dan (a boomerang-shaped ribbon lake). Here’s a full guide to the Lough Tay to Lough Dan walk.
3. The Great Sugarloaf
This is one of my favourite walks in Wicklow. On a clear day, you’ll be treated to an unbeatable view after a handy 30-minute climb.
The Great Sugarloaf stands at 501m above sea level, and it’s a lovely spot for a casual walk with friends or family.
The shorter and handier route to the top of the Great Sugarloaf kicks off from the car park to the south of the mountain.
There’s a nice worn path to follow to the top, so you’ll have no trouble finding your way to the summit.
On a clear day, you can soak up panoramic views of Dublin, the Wicklow Mountains, and the Irish Sea.
I’ve done this walk many times over the years. It generally takes around an hour and a half at a slow pace and allowing for time at the top to soak up the view.
Here’s a full guide to the Great Sugarloaf Mountain walk (includes a short and a long route to try along with information on parking, walk time and more).
Lugnaquilla is the highest mountain in Wicklow (it’s also the highest in Ireland outside of Kerry!) and it’s one for the more seasoned walkers to tackle.
The hike on Lugnaquilla can take anywhere from 5 to 8 hours to finish and it can be extremely challenging in places.
The Lugnaquilla hike is one of the more challenging walks in Ireland. Due to the cloud that tends to hang over its summit, the ability to use a map and compass is ESSENTIAL.
This is one of a number of mountains in Ireland where people regularly need to be rescued from. Please do not attempt it if you aren’t a seasoned hiker.
5. The Spinc Loop
The 3.5 to 4-hour Spinc Loop is arguably one of the most well-trodden walks in Wicklow. It’s also not overly challenging, for the most part (the start of the climb is steep and strenuous!) if you have a half-decent level of fitness.
The trail takes you along the Spinc ridge overlooking Glendalough, offering endless panoramic views of the lake and the surrounding mountains.
Follow the White Loop (it’s waymarked). It’ll take you up to a little waterfall and this marks the beginning of your ramble.
All of the hard work on the Spinc Loop is at the beginning. You’re climbing for a solid 25 minutes and then the trail levels out.
The bulk of this walk follows wooden sleepers (boardwalk) but it’s recommended that you wear decent footwear, all the same.
You can discover loads more trails in the area by hopping into our guide to 8 of the best Glendalough walking trails.
The next walk we’ll be tackling is the one up Tonelagee that offers views out over Lough Ouler – Ireland’s heart-shaped lake.
There are two different starting points for the route that takes you up to see Lough Ouler. The first is the car park at Glenmacnass Waterfall and the second is the Turlough Hill car park.
The safest route up is the one from Turlough Hill car park. The problem with starting the walk from the Glenmacnass side is that you need to cross potentially slippy stones to reach the mountainside.
If you kick it off from Turlough Hill car park, you’ll have a nice (dry) climb to the top. Once the ground levels off, it’s reasonably plain sailing (be vigilant though, of course!).
We did this walk recently and it took the guts of 4 hours, as we stopped for food at a point that overlooked the lake. Here’s a more detailed guide to the Lough Ouler hike.
7. The Bray Head Walk
Next up is another reasonably handy walk in Wicklow that you can complete over the course of an hour or so, depending on pace.
You’ll find the 241m tall Bray Head slap bang in the middle of Bray and Greystones where it offers spectacular views its summit.
The Bray Head walk is easy to moderate difficulty wise. At the top, you’ll find a now-iconic concrete cross which was erected there in 1950.
If you climb it on a clear day you’ll be treated to brilliant views out over Bray and the ocean. You’ll also get a good eyeful of the Wicklow and Dublin mountains.
Round off your climb with a bit of breakfast or lunch (or an ice cream!) from one of the many restaurants and cafes in Bray Town.
Next on the list is Djouce, the 74th–highest peak in Ireland at 725 metres high. Djouce is home to an easy-to-follow route that’s maintained by the Office of Public Works.
It shouldn’t take you any longer than 1.5 hours to reach the summit of Djouce, and you’ll be treated to mighty views throughout.
There are two different trails that you can head off on here. The Blue Loop is the shorter, easier walk and it takes around 1.5 hours to complete.
The Deerpark Loop is the better of the two, in my opinion. It’ll take around 3 hours in total to finish and it offers fantastic views of the Sugarloaf, Bray, Killiney Hill and Dublin Bay right the way around to Howth.
If you’re driving, leave your car in the Crone Hill car park and join the trail from there.
The stroll around Powerscourt is easily the shortest of the 11 walks in Wicklow in this guide. It’s for those of you that fancy a handy ramble.
If the day’s fine, visit the waterfall – you’ll need to pay in here but you can park a short distance away.
There’s no real route here, so follow your gut. You can kick things off with a saunter up to the waterfall and then, when you’ve had your fill, stroll around the beautiful grounds.
10. The Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk
If you fancy a longish walk in Wicklow that’ll batter away the stickiest of Saturday morning cobwebs, then the Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk is just the ticket.
The walk here stretches for around 7km and can take from 2 to 2.5 hours to finish, depending on pace.
You can kick the walk off in either Bray or Greystones, whichever’s handier, and you’ll follow a well-maintained coastal path that winds along the side of Bray Head Hill.
If you’re driving, you could always park the car in Bray, do the walk, and then grab the DART from Greystones back to your car after.
11. The Wicklow Way
OK, so, realistically you’re not going to be completing the Wicklow Way over the course of a weekend – this route can take upwards of a week to finish.
BUT, if you’ve a bit of time off and you’re living near Wicklow, this could be a nice active way to get out exploring.
The walk kicks-off in Rathfarnham in Dublin and travels through a good chunk of Wicklow before finishing in Clonegal in Carlow.
Over the course of 7 or so days, you’ll follow a series of waymarked trails that take in mountains, lakes, glacial valleys, gorgeous mountain streams, forests, and plenty more.
What walks in Wicklow have we missed?
Have you done a great walk in Wicklow recently that should be popped into the guide above?
Lovey! Bang a comment into the comments section below and we’ll check it out!