7 Stunning Hikes, Loops And Trails To Complete Across Ireland This Summer

There's never been a better time to grab your mates and explore Ireland's great outdoors, writes Denise Curtin.


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Top tip: Screenshot and tick off these hikes as you complete them over the next couple of months! 


Gap of Dunloe – Killarney 

A must when you’re visiting The Kingdom, The Gap of Dunloe is a narrow mountain pass forged between the MacGillycuddy Reeks and Purple Mountain. Stretching for 11km (one way), the road, narrow in many places, makes for a great day’s exercise with some of the most beautiful view points. The hike begins at Kate Kearney’s Cottage and ends at Lord Brandon’s Cottage, with most people opting to avail of one of Killarney’s tour operator services which will bring you and collect you from the start and end points. Other options include getting the boat from Lord Brandon’s Cottage to Ross Castle and enjoying the parkland walk back into Killarney town. Whatever way you chose to enjoy the Gap of Dunloe, make sure you stop off for delish tea and grub in both the cottages.

Making a trip out of it? Where to stay: Aghadoe Heights Hotel and Spa, Killarney, Co. Kerry


Slieve Binnian – Down 


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Slieve Binnian is one of the Mourne Mountains in County Down, and one of its most popular walking routes takes you right to the summit of the mountain, a total 747 metres up. The circular hike is roughly just over 11km in length with some incredible views on a clear day including that of the Isle of Man and the Wicklow Mountains. Those who wish to do the hike can park at The Carrick Little car park and begin from there from the stoney track and follow the Mourne Wall uphill. Those without a car, fear not, this route is also accessible via bus during the summer months, with The Mourne Rambler departing from Newcastle bus station on a regular basis from May until the end of August.

Making a trip out of it? Where to stay: The Cuan, Strangford Village, Co. Down. 


Old Head of Kinsale Loop Walk – Cork

Can you even call it summer if you don’t make at least one trip down to West Cork? Situated just a short, 20 minute drive outside of Kinsale town, The Old Head of Kinsale Loop Walk is a popular one among tourists and locals alike. Covering 6km and taking approximately 1.5 hours to complete, the walking route is suitable for those of all fitness levels and really comes to life during a sunny day with magnificent scenery and photo opportunities at every turn. Plus, if you finish your walk at one of the nearby beaches, Garrylucas or Garretstown, you can be sure you’ll get in a good post-walk feed and glass of vino at Stranded Beach Cafe.

Making a trip out of it? Where to stay: Blue Haven Hotel, Kinsale, Co. Cork


Coumshingaun Lough Loop – Waterford

Those who want a serious photo to mark one decent hike, listen up, the Coumshingaun Lough Loop is where you need to head. Nestled in the Comeragh Mountains, the Coumshingaun Lough Loop will take you around the perimeter of the Coumshingaun Corrie Lake in about 4 hours, covering a total distance of 7.5km. Known as a natural amphitheatre of splendour and silence, this walk also makes for the perfect location to screaming into the abyss or play a game of echo if  the opportunity presents itself. There’s a few options for parking when starting this route, with the best being the Kilclooney Wood car park.

Making a trip out of it? Where to stay: Faithlegg House Hotel & Golf Club, Faithlegg, Co. Waterford


Dún A Rí Forest Park – Cavan

A fabulous day out for the whole family, the 565 acre Dún a Rí Forest Park is located just outside of Kingscourt along the banks of the River Cabra in Co Cavan. The park is most famous for its wishing well and wide variety of shrubs and sculptures which can be seen dotted around the place. In terms of trials, there’s four different walks within the park which are signposted and range from 1.5km to 2km in length. The various walks are not too strenuous making them perfect for a Sunday stroll. The park is also rich in history and worth reading up on before you head off to really immersive yourself in its beauty. Once you’re finished in the park, head to the The Courtroom Restaurant in Cabra Castle Hotel for some well deserved food and drinks.

Making a trip out of it? Where to stay: Cabra Castle Hotel, Kingscourt, Co. Cavan.


Nadia El Ferdaoussi’s Top Pick! 

Freelance travel writer and STELLAR contributor Nadia is forever on the move and planning her next adventure so, we’re picking her brain for intel on where to go to next! 

 Lough Ouler – Wicklow

‘Lough Ouler is one of my favourite hikes in Wicklow. You start by crossing the Glenmacnass river, so it’s more of an advanced hike, plus the trail isn’t signposted so you need experience reading a map. But the views from the top of Tonelagee, looking down on the heart shaped lake are stunning. I’ll usually finish with a well earned dip at the end. Give yourself about 5 hours to enjoy and complete the loop.’

Making a trip out of it? Where to stay: Tinakilly Country House, Rathnew, Co. Wicklow


STELLAR Readers Top Pick!

We asked and boy, did you answer! Here’s the top Irish hike as chosen by you! Want to have your say in the mag? Follow us on Instagram @stellarmagazine to keep an eye out for more opportunities to get involved! 


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Glendalough Spinc Walk – Wicklow 

There are nine marked walks in the valley of Glendalough stretching from a short stroll to a long hike and varying in difficulty from easy to those for the seasoned pros. The Glendalough Spinc Route (Blue Route) is short in comparison to some of the other Spinc routes totalling 5.5km in distance and taking approximately 2.5 hours to complete. The walk is a pretty challenging one, climbing a total of 300 metres but totally worth it for the views from the stunning Spinc ridge overlooking Glendalough. This walk starts at the upper lake car park following the blue arrows.

Making a trip out of it? Where to stay: Glendalough Glamping, Laragh East, Laragh, Co. Wicklow


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