Killarney National Park

  • Across Muckross Lake to Purple Mountain - © William Mackesy
  • Upper Lake and Reeks from Torc mountain - © William Mackesy
  • Looking down on the Old Kenmare Road from Torc mountain - © William Mackesy
  • In the forest - © William Mackesy
  • Looking north over Killarney lakes from Torc peak - © William Mackesy
  • Across Upper Lake to Lough Leane - © William Mackesy
  • Across upper lake toward the Reeks - © William Mackesy
  • August colours - © William Mackesy
  • Changing light, Torc Mountain - © William Mackesy
  • Duckboards on boggy stretch  - © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • © William Mackesy
  • Mossy boulders, Muckross Lake - © William Mackesy
  • Muckross Lake, sometimes feels like northern Scandinavia - © William Mackesy
  • On the high hills - © William Mackesy
  • Torc mountain flank from Muckross Lake - © William Mackesy
  • Torc mountain from Muckross Lake - © William Mackesy
  • Upper Lake from Torc mountain summit - © William Mackesy
  • Upper Lake from Torc mountain - © William Mackesy
  • Upper Lake, rain approaching - © William Mackesy

Key information: Killarney National Park

  • Killarney NP lies around and to the south of the stunning Killarney Lakes and is huddled under the first mountains of western Kerry.
  • The lakes are studded with islands, and, with their mountain backdrops, are ridiculously pretty. Their banks are covered at lower levels in extraordinary rainforesty woodland.
  • Superb walks around the lakes and on the nearby hills.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating87
  • Beauty33
  • Natural interest15
  • Human interest8
  • Charisma33
  • Negative points2
  • Total rating87
  • Note: Likely bad weather.

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Your choice
  • Maximum Altitude: 832m
  • Level of Difficulty: Variable

This walk description page is at an early stage of development, and will be expanded over time. Your comments on this walk, your experiences and tips, and your photos are very welcome.

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Upper Lake and Reeks from Torc mountain - © William Mackesy

WALK SUMMARY

Killarney NP lies around and to the south of the stunning Killarney Lakes, just by… er... Killarney and is huddled under the first mountains of western Kerry.

The lakes are studded with islands, and, with their mountain backdrops, are ridiculously pretty. They drip Irish history, including the ruins of Muckross Abbey, monastic ruins on Inisfallen island and Ross castle.

The lower lakes are surrounded by extraordinary rainforesty woodland, with a lot of oak and yew, and higher up by gorgeous boggy moorland and rock. Wildlife includes ultra-rare white-tailed eagles and the only wild herd of red deer.

The park boasts some superb routes although there is no general right of access to the countryside in Ireland, and no traditional footpaths/rights of way, so walking options are relatively limited even here. That said, we understand that, for practical purposes, walking on tracks and on paths on higher ground here is acceptable. But if anyone objects, remove yourself from the relevant area.

Lower-level walks

There are several walks around Lough Leane and Muckross Lake. The woodland is particularly interesting here – at times you feel like you are in enchanted land – and the views are often ravishing. Not for those who like their seclusion, though.

The great long-distance trail here is the Kerry Way, and a stretch of it drops from the Kenmare road to the shores of the shores of the ridiculously beautiful Upper Lake, which it runs beside round to Lord Brandon’s Cottage to the west.

The high ground

One of Ireland’s nicest track walks is the stretch of the Kerry Way which follows the old Killarney-Kenmare road from just above the Torc waterfall across the hills south of the Killarney Lakes to the modern Kenmare road. It climbs through mossy, ancient woods up to the high moorlands and hillsides, where it meanders its way behind the mountains before dropping to the road. Climb Torc mountain if you are feeling energetic.

Torc mountain dominates the southern side of Muckross Lake. It is a wonderful climb, with rich gorse, heather and boggy vegetation and magical views across the Upper Lake to MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and, at the 535m peak, over Lough Leane and Muckross Lake. It is accessibly from the old Kenmare road to the south.

Purple and Tomies Mountains to the west are the highest peaks in the park – Purple is 832m. They have exceptional views over the Killarney Lakes and westward toward MacGillycuddy’s Reeks. You can walk on along the beautiful ridge between them.

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The South-west gets a lot of rain, plus cloud/fog and occasional winter snow on high ground. Take great care with wayfinding in foggy/mist/cloudy conditions, indeed the mountains aren’t much fun if you won’t be able to see! There is little shelter on the mountains, either from sun or rain. Be prepared, both mentally and with the right kit.

See http://www.killarneynationalpark.ie/ for some general info, although it is poor on walking.

We want to give you even more information on this area - please send us your ideas, suggestions, experiences and photos!

See our Iveragh Peninsula page for more general and practical information and photos.

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

Across Upper Lake to Lough Leane - ©William Mackesy

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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Looking north over Killarney lakes from Torc peak - © William Mackesy...
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