Killarney Overview

Killarney National Park, located in County Kerry in the southwest of Ireland, is a stunning expanse of natural beauty that encompasses mountains, lakes, woodlands, and waterfalls. Established in 1932, it was Ireland’s first national park and now covers an area of approximately 102 square kilometers (about 39 square miles). The park is renowned for its scenic landscapes, which include the McGillycuddy’s Reeks, Ireland’s highest mountain range, and the world-famous Lakes of Killarney.

The park’s diverse ecosystems are home to a rich variety of flora and fauna. Its ancient oak woodlands are among the most extensive in Ireland, providing habitat for a wide array of wildlife, including the native red deer, one of the few remaining herds of its kind in the country. The park also features an impressive collection of rhododendrons and azaleas, which bloom spectacularly in the spring and early summer.

One of the park’s most iconic landmarks is Muckross House, a magnificent Victorian mansion that sits on the shores of Muckross Lake. The house and its surrounding gardens offer a glimpse into the past and are a key attraction within the park. The nearby Muckross Abbey and Ross Castle are also steeped in history, adding to the cultural richness of the area.

Killarney National Park offers a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, cycling, and boat tours on the lakes, allowing visitors to explore the natural beauty of the landscape. The park’s extensive network of trails provides access to some of its most stunning vistas, including Torc Waterfall and the Gap of Dunloe.

Killarney National Park is not just a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts; it is also a place of profound beauty and tranquility that captures the essence of Ireland’s wild landscapes. Its protection ensures that this unique natural and cultural heritage will be preserved for future generations to enjoy.

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Park Map
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Killarney National Park Pictures

Killarney National Park Trails

Torc Waterfall and Mountain Loop

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 4.5 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 850 feet (259 meters)

Description: Starting at the majestic Torc Waterfall, this loop trail ascends through lush woodlands to offer spectacular views of the lakes of Killarney and the surrounding countryside.

The trail can be rocky and steep in places, making it a rewarding hike for those with a moderate level of fitness.

Muckross Lake Loop

Rating: Easy to Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 6.5 miles loop with minimal elevation gain

Description: Circumnavigating the serene Muckross Lake, this trail offers hikers the opportunity to explore the historic Muckross Estate, including Muckross House and Muckross Abbey.

The relatively flat path is well-suited for families and offers stunning lake views, especially at the meeting of the waters.

Gap of Dunloe

Rating: Moderate to Challenging

Distance and Elevation Gain: 7 miles one way, with a shuttle return option; varied elevation gain

Description: This trail takes hikers through the dramatic mountain pass between the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and Purple Mountain.

With its rugged terrain and breathtaking vistas, the Gap of Dunloe offers an unforgettable hiking experience.

Prepare for variable weather conditions and consider arranging transportation back from Lord Brandon’s Cottage.

Old Kenmare Road

Rating: Challenging

Distance and Elevation Gain: 10 miles one way, significant elevation gain

Description: Tracing ancient paths through the heart of Killarney National Park, this trail connects Kenmare to Killarney, offering hikers a journey through time and nature.

The route is known for its historical landmarks, diverse ecosystems, and panoramic views.

It’s recommended for experienced hikers and may require a pick-up arrangement at the trail’s end in Kenmare.

The Kerry Way - Killarney Section

Rating: Varies

Distance and Elevation Gain: Variable, as the Kerry Way is a long-distance trail that loops around the Iveragh Peninsula

Description: The sections of the Kerry Way that pass through Killarney National Park offer a mix of easy to challenging hikes, with distances to suit all abilities. Hikers can experience everything from gentle lakeside walks to challenging mountain passes, showcasing the best of Killarney’s landscapes, including parts of the Black Valley and the Bridia Valley.

  • Killarney Town Park, Killarney National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Lonely Planet, Killarney National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • National Parks & Wildlife Service, Killarney National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • The Idyll, Killarney National Park Walks: 6 Scenic Trails,, retrieved April 2024.
  • The Irish Times, Ireland’s Best Day Out, and the Winner is Killarney,, retrieved April 2024.