First and foremost, I apologize if the images do not do the Gap of Dunloe justice; hiking it was one of the most memorable experiences I've had since arriving in Dublin over a year ago. It was a classic Irish day, windy and rainy, but perfect for hiking!
The Gap of Dunloe, County Kerry, Ireland
I visited Killarney five years ago and fell in love with the small-town charm. The town is actually the second largest in County Kerry, with a population of about 13,400 as of 2020. Ross Castle, Killarney National Park, St. Mary's Cathedral, Muckross Abbey, and Innisfallen Island are among its most notable attractions. It backs up to the national park, Lough Leane (Leane Lake), and when you continue west, you'll find the Gap of Dunloe (Dún Lóich).
Ross Castle, Killarney, Co. Kerry, Ireland
I was passing through Killarney and had the Gap of Dunloe on my bucket list for months. At an elevation of around 241 meters, it is a narrow mountain pass that runs north to south. Unfortunately, getting there by public transportation is difficult, so you'll have to book a full-day excursion, use a taxi, or bring your own car.
The trail near the Head of the Gap of Dunloe
The hike began at Lord Brandon's Lodge and ended at Kate Kearney's Cottage, according to the tour I attended. It was an 11-kilometer (6.8-mile) hike that took around 2.5 hours to complete, including stops to take in the scenery. Along the route, you'll pass farms, lodges, and hostels, but no independent cafes, so stock up on food and drink before you leave. You'll also pass three lakes along the way: Augher Lake, Cushvally Lake, and Black Lake to mark your progress.
The weather took a slight change halfway through the hike, as you can see in the video above. It was, however, right before some of the most breathtaking views. The paved roadway is for local automobile traffic and horse and carriage rides, which you can take instead of walking or biking. There are various spots to pull off to the side to allow vehicles to pass as the route winds from the Head of the Gap of Dunloe to Dunloe town center.
Enjoy the photos below of the path:
Mountains the tower over you during the hike
If you're in Killarney or County Kerry, this is a great day trip!