Hike the Wicklow Mountains Glendalough, Ireland
Wicklow Mountains National Park
Scott and I only had two days to hike in the Wicklow Mountains Glendalough. The first day we took a short hike and explored the Monastic Site and spent time at the visitor center. The second day our goal was to end our time in Ireland with a hike to remember.
Spinc and Glenealo Valley Hike
Spinc means pointed hill which gave us an idea of what to expect on our hike. After we studied the map of the national park, we choose our hike. It was a 9k loop with a suggested hike time of three hours. The trail was rated moderate with some elevation changes, an included 600 wooden stairs.
Our hotel (Glendalough Hotel) was situated right near the trail system. The clerk at the hotel suggested we hike the Spinc and Glenealo Valley Hike in reverse, counterclockwise, to get the most impressive views.
We began our hike from the hotel (the only one) right next to the visitor center and Monastic Site. Each trail has a different colored arrow to follow and we followed the white arrow route. It is one of the nine waymarked trails in the park.
First, Scott and I followed the road and then got onto the trail which is just to the right of the lower lake.
After the lower lake, we came to the upper lake and it was so picturesque. The water was calm and the autumn colors from the trees reflected in the water. Between the lower and upper lakes was an information office and the start of many trails.
Make a Choice
At this point, we needed to decide to follow the white arrows up the mountain to the left of the lake and hike clockwise, or stay to the right. We choose to take the clerk’s advice and went right.
The trails followed along the right side of the upper lake, just above lake level.
Eventually, we arrived at the Glenealo Valley where a stream flowed into the upper lake. There wasn’t a person around, only the red deer which live in the valley. It was October and the Red Stag rut season. Their calls echoed hauntingly through the entire valley.
A sample of the Red Stag call from Youtube. We didn’t record it as we hiked.
At the start of our climb, we passed through the remains of an old mining camp. Lead was mined in the area in previous times.
Uphill we climbed next to a fast flowing stream which cascaded into small waterfalls every few minutes. Sometimes, we stopped to take a break from the many switchbacks and watched the water falling down the mountain. We also looked back into the valley to see how far we had come. The views of the lakes were beautiful.
Eventually, we climbed all the way up the gap in the mountains only seeing a few people along the way.
At the top, the trail turned to the left and then climbed up and up to scale the ridgeline. At this point, we began to see people who hiked from the opposite direction.
High Upon the Ridge
Hiking the Wicklow Mountains National Park trail was such a treat, instead of soggy feet from the wet, muddy bog, there were narrow wooden boardwalks for us to walk on. There were park employees hard at work replacing sections of the wooden walkway. We wondered how on earth they got those wooden beams up to the top of the mountain ridge. One of the workers said the wood was flown in by helicopter. It must be a never-ending job to replace the wood because there is so much moisture every day and so many people who walk that section. Good job security and you only need to hike up and down a mountain every day to get to work!
Eventually, we began to pass other hikers who were hiking the route in the opposite direction than we were. Their back was to the lakes far below and we had the full view in front of us. The clerk was right and we were glad we took her advice.
Later, we stopped to eat our apples and take pictures. It was time to begin our descent. The hike down, step by step was slow going. The 600 wooden steps were narrow and now there were so many people coming from the other direction. Many of them gasped for breath and were stopped for rest breaks as we passed by.
Eventually, we finished the 600 stairs and were back in the forested part of the woods. We were so glad we went down all those stairs instead of up!
Finally, we were back on a dirt trail and spent a few moments appreciating the Poulanass Waterfall. It’s a beautiful spot and a popular destination for visitors in the national park.
We continued the rest of the way down and followed the trail back to the visitor center.
It was a wonderful hike with stunning views all the way around. It was strenuous enough that we had the feeling of a great workout on an excellent trail.
This hike topped our list as one of our most enjoyable and favorites in Ireland.
To read more about our month-long travels through Ireland, please click here.