Explore the best trails near Knocknafreaghaun with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Knocknafreaghaun, Kerry Map
VIEW FULL MAP

I was dead set on knocking this out while I was in Ireland and staying in Killarney. Originally I had wanted to do the horseshoe route to the east but the threat of high winds and rains did not make for a good mix on the ridge lines. The weather forecast was looking pretty miserable and included thunderstorms on the only day I would have a chance. To beat the weather I decided to be at the trail head around 4:30 am, i wanted 3:30 am but I couldn't find a taxi willing to take me out there that early (~30 euros). There are no real shuttles to the trail head at Cronin's Yard. After arriving at Cronin's Yard I headed out along the well worn rocky trail. The trail gently rises from the yard to the base of the mountain where the Devil's Ladder begins. The first light of day was already visible around 4:45 am as I left the yard. Fortunately the clouds were up near the peak and the valley was visible. Even with it raining and blowing sideways the unbelievable beauty of the lush green valley and waterfalls were a knockout. After passing between the two lakes I hit the base of the ladder and began the ascent. The devils ladder is essentially a steep chute filled with scree, talus and running water. Although the elevation and gain remind me of the Appalachians, the rugged terrain and slopes reminded me of the Rockies but covered in grass. The loose scree in the ladder would have been interesting on a dry day but the running stream that zig zagged back and forth really loosened up the material. I spent most of the climb navigating back and forth looking for larger rocks to scramble around on and to stay out of the water. I could definitely see why people regularly get hurt and even die. There are several spots where a bad foothold could result in a short fall and then a long cascading tumble. After about 45 minutes I popped out at the saddle to a herd of sheep, heavy sideways rain and high winds (~40 mph gusts). Visibility was about 50 feet (16 m) and I ended up following a sheep path to the summit. The GPS app I had made a world of difference keeping me headed towards the summit. I found the iconic cross around 6:45 am, took picture and headed down. I considered returning via Shea's but the weather was just too bad. On the way down I found the actual trail and followed it back to the ladder and descended. Descent was much more treacherous and being alone I was very careful. Overall I made it up and down in around 4:15 hours which included putting on and off jackets and rain gear.

Once back to the yard I was able to see several memorials to people who had lost their lives. There is also a nice monument to Gerard McDonnell who was the first Irishmen to summit K2, but lost his life on descent helping other distressed climbers (see The Summit documentary). I did run into three very nice french hikers that had stayed at the yard the night before and we were able to split the taxi fair back to Killarney, nice.

hiking
5 months ago

My favorite hiking partner (my wife) and I hiked to the highest point in Ireland in June of 2009 on a clear blue sunny day. The mountain is quite impressive as you approach it, and it appears to be very steep. We hiked up between the two lakes below it and ascended the infamous Devils Ladder. This is a steep chute filled with talus and boulders the whole way. You have to pick your way through as there is no real trail in this section. It took us almost an hour to go up this short pitch. Kinda sketchy in a few places. Once at the top of the ladder, it is wide open to the top. We arrived on top after about 2 1/2 hours of hiking. It is pretty steep, but you are not fighting high elevation here. The views are endless up there. You can see both the Kenmare and the Dingle Bays on the ocean, and countless lakes all over the Killarney area. There is a huge cross on top with a couple of memorials for some hikers. We had the place to ourselves too ,which made it nice. After about a half hour or more on top we started down. When we got back to the top of the ladder, we decided to take a different route down from there. So we kept hiking on the ridge trail from there, and that goes back down to the main trail avoiding the ladder. Really nice along this ridge top. It was steep going down the switches here, but beat going down the boulders. We got back to the main trail and then it was just back to the car from there. Beautiful hike on a gorgeous day. If ever there, it's a great way to spend a day. We rolled into the corner pub on our way back to our B&B for a few celebratory pints. Great way to end the day!!! Would do it again for sure.

The first part of this hike is pretty easy, walking through the country side and in between the beautiful lakes. The devil's ladder portion, however, is the toughest hike I've done! The views on both portions are breathtaking I would highly recommend it.

We took the Caher route up and the Devil's Ladder back down. The scrambling on the way back down got a little exciting, but it was a nice break from the slog uphill and kept us on our toes for the second half of the hike. The view from the top is well-worth all effort put in to get to the top--particularly if you're lucky, and it's a sunny, clear day up at top. Highly recommend!

Fantastic view. The hike isn't easy, but it's incredibly rewarding--especially if you're lucky enough to get a clear view at the top! We came up via the Caher route, and went down by the Devil's Ladder, and it was a great variety. Highly recommend.