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

hiking
13 days ago

great spot...great views and nice challenging walk and ideal for kids...took about 2 hours with kids

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.

Lovely walk close to where I stayed at Croan Cottages. I would love to do this walk daily if I lived near by.

very nice peaceful walk.

A great place to run off-road if training for an endurance event with dodgy knees! Can be prone to flooding after heavy rain but when dry it's an amazing trail

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.

Amazing