Carrauntoohill is Ireland’s tallest mountain, and that was a challenge that we wanted to conquer. If you’re a keen hiker or have a basic level of fitness definitely add this to your list. If you’re just starting out hiking maybe save this one for down the track as it was quite challenging and strenuous.
- Distance: 12km
- Route: Devils Ladder Trail (with a twist)
- Hiking Time: 5-6 hours
- Starting Point: Cronin’s Yard
A quick 25-minute drive out of Killarney, Co. Kerry is where you’ll find Ireland’s highest peak. It stands at a height of 1,038 meters, which isn’t huge in comparison to some, but it definitely takes some energy to conquer.
We began this hike from Cronin’s Yard, which is a popular starting point for most of the hikes up Carrauntoohil . Before you take off for the day ensure you’ve checked the weather and particularly the wind. Parts of this trail can be quite uneven, particularly when climbing up The Devil’s Ladder.
It also should be noted that even the most experienced climbers have faced some difficult situations here, and there has also been a number of deaths.
However, please don’t let this deter you. Hundreds climb this mountain per day. Just make sure you’re prepared for the weather and take food and water with you.
The Devil’s Ladder Trail is the most popular as it’s a straightforward and direct trail. As you can see below prior to getting to the incline is practically climbing a waterfall. This was such a fun part of the climb but quite challenging at times, so ensure you have a good grip as some rocks can be quite slippery.
When we reached the top of Devil’s Ladder, we had lunch before tackling the peak, and to be honest we had the best views here.
The walk to the peak and once we arrived was incredibly misty and windy (as you can see below).
It’s an easy trail to follow from Cronin’s Yard. There is well worn path that is hard to go wrong as it’s very obvious. To begin, take a left at the campsite and you’ll soon come across a number of steel bridges that pass over the Gaddagh River. Once you reach the stepping stones, if you want to continue on the Devil’s Ladder trail go over them. If not, you can turn right if you want to do O’Sheas Gully trail or other trail routes.
Continue on from the stepping stones, and with a lake on your left and lake on your right you’ll reach the bottom of Devil’s Ladder. When you reach the top, turn right and continue to the peak.
If there is minimal visibility on your hike to the top, ensure you keep the pile of rocks on your right. This is an indicator before a decline of the trail down the mountain. At the top there are also little square shelters (without a roof) that you can sit inside and escape from the wind.
Leaving the Summit
Take care when leaving the summit to retrace your steps down the mountain, particularly if visibility is poor. Instead of going back down Devil’s Ladder as most people do. We decided to continue straight across the ladder and up to ‘Hill of the Wave’ as you can see below. From here you’ll follow the trail and see an obvious path for your descent.
From Cronin’s Yard it took us 6 hours return – this included a few drink stops and lunch at the top of the ladder.
It’s also good to note that we did this hike in summer where the sunsets around 9:30pm. If you’re doing this in winter, please allow yourself enough time to get back for dusk hits. The weather was also warm to begin with, we started in shorts and t-shirt. By the time we reached the summit we were in pants and sweatshirt, with wet weather gear over the top.
If you’re wondering what to pack for this climb, then you can read our top 10 items we take on a hike here.
We would absolutely recommend this climb to anyone with a decent level of fitness, it was one of the highlights of our Irish road trip and definitely a rewarding and memorable hike!
If you have any queries or questions, do not hesitate to leave a comment and we’ll get back to you ASAP! Or, just simply let us know if this guide came in handy! 🙂
IRELAND ROAD TRIP
1 WEEK FULL ITINERARY