Great Sugar Loaf walk: best route, distance, when to visit, and more

A stunning natural landmark along the skyline surrounding Dublin and Wicklow, here is all you need to know about the Great Sugar Loaf walk.

The Great Sugar Loaf walk is a hiking trail along the mountain, which shares its name. Located in County Wicklow, this is a popular destination for day-trippers.

It is only a short drive from Dublin city and close to top attractions, including Powerscourt Estate and Glendalough. For those planning a visit, here is all you need to know!

Basic overview all you need to know

  • Route: Great Sugar Loaf walk
  • Distance: 2.7 kilometres (1.67 miles)
  • Start / End Point: the free car park on Red Lane
  • Parking: As above
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Duration: 1-1.5 hours

Overview – in a nutshell

Great Sugar Loaf Walk route.
Credit: Ireland Before You Die

The Great Sugar Loaf Mountain is one of the most recognisable natural formations along the skyline.

Its presence can be appreciated from Dublin, as well as Wicklow, where it is located. It is a popular attraction for hillwalkers, hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts and is distinctive in appearance with its conical shape.

The mountain stands at 1,643 feet (501 metres) and offers one main trail for visitor use.

When to visit – spring or autumn for the best experience

Spring or autumn is the best time to visit.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

The Great Sugar Loaf is an easy and swift hiking trail making it a popular choice for those looking to enjoy a short but spectacular walk.

Summer sees the largest number of visitors to the area, so if you’d like a more serene adventure, we suggest you avoid these months. Spring or autumn (on a dry, sunny day) offers the best experience.

What to see – the view from the top

What to see on the Great Sugar Loaf Walk.
Credit: Flickr / 1ivia

From the top, you’ll be greeted with panoramic views overlooking Dublin Bay and the city, as well as the surrounding lush landscapes of County Wicklow.

You will even see Wales across the ocean on a clear day and to the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland if you’re lucky.

Distance – the fine details

The distance.
Credit: Flickr / Marcus Rahm

The Great Sugar Loaf Walk is a 2.7 kilometre (1.67 miles) out and back trail.

It is popular with locals and tourists, so be mindful that the path will be well populated on sunny days, particularly on weekends, school holidays, and during the summer months.

How long is the experience – the time it takes

How long it takes to do the Great Sugar Loaf Walk.
Credit: Instagram / @agnieszka.pradun1985

Depending on whether you’re a seasoned hiker, laid-back walker, or travelling with children in tow, the time it takes to reach the top of the Great Sugar Loaf walk will vary.

Generally, it takes 30-45 minutes to reach the summit, so make sure to put aside at least 1-1.5 hours to enjoy the experience at ease.

We always recommend overshooting on time to ensure you have the flexibility to stop and smell the flowers along the way or simply gaze out at the outstanding views.

Things to know – insider knowledge

Useful information.
Credit: Instagram / @greatest_when_outdoors

The footing will become increasingly challenging with loose rocks and rubble on the final ascent of the Great Sugar Loaf walk. Given this, the trail is not suitable for pushchairs and those less able.

Aside from this, however, the route is easy and suitable for young children and older individuals with a reasonable fitness level.

At the base of the Great Sugar Loaf Mountain, there is a free car park on Red Lane. The GPS coordinates for the car park and start point are 53.144196,-6.15509.

What to bring – don’t forget the essentials

Bring the essentials on the Great Sugar Loaf Walk.
Credit: / analogicus

Although this route is not too challenging, it is always advisable to wear sturdy walking shoes and bring a hat and sunscreen on sunny days.

There are no facilities along the route, so be sure to pack water and a rain jacket in case the heavens open.

What’s nearby – while you’re there

What is nearby the Great Sugar Loaf Walk.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

If you have time, make sure to stop by Powerscourt Estate nearby for some lunch and to check out its impressive natural sights, such as the Powerscourt Waterfall – Ireland’s highest waterfall – which stands at 396 feet (121 metres).

Glendalough is also a short drive away and an attraction not to be missed. This preserved Medieval city is home to various ancient buildings, churches, and a round tower. There is also stunning scenic walks and a visitor centre.

Where to eat – delicious food

Avoca Handweavers is a great place to eat.
Credit: Facebook / @AvocaHandweavers

Nearby, Avoca Kilmacanoge is the perfect pit-stop for a pre-or post-Great Sugar Loaf walk feed.

Offering homemade plates of locally-sourced food, sweet treats, coffee and lifestyle products, you can also pick up some unique gifts here.

Where to stay – fantastic accommodation

Powerscourt Estate is a great place to stay.
Credit: Facebook / @powerscourthotel

Coolakay House is a simple and homey B&B nearby for those who like the personal touch.

Alternatively, the four-star Glenview Hotel and Leisure Club is just a short drive and is a popular choice with visitors to the area.

If you’re in search of absolute luxury, look no further than the spellbinding five-star Powerscourt Hotel, set on the magnificent grounds of the Powerscourt Estate.

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