Lugnaquilla Hike: best route, distance, when to visit, and more

Lugnaquilla (or Lug) in the Wicklow Mountains is known as the highest mountain in Ireland outside of County Kerry.

Undertaking the Lugnaquilla hike is not for the fainthearted. However, completing this tough climb will prove a very rewarding experience as you enjoy the incredible views of the Garden of Ireland from above.

Located in the Wicklow Mountains, Lugnaquilla – or Lug as it’s more commonly known – stands at an impressive 925 m (3035 ft), making it the highest mountain in Ireland outside of County Kerry.

Without further ado, here is everything you need to know about the Lugnaquilla walk.

Basic overview – all you need to know

  • Distance: 10 to 16 km  (6.2 to 9.9 miles) return depending on the route you take.
  • Start point: Baravore car park or Fenton’s Pub.
  • Parking: Baravore car park or Fenton’s Pub car park.
  • Difficulty: Strenuous. Mountain is not waymarked and can be difficult to navigate.
  • Total time: Five to eight hours (depending on the route).

Best route – how to get to the top

The best route on the Lugnaquilla Hike.
Credit: Ireland Before You Die

There are various common routes to complete the Lugnaquilla hike; the one you choose depends entirely on the kind of walk you are looking for.

The shortest and easiest walk you can take is from the Glen of Imaal or Fenton’s Pub. Coming in at around 11 km (6.8 miles) return, this Lugnaquilla walk should take approximately four to five hours.

The Lugnaquilla Hike is very rewarding.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

The trail from Fenton’s Pub is unmarked. However, it is well worn, so you should be able to find your way from here. Following the path from the back of Fenton’s Pub, you will reach Military Road. You should follow this road until you reach the bend for Camara Hill.

Climbing Camara Hill, you will pass very close to an artillery range. So, it is essential to keep an eye out for triangular warning signs and adhere to any notices.

Once you reach the top of Camara Hill, you will continue on to the summit of the Lugnaquilla hike.

Alternative route – a longer trail

A longer hiking trail is available.
Credit: geograph.ie / Colin Park

If you fancy undertaking a longer and more scenic Lugnaquilla walk, you can start your hike from the Baravore car park.

The Glenmalure route is not only a longer walk, but it is also more scenic, making it the perfect trail for a clear day. This 15 km (9.3 miles) long return trail should take around five to six hours to complete.

Starting at Baravore car park, make your way to the historic Glenmalure Youth Hostel. From here, you will follow a steep forest track up the Fraughan Rock Glen.

After climbing up and over the glen, you will have to make your way over some boggy marshland towards the north ridge of Lugnaquilla. Keep an eye out for the triangular warning signs from the artillery range in this section as well.

This section of the Lugnaquilla hike can prove very difficult, but once you get past it, you will reach the large, open summit. Here, you can soak up the incredible scenery for miles around.

When to visit – weather and crowds

When to do the Lugnaquilla Hike.
Credit: Instagram / @r2des2

Due to its height, weather conditions on the mountain are amplified. So, we advise visiting on a clear, dry day when conditions are mild.

The Lugnaquilla walk is not clearly waymarked, so visibility can become significantly reduced in bad weather conditions, making the hike very dangerous. Weather conditions in the area are very changeable, so it is important to come prepared for all outcomes.

As one of Ireland’s most iconic mountains, the area can become very busy on weekends and bank holidays, particularly when the weather is good. Therefore, we advise visiting on weekdays if possible.

Where safety is concerned, it is also essential to check if the artillery range is in use before undertaking the Lugnaquilla hike. You can find this out from the army or the Mountaineering Ireland website.

What to bring – come prepared

A sturdy pair of hiking boots is advised.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

A difficult hike, it is crucial to come prepared when you plan to climb Lugnaquilla.

Wear a sturdy pair of hiking boots and bring light layers, including a rain jacket, to allow for all weather conditions.

Completing the hike will take at least four hours if you choose the shortest route. So, make sure to bring enough food and water to keep your energy up the whole time.

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We also advise bringing your phone, a map, and a compass. As the routes up Lugnaquilla are not clearly marked, it can be very easy to get lost if you don’t have the correct navigational equipment.

Finally, an optional but advisable addition to your kit is a camera. Essential for snapping a few pictures of the incredible scenery from the top!

What to see – incredible views

The Lugnaquilla Hike is truly incredible.
Credit: Instagram / @xj_j

The views from the Lugnaquilla walk are some of the best in Ireland.

If you take the Glenmalure route, you will be rewarded with incredible views of the Glenmalure Valley as you ascend and descend the mountain. The perspective from here is truly incredible, as you can see all the way across to the summit of Lugduff.

On a clear day, the views from the summit of the Lugnaquilla hike are some of the best on the island of Ireland. You will get to enjoy incredible views out over Dublin, Sugarloaf Mountain, and the east coast.

If you are lucky, you will even be able to see the mountains of Munster and as far as the peak of Snowdon in Wales.

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