Slieve Doan hike: best route, distance, when to visit, and more

Slieve Doan is one of the most manageable, yet rewarding hikes in the Mournes. So, if you fancy stretching your legs, here is everything you need to know about the Slieve Doan hike.

Set in the heart of the Mourne Mountains in County Down, Slieve Doan is a must-do hike for outdoor enthusiasts and those in search of an adventure.

The Mournes are one of the most breathtaking spots in the whole of Northern Ireland and are officially recognised as an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’.

Located just north of the border between the towns of Newcastle, Newry, Annalong, Kilkeel, and Warrenpoint and overlooking Carlingford Lough and the Irish Sea, the magnificence of the Mournes cannot be denied – even serving as the inspiration for writers such as C.S. Lewis.

Slieve Doan is one of the lesser-known peaks in the Mourne Mountains due to the fact that the famous Mourne Wall does not pass over it. However, do not let that speak for its worthiness.

If you’re in the Mournes, Slieve Doan is definitely one of the most manageable and worthwhile hikes you can do. So, from the best route to the distance, when to visit, and more, here is everything you need to know about the Slieve Doan walk.

Basic overview – useful information

  • Height: 562 m (1843.83 ft)
  • Distance: 8 km (5 miles) return
  • Start / End Point: Ott Car Park.
  • Parking: There is a small car park at the bottom of Doan and Ott Mountains to accommodate 12 cars. If it is particularly busy, you can park at the side of the road.
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Duration: Four to five hours.

Best route – how to get to the top

The Doan hike offers stunning views.
Credit: Ireland Before You Die

Cross the road from Ott Car Park and either climb over the stile or pass through the gate to ascend the clearly defined stone path leading up towards the Mourne Wall.

At this point, you will see the Mourne Wall stretch over Slieve Loughshannagh to your left and Carn Mountain to your right. Looking straight ahead, you will be able to see Slieve Doan.

Cross over the stile and continue on the path towards Doan that curves gradually round to the left.

On this part of your walk, you will be able to see the impressive Lough Shannagh and Ben Crom Reservoir to your right.

You will cross over some boggy terrain before coming to the stony ascent up Doan. This path is clearly defined and easy to follow. However, it is relatively steep and is probably the toughest part of the hike.

Reaching the summit, you will have to climb over large rocks just before you reach the top of Doan – but we assure you, the views from the top are worth it!

When to visit – considering weather and crowds

The best time to visit is in good weather.
Credit: / Rossographer

Due to the rocky and boggy terrain of this hike, it is safest to visit in dry weather.

Bear in mind that no matter the season, the weather in the Mournes tends to be very changeable, so it’s advisable to pack light layers and wear a pair of walking shoes with good grip.

Hiking Slieve Doan for sunset or sunrise is your best option if incredible views are your main point of interest – watching the sun rise or set over the majestic Mournes truly is an experience that is out of this world.

As previously mentioned, the Slieve Doan walk is one of the lesser-known peaks in the range, and thus it will not become as busy as popular hikes such as Slieve Donard or Slieve Bearnagh.

However, Ott Car Park does tend to fill up very quickly and so to avoid crowds and ensure you can get parked easily, we would advise you visit on a weekday if possible and not during bank holidays!

What to bring – pack the essentials

What to bring for the Slieve Doan hike.

As mentioned above, weather conditions on the Slieve Doan hike can be very changeable, and thus, it is advised to pack light layers that you can take off and put on as you choose.

It is also a good idea to wear a pair of waterproof hiking boots with a sturdy grip to keep your feet dry and allow you to pass over the rocky and boggy terrain with ease.

As well as a water bottle and some snacks, we also advise bringing a camera to snap some photos of the incredible views from the top of Slieve Doan.

What to see – incredible views

Incredible views on the Slieve Doan walk.
Credit: Instagram / @hollswils

Due to its location at the centre of the range, the Slieve Doan walk offers breathtaking 360-degree views of the Mournes from all directions.

From the summit, you can enjoy views of various peaks, including Donard, Bearnagh, and Commedagh to the north; Slieve Loughshannagh, Carn, and Slieve Muck to the west; Slievenaglough and Slieve Binnian to the south; and Lamagan, Cove, and Beg to the east.

You will also see the wonderful Silent Valley and Ben Crom Reservoirs, as well as the fantastic Lough Shannagh.

On a clear day, you can even see Warrenpoint and Carlingford Lough on the horizon!

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