Hike the Gap of Dunloe



7.15 miles

Elevation Gain

1142 ft

Route Type


Added by Jenna Mulligan

This point-to-point hike begins with a ride across the lake, and delivers some of County Kerry's finest views

Hiking this renowned trail can be done in several ways, extending this journey into an out-and-back route or shortening it to only a portion of the trail. The route I can suggest begins at Lord Brandon's Tea Room on the shores of the Upper Lake, and ends at Kate Kearney's Cottage just over 7 miles later.

But preceding the hike, you'll ride across an expansive landscape of mountainous lakes for about an hour, eventually entering the official boundaries of Killarney National Park. On a stormy day, be aware that this boat ride can get very wet!

Once on shore, pass behind Lord Brandon's Tea Room and onto the narrow county road. Over the first three miles of the hike, the trail gains approximately 1,142 ft. This portion of the journey is an exposed hillside filled with limestone deposits, many herds of sheep, and a number of trickling waterfalls and creeks.

On the right side of the trail is the area's tallest mountain, Purple Mountain, visible from across the lake and even from town on a clear day.

Once cresting the saddle below Purple Mountain, the trail overlooks the valley where the majority of the trail will descend. Don't forget that the "trail" is a road - tours will lead horse and buggies over this crest, so watch out behind you!

The switchbacks of descent will occur in tiers and will pass three separate lakes - Auger, Cushnavally, and Black Lake. It generally gets more populated on this side of the trail, so it'll be clear when you've reached the trail's end in the small village surrounding Kate Kearney's Cottage.

Transportation Details:

There are several tour companies who can arrange the ride across the lake for you, and despite my normal aversion to tour companies, I ended up so glad I'd taken this route. I was picked up from Ross Castle, and there were only 4-5 people in each boat, allowing for plenty of room and plenty of chance to chat with our guide.

There is a shuttle Bus returning to the Killarney Tourist Information Office from Kate Kearney's Cottage, which departs at 4 pm.

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We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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