Killarney National Park is located in the southwestern part of Ireland near Lough Leane, which is the largest of three lakes in the area. The national park encompasses an area of 39.73 square miles (102.89 sq km) and was the first national park for the country of Ireland.
The protected area supports oak and yew woodlands, mountain peaks, and of course the Killarney Lakes. The forested area represents the significant remaining forested area on the island nation. The significance earned it the recognition as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Lough Leane is the largest lake with the majority of it residing in the national park boundaries. There are over 30 islands scattered across the lake and boating out to some of the larger islands is a common tourist activity. Lough Leane covers an area of 7.3 square miles (19 sq km).
Muckross Lake is the deepest of the three lakes reaching a depth of 241 feet (73.5 m). The base of the Torc mountain approaches the shoreline of the lake. The three lakes are connected and together account for about one-fourth of the park's overall area.
The aesthetic landscape of the park provides visitors with an array of natural features that include bogs, cliffs, crags, heath, lakes, moorland, mountains, rivers, rock formations, and woodland areas. The highest point in the purple mountains is 2,762 feet (842 m).
Wildlife is prevalent and varied within the park featuring the only herd of red deer on the island with sika deer also being present. There are approximately 114 species of birds creating a special place for birdwatchers.
The collective array of wilderness experiences is the highlight of Killarney National Park. Mountains, lakes, woodlands, moorland, rivers, and more make for a wonderful encounter with nature.
Castles and stately homes add to the experience but hiking and cycling through this pristine collection of lush mountains, mature forests, waterfalls, and the island's only population of red deer makes for a fantastic excursion with mother nature.
Trails of Killarney National Park
Muckross Lake Loop: This 5.79 miles (15 km) loop trail meanders through the estate gardens and historic buildings as hikers head toward and around Muckross Lake. There is a side trail off of this that takes hikers to Torc Waterfall.
Torc Waterfall Loop: This 1.73 miles (4.5 km) loop trail travels through the forested area to the base of Torc Waterfall which reaches a height of 59 feet (18 m). This is one of the highlights of the park.
The Blue Pool: This 1.8 mile (3 km) trail travels through dense woods, along the banks of a river, and around the serene Blue Pool.
Knockreer: This 1.8 mile (3 km) circular walk is paved and one of the easiest outings in the park. The highlight is panoramic views out over Lough Leane and the McGillycuddy Reeks.
Ross Island Walk: This (5 km) walk from Ross Castle to Library Point providing scenic and panoramic views of Lough Leane. Ross Castle is one of the most popular attractions in the park.
Old Kenmar Road: This is a longer 9.9-mile (16 km) trail that meanders through the forested area, hills, and marshland. The secluded nature and varied landscapes serve as the nature lover’s highlight. The trail is one way and is usually a multi-day excursion.
- Lough Leane and the 30 islands
- Muckross Lake
- Purple Mountains
- Torc Waterfall
- Biggest collection of grown trees
- Killarney Town Park, Killarney National Park, https://killarney.ie/about-killarney/killarney-national-park/, retrieved October 2019.
- Lonely Planet, Killarney National Park, https://www.lonelyplanet.com/ireland/county-kerry/killarney-national-park, retrieved October 2019.
- National Parks & Wildlife Service, Killarney National Park, https://www.killarneynationalpark.ie/, retrieved October 2019.
- The Idyll, Killarney National Park Walks: 6 Scenic Trails, https://www.theidyll.com/killarney-national-park-walks/, retrieved October 2019.
- The Irish Times, Ireland’s Best Day Out, and the Winner is Killarney, https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/travel/ireland/ireland-s-best-day-out-the-winner-is-killarney-1.2264060, retrieved October 2019.