Wicklow Mountains National Park is located on the southeastern side of Ireland just south of Dublin. The park encompasses an area of 84.94 square miles (220 sq km).
The national park is nestled in the Wicklow Mountains which serve as the namesake of the park as well as the pinnacle attraction. The mountains are rolling with heath and upland grasslands while displaying moments of exposed rock faces and cliffs.
The vegetation is diverse featuring a variety of ecosystems that include blanket bog, coniferous woods, deciduous forests, heath, upland grassland, exposed rock mountains, and cliffs along with scree scattered below.
The Wicklow Mountains also provide access to and protection of a number of historic sites spread across the Glendalough area. Although the heart of the park is an opportunity to escape into the outdoors, many people love exploring and learning about the historical facets found within the park as well.
Hiking and exploring the terrain of the Wicklow Mountains is the highlight for most people. It is a great escape for the Dublin locals as well as visitors from around the world. The varied habitats are also inviting to those who like to discover and witness different aspects of nature. The national park provides opportunities to combine historical, cultural, and natural facets together in the same visit.
Glendalough Upper Lake
The Glendalough Upper Lake is a glacial lake located in the Wicklow Mountains. The deep rich blue waters add to the landscape and panoramic views from the summits above where it is nestled in place. Although people can experience the lake along the shoreline, the more striking views occur from above along one of the mountain summits.
This ribbon lake measures a length of 0.87 miles (1.4 km) with a width of 0.32 miles (0.52 km). The lake reaches a maximum depth of 98 feet (30 m). It covers an area of 440 feet (130 m). Although not a large lake, the views over the lake are what attracts most hikers.
The Glendalough region features a number of historical sites that add to the cultural and historical experience of travelers coming to the area. Most of the sites are related to St. Kevin who operated as a hermit priest in the early Medieval period.
In addition, visitors can discover Bolger’s Cottage which provides an opportunity to learn about the area. Similarly, travelers can explore the remnants of old mining villages. It is an opportunity to step back into the days of old when life was simpler and more focused on the community.
Wicklow Mountains National Park Trails
Hiking amongst the landscapes of the Wicklow Mountains is the most popular attraction of the national park. There are at least 50 trails that traverse up into the mountains and around the area providing excellent opportunities to experience all that the national park offers. The trails range from easy to difficult providing a chance for everyone to experience some aspects of the park.
Glendalough Upper and Lower Lake Trail
This is a loop trail that is rated easy. This 2.6-mile (4.18 km) trail circles one lake and comes alongside the other providing views of both lakes. There is only an elevation gain of 419 feet (127.71 m). There are views of a waterfall, both lakes, and the mountains while meandering through the forest. There are chances to see wildlife as well as birdwatching.
Glendalough White Trail
This loop trail ascends 1,459 feet (444.7 m) while traveling around the lake. The trail covers a distance of 5.4 miles (8.69 km) while hiking through the forest and ridges of the hills overlooking the lake.
Lugnaquilla Ridge Trail
This is a trail featuring an elevation gain of 2,687 feet (818.99 m) while traveling the 7.3-mile (11.7 km) loop. The trail is rated moderate and can be rocky. There are views of the river, a waterfall, and panoramic views of the landscape. There are chances of seeing wildlife and wildflowers.
Glendalough Walking Tour
This is an eclectic adventure providing opportunities to experience both natural wonders as well as historical facets of the park. The journey covers a distance of 11.4 miles (18.34 km) with an elevation gain of 2,506 feet (763.82 m). There are excellent views of the scenic lakes and surrounding terrain as well as archaeological heritage along the way.
Wicklow Mountains Highlights
- Glendalough Upper Lake
- All Trails, Best Trails in Wicklow Mountains National Park, https://www.alltrails.com/parks/ireland/county-wicklow/wicklow-mountains-national-park, retrieved August 2020.
- Britannica, Wicklow Mountains, https://www.britannica.com/place/Wicklow-Mountains, retrieved August 2020.
- Heritage Ireland, Wicklow Mountains National Park, https://www.heritageireland.ie/en/midlands-eastcoast/wicklowmountainsnationalpark/, retrieved August 2020.
- Irish Tourism, Wicklow Mountains National Park, https://www.irishtourism.com/wicklow-mountains-national-park/, retrieved August 2020.
- Wicklow, Wicklow Mountains National Park, https://visitwicklow.ie/item/wicklow-mountains-national-park/, retrieved August 2020.
- Wicklow Mountains National Park, Park Site, https://www.wicklowmountainsnationalpark.ie/, retrieved August 2020.
- Wikipedia, Glendalough Upper Lake, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glendalough_Upper_Lake, retrieved August 2020.