Nothing clears the head and soothes the soul quite like a stroll in the great outdoors. And the Lough Derg region is just teeming with stunning trails, mountains and Instagram-worthy photo opportunities to explore. This list features just a handful of our favourite walking routes around Killaloe and its hinterland, including easy walks for beginners to mid-level ability all the way up to routes that will appease even the most advanced hiker.
1. Moylussa, Slieve Bernagh Mountains
Moylussa (532m) is the highest point in Co Clare and well worth dragging your weary legs up. The trail begins at Two Mile Gate, which is a lovely little lakeside retreat with a smattering of jetties to laze about on, dip the feet in or cool off and go for a swim in after your climb. The route follows the Crag Wood Walk and East Clare Way before breaking off to the right and up a boardwalk straight to the summit.
2. Graves of the Leinster Men Loop
This is definitely one of our favourite little looped walks and it’s suitable for all of the family! It is exercise, fresh air and history combined. The legend of the standing stones (the Graves of the Leinster Men) goes that the King of Leinster crossed into enemy territory when a band of men found them and slaughtered them, burying them under the stones. The stones may be underwhelming but the view from the summit of Tountinna (432m) is certainly not! So take a moment and bask in the views of the seven counties beneath your feet.
3. Millenium Cross Walk
Another gem of a walk just across the road from the Graves of the Leinstermen Loop is the Millenium Cross Walk. The single track meanders up a steep little hill, opening out onto the summit where sits the cross. Much more impressive are the views of the sailboats cruising below on the lake. Take a breather on the bench at the summit and bask in the views. If you are an avid trail-runner, then this is actually a superb little track to stretch your legs on.
4. The Lough Derg Way
Another option for the avid thru-hiker is The Lough Derg Way. The official starting point is the Tourist Office in Limerick City and the ‘finish line’ is in Dromineer, Co Tipperary. The views of the lake along the route will simply take your breath away. You will travel across many canals and riverside paths, as well as ample country roads. Span it out over two to three days and you will discover all of Lough Derg’s hidden gems.
5. O’Briensbridge Loop Walks
Distance: 5km – 16km
These three great looped walks all start and end in the quaint village of O'Briensbridge, Co Clare. The National Looped Walks are all way-marked and take place along riverside paths and canal banks. The Parteen Weir Loop (Green) is 5km long. The Old Barge Loop (Red) is 12km and the Errina Canal Loop (Blue) is 7km. Or for a longer route, opt for a combination of the three.
6. Arra Mountains Loop
For a full day hike, you can’t beat this loop. Follow the green arrow on a white background to take you up a tough 682m climb to the summit where you will find the Millenium Cross. It’s a double summit walk bringing you up to Tountinna where the views of the patchwork green fields of the valley below are simply spectacular. The starting point is 'The Lookout' on the R494 in Castletown. The entire loop will take roughly six hours.
7. Ballycuggaran Loop
Another great option for the relatively fit amongst you is the Ballycuggaran Loop.
The route starts from Killaloe and heads out once again to Two Mile Gate. The views of Lough Derg, the Annacarriga valley and the hills from Caherhurley to Ogonnelloe are incredible. The route is marked using the standard red Shannon Region Trails directional arrows and we recommend doing it in an anti-clockwise direction.
8. Keeper Hill, Silvermines
You can walk, run or cycle up this great hill. There are two options to choose from; a straight up and back or a loop. Follow the red arrows on wooden stakes along the path to the top or the yellow arrows for the loop. From the car park to the top is a distance of 7km and the views are well worth the trek.
9. Ballycroum Loop Walk
You’ll follow the purple National Looped Walk directional arrows along scenic old laneways and forest tracks on this looped walk, passing several delights such as the Holy Well and wedge tombs. Tober Grania is the most notable wedge tomb along the route and is complete with its capstone. Another historic site steeped in legends is the capless grave, the love-couch of Diarmuid and Gráinne. So, for history buffs, this is the walk for you.
10. The East Clare Way Loop Walk
If you are in search of a real adventure, the East Clare Way is an amazing long distance walking route encompassing the very best of Co Clare. The national waymarked way begins and ends in Killaloe, meaning you won’t have to get someone to pick you up at the end or organise public transport. Travel at your own pace and take a week or two to truly embrace this scintillating stroll. Or if time doesn’t allow, the route can easily be broken up into smaller sections of 20-30km.