Muckish Mountain via Gap Route – Ireland

 

TRAIL DETAILS

  • Location: Ireland, County Donegal
  • Distance: No clue.
  • Altitude: 666 m / 2,185 ft.
  • Time: 1.5-2 hours. Will vary widely.
  • Difficulty: Moderate. Boggy. Steep ascent.

 

After being egged on by the peculiar flat-topped mountain for several days we finally decided it was time to climb Muckish Mountain.

Muckish Mountain is the northern most mountain in a chain called the “Seven Sisters”. The flat top boasts spectacular views, a towering stone cairn which can be seen from miles away, and a nearby summit trig and cross.

The mountain top plateau can be reached via two routes. The miners route from the North offers a more direct, but potentially more challenging path to the summit while the Southern gap route offers a relatively easier meander through the mountain side bogs.

It had been raining and we had concerns the silica-rich rocks along the steep miners route would be especially slippery and treacherous. After some deliberation we decided to commence our adventure from the Muckish Gap.

 

Muckish Mountain Trail, County Donegal, Ireland

 

We parked at the Grotto along R256. From here we walked up the road a few hundred meters to another small pullout where the hike begins.

 

Muckish Mountain Trail, County Donegal, Ireland

 

As we headed away from the road we got a view of the Western edge of Muckish Mountain.

 

Muckish Mountain Trail, County Donegal, Ireland

 

Looking back at R256 and the small roadside pullout as we slowly gained elevation.

It wasn’t long before the mountain’s name became quite self explanatory. The terrain leading up to the summit is soft, boggy, wet, and mucky. Our shoes soaked through after several booters, but we continued trudging on.

 

Muckish Mountain Trail, County Donegal, Ireland

 

Like many of Ireland’s mountain hikes, Muckish Mountain did not offer much of a defined path. From my research I knew we had to aim for the small saddle along the Southern ridge of the mountain.

 

Muckish Mountain Trail, County Donegal, Ireland

 

Beyond the saddle continue following the loose bog trails North.

From here we got a view of the Eastern side of Muckish Mountain. We could see the large rock cairn at the center of the mountain as well as the large summit cross near the North-Eastern edge of the plateau.

 

Muckish Mountain Trail, County Donegal, Ireland

 

Shortly after the saddle we lost any semblance of a trail and began climbing the extremely steep mountain side. Clinging on to nearby rocks and moss became necessary.

Half way up the mountain a rain cloud decided to blow in and give us the full Irish experience.

 

Muckish Mountain Trail, County Donegal, Ireland

 

Wet, muddy, and with sheep turds under our fingernails we made it to the main trail which runs along the Eastern edge of the rocky plateau.

 

Muckish Mountain Trail, County Donegal, Ireland

 

We walked the trail and explored the massive pile of rocks making up the stone cairn at the center of the mountain.

After spending an hour walking the boggy mountain side the boulder riddled plateau became a welcome change in terrain.

 

Muckish Mountain Trail, County Donegal, Ireland

 

The summit trig and cross can easily be spotted from here.

 

Muckish Mountain Trail, County Donegal, Ireland

 

From the stone cairn I walked across the stone field to the North edge of the plateau and peeked over the edge to get a glimpse of the Miners Route.

 

Muckish Mountain Trail, County Donegal, Ireland

 

There were several hikers having a break near some old rusty mining equipment. In hind sight the miners route may have been an easier and perhaps more interesting way to get to the summit.

 

Muckish Mountain Trail, County Donegal, Ireland

 

I began thinking about climbing down the miners route, but it wasn’t long before another large rain cloud interrupted me.

We quickly ran to the summit cross to grab a few photos before another downpour began.

 

Muckish Mountain Trail, County Donegal, Ireland

 

Muckish Mountain Trail, County Donegal, Ireland

 

From the cross we headed back to the stone cairn and then roughly retraced our route down the mountain side.

 

Muckish Mountain Trail, County Donegal, Ireland

 

Looking back as a large cloud engulfed the summit.

 

Muckish Mountain Trail, County Donegal, Ireland

 

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