Wicklow Mountains National Park consists of a network of trails varying in length and difficulty. One can string together several of these trails to form a loop of desired distance.
We decided to park at the main visitor center and walk along the Green trail to the information center at Glendalough Upper Lake. From there we looped around the lake on the White trail.
From the main visitor center off R756 we made our way along the Glendasan River towards the Lower Lake.
We took a quick detour from the trail to check out the ruins of a 6th century settlement, church, and monastic site.
The green trail is an easy flat paved path meandering through the Glendalough oak woodlands. As an optional detour a short boardwalk loops around the wetlands surrounding the Lower Lake.
This portion of the Wicklow Mountain National Park was beautiful and peaceful, but hardly what I would call hiking. With this being our first outdoor adventure in Ireland I was starting to get the feeling that perhaps our idea of hiking vastly deferred from that of the locals.
We continued along the Green trail all the way to the Eastern shore of Glendalough Upper Lake.
From here we decided to take the White trail counter clockwise around the lake along Miners Road.
The views of the Glendalough Upper Lake were beautiful and the further we got from the Visitor Center, the fewer people we ran into. At least that part of hiking was very familiar to what I’ve experienced back home.
The trail along the North shore of the lake was flat, wide, and easy to navigate.
After a short walk through the Scots pine woodland we reached the Western edge of Glendalough Upper Lake.
We enjoyed the views of the small delta before continuing towards the abandoned miners village.
At the end of the Miners Road walk (5km) lies the ruins of an old mining village. We took some time to explore the remains of several old buildings and an assortment of rusty machinery.
Past the ruins the White Trail becomes a little more interesting as it switchbacks its way towards a waterfall breaking over the rocky hillside.
Finally after 6 km of walking the trail becomes a little bit more adventurous. The path narrows, becomes steeper, and the perfectly leveled gravel is a thing of the past.
With each switchback you gain a better view of Glendalough Upper Lake.
The trail continues towards the waterfall and eventually follows a path made from the large boulders along the creek above it.
After the relatively short ascent we made our way to a small footbridge crossing over the creek above Upper Lake.
We decided to have a short break and enjoy the view before traversing the Southern shore of Upper lake along the Spinc.
On the other side of the creek the White trail turns back towards the lake and slowly continues to ascend the boggy hill side.
After you reach the Spinc (pointed hill) the trail joins an extensive wooden boardwalk overlooking Upper Lake.
Along the boardwalk we saw a variety of wildlife including deer and goats.
The boardwalk has several viewing platforms overlooking Upper Lake and Glendalough Valley.
From here we can retrace our walk along the Southern portion of the White trail and get a birds eye view of the abandoned Miners Village.
At the far end of boardwalk we quickly descended over 600 wooden steps back to the Green trail.
We had plans to check out Poulanass Waterfall, but somehow took the wrong fork of the Pink trail. Once we reached the Green trail at the base of the mountain we had little desire to back track to the waterfall and decided to just head back to the Visitor Center where we had parked our car.