All you need to know about walking up to the HellFire Club walk, one of the most popular family friendly hikes in Dublin.
The walk up to the Hellfire Club is one of the easiest and nicest family walks in Dublin.
The hike is short, the path easy also for small kids (no buggies) and the views you get from the top are beautiful.
So beautiful, in fact, that you will hardly believe you are just above the city: the top of this hill feels very remote!
The walk forms a loop and reaches and abandoned hunting lodge overlooking the city. You can go up and back in an hour or even less.
This is what to expect on the path.
New to family hiking? You can find our tips for hiking with children here.
Where to park for the Hellfire Club Walk
The parking for the Hellfire Club walk is on R115: if you are coming from the city centre, you pass Timbertrove (shop) and the entrance to Massy’s Estate on your left and then find the parking on your right.
The parking is unattended but has opening and closing times, so make sure you check when you need to leave as it changes by season. The closing times are well displayed at the entrance.
At the time of writing, the Hellfire Club walk parking opening hours are:
Opening Time: 7am (April to September) and 8am (October to March)
Closing Time: 9pm (April to September) and 5pm (October to March)
Montpelier Hill Trails
The Hellfire Club Lodge is on top of the Montpelier Hill and there are two main trails to reach it.
The forest loop, which is 5.5kms and takes about 1 ½ h to walk – this is an easy walk on an easy and rather wide mountain path
The Montpelier Loop trail 4 kms, 1 hr, which is shorter yet steeper and requites a little more stamina, especially uphill!
Both paths bring you to the lodge so you can take the easy one up and the steepest one down for instance, should you want some variety.
The trail up to the Hellfire Club
The trail starts right off the parking space and starts as a large, well kept forest road.
The main forest roads climbs gently and the trees are beautiful but rather sparce: unlike many other walks in the area, this hike has beautiful views almost straight away, the trees being a frame to the scenery as much as part of the scenery itself!
After a few minutes, you find yourself at a crossroads with a rather steep path on your right: this is the shorter, steeper path to the ruins and you are likely to see many people walking down.
It is a lovely path and one that is rather hard on the legs so, if you like a little challenge, it can be a good one however, you don’t need to tackle it if you prefer a more gentle stroll!
For that, all you need to do is to stay on the main road, which keeps sloping gently up.
As you get close to the top, you walk a stretch of the path among beautiful firs and then the real surprise awaits.
After a short ascend, you find yourself on top of Montpellier Hill and you see an atmospheric abandoned hunting lodge, dominating the views of the city and beyond!
The lodge is what gives the name to this hike and it is cool to see.
The dark stone of the building and stories connected to it (see below) make it fun for the kids to see and the remoteness of the area adds to the charm of the walk.
Since we got here on a day with a dusting of snow, the large esplanade at the top of the Montpellier Hill became the perfect snow balls battle grounds however, this is a lovely place for a rest in all seasons.
On a dry day, if you have a picnic blanket and snacks, you can lounge here for hours and never get tired of the view.
From here, you can descend from a couple trails and my recommendation is to pick the most suitable to your shoes!
This time, we got the shorter and steeper one (it reconnects with the main road at the crossroads indicated above) and while it doesn’t pose any special difficulties, it is steep and rocky so you really need shoes with good traction or you risk injury.
Our kids thought this trail was great fun: the trail is hard enough to feel adventurous but easy enough to pose no real danger. Just be careful about the barbed wire at the start – it is easy to spot on the left of the trail but it is good to know it is there, especially if you have overenthusiastic kids who may just charge donwhill.
What to carry on the walk
You do not need special equipment to this walk but I recommend you wear hiking shoes to protect your feet and ankles from the stones on the path and give you support especially on the steeper trails.
The stories about the Hellfire club
As well as the beautiful views of the city, this hike is popular with Dubliners because of the many legends associated with the place, stories that explain the rather peculiar name of this walk!
Like all legends, what you hear changes depending on who you ask however, a couple of legends seem to be the most popular.
The first has to do with the construction of the lodge. We know that the hunting lodge on top of Montpelier Hill was built by H.R. Connolly in 1725 and was at the centre of huge controversy.
Apparently, the construction of this lodge meant the destruction of an old cairn that the locals though inhabited by spirits and this reckless act of disrespect doomed the place forever.
The idea that the place was haunted took hold when a storm ripped away the roof of the lodge and maybe because of this association with a scary and dark world, the lodge was finally chosen as a meeting point for a group of wealthy wild young man called ‘the hellfire club’.
This club existed between 1735 to 1741 and was a group of wealthy young men notorious in the area for their wild behaviour, debauchery, according to locals, a fondness for dark arts, which gave the club its rather disturbing name.
Whatever you want to make of the stories of the place, there is no doubt that the lodge and its position is atmospheric and lends itself to all types of tales.
If you want to spook your kids, you can give them a torch and get them to go in and explore: the lodge is accessible however, the views are what is special here so even without the scarf stories, the places is worth seeing!
I hope you enjoyed this quick overview of this Dublin walk and gave you an idea about a place to enjoy with the kids.