All you need to know about the Ticknock Walk, a lovely walk on the Dublin mountain perfect for the whole family.
The Ticknock forest walk is one of our favourite family hikes in Dublin.
Easy to access from the back of Marley Park, the walk follows a loop trail and brings you thought the forest and then up onto a open trail across beautiful heather, with sweeping views over Dublin City and the Wicklow Mountains.
The walk is easy and doesn’t require special hiking ability however, it it about 1.5h long and it is not entirely buggy friendly, so you want to only tackle it with slightly older kids, who won’t mind that length of trail.
In terms of terrain, the path is paved at first but then becomes a mountain trail so hiking shoes will help stay comfortable and safe.
We have walked this trail several times, the last on a chilly winter day when the kids were 8 and 10.
This is what to expect on the Fairy Castle Loop in Ticknock, Dublin.
New to hiking as a family? Find out tips for hiking with toddlers here.
Practical info about the Ticknock Walk
- Name of Trail: Fairy Castle Loop
- Signal: Green arrow / green footsteps
- Duration: about 1,5 – 2 hours (at kids’ pace)
- Difficulty: the trail is officially marked as ‘moderate’, which means you are walking on mountain terrain, often uneven, and the duration is above 1h.
- The path does not require hiking experience and does not expose you to sheer drops, which is why we love it as a family hike.
- Parking: parking is available at the path entrance.
- Food and families: no foods or drink sold on site, bring your own (and take away your rubbish, no bins are provided). Mountain bike rental available – the mountain bike trail partially overlaps with the pedestrian trail
The Ticknock Walk with kids: what to expect
The Ticknock walk is the perfect family activity for a day when you want to get some fresh air and see some views with our doing anything strenuous.
The walk starts on a tarmac road and climbs gently uphill, under the shade of tall trees.
This area is undergoing a reforestation effort so some trees have now been cut however, it is still a very pleasant forest walk and you can quickly feel the gentle noise of the wind among the leaves and the streams running uphill.
After a short climb, you get to a first viewpoint: the first thing you will see here will be the huge radio towers but don’t let them put you off!
Looking towards the bay, you will catch a nice view of Dublin and you eye will go all the way to Howth and beyond.
This is the only part of the walk that is accessible to buggies (all buggies, you don’t need an all terrain stroller) and while short, it is a good place to come if you want to stretch you legs and get fresh air in a beautiful spot!
Here, the paved road finishes and if you follow the Fairy castle Loop path to the right, you get onto the most beautiful park of the hike.
Here you are climbing on mountain terrain and for the first part of the hike you will have the forest on your right.
Soon however, the trees end and you find yourself in a truly stunning spot: running hills covered in heather reveal themselves in front of you and you have 360 degrees expansive views onto Dublin and the Wicklow Mountains, an absolutely unforgettable sight!
The last time we were here is was winter and powdery snow covered the hill and added a soft landing to our steps.
I could not believe how beautiful the landscape would get, this close to the city and in this season: I felt like I was miles away in Iceland, rather than just above Dublin City!
The trail keeps meandering among the heather and quickly leads you to the top of the hike, Three Rocks, marked by rocks and a signpost.
Good to know: The name Fairy Castle Loop comes from a prehistoric cairn marking the highest point on the hike, the ‘Fairy Castle’. This spot is wonderful but if you are imagining a full on castle with turrets etc, it is not it: what is special here is the view, easily one of the most beautiful and expansive in this part of Ireland.
After you leave the summit, the path partially overlaps with the Wicklow Way and leads you downhill part on the path and part on boardwalks.
This is, I believe, the most beautiful part of the hike. The views from here are wonderful and the place is so remote, it is easy to let your worries go and fly away with the wind.
This is also an area where you can see birds of pray and wildlife so if your children have them, I recommend they bring kids binoculars and a notebook to take a note of what they see.
The last part of the hike is slightly less interesting as the view of the last stretch tend to be covered by the trees but the path is downhill and, in part, meets a nice stream of water, which makes for a nice change of scenery and it is not too hard on your legs.
The loop arrives back close to the starting point so from here, it will be easy to then regain your car.
What to bring on the Fairy Castle Loop Trail
This is an easy walk and we recommend you come ready with:
- Walking shoes with good traction of proper hiking shoes
- Drinking water
- A wind-breaker and layers for summer, proper winter hiking attire in cold weather
- Kids binoculars
- A day pack with essentials – you can find our favourite backpacks for kids here
- A gopro or similar action camera for the kids
It took us and the kids a couple of hours to do this walk and we found it beautiful, energising and not demanding. This is why we think this is a wonderful family hike and highly recommend it if to locals and visitors alike.
If you are looking for family friendly things to do in the Dublin area, you may like our recommendation for the best things to do in Dublin with kids, best rainy day activities for kids in Dublin, family friendly walks in Dublin and family hikes in Wicklow.