Our guide to the best walks in Glendalough for families with kids.
The area of Glendalough is wonderful for walking and one of our favourite places in Wicklow to go hiking with the kids.
The valley is beautiful and while nothing can beat the views from some of the higher paths up the Wicklow mountains, there are many easy trail at lower altitudes that are beautiful can be enjoyed at pretty much any age.
We live in Dublin and have family in Wicklow and over the course of the years have come to this area countless times, with children as young as a few weeks!
These are our favourite family walks in Glendalough, in the Wicklow Mountains National Park.
Bet family walks in Glendalough
The classification easy/moderate below comes from the official trail classification given by the Wicklow Tourist Authority.
‘Easy’ denotes mostly flat and short trails while moderate usually involves a steeper trail with rougher terrain.
Due to the nature of the terrain, even for easy walks it is advisable to wear proper walking shoes or at least runners.
Do not go on more challenging hikes without proper hiking attire.
Need to know: due to current circumstances, a one way system is in place for some of the trails. Indications on the ground are very clear: pay attention to the large yellow and black signs and you cannot go wrong.
Green Route – flat path and boardwalk lakeside walks in Glendalough Valley
Difficulty: Easy, mostly flat and not sheer drops. Walking shoes or runners are ok on this path
Estimated time: about 50 mins
Type of trail: Track and boardwalk
Suitable for: families with children and pushchairs
The Green Road walk is an easy and wonderful walk along the Lower Glendalough lake, perfect if you are exploring Glendalugh with a buggy or are looking for a mostly flat, easy walk to stretch your legs.
The starting point of this walk is the upper lake car park: the first part of the walk is on a large path with slightly uneven yet easy terrain, while the second is on boardwalk, both sections easy for children and even pushchairs.
The first part of the walk is on an unpaved yet reasonably smooth path with the trees on one side and the lake on the other.
Kids can run ahead freely here as there are no cars and you will encounter many families with strollers.
About 20 minutes into this walk, the path opens up and you find yourself on the shores of the lake, where you get wonderful views of the water and the valley beyond.
This is a popular trail and the shores of the lake are perfect for a picnic: on any given day, you will find several families with kids here enjoying the views and terrorizing the ducks, who live peacefully in this part of the lake!
The second part of the walk happens along the other side of the lake and it is on boardwalks. These are great fun for kids and easy with buggies and even scooters!
Good to know: this path is a loop and, as such, doesn’t lead you to Glendalough monastic site however, it is easy to stretch your legs a little longer and visit the ruins. The are wonderful and incredibly atmospheric, especially if you get them on a rainy day, when the crowds are lower and the grey sky makes the perfect backdrop to Glendalough’s wonderful round tower!
Poulanass waterfall and St Kevin’s cell walking route (bronze route)
If you have older kids who are able to climb slightly steeper paths, then you may want to walk the Poulanass waterfall.
Difficulty: Moderate, due to the steep incline at the beginning but no hiking experience required.
Estimated time: 45mins
Type of trail forest road and track.
Suitable for: families with children but no buggies
The first part of the walk overlaps with the green path, but diverges from it at the lower lake, when you find the option of climbing uphill along the Poulanass waterfall.
The climb here is rather steep however, it poses no difficulty and it is fun for adults and kids as it allows you to see the waterfall, which is fast here and jumps down impressive rocks covered in moss.
After this first stretch, you find yourself in thicker woodland and quickly find yourself on a path sloping back down towards the lake, offering you wonderful views along the way!
This walk only takes 30 minutes and we usually do it in addition to the loop around the lake, to get that extra views and a little burn in your legs.
What is lovely about this walk is that you get to see the ruins of Reefert Church which are not as impressive as the monastic site yet atmospheric nonetheless.
The climb up the Poulanass waterfall is also part of the pink route, a short walk that bring you up the water stream and then back down to the lake across beautiful woodland.
This is a short trail worth it for the views especially.
Estimated time: 45mins
Type of trail: rough tracks.
Suitable for: families with older children, no buggies
Purple Route – Miners’ Walk
The Purple Route follows the side of the upper lake and it is a wonderful easy hike that leads you though woodlands and to the ruins of an old mining village.
Difficulty: Easy , the route is marked with purple arrows
Estimated time: 1hrs 10mins
Type of trail: forest road and track.
Suitable for: families with young children
This is a lovely walk on a mostly flat path, with pretty views of the lake and wonderful trees.
Walking to Glendalough Monastic site
If you are visiting Ireland from abroad, you may be wondering which of these hikes allow you to see the monastic village and how hard it is to get there.
However, you don’t need to take any of these walks to see the Glendalough Monastic City.
The site is near the shore of the Lower Lake and you can easily reach it from the visitors’ center car park, with a short stroll.
If you want to mix a visit here with a bit of a hike, a great way to do it is to park at the Upper Lake car park and follow the green route lakeside – you will find the Monastic City after the lake, on your left.
I hope you enjoyed this overview go our favourite family walks in Wicklow and it inspired you to get out with the kids, when possible and safe to do so.