1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (20 votes, average: 3.75 out of 5)

Duration: 3-4 hours
A more challenging walk with great views over the surrounding hills and beautiful heart-shaped Lough Ouler. Although there are paths along the full route, these are often remarkably hard to find and so in practice much of the route can end up being off-path, which can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on your inclination.

Lough Ouler
Glenmacnass river


  • Start at the car park at the top of the Glenmacnass waterfall. Although the route can be walked clockwise or anti-clockwise, I would recommend the clockwise direction as it makes the descent easier (remember I said that the paths can be hard to find !). At the car park cross the river to the woods on the opposite side – there are stepping stones that can be used to make the crossing. Walk along the river bank to the right to reach the edge of the woods and then strike out uphill staying close to the edge of the woods. There is a path here, but it can be very overgrown in summer. Its a steep climb for about 100m and then levels off at the top of the woods and Tonelagee can be seen ahead.
  • There is an old, overgrown road running along the top of the woods. Follow this to the right and find the path off to the left that heads up to Tonelagee. The walk up to the summit is now straightforward, with great views over Lough Ouler on the right-hand side.
  • From the summit, follow the path northwards towards Stoney Top keeping Lough Ouler on your right. After a short distance you’ll see a standing stone with cross carved on it.
    Standing stone
    Cross carving
  • At the standing stone bear right and start descending. Lough Ouler will still be on the right. Note that it is also possible to continue on to Stoney Top and descend from there, but it can be very boggy so I wouldn’t recommend it.
  • Once you reach Lough Ouler, follow the edge of the lough round to the right and pick up the clear path running beside the Lough Brook that flows out from Lough Ouler. Follow this path down to the Genmacnass river.
  • Now cross the Glenmacnass river. There are stepping stones here, and at the other side of the river is a small wood. Return back to the car park along the river. There is a fairly clear path running alongside the river for the whole distance.

32 Responses to “Tonelagee”

  1. Nell Says:

    Lovely walk with stunning scenery and a hidden lake,woudl recommend. We used it as a hike for getting back into walking after a 1.5 year break and it was a perfect combination of ascent,descent,varied country but reasonably short length. Good route description,very easy to navigate.

  2. Zsuzsi Says:

    Great website! Thank you for it!
    Just moved to Ireland, and we’re planning to do all your walks. I have only a question about the coordinates, they don’t seem to match for my Navi. I always end up in the Netherlands :)

  3. Zsuzsi Says:

    Just answering myself, and maybe others who encounter the same problem: There are 2 ways to enter the coordinates into Navi, and i was using the other kind..

  4. Erika Says:

    Hi, we have two dogs that we often take for a walks, maybe somebody knows on which walks dogs are allowed?

  5. admin Says:

    As far as I know, the hellfire club, devils glen, the scalp and powercourt waterfall are all fine for dog walking. Cruagh wood is also popular with dog walkers – see I understand that dogs are not allowed on the estate at Lough Tay/Lough Dan.

  6. Erika Says:

    Thank you

  7. Enda Says:

    We did this walk last weekend and the route as described here, whilst broadly correct, bears little resemblance to the “path” one navigates to get to the top of Tonelagee.

    For example, there is no need to make a steep ascent and keep the forest on your LHS after you cross Glenmacnass.

    Contrary to the description given above, you will not find any “old road” or “path” to ascend Tonegalee if you are approaching it in a clockwise direction, i.e keeping Lough Ouler of your RHS.

    The entire approach is a consistently swamped mire interspered with woody gorse that is tiresome to traverse and is a veritable obstacle course of hidden holes within which many an ankle must have been twisted or broken.

    The descent back down to Glenmacnass is equally tedious.

    Avoid, or save for a good dry spell in the summer.

  8. admin Says:

    Update 27th March. I walked this route yesterday (26th March) and I can re-confirm it hasn’t changed from the notes here. The path does exist and the route notes are accurate. The initial section and the last few hundred metres returning along the river were indeed pretty wet underfoot, but I found the rest of the route to quite dry (apart a few boggy puddles on the path here and there that can easily be avoided) – looks like the dry weather over the last few days/weeks has done the trick. A lovely walk in the sunny weather – still one of my favourites !

  9. Gavin Says:

    Great walk. I set out on this walk on March 25th on the best day of the year so far. I left the carpark with my girlfriend and after a picknick on the banks of a heart shaped lake I asked her to marry me.

  10. gj Says:

    I’d recommend anti clockwise! Was tough on the way up and met quite a few ppl doing the oposite direction who weren’t out of breath like us:)

  11. Sumo Says:

    Set out around 4pm on 1st October. Hadn’t done Tonlagee before. Very wet and boggy underfoot. Thankfully had good hiking boots and waterproofs. Paths impossible to find. Reached top at 5.30. Didn’t fancy going around the lake so returned via way I came. Descent was treacherous. Fell several times into gaps between grass tufts, deep enough. Got back to carpark at 7.20pm as getting dark. Absolutely wrecked and exhilarated – that’s middle age for ya! Words of warning – it’s tougher than it looks, kit yourself out properly and give yourself loads of time.

    Thanks for the website. Great to have directions for these walks. Happy and safe walking to you all!

  12. Lilruthiem Says:

    Myself and two friends completed this loop yesterday. The hike and views were amazing. We were exhilarated at completing it. The paths were difficult to find and it was very wet and boggy underfoot. The top of Tonlagee was still frozen with patches of snow on top! We walked back along the road as we were tired from navigating the boggy paths. We had a beautiful day for the hike and it was more than worth getting stuck in the mud!!
    Highly recommended walk.

  13. Dave Says:

    Myself and two friends completed this loop on Sunday March 3rd. We followed the route as noted above. Yes the ‘path’ was hard to find most of the time so we set our sights on the summit and went for it. A tough but thoroughly enjoyable hike with some fantastic views. Highly recommended and we’ll do this route again.

  14. leonard Says:

    Tried it today but river was impossible to cross. Could not make it without taking big risks.

  15. Deirdre Says:

    I did this walk today and it was a relatively hot summer’s day for Ireland (21C). Just be warned that on a nice day, the entire descent, all around the lake and for most of stoney top you will be surrounded by midges

  16. Aleo Says:

    Followed these directions today and happy to report they are fully accurate. Hardest part is finding path down to lake on return but even if you lose your way (as we did) you can definitely pick it up a bit further on if you don’t veer too far from the lakeside on your right. We weren’t bothered too much by midges – there are a few boggy bits on the last section to watch out for though (we did this walk on a particularly dry summer’s day so I can imagine they’re a lot worse during the rest of the year). All in all it’s a brilliant walk – plenty to keep things interesting!

  17. Mike Says:

    Tried to do this hike last weekend. I say tried because walking trails are nearly nonexistent. Had a great time wandering around the mountains anyway. I eventually did find Lough Ouler and it’s beautiful. I was too tired at that point to go up Tonalagee, so I returned to the car park.
    My car and two others were broken into that day in the car park above Glenmacness waterfall. I didn’t have anything worth stealing in my car, so not leaving valuables in your car may not be a deterrent. Lucky for me it was a rental and insurance covered the damage.
    I would like to go back and try this hike again now that I know where to go. It’s a great place, besides the attempted thievery.

  18. Derek Says:

    Fantastic walk, very nice. I did only half the walk, breaking off and continuing up to Mullaghcleevaun, then cutting down across the forest to the top of the river, then following the river back to the car park, then a loop up and around the Scarr ridge.

    I would advise against doing the walk up to Mullaghcleevaun unless very determined and having had several/many days of dry weather (or a good frost) – the walk from Tonalagee up to the peak is very hard going soft peat; you spend most of the timing climbing up and over banks and across the bog, which isn’t that much fun.

    Cutting across the forest is also fairly hard going; the map shows the forest ending before the bottom of the ridge (and the NW end of the forest), however this just isn’t the case. It is possible to get through, however the forest does get increasingly dense towards the river and so a lot of pushing through trees & a degree of luck is required (to find the more open routes). The walk down the river, despite the large amount of bog either side, is however excellent, and arguably worth the effort. I highly recommend a paddle to recover the feet!

    I personally thought the views from Scarr (SE from the waterfall carpark) were MUCH better than from Tonalagee; much more variation in views. If you walk down the road, past the forest, then turn left, the path does not appear to be present; the path was on my map, but I found no evidence of it. If you are careful not to damage any fences or land, it’s simple enough to hop over the fence to the west of the stream where the path is, then follow the stream up to the top, noting the path is 1-in-2 grade for over a mile, so a real slog.

  19. Joachim Says:

    Fantastic walk! The sights along the entire route were great! Many sheep, a few deers and lots of colorful flowers on the way down. I thoroughly loved this hike!

    I can also confirm the route descriptions were all very correct and helpful. It rained for a week prior to this very sunny and beautiful day but even then it wasn’t too wet. A few wet patches on the way up as well as the last part along the river before being back at the carpark, but I had good shoes so my socks managed to remain dry =)

    Quick question to the admin: When on top of Tonelagee, and looking towards the carpark (south-eastwardly), there is a big summit and what seems to be a trail going from the same carpark up towards that summit. Is that a hike you’ve done? I haven’t seen it listed here.

  20. Ciaran Says:

    Just finished Tonelagee today. Really nice walk. Directions are good and accurate. Followed the path (practically swamp). Hard to differentiate path from bog sometimes but a reasonable sense of direction will get you there. Otherwise map and compass!
    Quite windy and cloud cover from the steep ascent up to the summit. Got some nice photos along the way however and a misty summit photo.
    I took the steep descent back as light was fading. Pretty tough in wet weather, a lot of slipping…
    The river was impassable but for one point about 1km up from the falls where two big jumps across were required.
    All in all great day. Felt better in clean clothes after…

  21. Fergus Says:

    Did this trail today, clockwise. Absolutely stunning. very romantic for anyone who’s interested in getting down on one knee :) the lake is almost a perfect ♥ shape. The whole loop took me 2h15mins. That’s with a stop for food and tea. Very enjoyable and not that wet today. The directions were flawless.
    Thank you.

  22. Zsolt Says:

    Did this trail yesterday with our 3 children (6-8-11), anti-clockwise. The river was easy to pass, kids enjoyed jumping on the rocks. The directions were great though we did loose the path quite a couple of times. Wet and boggy underfoot so be prepared with proper tracking boots. Beautiful sunshine but windy on the edges…Loved this trail with the heart-shaped Lough Ouler and the stunning views over the Wicklow.

  23. Christopher Graham Says:

    I would love to link up with \ group for walking in wicklow

  24. Tonelagee, the “heart” of Wicklow / Tonelagee, au “coeur” de Wicklow – Four Acorns / Quatre graines de chêne Says:

    […] the top of Tonelagee is no mean feat, especially for little legs. With a height of 817m/2,680ft, it is the third […]

  25. Hike Your Way to Inspiration - Tech/Life Ireland Says:

    […] if you’d like to take in scenery away from the crowds, head for Tonelagee and enjoy the views as you scale Ireland’s 33rd highest mountain. A steep climb to the summit, […]

  26. Lough Ouler - Ireland's Heart-Shaped Lake (Photos & Guide) Says:

    […] you fancy giving this hike a bash and seeing the lake for yourself, here’s how the lads at Wicklow Walks describe the difficulty of the […]

  27. Jason Says:

    Great site, the directions were really helpful on our hike up Tonelagee and around Lough Ouler. Thanks

  28. Eoin McCarthy Says:

    Many thanks for the route above, did this hike yesterday and it had everything we were looking for, challenging in parts (mainly terrain – as we went off track for most of it), spectacular views, good steep climb and descent, a gorgeous lake, and the walk along the Glenmacnass river back to the carpark was a perfect ending, would highly recommend it.

  29. Lough Ouler – Ireland’s Heart-Shaped Lake – All Around Ireland Says:

    […] set out with directions from the ever helpful As stated the track was not very clear and there seem to be quite a few different trails around […]

  30. Brian MacCormaic Says:

    I wanted to do the circuit from St Kevin’s church in Laragh, over Scarr and down to Glenmacnass waterfall, crossing the river at the carpark and then back through the forest track to St Kevin’s church.
    The first part is easy enough, but I’ve tried unsuccessfully to find a track from Glenmacnass waterfall to the forest track leading back to St Kevin’s church in Laragh.
    Any ideas please

  31. Family hike to Tonelagee and Lough Ouler - Four Acorns / Quatre graines de chêne Says:

    […] the top of Tonelagee is no mean feat, especially for little legs. With a height of 817m/2,680ft, it is the third […]

  32. Immigrate To Ireland Says:

    This is a great guide

Leave a Reply

Wicklow Walks - Detailed walking routes and map directions for Wicklow and Dublin, ranging from short (< 1 hour) to more challenging (3 hours or more) walks. Disclaimer. This work is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Webmaster [email protected]. Privacy Policy.