Biking in Killarney National Park: Muckross-Dinis Loop
Biking in Ireland is a great way to witness the sweeping landscapes that the Emerald Isle has to offer. You can bike the entire Ring of Kerry and stop off at many interesting points, such as Achill Island. But if you’re not a pro cyclist, like me, biking in Killarney National Park is a great way to bike a portion of the Wild Atlantic Way. In the park it is an excellent way to see the mountains that sweep into lakes and surround yourself in the woods while listening to the rush of the waterfalls!
There are a number of routes to explore in the park, both on foot and by bicycle. The Muckross Dinis Loop is a great option because it is mostly flat – there are a few rolling hills, but nothing crazy – it is paved and it allows you to see all that Killarney National Park has to offer!
The Muckross-Dinis Loop
Starting in Killarney, head out of town on N71. There is a bike path on both sides of the road. However, I advise staying on the right side of the road as it eventually turns into a wide path that is shared with walkers and jaunty cabs. Cycle down this path until you see the entrance to Killarney National Park, you can’t miss it.
Once in the park, there are two options for how to cycling loop. I’ll share with you the route I took and why I think an alternate route is a better option.
First, I followed the signs toward Muckross Abbey, an old Franciscan monastery that is free to explore. Inside I found a cemetery and various rooms that were used for worship and living. The most spectacular find was the square courtyard with archways and an ancient Yew Tree standing tall in the center.
After exploring the Abbey, I headed toward Muckross House. Personally, I think this house should really be called a mansion, it’s huge! I opted not to pay $9 to go inside instead, I spent about an hour and a half exploring the grounds and gardens of the house. Once finished, I sat on a bench in front of the mansion, with a view of the expansive lawn and Muckross lake, snacked on a banana and sipped some water to get energy for the next 5km of the bike ride.
With a bit more fuel in my tank, I cycled on the one-way route toward Dinis Cottage. Along the way I plenty of photo ops! There are lots of small beaches with beautiful views of the lake, mountains, and fall colors on the trees. It’s only 5km to Dinis Cottage but it took me about an hour to get there stopping frequently to snap some photos!
Dinis Cottage & the Meeting of the Waters
Dinis Cottage sits just beyond Brickeen bridge overlooking the opposite side of Muckross lake. The cottage is actually a small shop that serves tea and cakes. Besides stopping here for a breather and a treat, there’s another reason to park your bike. Just behind the cottage is a short path that leads to the Meeting of the Waters. This is where the Upper, Muckross (Middle) and Lower lakes of Killarney National Park meet. It’s a beautifully tranquil spot to gaze upon Old Weir Bridge.
A bit up the road is a path that you can walk to Old Weir bridge. It’s another excellent view of the lakes and only takes about 5 minutes.
Up next, I biked toward Torc Waterfall. The cycle path ends and connects back to N71. There isn’t a bike lane on this section of N71 and not much of a shoulder, but the cars pass slowly. I wasn’t on N71 long as about 10 minutes later a path appeared to the left to take me back into the woods.
Not even 5 minutes later, I reached the parking lot for Torc Waterfall. I locked up my bike and walked 5 minutes to the waterfall! Behind Torc Waterfall, there are steps that I thought might bring me to a view of the top of the falls. I was wrong. And later I discovered they’re called the cardiac steps – give them a climb and you’ll find out why!
Torc Waterfall was my last stop before heading back to Killarney! This is when I realized I should’ve done the route differently. Why? Because I biked right in front of the bench where I ate my banana a few hours earlier!
The “Alternate” Loop
Knowing that there is only one direction to cycle around Muckross Lake, I should’ve skipped Muckross House initially. I would’ve gone straight to Dinis Cottage from Muckross Abbey. Then after Torc Waterfall, I would’ve paid my visit to Muckross House on my return to Killarney.
Short on time?
If you’re only in this section of Killarney National Park for one day, add Ross Castle to this route. You could either see it at the start or finish of your bike ride. However, if the sky is clear, I recommend saving it for sunset!
Either route you decide to cycle, it’s an excellent bike ride for a total of 11 miles from Killarney, around Muckross Lake, and back! It took me approximately 6 hours total to complete, including my wander at Muckross House, a tea and treat at Dinis Cottage, and attempting the cardiac steps. This bike ride is easily one of the best things I did in Killarney!
What to Wear
It’s generally cold and rainy in Ireland. I did this bike ride in October and while it didn’t rain, it was overcast the entire day and there was a brisk chill in the air. I wore leggings, tennis shoes, a tank top, a sweater, and a puffy red coat. I was plenty warm while cycling and at times took the coat off. Layers is the name of the game in Ireland!
Where to Stay in Killarney
I stayed at Black Sheep Hostel. Its location is awesome as it’s about a 5-minute walk to the entrance of Killarney National Park and a 5-minute walk to the main streets of Killarney. There is a huge kitchen with ample space for cooking and good WiFi. The beds were also very comfortable and had their own charging points! Also, there are two dogs to hang out with! Book your stay at Black Sheep Hostel here!
Where to Rent a Bike
Black Sheep Hostel rents bikes, as do many shops in Killarney. The cost at Black Sheep was $10 for half a day and $15 for a full day.
Where to Enjoy the Craic
A local recommended Reidy’s which was a lively spot jammed packed during a Rugby match. But really, any pub that’s playing Irish music is a good bet.
Where to Eat
I cooked at the hostel, there is a Tesco down the block for all of your grocery needs. But, Black Sheep also has a cafe in town called Black Sheep Cafe! I had a bowl of soup and a kettle of tea which tasted delicious while I read away a few rainy hours. I forgot this, of course, but mention you stay at the hostel for a discount.
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