We love hiking with the kids to the top of mountains. It’s such a great feeling of accomplishment for them to stand at the very top looking down on where they came from.
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We first noticed Torc Mountain as we were hiking towards Torc Waterfall. It’s a decent sized mountain on the shores of Muckross Lake and we knew there was a hike to the top. After doing some research on the hiking trail, we knew our kids (aged 4 & 6) could do it.
The hike to the top of Torc Mountain is a story of two distinct hikes:
1) The first 1.1 miles / 1.8km is along the Old Kenmare Road. This wide, gravel trail is pretty easy walking with only a gentle incline.
2) Leaving Old Kenmare Road, you begin the 1.4 mile / 2.2km ascent to the summit.
The Old Kenmare Road is a beautiful walk through a forest of old, gnarled oak trees covered in moss, with a lush undergrowth of emerald ferns and moss-covered boulders. Much of this trail follows the Owengariff River and you’ll enjoy a few small trailside waterfalls along the way.
The second half of this initial stretch is through an open meadow where you’ll enjoy distant views of the surrounding mountains. It was raining pretty good during this part of our walk and we had to cross a few streams via little rock bridges.
At the 1.1 mile / 1.8km mark, you leave the Old Kenmare Road and begin your ascent up Torc Mountain. Here the trail winds its way up an open grassy meadow providing outstanding views the whole way up. As you get higher, you can start to see some lakes in the distance, which simply adds to the amazing scenery.
The trail to the Torc Mountain summit is evenly split between steps made from rocks and wooden boardwalks built over marshy grassland. The wooden boardwalks have chicken-wire stapled to them to provide additional traction, which we really appreciated on this soggy day.
The rocks steps are like climbing stairs and can get steep in spots, but the wooden boardwalks are built with reasonably gentle inclines. The rock steps can get slippery on a rain day, so take them slow. We’d estimate half the trail to the top consists of boardwalks, giving you chances to catch your breath after some of the steeper parts.
By the time we reached the top, we had entered the clouds. Luckily they were thin enough that we could still make out the incredible views of the Lakes of Killarney and the Killarney National Park below. The strong winds made it a bit unpleasant at the top, so we snapped a few summit pics and headed right back down.
Torc Mountain Summit Hike Stats
All told, we measured the Torc Mountain walk distance as 5 miles / 8km in total with 1,365 feet / 416m in elevation gain. We completed the hike in 3.5 hours, which is slightly faster than typical for us with kids (likely due to us taking less pictures because of the rain).
This hike seemed a lot easier than its stats seem to indicate – likely due to the nice incline breaks you get from the boardwalks. The kids were amazing and climbed to the top like it was nothing – they never complained and just kept on going up until we reached the top.
Torc Mountain Hike Location
You can begin the Torc Mountain walk from one of two locations. You can access it via the Torc Waterfall parking lot, or you can do as we did and skip approximately ~100 steps and park at the Upper Torc Mountain parking lot. From here, the Torc Mountain walk starts south along Old Kenmare Road which parallels the Owengariff River.
Torc Mountain Summit Map
You can download the Torc Mountain trail map on your phone by using the GAIA GPS app. Once in the app, search the hikes for “Torc Mountain via Torc summit path and Old Kenmare Road”. Select the trail and download the map on your phone before you head out for your hike.
The Torc Mountain Summit Hike Highlights
- The initial stretch of this hike along Old Kenmare Road is especially beautiful. Here you’ll walk through a lush, old growth oak forest which follows alongside the Owengariff River.
- I don’t know what it is about boardwalks, but kids of all ages enjoy hiking along them. There is an abundance of boardwalks along the Torc Mountain Summit trail. Their configuration gives you a welcome and very enjoyable break from climbing rock stairs.
- Although the strong winds forced us to keep our stay at the summit short, we felt the incredible vistas from the summit made the effort to the top all worthwhile.
Hiking Torc Mountain Summit with Kids
- There are no toilets at the trailhead, but if anyone in your family needs to go, just stop at the Torc Waterfall parking lot on your way.
- If you don’t feel your family is up for summiting Torc Mountain, an excellent option for some easy family walking is to simply keep hiking along Old Kenmare Road. It just keeps on going for miles along the valley floor treating you to some exceptional scenery.
- Be prepared for all kinds of weather. The forecast for our hiking day called for “light rain” and for the most part this was true. The wind became very strong near the top, making the “light rain” seem much harder.
We held onto our kids near the top for fear the wind may tip them over, but there’s no dangerous drop-offs or anything like that to worry about.
We have an entire post full of all our best tips for hiking with kids.
Torc Mountain translates to “The Mountain of the Wild Boar”. This name stems from many Irish legends in the area which involve wild boars, a symbol of physical strength and heroic fighting skills.
What to Bring
Killarney National Park Resources
- Here’s our full post on the best things to do in Killarney National Park with Kids.
- Up for adventure? Add this tour of boating and cycling the Gap of Dunloe with Kids.