For me this is the best part of going to Glendalough. Much of the hill walking in the Wicklow Mountains is over boggy land which is often very muddy, not something I am a fan of. This is rarely the case at Glendalough due to the paths and the board walks that have been built over the peat bogs.
Therefore boots are not always necessary, especially if the weather has been dry for some time. There are no places on any of the walks out of Glendalough to get water or buy food. Food and water can be bought at the visitors centre and in the last car park at the upper lake, where there are also toilets.
Maps can be bought at the main visitors centre or at a second centre at the main car park, last time I bought one it was 50c, so fairly cheap. The map lists 9 way marked walks from only a few km’s to the longest at 11km and an estimate of 4hrs for the longest.
I have two favorite walks and they are also the most popular. If you are lucky you will see some wild deer and goats which roam free in the Wicklow National Park.
Spinc and Glenealo Valley
This is by far the most popular walk at Glendalough, it is about 9km and should take about 3 and 1/2 hours. It is a circular walk however there is a good way to do it and a not so good way.
Facing the upper lake you can take the path to the right which leads down the miners road. This part is fairly flat and is a good warm up before climbing up the side of a small stream into Glenealo Valley. At the top the track crosses the stream and continues on a boardwalk up to the Spinc, (pointed hill). All the way there are great views to the surrounding hills and from the top on a clear day Sugar Loaf stands majestic before the sea. The path leads back down by the way of 600 stairs to Poulanass Waterfall and then back to the car park. The route can be started by way of the stairs, the choice is your own, I have done both and prefer coming down down the stairs to having 600 stairs right at the start of a walk.
Spinc and the Wicklow Way
This is the longest of the walks out of Glendalough and the quietest, so on busy weekends if you want so peace it is the one to chose. Facing the upper lake the path starts up to the left past Poulanass Waterfall. It is well marked and follows the Wicklow way for half the route. There is more chance of seeing wild long hair goats on this route as it is much quieter. The Wicklow Way will eventually turn off to the left and this route continues right, up to Prezen Rock and again affording spectaculars view over the surrounding countryside and out to the Irish Sea on clear days. From the Rock the path winds back downhill to the spinc and joins the boardwalk to return to the valley floor by way of the stairs once again.
There are many shorter walks if time does not permit either of the two above, the most beautiful being the walk down the miners road which is easy and suitable for any age group. The path leads the length of the upper lake and and is straight out and back again through a lovely tree lined path.