Djouce mountain, at 725 metres is the 42nd highest mountain in Ireland, and also the sixth highest in the Wicklow Mountains. Over the past year I had the pleasure of climbing it twice from two very different directions. Both trails offer very different terrain and views and for the completist hiker I can recommend both. So let’s get down to the finer details of how to attempt the Djouce Mountain trails.
The two routes to the summit of Djouce mountain are part of the Wicklow Way hiking route, that also cuts a path from south Dublin, through Wicklow to the county of Carlow. Being the first long distance trail in Ireland, it thus means you are guaranteed a well marked trail, with good paths or railway sleeper pathways.
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Crone Woods to Djouce Mountain
As I said there are two distinct routes, but both are quite some distance apart. The first Djouce Mountain walk, from Crone Woods is certainly the more difficult hike. Crone Woods is located about 30 kilometres from Dublin, and about 7 from the nearest town of Enniskerry. Follow the signs for the Powerscourt Waterfall, but ignore the turn off. After a few kilometres of narrow country roads with excellent views of Dublin’s Three Rock Mountain, the car park will then be on your left.
Some Facts about Crone Woods to Djouce Mountain
- There is parking at Crone Woods, which is located close to the Powerscourt Waterfall.
- Neither walking route is served by public transport
- Car parking is free but be vigilant that the car park closes at different times throughout the seasons
- The out and back walk from Crone Woods to Djouce Mountain is 14 km, with a route climbing above Powerscourt Waterfall.
- Elevation gain is around 810 metres, and the trail is rated difficult.
- The walk should take around 4 hours to complete, including breaks.
- There is an option to extend the walk to take in Maulin which would then take the trek to 17.5 km
- Some wildlife in the area include sika red deer, pine martens, mountain hares and birds such as red grouse, merlin, and curlew.
- Hiking boots are recomended due to the differing terrain and I recommend poles too.
- Bring water, snacks, a waterproof jacket (as it is Ireland), sunscreen, first aid kit, and also a map and compass
- The trail I followed is available on alltrails.com
- Remember to leave no trace.
Step by Step on the Crone – Djouce Route
The walk begins in the surroundings of the Crone Woods. Follow the yellow maymarkers of the Wicklow Way, in order to climb out of the woods into the higher areas above. Wicklow’s most distinguishable peak the Great Sugar Loaf will soon form your view. Continuing the zigzag path, the view suddenly opens out to encompass the Powerscourt Valley below. The benches here give you a chance to take a break, or indeed to simply sit and admire Ireland’s highest waterfall at 121 metres from far above.
But that 14 km wont walk itself so best not to leave it too long. The walk continues to ascend the rim of the aforementioned valley, and the view never becomes dull. Finally it reaches a summit, and a fork in the path. Right leads to the previously mentioned Maulin, and left is our route marked again by the yellow arrows and men on sign posts. Now presents the first real challenge of the hike. The Glensoulan Valley in front is the only way to Djouce and the path descends and ascends through it. It’s not so difficult on the way out, but it’s a real challenge on the way back. It’s a stunning remote valley though, with the river that feeds the Powerscourt waterfall snaking through its heart.
The Ascent of Djouce
Once you’ve overcome that challenge, the walk crosses a stile and in the direction of Djouce Woods. There is an option to do a Djouce Powerscourt hike from those woods known as the Djouce Deerpark Walk, but then you wouldn’t have the challenge of the Glensoulan Valley would you. One final turn on the trail takes the path onto open mountain. From here its a relentless hike uphill to the base of the Djouce peak. Of course the mountain thrown one last obstacle in the form of a steep climb to its summit. Throw in the high winds* that are common here, and you’ll definitely have earned the award of conquering this mountain. Those large rocks and trig point at the top are indeed a welcome sight.
*A note on Djouce Mountain weather. I climbed Djouce on a day that had 37 Km winds. While that’s nothing significant on ground level, it’s a whole other proposition on a mountain top. I couldn’t stand at the summit and only my hiking poles kept me upright on my accent. Take note of the winds before attempting exposed mountain tops such as Djouce.
The way back
Continue the trail down side of Djouce before linking back up with the Wicklow way below, and setting out on the route back. There is lots of ample shelter here if the summit was as tumultuous as the day I scaled it though. As this is an out and back loop, the same route is followed back. Trust me that’s definitely no bad thing, this is a sumptuous part of the Irish countryside, with green mountains or the blue sea frequently forming your backdrop. Once you’re past the tough ascent in the Glensoulan Valley, then you can happily add this to your list of conquered Irish peaks. You can follow my route via the alltrails Djouce Mountain map below.
Lough Tay (Guinness Lake) to Djouce Mountain
This hike offers a substantially different aspect than the first walk. It’s also substantially easier despite being of a similar length. The access point to the walk is from Lough Tay, popularly known as Guinness Lake. This is located on the R759, some 44 kilometres from Dublin, or about an hours drive. The trail offers some remarkable views of one of Ireland’s prettiest lakes.
Some Facts about Guinness Lake to Djouce Mountain
- There are several parking lots above Guinness Lake, at the Ballinastoe Car Park, JB Malone Car Park, and the Pier Gates Car park, the latter of which is only opened at the weekend.
- This nearest public transport is 5km away in Roundwood, so driving here is best.
- Car parking is free throughout the year.
- The out and back walk from the Pier Gates to Djouce Mountain is 12 km with truly amazing views of Guinness lake.
- Elevation gain is around 650 metres, and the trail is rated moderate
- The walk should take about 3 hours 30 minutes to complete, with breaks.
- The trail is family and pet friendly.
- There is an option to extend the walk to take in War Hill a peak of 738 metres which would then take the trek to 15 km
- Some wildlife in the area include sika red deer, pine martens and birds such as red grouse, merlin, and curlew.
- Hiking boots are recomended but the trail could be completed in trainers in dry weather. Hiking poles really help with the final climb too.
- The trail I followed is available on alltrails.com
- Remember to leave no trace.
Step by Step from Lough Tay to Djouce Mountain
As it was the weekend I used the Pier Gates Car Park. Interestingly this is closed during the week, and used by the production crew of the Vikings TV show. It’s currently a hive of activity as they are in fact filming the new spinoff Vikings: Valhalla. A look down at the lake below will give you a view of the set, with the requisite long boats in fact moored at the wooden piers. A telephoto lens or binoculars will really help.
We are here to hike though. It is suggested to park at this car park or alternatively the Ballinastoe one. At the latter car park the trail begins, with a path climbing up into the Ballinastoe forest. It’s a part of the trail not to be missed, as it features one of the most iconic images of Irish woodland walking. The boardwalk through the forest has a wonderful fairytale like quality.
Soon you emerge on the open mountain of the Wicklow Mountains National Park. It’s hard not to follow the paths back down for views of the lake below (as I did), but keep pushing as the panorama further on is even better. Take aim for the J.B. Malone memorial. It’s little more than a rock, but its location is a fitting testimony to the man who dreamed to create the Wicklow Way. Is there a better view in Irish mountains? The lake undoubtedly gets its name from its resemblance to a pint of the black stuff. The water is made all the darker by the sharp rise of Luggala Mountain above it. Beyond the hills roll off into the distance, as beautiful a melody of colours as you could possibly ask for in Ireland.
To White Hill and Djouce
The Djouce boardwalk then extends all the way from here to the foot of the mountain. On its way it passes White Hill, another peak with a height over 600 metres. From here the views sweep down to the Irish Sea, with the distinguishable Bray Head. Despite the distance the trail thus far is relatively easy, and many families with their pets are a common sight. The only difficult part is when the boardwalk terminates and the trail pushes up the side of Djouce. Trust me i was thankful for my hiking poles. On returning down another climber asked me to name my price for them. Any price!! It’s only about 500 metres of an ascent though, which makes it markedly easier than the first trail.
Being an out and back trail can often mean that the return route can border on boring. It’s not the case with this hike though. The better views are on the way back, as they open before you. Save that picnic for around the J.B. Malone Memorial and take that view as you lasting imprint of this hike.
The link below is a Djouce Mountain map, and the trail I took on the day of my visit.
More Hiking in County Wicklow
The Wicklow Mountains are a hikers paradise and it’s low but challenging mountains are crisscrossed by many trails. Some of the best hikes include:
Accommodation in Wicklow
The nearby village of Laragh is indeed the perfect base for hikers. There are some excellent hotels and B&B’s including the Wicklow Heather and The Tudor Lodge.
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