Thinking of bringing all the family, including four-legged members, on a walking holiday in Kerry? Be careful, a lot of walks do not allow dogs.  Here are six dog-friendly walks in Kerry that the whole family can enjoy. 

Kerry is one of Ireland’s most beautiful counties. It has Ireland’s highest peaks and some of Ireland’s most beautiful beaches. However, you may be disappointed to arrive for a walk with your four-legged friend to find that dogs aren’t allowed. This is common in Kerry as much of the land is used for farming.

Farming is the largest industry in Kerry employing one-quarter of the population there. For this reason, there are restrictions on dogs. There is an all-out ban on bringing your dogs on hikes on the McGillicuddy Reeks, The Kerry Way and several other well known and loved trails. Luckily, Killarney National Park does allow dogs as long as they are on a lead. This rule applies to the majority of walks in Kerry that do allow dogs including all of the walks on this list.

There have been incidents of farm and wild animals being killed and injured by unrestrained dogs, and incidents of unrestrained dogs being shot so please respect the regulations and keep your dog on a lead.

1. Glanageenty Walkways, Ballymacelligott

Dog Friendly Walks
Image: Jean-Philippe Pierre

If you are on the hunt for a bit of a hidden gem, away from the usual tourist path, then check out these three looped walks known as the Glanageenty Walkways. They are suitable for a family day out to the advanced walker and of course our canine companions. Tucked away in the Sherwood Forest of Munster, also known as the Valley of the Fairies, the area is brimming with both wildlife and history to entertain the eye. The views of Carrauntoohil and the Gap of Dunloe are also breathtaking.

There are three routes to choose from; the 3km Glanageenty Loop, the 5km Lenihan’s Loop and the 9km Bernard Brothers Loop. Park at Bernard Collins Memorial carpark (GPS: N 52 16.242 – W 009 32.745) and go explore.

2. Torc Mountain

Dog Friendly Walks in Kerry
Image: Obie the Deerhound/Greyhound

You might not be able to summit Carrauntoohil with your doggy but you can still climb Torc Mountain. It is 535 metres high with spectacular views of the Killarney National Park and the McGillicuddy Reeks. It is for walkers (human and canine) of reasonable fitness only and consists of woodland trails, boardwalk, stone steps, with occasional muddy, rocky and uneven ground in parts.

The walk starts at the upper car park. From Killarney on the N71 to Kenmare, take first left 400m after main entrance to Muckross House, follow for approximately 1.7 km to Upper Torc Carpark. Turn left on leaving the car park and follow the Old Kenmare Road, through the barrier, over the bridge, turn left at the junction. A short distance after the path leaves the woodland, you will see a sign for the Torc Mountain path on your right that takes you to the summit.

Dogs are allowed but must be kept on leads.

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3. Torc Waterfall and Muckross Lake Loop

Dog Friendly Walks in Kerry
Image: Darcy the Adventure Dog

Muckross Lake is situated in Killarney National Park at the foot of Torc Mountain. The quickest circuit around Muckross Lake takes about three hours and there are several optional loops to add on, including up to Torc Waterfall. The walk starts and finishes at Muckross House.

For the lake and waterfall loop follow the signposted lake route from the car park along by the lake. Take a right turn and start to steadily climb through the trees to cross the Owengarriff River, just above the main falls. A series of steps leads you back down through the woodlands on the eastern side of the river to the viewpoint of the 18m high Torc Waterfall cascade. The route continues by rejoining the lake route.

Dogs are allowed but must be kept on leads.

4. Gleninchaquin Park Upper Valley Walk

Gleninchaquin Park provides breath-taking landscapes and scenery over the lakes, green meadows and a spectacular rock face waterfall. This walk will give you a real feeling of Kerry’s serene wilderness. Not a lot of the visitors to Gleninchaquin Park do this walk.

The Upper Valley Walk is 9.5 kilometres long and should take you about four hours. This walk is moderately challenging and not suitable for small children.

The path starts from the car park and follows the Red Route towards the top of the waterfall then turns right. The Upper Valley walk then follows the rim of the valley making a complete circuit around Lake Cummenaloughaun. There are no footpaths, follow the yellow waymarks. Keep the lake to your left and in sight.

The Gleninchaquin Park website says: “Dogs are welcome too, just a little reminder to keep them under control when close to livestock, but there are hundreds of acres to roam freely.”

Picnics and barbecues are allowed within the park, too.

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5. North Kerry Way

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The North Kerry Way is a 48-kilometre linear walking route through the northern part of Co Kerry. It starts in Tralee and ends in Ballyheigue. Unlike the Kerry Way, the Beara Way and the Dingle Way the North Kerry Way is dog-friendly. But they do need to be kept on leads. The route is almost entirely along the coast passing beautiful beaches and finishes with views of the scenic mountainous area on Kerry Head. The terrain is mainly quiet country roads, firm beach sand (except at high tide), tracks, bog roads and field paths. The route is flat except for the last 18 kilometres where there are some short ascents, with an aggregate climb of 370 metres.

6. Brackloon Loop

Dog-Friendly Walks in Kerry
Image: Sera Husky and Animal Rescue

This moderate 7-kilometre hike will take you across the three peaks of Annascaul, Co Kerry. It is located on the south-east of the Dingle Peninsula about five kilometres from the beautiful Inch Beach. The area is steeped in myths. Legend has it that fabled Celtic warrior Cuchulainn fought and killed the warrior Feirdia to win the love of the beautiful Scail. However, she did not return his love as she remained true to Feirdia and Scail drowned herself in the river – after which the village is named, Annascaul. Along the route, you will get views of Dingle Bay, Slieve Mish Mountain and the Com Dubh River System.

For more dog-friendly walks and hikes in Ireland click here.

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By Heather Snelgar

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