The Great Sugarloaf is one of the most iconic mountains in Wicklow. The mountain dominates the horizon on the east side of the Wicklow Mountains. It’s relatively small size means that it provides a great feeling of achievement for almost all levels of fitness and ages. 

The Routes

Direct Route

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 2.7 km

Time: 1 – 2 hours

This is a simple out-and-back from the main Sugar Loaf car park on the south side of the mountain. Follow the main approach to the mountain, the route veers to the left before going up the side of the summit cone. This is a much safer route than the direct line up the mountain. Take particular care on the descent as the ground is loose and steep.

The Route

Kilmacanogue Route

Difficulty: Easy / Moderate

Distance: 8 km

Time: 2 – 3 hours

Starting at Puck’s Pub, or the Sugarloaf car park in Kilmacanogue, walk along Glencap Road. Turn right at the first junction and continue onto the Sugarloaf Trail. Consult the map linked below for a detailed route.

The Route

The Environment

As previously mentioned in the geology section this is a quartzite mountain which means it is quite rocky and loose in places. While the majority of the walk is on well-established trails, good quality walking footwear with ankle support is essential. The Dublin Wicklow Mountain Rescue Team routinely gets called out to rescue people on the Great Sugar Loaf who have injured themselves as a result of inappropriate footwear.

The Area

The Sugar Loaf from Prince William’s Seat

The Geology

While the characteristic rock found in the Wicklow Mountains is granite there is a line of harder quartzite rock that runs along the east side of the mountains. This has resulted in the formation of rugged, and rocky peaks such as the Great Sugar Loaf, The Little Sugarloaf and Bray Head. This is quite different from the granite-based rolling hill landscape of Wicklow.


Unknown to many The Great Sugar Loaf is believed to have been an important ritual landscape for bronze-age people. In the surrounding area, there is a wide range of ritual and burial monuments which all indicate that this was an area of extreme significance for our ancestors. There are two Cairns on the mountain which appear to Mark early Bronze Age burial sites. Comparisons have been drawn between the Great Sugar Loaf and Croagh Patrick in County Mayo. Given that they share geological characteristics it is logical to believe they both served similar roles in the belief systems of our ancestors. Next time you’re on the mountain see if you can locate one of the antiquities, that are marked on East-West Maps and on the digital version through a Hiiker membership.

Getting There

Public Transport

133 Bus to Kilmacanogue from Fitzwilliam Place. This bus goes from Dublin city to Kilmacanogue. From here you can enjoy many of the trails around the Great Sugarloaf.

Car parks

There are two main car parks around the Sugarloaf.

The main Great Sugar Loaf Car Park is located on the south side of the mountain on Red Lane.

The secondary car park is located in Kilmacanogue beside the N11. This carpark is genuine generally less busy and is closer to the food options in Kilmacanogue.

Where to Eat Nearby

Pluck’s of Kilmacanogue offers an Irish Pub experience while also serving some excellent quality food that will fill you up after your hike.

Avoca in Kilmacanogue is perfect if you want a more fancy lunch. Why not treat yourself to some local meats, fish and veg? Top it off with some of their top quality baked goods.

OhSo in Enniskerry is a great pace to head to for a quick bite if you are driving back into Dublin. The small village of Enniskerry is a beautiful spot and the sandwiches and coffee in OhSo are top tier!

Poppies in Enniskerry is great if you want a sit down lunch on the way home. With a large selection of lunch food Poppies is a worthwhile stop. They are also dog friendly so your pal doesn’t have to wait in the car!

The Happy Pear in Greystones is synonymous with north Wicklow. Our regular order after time on the hills is; a Buddah Bowl, a flapjack and a flat white.

The Delgany or the Firehouse Bakery is at the centre of the small town of Delgany. We genuinely don’t think there is a better almond croissant in north Wicklow!

Check Out These Other Weekend Wanders

Killarney National Park: Weekend Wanders

Ticknock Mountain Biking: Weekend Wanders

Diamond Hill: Weekend Wanders

By Matthew McConnell

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