From our experience, once you go off-road, you’ll find it very hard to return to roadside running. Trail running is just a whole other level of fun, better scenery, more obstacles, ascents and descents, and more things to distract you from counting your breaths. There really is no comparison. So, whether you are new to the world of running off-road or are a trail-running aficionado, here are some sweet trails in Dublin and north Wicklow to pound around. IMRA and Trail Running Ireland are two great resources for trail running events in Ireland if you get hooked!

1. Howth Peninsula Trail, Co Dublin

Trail Running Dublin
Image: Brian Morrison/Tourism Ireland
  • Distance: 12km
  • Total ascent: 239m
  • The Route

Howth is a bit of a gem of an area on the outskirts of Dublin. The fishing village has great restaurants and bars to wine and dine in, but more importantly, it has plenty of hidden beaches and cliffs to swim and scale and routes galore to bike, walk or trail run on. This particular trail will bring you on a loop around a good chunk of Howth, encompassing the top of Howth Head and overlooking Irish Sea Coastline, Dublin Bay and the Wicklow Mountains. A light trail shoe is perfect for the trails around Howth.

2. Ticknock, Co Dublin

Fairy Castle Short Loop (from Ticknock):

  • Distance: 6km
  • Vertical Climb: 250m
  • The Route

Run The Line Long Course 2022 (from the G.A.P)

This is one of Dublin’s most popular hills, and for good reason. The views over Dublin and the Irish Sea are stunning. Ticknock offers a great network of mountain and forest walks just a stone’s throw away from Dublin. There are loads of trails all over the hill and with both the Dublin Mountain Way and the Wicklow Way passing over the hill, Ticknock is a gateway to a long day on the trails. Nestled in the hills just beyond Sandyford in south Dublin, you can drive to Ticknock from the city centre in around half an hour but the walk will make you feel like you’re lost in the wilderness.

More info: Outsider Magazine

Things to do in Dublin: The Complete Guide for Outdoor Lovers

3. Crone Woods and Djouce, Co Wicklow

Djouce Trail

Maulin Loop:

Djouce Climb:

The car park at Crone Woods is a prime spot for exploring The Wicklow Way and the Wicklow Mountains. A great option for a trail run, there is the 8km over Maulin, to 17km to the top of Djouce Mountain and on to the JB Malone Memorial. The views are stunning throughout the routes and include highlights like Powerscourt Waterfall, the Vartry Lakes and Lough Tay. This route is inclusive of a couple of kilometres of boardwalk as well as established trail.

4. A Lap Of Glencullen

Lap of Glencullen:

If you’re looking for a blend of everything this is the route for you. With about half being on hard-packed trails and half being on muddy mountain tracks this route is so much fun. You can start the route at the G.A.P or at Tibbradden car park and complete it both clockwise and counterclockwise depending on if you wish to begin or finish with the muck! This is a favourite route of ours but during wet periods the ground on the mountains can hold a lot of water so watch your step! Choosing shoes for this is difficult due to the varied to rain but we would advise something with extra grip such as an Inov8 X-Talon or Dynafit Feline SL.

5. The Dublin Mountains Way

Looped Walks in Dublin Fairy Castle

  • Distance: 42km
  • Total ascent: 895m
  • The Route

The Dublin Mountains Way is a brilliant challenge for an experienced runner that traverse across from Shankill in the east to Tallaght. The marathon distance route is fully waymarked (yellow walking man symbol) so no navigation skills are required and you can do it in stages, or all in one if you’re really keen and you set off early!

You could do it in three stages from Shankill to Three Rock Mountain, from there to the Hellfire Club and from there to the Sean Walsh Park in Tallaght. From Tallaght, you can get a Luas or a bus back into the city.

The route runs past forests, mountains, valleys, the Glenasmole Reservoir and will give great views over Dublin city to the north and into the wilds of the Wicklow Mountains in the south. The Wicklow Way runs alongside the Dublin Mountains Way at times. The signs read DMW and WW to avoid confusion. The terrain is a mix of hardpacked trails and country road so a pair of light trail shoes are ideal.

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By Orla O'Muiri

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