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Glendalough Trail Running

Updated: Oct 6

Glendalough, County Wicklow is an early Medieval monastic site founded by St. Kevin. From its geological start as a glacial valley to when miners worked these hills for a total of 109 years, this rugged landscape is now a peaceful recreation site for walking, picnicking, hiking, and trail running. Glendalough's Spinc Trail is one of the most accessible, and fun, trail running sites in all of Co. Wicklow

The 30-meter-high round tower can be seen rising above the valley with mountains surrounding the lakes. The historic monastic city composed of various houses, churches, and graves is where we recommend you begin your trail run on the Spinc Trail.

The Spinc Trail is 12.4 km through forested mountain paths on boardwalks and hard gravel paths through ruins and ridgelines. The 423 meters of elevation gain allow for some amazing views and a physically demanding workout.

Click the map above to be redirected to Wicklow Hertiage's map of Glendalough


The carpark costs €4, personally, I'd begin this trail at 8 or 9 in the morning, as you'll beat the tourists. I'd recommend you use the start of your run as a warm-up before you follow the signs leading you left onto a gravel path. This is an easy way to start your run as you pass the monastic city on the right. Continue to follow the path until you see the upper lake, this is where the uphill section begins.

Take the second left after the upper lake, this will bring you to the Poulanass Waterfall. This part is quite steep with a grade of 18.8% over 250m! After this, the trail begins to level slightly. Use this time to catch your breath before you go up the Spinc Zig Zags. This is your next climb at 15.7% grade over 800m. Once you complete the Spinc Zig-Zags, you will be on the ridge of the mountains with a nail-studded boardwalk under your feet.

The grip is fairly good but be careful all the same. Some of the nails are missing which means it can be surprisingly slick. Be sure to glance back over your shoulder and take in the view. Now is the final climb of 12.8% grade for just over 1.3km. Following this climb, you will start on the descent.

Don't be surprised if you're not the only one making the descent, this section of the trail usually has herds of deer. Take your time going past them and be careful, especially between September and November. This is when the deer rutt and they can be aggressive. After passing the deer and crossing a bridge, you start your descent down to the historic Miner's Village. There are many large rocks and loose stones, so find a safe pace and navigate carefully so you don't slip. Now that you've reached the Miner's Village, you can start to increase your pace after you arrive at the wide gravel track that runs past the upper lake.

Finally, follow the route to the upper carpark and along the path to your left. This eventually leads to a very slick boardwalk, so be careful while running. You'll arrive back on the trail that you started at, take a turn to the left and run back down to the lower carpark.

Overall it's a spectacular route that's well-signposted and you even see the occasional trail runner from time to time. If you're an avid runner who has completed a half marathon previously, this should be a comfortable trail within your fitness level. And don't forget to enjoy it!

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