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Stairway to Heaven Ireland: 2024 Parking, Route & Trail Guide to Cuilcagh Mountain

Ireland is known for some of its incredible attractions from the Cliffs of Moher, the Giants Causeway and the Wild Atlantic Way but there is one place that has only seen a rise to fame in recent years and that is the stunning Cuilcagh Mountain.

It’s a beautiful trail in County Fermanagh, that went viral on social media after they installed a boardwalk up to the summit in 2015. The rising steps formation ultimately led to the walks iconic nickname the Stairway to Heaven Ireland.

Today we are going to take a look at everything you need to know before hiking the trail for the first time, from parking, difficulty, the terrain, organised tours, timing and more.

Location

Now, before we dive deep into this post it is important to take a look at the trails locations. The Stairway to Heaven is part of the Cuilcagh Legnabrocky walk located in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.

Just a short drive from the Marble Arch Caves, another fantastic visitor attraction that is worth a visit if you have a little bit of extra time.

It is actually part of a wider walking range known as the Cuilcagh Waymarked Way which is 33km in total.

As you know, the trail consists of a boardwalk of that lines the mountain ascending to the summit like a stairway giving off the illusion that the stairs are reaching for the sky or for heaven, as the name suggests.

Lenght & Timing

It takes about 2 hours to reach the summit of the Cuilcagh Mountain walk. Once you reach the top of the boardwalk there are two possible ways to hike down the Mountain, both varying in length.

The quickest and easiest way is to return in the same direction as you hiked up, along the boardwalk. A round trip up and down the boardwalk is 14.8 kilometres and takes a little under 4 hours to complete.

The second option would involve returning via the Ulster Way walking route, this route consists of 20km in total, taking 5 to 7 hours to complete.

I have only ever walked back down the boardwalk, as I always want to take more photos of the amazing view. However, more information on the Ulster way route can be found on the Active Me Website.

Fitness Level & Difficulty

I’d advise those planning on taking on the hike to have a high to moderate fitness level. While the walk itself is not overly difficult, it does involve a lot of uphill walk for an extended period of time.

Another aspect that many do not take into consideration is the hikes popularity. Due to high traffic levels on the path it can be sometimes hard to find somewhere to stop to take a break.

Particularly, without stepping into the surrounding bog that the boardwalk is trying to protect.

What to expect

As we already mentioned, the trail consists of a boardwalk that lines the mountain ascending to the summit like a stairway giving off the illusion that the stairs are reaching for the sky or for heaven, as the name suggests.

However this boardwalk was only built to protect the boggy terrain in 2015. So, one thing many people find surprising is that the hike does not start with the boardwalk. It starts at the Legnabrocky car park on a long gravel path for about 5.8km. It takes about an hour to reach the boardwalk.

The boardwalk or stairs section of the hike lasts for 1.6km, and in my opinion, it’s where the real beauty begins. At this point you will start to see Lough Atona and 360 views of Fermangh.

Be prepared a you must climb four hundred and fifty steps to reach the summit. So, safe to say, you deserve a good olde pat on the back once you’ve finished.

The mountain sits 655 metres above sea level, so it is quite a small in the grand scheme of things. None the less, you will feel as if you’re on top of the world once you reach the top.

Fun Fact: Lough Atona was formed in the last Ice age almost 13,000 years ago.

Parking

With the growing popularity if the stairway, parking can be a bit of a nightmare, particularly on the weekends or in the summer months. Those driving have two options.

The Marble Arch Caves Car Park: The caves car park is located 1km away from the stairway (cost 5 pounds or euros). It’s best to arrive early in the morning to avoid disappointment.
The car park is an easy walk up a country road. Just check what time the car park closes at, as this changes throughout the year.

The Legnabrocky Car Park: The official car park is past the caves on the left. It’s small in size and sometimes difficult to get a space. They now offer online pre-booking, it costs 6 pounds and is valid for 3 hours.

Check Out My Youtube Video on the Stairway to Heaven Ireland
In this video, we hike up the Stairway to Heaven in the snow, which makes the trail 10 times more beautiful, all be it a little more challenging.

If you would like to see what to expect before the hike I suggest giving it a watch πŸ˜‰

Sneakers Vs Hiking boots

This completely depends on the time of year and the weather conditions on the day. I first completed this hike on a summers day and the boardwalk was dry. I, therefore, only wore a pair of runners or sneakers.

However, the second time I decided to visit it was snowing and the boardwalk was insanely slippy. We where sliding ALL OVER THE PLACE! So, in this case hiking boots are highly advised.

You can check out the conditions on that day down below πŸ˜‰

How to get There

From Dublin: It takes approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes to drive from Dublin to the Stairway, making it the perfect location for a day trip from Dublin. And 100% a great addition to any Dublin Itinerary.

I will attach a link to 3 possible routes on Google Maps, just be mindful, the shortest route contains tolls. 

From Galway: Galway is a 2 hour and 45-minute drive from Cuilcagh Mountain. Much like the drive from Dublin, the fastest route contains tolls, as seen on Google Maps

*Those driving from Dublin or Galway please be mindful, when crossing over the border from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland the speed indication changes from kilometres to miles*. 

From Belfast: The Stairway is 2 hours and 15 minutes away from Belfast as seen on Google Maps.  Some routes pass by Enniskillen, a lovely town, ideal for stopping off for some breakfast or lunch depending on the time of day.

organised tours to Ireland’s Stairway to Heaven

For those of you that don’t want to drive, don’t worry there is another way. Many tour companies such as Hidden Dublin Tours offer ‘Stairway to Heaven Ireland’ tour packages from Dublin.

Tickets range from 30 to 42 euros. Some tour agencies offer a combined stairway and Marble Arch Caves package. The tours usually have an early morning departure and arrive back in Dublin after 7.30 pm.

Tips for Hiking the Stairway to Heaven Ireland

πŸ’‘ Prepare for the weather

No matter where you go in Ireland, it is always a good idea to look up the weather first. Ireland is known for getting 4 seasons in one day. Don’t be surprised if the day starts off sunny and warm and ends with a snowstorm and -4 degrees. 

I’d advise wearing gym clothes for any hike in Ireland. Comfort is extremely important. If there is a chance of rain, consider bringing waterproof overall’s. You can check out my packing for Ireland post for a more detailed account on what to bring and wear in Ireland.

πŸ’‘ Don’t forget your camera

It’s always a good idea to bring a camera on any hiking trail and I promise this one is no different. Be sure to bring your camera or smartphone to capture some stunning scenery.

πŸ’‘ Don’t forget food

This may be a simple one but don’t forget to bring a packed lunch, some snacks and plenty of water. It is a really beautiful place to have lunch with a view. The trail is not too far from the town of Enniskillen, so you could plan to have a good meal their when you are down off the mountain too.

πŸ’‘ Arrive Early

If you are hoping to park in the main car park I suggest arriving early, particularly in the high season and on the weekends. The Stairway is by no means a hidden gem and is often packed in the summer months. You can alway book you car space in advance on the website to avoid disappointment.

things to do near the Stairway to Heaven Ireland

The Marble Arch Caves: The caves are 1km away from the Cuilcagh Mountain car park. Explore the magic of the underground for as little as 11 pounds per adult and 7 pounds 50 per child.  

Enniskillen is a 30-minute drive from the stairway. It’s the perfect place to grab a bite to each before the drive home or maybe even stay the night.

Where to stay near the Stairway to Heaven Ireland

If you are looking to make a trip out of it I highly advise staying in the nearby town of Enniskillen. It is only 25 minute drive away which makes it the ideal base for exploring the area. I have highlighted some options for all budgets down below.

Budget Option: Erne Getaway is a lovely self-catering apartment that is ideal for anyone looking to stay a few days. It gives you the flexibility to make your own meals and keep your trip budget-friendly.

Mid-Range Option: Westville Hotel For a balance between cost and comfort, the Westville Hotel is a popular mid-range option. With its convenient city centre location, tastefully decorated rooms, and a welcoming lounge bar, it offers great value for your money.

Luxurious: Lough Erne Resort for those desiring a top-tier experience, Lough Erne Resort is the epitome of luxury in Enniskillen. This 5-star hotel offers sumptuous suites, a world-class spa, two championship golf courses, and a variety of exquisite dining options, all in a breathtaking lakefront setting.

Stairway to Heaven Ireland FAQ

How long does it take to walk up Stairway to Heaven Ireland?

It takes around 2 hours to reach the summit and then a further 1 and a half to walk back down. Although make sure you factor in some time to stop and take pictures. The trail is really beautiful.

Do you have to book the Stairway to Heaven Ireland?

No, there is no need to book the walk, however, if you are visiting in the summer months, I would advise booking the car park as it can be busy and it fills up quickly.

Is the Stairway to Heaven walk hard?

It is marked as a difficult trail, however, I would say that is more in terms of incline rather than terrain. If you are happy enough to walk uphill for 40 minutes, then you should be well able to do this walk.

Is there toilets at Stairway to Heaven?

No there are no toilets on the hike or at the car park, the nearest ones are in the Marble Arch Caves although I am not sure if you need to be a visitor there to use them.

Is Stairway to Heaven all steps?

No, most of the trail is actually a gravel path, which surprised most people. The boardwalk is only for 1.6km.

How far is Enniskillen to Stairway to Heaven?

Enniskillen is a 25 minute drive from the trail, making it the ideal base for those looking for a bite to eat or somewhere to stay near by.

Are dogs allowed on Stairway to Heaven Ireland?

No, unfortunately not, as this is a protected area dogs are not allowed on this hike.

Is the Cuilcagh mountain known as the Stairway to Heaven?

Yes, the official name of the hike is Cuilcagh Mountain, which means ‘chalky peak‘ in the Irish language. The Stairway to Heaven is simply a nickname given when the boardwalk was built in 2015.

Is the Stairway to Heaven Ireland Worth it?

Yes, in my opinion the Stairway to Heaven is a great addition to your Ireland itinerary! The only draw back is the crowds, don’t get me wrong it doesn’t see nearly as much visitors as the Giants Causeway, but you may have to share the mountain with a couple hundred new friends.

Hope this helps you planning your trip to the Stairway to Heaven Ireland

When I first started this website, I never knew it would grow to what it is today. My job, a career I am very much proud of. So, I want to say a big thank you to everyone who takes the time to read my little blog posts. It means the world to me! ❀️

I first used to right ‘diary’ style blog posts, little stories from my travel experiences. No one used to read them, excluding my parents that is but they where nice memories to look back on.

I soon realised that if I wanted to get readers to the site I needed to make helpful guides, ones that where actually worth reading. So, I changed many of the original diarys into informative blog posts.

However, I wanted to keep one to remind myself of how far I have come. And this is it below. So, if you are reading this please enjoy my first person perspective of hiking Cuilcagh Mountain.

A Journal of my hike up Ireland’s Stairway to Heaven

There is nothing I enjoy more than discovering new cultures, exploring new countries and experiencing different places. However, travelling isn’t always about jumping on a plane to a new foreign destination. Sometimes there is plenty to discover, explore and experience right on your front doorstep. I love finding new things to see and do in the place I call home, ‘Ireland’. So in April 2017, I ventured on a day trip into the sky (Literally). I decided to go on a road trip up to County Fermanagh with my friend Lauren. We wanted to tackle ‘Cuilcagh Mountain’ otherwise known as ‘Irelands Stairway to Heaven’.

Stairway to Heaven Ireland
Have to get photographic evidence πŸ˜‰
And So We Begin … Irelands Stairway to Heaven

We started our day off with a two-hour long car journey. Safe to say our legs were in need of a good old stretch. And Hey! I can’t think of a better way to do that other than climbing 450 steps!?

The Cuilcagh car park is connected to the boardwalk by the Stoney trail. Along this trail, we saw some pretty rivers, some cute wildlife and luckily a great blue sky.

‘Follow the yellow brick road … ‘

As we approached the boardwalk we could already see the beautiful ‘Cuilcagh Mountain’ before us. The boardwalk reminded me of something out of the Wizard of Oz, you just need to substitute the yellow brick road for a wooden boardwalk.

The ‘Cuilcagh Mountain’ is located on the border of County Fermanagh Northern Ireland and County Cavan in the Republic of Ireland. It is the highest mountain in both counties with a height of 2188 feet. With views for miles and miles once you reach the summit.

A picture of the beginning of the boardwalk at the Stairway to Heaven Ireland
The boardwalk of the Stairway to Heaven Ireland

Onwards to the Stairway to Heaven …

We continued to follow the path of the boardwalk until we came to the stairway. I have never been so excited to climb several stairs before. We put one foot in front of the other and began our ascent. About half way up we paused to take in the beautiful views. To the left of us was a glacier formed lake, lake Atana, to the right was the the boardwalk we just walked and beyond was the breathtaking views of County Fermanagh. It truly was an amazing sight. 

A picture at the summit of Stairway to Heaven Ireland
At the Summit of Ireland’s Stairway to Heaven

On Top of the World …

After taking our short pit stop we continued on. The higher we got the better the views. Once we reached the summit, we celebrated by taking photographic evidence.

A victory photo of sorts. We then more importantly found the perfect spot to eat our lunch.

Ignoring this daring sign (this image seems to have gone missing?): The Stairway to Heaven Fermanagh It’s basically asking you to disobey it. πŸ˜‰  

We couldn’t have asked for better weather, while we sat on a rock at the top of the summit, munching on our well-deserved lunch.

After lunch, we started our descent down the mountain, which is a lot easier than walking up to it.

It was a lovely walk, one I’d definitely do again. If you have any questions regarding this walk don’t hesitate to ask me in the comment box below. Until next time. SlΓ‘n go fΓ³ill.

Thanks for reading!

I hope you enjoyed this post and have an amazing time on your trip to Ireland. If you need any help with your planning feel free to message me on Instagram or Facebook πŸ™‚

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Stairway to Heaven Pinterest Graphic
Stairway to Heaven Pinterest Graphic

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22 Comments

    1. The views are amazing !! And it’s such an achievement once you reach the top. Sounds harder than is actually is πŸ™‚

  1. This is gorgeous! I didn’t even know this existed! I think it’s very easy to forget about the wonders that are in your own country because it seems so familiar to you. I’m making a point to explore more of my state, and of Australia as a whole, because I know there are so many natural wonders to be discovered. Would love to visit Ireland one day.

    1. I know !! I love finding new places at home. Sometimes we take for granted places around us. You definitely should πŸ™‚

  2. Interesting article, unfortunately, I did not visit this side of Ireland during my stay. Do you know if Stairways to heaven is an official name given by locals?

    1. That’s unfortunate that you didn’t get to visit. Hey, there is always next time. It started to get a lot of attention on social media lately and think that is when it became known as Ireland’s Stairway to Heaven, Although I’m not 100% sure

  3. I wonder how many of my Irish friends ( know about this and how many have actually taking the stairway to heaven – I’m gonna have to pass this on to them. Whenever I hop over, I might have to do this myself. Thanks for sharing this, I had no idea about it until now πŸ˜€

    1. In recent months it has started to get a lot of attention. However, before that, it was as we say a ‘Hidden Gem’. Glad you found it useful πŸ™‚

  4. The views from the top look amazing. I am hoping to do a road trip around Ireland soon as I have only visited Dublin. I will add this to my list of places to visit, it’s certainly my type of thing to do.

  5. This looks wonderful, and lucky for you to have travelled on a beautiful sunny day in Ireland πŸ™‚ This is one trip I’d like to do, thanks for sharing.

  6. how long was the walk roundtrip? also how did you put three pictures side by side? did you edit that on photoshop and then upload it?

  7. The walk took roughly about 4 hours to complete, although we did stop to take many photos. As for putting the photos side by side, I created columns using ‘Page Builder’ plugin. Hope that helps πŸ™‚

  8. Hello
    Looks stunning. Well Done. Looking forward to doing this walk. Could you tell me where you started and did the walk return you back to your car?

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