Hags Head Cliffs of Moher Walking Trail
Of all the famous cliffs in Ireland, the Hags Head Cliffs of Moher walking trail from Hags Head to the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center is our favorite. The wind, moody clouds, green pastures, and swaying seagrasses all add to the romance of the dramatic coastal trek.
The Cliffs of Moher are a 5-mile tract of cliffs on Ireland’s western shore. A walking trail along the rim of the bluffs runs between the towns of Liscannor and Doolin. The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center is situated about half-way between the two. Spending the day walking these rugged bluffs is one of the best things to do in Ireland.
In fact, the Cliffs are Moher are Ireland’s most visited outdoor attraction. On any given day, the Visitor Center is crowded with tour buses and road-trippers. To avoid the congestion, we started our hike at the Hags Head end of the cliffs. We encountered few fellow hikers until just before the Visitor Center. Our Cliffs of Moher walking trail guide provides information on how to complete the walk.
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WHERE ARE THE CLIFFS OF MOHER
Located in County Clare, the Cliffs of Moher are part of the Burren region; an area known for its unforgettable rock landscapes. Together, the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher are designated as a UNESCO Global Geopark.
WAYS TO SEE THE CLIFFS OF MOHER
Most travelers will experience the Cliffs of Moher in one of two ways:
Entering at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center which offers comprehensive guest services and good accessibility to the cliffs ($7-12 Euro pp). The Visitor Center is a good option for guests with mobility issues, children, limited time, and no car.
Hike the private network of trails making up the Cliffs of Moher Coastal Walk:
Doolin village to the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center: 8km (3 hours)
Liscannor village to the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center: 12km (4 hours)
Hags Head (Kilconnell) to the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center 5K (1.5 hours)
This guide to the Cliffs of Moher walking trail focuses on the Hags Head to Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center hike.
TRAIL DISTANCE AND TIME TO COMPLETE
Trail Distance: 6.2 mile (11km) round trip.
Time to Complete the Hike: 4.5-hours
CLIFFS OF MOHER WALKING TRAIL DIFFICULTY
The walk is relatively flat with gradual uphill and downhill grades. Most guides rate this trail as moderately strenuous due to its length, uneven surfaces, and safety factors including walking close to exposed cliffs, dangerous wind currents, slippery surfaces, and poor visibility in foggy conditions.
CLIFFS OF MOHER MAP
HOW TO GET TO HAGS HEAD
Take R487-north from Liscannor to Kilconnell (6km). Drive until spotting “The Rock Shop.” Take a left. You will enter a maze of country lanes and farms. Follow the signs to Hags Head and the Cliffs of Moher. Be aware, signage is sparse. We drove around the narrow lanes for close to an hour before stumbling on the private car park leading to Hags Head. If you are easily flustered, we advise that you drive to the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center, pay the admission fee, and do this walk in-reverse.
HAGS HEAD PARKING
We parked in a private car park located at the last house before the entrance to Hags Head and the Cliffs of Moher (fee $3 Euros).
Regarding the Moher Sports Field: Many travel guides advised parking in this location. When we arrived at the sports field the gates were locked and large signs prohibited unauthorized parking (with towing listed as a penalty).
QUICK NEED TO KNOWS
Trash: This is a LEAVE NO TRACE location. Plan to carry out your trash.
Restrooms: None, until reaching the Visitor Center.
Food/Drink: None, until reaching the Visitor Center.
Accessibility: No paved trails or disability accommodations until reaching the Visitor Center.
Cost: No admission gate or charge. Fee for parking.
Private Property: Much of the Cliffs of Moher walking trail is on private property. Please be respectful of landowner’s livestock, equipment, and land.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
In summer, weekends, and holidays go early as the car park quickly fills.
Views are best on sunny days, and at sunset.
If you plan to explore the Visitor Center, keep in mind it will be most crowded between 11am to 4pm.
CLIFFS OF MOHER WEATHER
Temperatures average around 50’F (10’C) in the winter, and 64’F (18’C) in the summer. The maritime climate changes frequently. Expect sun, strong winds, rain, and fog.
CLIFFS OF MOHER TRAIL SAFETY
There is no fence for most of the walk on the Cliffs of Moher walking trail. As you hike, you will notice the official gravel path that runs around 12 -25 feet from the edge as well as a grassy foot path runs about 4 feet from the edge. Extreme care should be taken to remain on the official path. Avoid walking or sitting too close to the edge. Strong crosswinds, poor visibility, eroded soil, and slippery conditions may lead to falls over the cliffs with fatal outcomes. The hike is not suitable for children under 12 and pets are not allowed.
WHAT TO BRING
Sturdy walking shoes and a warm, water proof jacket. Pack water, snacks, sunscreen, bug spray, and a hat. Bring a mobile phone with GPS, but be aware coverage is spotty.
THE HIKE: MOHER TOWER TO O’BRIENS TOWER
Leaving the car park, head up a country lane toward Hags Head. At the top, pass by a gate and stone wall to continue on to Hags Head. The rock formation is the cliffs most southerly point. It is said to be shaped like a woman’s head (hence the name). From here, move on for closer views of Moher Tower.
There was once a fort where Moher Tower stands. During the Napoleonic wars the fort was razed and replaced with a watchtower. The cliffs and tower derive their name from the Gaelic word “Mothar,” meaning the ruin of a fort. The tower is at the tip of a peninsula with panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean.
From Moher Tower, locate the path and head north toward Doolin and the Visitor Center. Over the next few kilometers, you will pass by acres of farmland. There will be slate fences, flagstone stairs, cows, sheep, and farm equipment along the route. The area is also known for its many types of flowers, fossils, and birds.
Gazing at the sea, look for the Aran Islands and Galway Bay. In the layered sandstone bluffs, try to identify hidden caves. The magnitude and majesty of the cliffs builds as you trek along. Hikers further up the trail look like dots atop the cliffs. Ships, small specks on the water, begin to give you a sense of high you are.
In time, you will come to an expanse of cairns along the cliffs. The area was once a dumping zone for local quarries. Over the years, visitors have created a garden of cairns from the refuse.
We completed the Hags Head walk in late-May. On our trek, hikers were few until about 1.5 km from the Visitor Center. At that point, we encountered a series of small roads where touring companies were emptying bus loads of people. From here until the Visitor Center the crowds became much thicker. At lookouts there was a lot of jostling for the best photo spots.
In front of the Visitor Center there are three viewing platforms (Main, South, and North); all enjoy spectacular coastal views. O’Briens Tower is located by the North Platform. The climbable structure was built in the 1800’s by Cornelius O’Brien as a viewing point for tourists. O’Briens Tower marks the cliff’s highest point at around 700-meters. The rock formation at the base of cliffs in front of the tower is called Branaunmore sea stack.
Before making the return trip to Hags Head stop at the Visitor Center. There are exhibits to peruse. You can take a bathroom break, fill your water bottle, and visit the cafes and gift shop.
Relax, and drink it all in on your walk back to Moher Tower. This rugged piece of coast is surely some of County Clare’s most wild and wonderful. Sláinte! (Cheers) Laura and Randy
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