Killarney National Park, County Kerry
South and west of the town of Killarney in Co. Kerry is an expanse of rugged mountainous country. This includes the McGillycuddy's Reeks, the highest mountain range in Ireland which rises to a height of over 1000 meters. At the foot of these mountains nestle the world famous lakes of Killarney. Here where the mountains sweep down to the lake shores, their lower slopes covered in woodlands, lies the 10,236 hectare (26,000 acres), Killarney National Park. The distinctive combination of mountains, lakes, woods and waterfalls under ever changing skies gives the area a special scenic beauty.
For the active, walking and cycling are the best ways to see the National Park. There is a network of surfaced tracks in the Muckross, Knockreer and Ross Island areas of the park which are ideal for both cyclists and walkers. Bicycles can be rented in and around Killarney Town. There are numerous low-level walks as well as some marked circular routes and some nature trails in the Muckross area. In addition there is a mining trail in Ross Island. All routes provide the visitor with wonderful views of Killarney's spectacular scenery. Maps and booklets can be obtained at the park information centers at Muckross House and at the Gate Lodge of Killarney House.
For those that prefer something a little more energetic there is the magical Gap of Dunloe trip. This involves a boat trip from Ross Castle through the Lower and Middle lakes into the upper lake to Lord Brandon's Cottage. (Boat operators will take bikes on the trip) From here you can either, walk, cycle or take a pony and trap through the 12 km (7.2 mi) to the Gap of Dunloe to Kate Kearney's Cottage.
Boat trips are available at Ross Castle and at Dundag in Muckross. There are trips to Innisfallen Island on the Lower Lake and to Dinis Cottage on the Middle Lake. Two covered waterbuses operate from Ross Castle on the Lower Lake. Horse drawn jaunting cars are available in Killarney Town and in Muckross and offer a traditional and enjoyable way of experiencing the National Park.
Knockreer, Killarney House and Ross Island are all within walking distance of Killarney Town. Muckross House and Gardens, Walled Garden Restaurant and Traditional Farms and can be accessed by the motor entrance on the Kenmare Road N71 approximately 6.5 km (3.9 mi) from the town.
The drive from Killarney Town along the Kenmare Road N71 to Moll's Gap offers superb views of the lakes and Killarney Valley.
Places to visit in the National Park includes: Muckross House and Gardens and Traditional Farms, Torc Waterfall, Dinis Cottage and the Meeting of the Waters, Knockreer, Killarney House and Gardens, Ross Castle, Ross Island, Innisfallen Island, Tomies Oakwood, O'Sullivan's Cascade, Ladies View, Muckross Abbey.
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