Croagh Patrick: Hiking Trail Guide

The short, stunning, scree-topped, steep hike up Croagh Patrick is a must-do for hikers in the west of Ireland.

Hike Length: 4.4 miles (7.08 km)

Total Ascent: 2,400ft (732m)

Intensity: Difficult Hike

Route Type: Out-and-Back

Includes: Herd Path, Rock Scrambles

Similar Entries In: Ireland, The Difficult Hikes, The Most Popular Hikes, , , , , , .

The summit of Croagh Patrick seen from its main hiking trail

Summit of Croagh Patrick

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 A steep, scree-filled out-and-back.

Croagh Patrick attracts thousands of pilgrims and hikers every year who seek to climb its steep slopes and pay homage to the patron saint of Ireland. It’s also one of the most scenic hikes in Ireland.

With its massive pyramid-shaped quartzite peak, Croagh Patrick has long been famous. It was once an important site for pagan rituals, and there is evidence of Bronze and Iron Age settlements in the surrounding area.

During the fifth century, the mountain became synonymous with St. Patrick who, like Moses on Mount Sinai, is said to have spent 40 days and 40 nights fasting and praying on its summit.

Since then, Croagh Patrick has become a site of pilgrimage around the world. Every year, on the last Sunday in July, thousands of pilgrims make the ascent to the summit, barefoot or in their stocking feet. This tradition has been in place 1,500 years and, depending on your point of view, is either a testament to the enduring power of faith, or a symptom of humanity’s enduring obsession with superstition and pointless suffering.

Hikers need not worry about any of this, though, as the most popular route up and down Croagh Patrick makes for one of the most visually stunning hikes in Ireland. Below sits the Atlantic Ocean and Clew Bay, dotted with over 300 islands, many of them featuring ancient ruins and monuments dating back thousands of years.

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Croagh Patrick Hiking Trail

The most popular Croagh Patrick hiking trail includes…

  • A large public parking lot
  • Excellent cafe
  • Life-altering-ly beautiful scenery on the hike up and down
  • Lots of ancient architectural remnants
  • A summit chapel
  • Some of the best views in Ireland
  • Stunning 360° views from summit

Croagh Patrick Trail Notes & Gallery

Begin at the visitor center a few miles west of Westport. Hike south and uphill, toward the slightly overwhelming-looking mountain…

Croagh Patrick in County Mayo, Ireland
Summit of Croagh Patrick

This mountian is almost always busy…

Hike Croagh Patrick in County Mayo, Ireland
On the way up

It doesn’t take long for the views to start opening up…

Clew Bay, seen fro Croagh Patrick
Clew Bay

View from Croagh Patrick in County Mayo, Ireland
Clew Bay below

View from Croagh Patrick in County Mayo, Ireland
View south from the notch

View from Croagh Patrick
View from The Reek

The summit of Croagh Patrick seen from its main hiking trail
Summit of Croagh Patrick

Archaeologists say there has been a stone chapel or oratory on the summit since the 5th century.

Summit chapel on Croagh Patrick
Summit Chapel

The chapel was locked when I was there but the summit is large, and there are plenty of places to enjoy your well-earned rest and snack. Please always Leave No Trace.

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The hike is very popular, with up to 40,000 ascents per year. However, since I took these photos, local authorities have begun a years-long project to build a trail to the summit. See video below. Nonetheless, proper hiking footwear is highly recommended.

Return to your car by the same route.

Croagh Patrick Videos

Excellent walk-through video of this hike from Jason at Ramble On

And here’s a quick update on the years-long project to build a sustainable path to the summit…

Ancient History on Croagh Patrick

There are so many historical and archeological sites in this part of Co. Mayo, it’s impossible to list them all here. But have a think about visiting The Boheh Stone, especially on April 18 or August 24th.

There are also hut sites, fulacht fiadha (cooking sites close to running water), raths, ringforts, and cashel sites like the one that can be seen on the Murrisk Loop Walk which runs along the ridge below Croagh Patrick.

Hiking Croagh Patrick: Frequently Asked Questions

How do you Pronounce “Croagh Patrick”?

Croagh Patrick is pronounced “croak PA-trik”. The name means “Patrick’s Stack”.

Locally, it’s known simply as “The Reek”, from a Hiberno-English word that means “rick” or “stack”.

How Long Does It Take to Hike Croagh Patrick?

From Murrisk, typically, it takes about two hours to hike up and two hours to hike down. It is fairly relentlessly steep. The uppermost summit cone, dominated by scree, is the hardest section; the footing is super loose. Because of the scree, you’ll find it as slow coming down as it was going up.

IMO, proper hiking footwear is essential at all times on this mountain.

How Many Miles is the Croagh Patrick Climb?

The most popular route, recommended on this page, is at total of 4.5 miles / 7.25 kilometers.

How Much Elevation Gain is There on the Croagh Patrick Hike?

The route from Murrisk starts almost at sea level and goes to the summit, with 2400 feet (730 meters) of elevation gain along the way.

Can a Beginner Climb Croagh Patrick?

This mountain is not technically demanding but it is very steep, and has hardly any flat sections to catch your breath. However, if you are appropriately prepared, take your time, rest often, and stay well hydrated, it is do-able stuff.

Do You Need Hiking Boots for Croagh Patrick?

IMO, yes. The summit’s loose rock will destroy anything other than tough hiking footwear. (However, on the mountain, you will see a surprising number of ill-prepared hikers and pilgrims.)

Do You Need Trekking Poles?

I recommend hiking poles for this route because the rock-bed is so loose. The higher and steeper things get, the looser the trail becomes underfoot. You’ll especially appreciate your trekking poles on the hike down from the summit.

Do People Climb Croagh Patrick in Bare Feet / on Their Knees?

Yes. They do.

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Trailhead Info for this Hike

Large public parking lot for a top destination.

Google Maps Location: 53.779777, -9.640213

The map below shows the exact topographic location of the trailhead

Cell Service

I had cell service the whole hike. My network is Verizon. YMMV.