Carns Hill

  • Trailhead: Car Park, Information Board
  • Length: 1.3km
  • Ascent: 20m
  • Time: 45 Mins
  • Suggested Gear: Trainers
  • Longitude: 54.256772
  • Latitude: -8.447745

The Trail Map:- OSI Map Series 25

Carns (or Cairns) Hill is a hidden gem located just a short walk from Sligo Town with views of Sligo Bay, Benbulben and Lough Gill, though these views are mostly obscured by the thick forest. The site consists of two short looped walks through a diverse forest plantation which is rich in biodiversity. The hillside features two large unopened and undisturbed Neolithic cairns and associated caves. They are sited on the highest points of the flat summits where the west cairn stands at 123 metres and the east cairn slightly lower at 112 metres. The Cairn (blue) loop will take you to the edge of the ancient east cairn. The cairn is covered with young trees and scrub – ash, sycamore and hazel, so that you might easily miss it and walk by. The cairn is about 45 meters in diameter and some 10 meters high. It is composed of chunks of quarried limestone, and is most likely kerbed and strewn with quartz.

You can also cross the road – with care – at the entrance and this provides access to Cleveragh Regional Park, which is a looped trail which further extends onto the Garavogue River Walk, which brings you along the Garavogue River into the centre of Sligo Town.

Directions - How to get to the Trailhead.

If you approach Sligo from the Dublin side, take the S2 exit and head towards the centre of town. After the first main set of lights, turn right onto Cemetery Road, at the end of which you reach a T-junction at Sligo Racecourse. Turn right and stay on this road, which rises along Holy Well Road for a short distance until you reach the parking area for Carns Hill (Carns Forest Recreation Area) on your right. If you approach from the centre of town along the banks of Lough Gill, pass Cleveragh Sports Complex and when you reach the T-junction, turn left onto Holy Well Road, and from there to the parking area.

5 thoughts on “Carns Hill

  1. Newly Added Views!

    There are now signs which seem to imply you shouldn’t walk on the top of the cairn – not that there’s any view from the top anyway with the trees.

    On the eastern side of the main loop a large number of trees have been felled, and there is now a great view out of Lough Gill. Coillte have also added a couple of benches and a picnic table. An excellent addition to this walk.

    Coillte have also added an extra little footpath, so you can now cross the road and enter directly into Cleveragh Park (previously you used to have to walk on the road for 150m and enter via the car park). Definitely a safer route as cars whizz down this road.

    1. Thanks Andrew, the general view is to not climb cairns out of respect for what may be beneath them and for the protection of these ancient monuments.

  2. Unfortunately couldn’t rate as car park permanently closed.

    Hi there,
    The start point car park, next to the water works, has a permanent barrier across the entrance preventing cars entering. Is there a known alternative start point with car parking available?
    Thanks for the great and extremely infornative website – great for visitors and residents.
    Many thanks.

    1. Hi Margaret,
      Thanks for your comment. The directions for the start point were incorrect in describing the waterworks entrance as having a car park, there is only street parking available here. The barrier here is the same as is at all Coillte properties to prevent vehicular access. A car park has recently been added to the Holy Well Road side of the forest, the trail map has been updated to show where this is and the directions updated to describe both entrances. We hope you’ll give this walk another go and improve your star rating if you see fit.

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