Gap of Dunloe
邓洛隘口 Dunloe Upper, Co. Kerry, Ireland
Bike the Gap of DunloeIreland is an amazing road trip destination, but sometimes it's nice to slow your pace by swapping four wheels for two. There's no better place to do a bike adventure than in Killarney National Park in County Kerry.
Your day begins at O'Sullivan's Cycles on Muckross Road, where you'll be fitted with bikes, helmets and panniers. From there it's just a quick easy ride into the park and over to Ross Castle. You and your bike will spend the next hour traversing the three lakes of Killarney National Park by boat, which offers beautiful views and an opportunity to rest up before the big trek. Captain Don and his four-legged sidekick Buddy piloted our boat well, and we were even lucky to run into their smiling faces having a craic in town over the next few evenings.
Once you disembark from the boat on the southern end of the park, the real fun begins. You'll start off gently with a few miles of mild grade winding through farms and passing the occasional loose sheep. Before you know it, you'll face the day's biggest hurdle: a STEEP 2000 foot elevation gain. In our case, we brought our two young children along for the ride in a trailer behind my husband's bike. Let's just say that he's a champ - he towed 80 lbs of kids and gear up that mountain, though mostly had to walk it due to the steep grade and heavy load.
Once you arrive at the top, take your time to rest and enjoy the views. There are rarely cars in the area so relax and listen to the sheep and birds in the distance. When you're ready, hold on tight! What goes up must come down, so you'll careen down almost 3000 feet along windy mountain switchbacks. It was the most adrenaline-pumping activity we've ever done!
After the mountain descent, you'll ride the bucolic backroads back to Killarney town. Your total ride is around 15 miles, mostly on car-free mountain roads or empty country lanes. There's a small section in town with heavy car traffic, but you can avoid some of that by popping back into the edge of Killarney National Park as soon as you see signs for the Castleross Hotel and Golf Club (turn right onto their road, then hop on the bike path on your left before the hotel).
What to bring: windbreaker or light rain jacket, lunch (or buy after the boat ride), plenty of water, camera.
Enjoy the ride!