Known simply as the Sugar Loaf, this mountain is located in east County Wicklow, south of Bray, and just a 20 minute drive from Dublin. Offering superb views over the Dublin and Wicklow coastlines, the mountain is a mere 501 metres / 1,644 ft high. It is called the Great Sugar Loaf to distinguish it from the Little Sugar Loaf mountain to the east --- on the other side of the N11 dual carriageway road, which runs from Dublin to Wicklow. The hill is located near the pretty villages of Kilmacanogue and Enniskerry. From the other side, the hiker can see the beautiful Powerscourt Estates and Waterfalls. On a clear day, hikers even claim they can see as far away as Snowdonia mountain, which lies across the Irish sea, in Wales!
Why is it Called the Sugar Loaf?
Because it literally looks like a loaf, or pile, of sugar, especially in colder months, when it gets a sprinkling of white snow on top. In fact, the Great Sugar Loaf gets its unusual shape due to its composition -- it is made up of Cambrian quartzite and is sometimes mistaken for a volcano.
Climbing the Sugarloaf on a misty day
Climbing the Sugar Loaf
A walk up the mountain is one of the more popular walks near Dublin. There are two climbing options.
- The first is a short one-hour walk up and down. The short path begins at the car park at foot of the hill. It is a relatively easy climb for anyone who is reasonably fit.
- The second is a longer, two and a half-hour route. For the long route, take the exit from the N11 into Kilmacanogue Village and then immediately take the left hand turn up a narrow path to the sports field. Alongside the sports field is a path that marks the start of the route.
Late spring and summer months offer the most favourable times to climb -- for the best views, and the least likelihood of windy conditions. Note: some have complained that, while there are many paths up the mountain, they are not all easy to follow, and walkers have to scramble through some little scree, as the walk is certainly unspoiled. Important note about security: Thieves have unfortunately been known to target cars left unattended at the car park at the base of the mountain. While these occurrences are rare, be sure to lock your car, and do not leave and valuable belongings inside your car. Another option is to take the bus from the city -- although due to the point at where the bus leaves you means your only option will be the long hike up the mountain.
Great Sugarloaf. Image by Kilgarron