From Galway, if you take N59 from Clifden to Letterfrack the park is about 93 kms away and worth the drive! Entry into the park and the visitor center exhibits are free of charge and we spent an entire day there taking advantage of all the loop trails (all starting from the visitor center):
- Ellis Wood Nature Trail 0.5 km
- Sruffaunboy Walk 1.5 km
- Lower Diamond Hill Walk 3 km
- Upper Diamond Hill Walk 3.7 km
What we enjoyed so much about the trails is how they changed landscapes. From the visitor center you walk towards Diamond Hill (the highest point) through a stretch of bogland where you are actually on a wooden platform (Google Irish "peatland" for some interesting history of this area's use for fossil fuel). Then as you start up the hill you are surrounded by beautiful heather scrub land as the route gets rockier and steeper. The Upper Diamond Hill Walk is straight up and then back down, but the view from the top is absolutely beautiful (and quite windy). At 400 meters high you get a gorgeous 360 look over the Atlantic Ocean coastline on one side and the 12 Bens Mountain Range on the other. Finally, it was back to the Visitor Center Tea Room for hot soup and coffee - not too bad, huh?
- The Visitor Center and Tea Room are open daily from 9am - 5:30pm March through October.
- The Park Grounds are open all year round from 9am - 5:30pm.
We hiked the Connemara National Park trails in March, so it was cold and windy and it even rained a little when we were hiking up Diamond Hill. What we would suggest is to check the weather and then choose your hiking clothing appropriately. If you are planning on walking up Diamond Hill you will need shoes that can handle rocks and steep terrain. We also brought our CamelBaks, so we had 5 liters of water between the two of us (this was a little overkill for a shorter hike).
Oh, and bring your camera - great views!