The Gap of Dunloe-The Black Valley-Molls Gap-Killarney National Park

Posted: May 25, 2015 · By: Dave Elton · Comments: 2
Under: Favourite Routes, Routes

The Gap of Dunloe, Black Valley, Killarney loop.

On it’s day this has to be one of the most stunning areas that Ireland has to offer.

This is an unspoiled area, with all the charm of a timeless wonderland.

Stunning mountains, clear lakes, bubbling streams and icefresh waterfalls, this is a ride NOT TO MISS!

Route Map

Route Facts

Distance
56 Km
34.8 Miles
Starting Town
Killarney
Climbs
Gap of Dunloe climb (to start of Black Valley)
Derrynafunsha (Molls Gap is very close to the left)
Towns en Route
Killarney-Fossa-Beaufort (with a slight detour)-Muckross

Difficulty
8 out of 10
Area of Kerry
South Kerry

Terrain

This route has a bit of everything. Bikepaths on main roads, country lanes, winding tarmac tracks, lakes, mountain pass, rolling craggy roads, sharp climbs and fast descents.

Although doable on a racing/road bike, parts of the Black Valley and Molls Gap roads are in parts rough and broken. For comfort, a mountain or hybrid bicycle might suit most people.

Route description

Killarney-Kate Kearney’s Cottage 12.5 km

You leave Killarney on the start of the Ring of Kerry route (N 72), travelling towards Killorglin. This section is flat and aided by some bicycle paths. At approx 7 km take “the Gap Rd” sign posted Gap of Dunloe. Here you are taken onto a narrower country road. Keep following the signs until you reach Kate Kearney’s.Gap of Dunloe

Kate Kearney’s-Gap of Dunloe 4.3 km

On leaving the cafes and souvenir shops of Kate Kearneys you start a gradual climb. Along this section of the route the road can get quite rough (especially in the centre) due to the Jarvy horses. Along this section horse and traps, walkers and cyclists are King.

Absorb and enjoy the stunning Black, Cushvalley and Augher lakes, before a series of hair pin bends see’s you safely up to the top of the Gap of Dunloe.Gap of Dunloe

Gap of Dunloe-Molls Gap 16 km

The majority of this section of the cycle ride takes you through the Black Valley. Things start off very scenic with fantastic views of the whole Black Valley and it’s surrounding mountains from the top of the Gap. The descent into the Black Valley is a series of hair-pin bends bringing you past an old country church and hostel. Once the route flattens out you have probably face into the worst section of road for a good 5 km. The bad surface though is well compensated for the fantastic peace and tranquillity of the area, where silence is golden, bar for the gurgling of streams, the rush from waterfalls and the sound of the gentle head wind.Black Valley

The road does finally improve though staying charmingly narrow. You’re exit out of the Black Valley comes at about 30 km with a 3 km climb to Molls Gap. The climb looks far worse than it actually is, with a few Alp style switch backs taking away the worst of the gradients. On reaching the top and the main road, take a left for a well deserved free wheel down into Molls Gap.Black Valley

Molls Gap-Ladies View 6 km

Once at Molls Gap there’s the option for refreshments and meeting up with the World and his wife again. From now on you are on the N 71 (Ring of Kerry route) to Killarney. Here there is a vast improvement in the road surface, as it widens and becomes smooth and slick. The terrain is mostly downhill, with the odd sneaky hill.Ladies View

Ladies View-Killarney 16 km

Ladies View is another spot to re-fuel and enjoy breath taking views. Once leaving here though you have a pulsating downhill ride. With plenty of bends, a narrow bridge and a small tunnel to negociate. Here you are in the thick of the Killarney National Park, with it’s lakes and rugged views. You might even see some deer or an eagle!

The terrain and road surface becomes slightly rolling, with a lifeless road surface. Things do improve around the Torc Waterfall area, with a more lively surface once more. Along this section there are a few options to stop off at Torc or swing into the left and visit parts of the Muckross estate. From Muckross the centre of Killarney is less than 6 km away.Killarney Nat Park

 

Traffic

While travelling on the main roads, which are sections of the Ring of Kerry, the traffic can be busy, depending on the time of day and time of year. In Summer expect plenty of cars and buses, especially from Molls Gap to Killarney.

Once you move into the Gap of Dunloe and Black Valley area the main traffic is walkers, horse and traps and cyclists with the Black Valley itself very quiet.

Facilities

Killarney caters for your every need, so no worries there! On route there are cafe and toilet facilities at Kate Kearney’s, Molls Gap and Ladies View. Toilets are also available at Torc and just off route at Muckross House you will find toilet and cafe facilities.

In the Black Valley there is one hostel close to the church at the Molls Gap end of the valley.

As with any cycle it’s always wise to bring provisions with you eg. water, snacks, water proofs and that extra layer.

Cycle hire

The area around Killarney offers various cycle hire outlets.

Photos

The Gap of Dunloe-The Black Valley-Molls Gap-Killarney National Park: 2 Comments
  • Eddie
    4 months ago

    This might seem a bit obtuse but this route is perhaps better the other way round. The way set out here is a bit of a grind on boring roads with a sapping gradient at the start on the way out until you get to the Gap. Then it goes through the gap the hard way. The route through the black valley is always into a headwind from the west.The last bit is grand though. The other way round, you have the climb to Molls gap on the way out, but then nature is with you. The route through the Gap is lovely and downhill and the last boring bit is an easy coast into town. Just a thought

  • Donnacha Clifford
    4 months ago

    Hi Eddie. A very interesting take and both approaches have their merits. Personally I find it hard to beat a coffee stop in Molls and the following descent to Killarney towards the back end of the cycle. But I haven’t done the other way in a while. I’ll have to give it a whirl.

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