The Gap of Dunloe-The Black Valley-Molls Gap-Killarney National Park
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!
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
8 out of 10
Area of Kerry
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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-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.
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.
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.
The area around Killarney offers various cycle hire outlets.