Know Before You Go: This hike takes you up rock stairs that can get slippery when wet. There are not guard rails on the stairs and there is a steep drop off at the edge. The top is extremely windy, so wind-resistant, snug-fitting clothes are recommended. There is an ancient queen’s tomb at the summit, and you are asked not to climb on the cairn covering the tomb. Length: 5.5 miles if you take the loop trail, which we highly recommend. Time: 2.5 hours. Terrain: Crushed aggregate, grass, dirt, rocky in places. Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous. The stairs near the summit can be challenging. Dog-friendly: Dogs are not permitted. Kid-friendly: Yes, if your kids can handle the steep steps at the top. Please keep kids off the cairn. The Queen Maeve Trail near Sligo may have been one of my favorite trails in Ireland. It combines all the best: spectacular views of the sea and of the Irish countryside; a walk through a lush deciduous and coniferous forest; interpretive displays that tell a story about Queen Maeve, an ancient warrior queen, and her famous battle for a bull; and a challenging climb up stone steps to a summit featuring a cairn covering an ancient tomb.
We parked in the Sligo Rugby Club parking lot in Strandhill. The trailhead lies across the road. It takes you up a trail of crushed aggregate and stone steps to a T-section where you could go left to do a loop around the mountain until you come to the turnoff for the cairns or turn right for a shorter path to the cairns.
Keep an eye out for magnificent views through the trees in the forested loop. The stairs to the top offer views of the sea and of the surrounding mountain ranges. At the summit, be sure to avoid climbing on the cairn covering Queen Maeve’s tomb as this is sacred to the Irish people.
On the hike down to the parking lot, wooden planks are covered with staples to provide traction on a rainy day. There’s not a handrail in most places so take care with your steps. Take a left at the T to complete the loop, then retrace your initial steps to return to your car.