The Diamond Hill Hike in Galway is a really popular attraction in Connemara National Park. The hill is part of the 12 Bens but standing on its own, will give you the best panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Don’t let the word hill fool you, I would for sure consider it a mountain, standing at 445 metres. BUT, paths and steps have been added to make it accessible to all. Whether the sun is shining or the clouds have rolled in its aa great thing to do. Perfect for those who love the outdoors, hiking or photography. Make sure you don’t miss it.
Where is the Diamond Hill Hike Galway?
Diamond Hill is an isolated peak of the twelve bends. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a mountain range in Connemara. You can find it in Letterfrack, a small village known for its traditional music sessions. There is not all that much in the village really, but a few pubs and restaurants – and Connemara National Park of course.
How to Get to Connemara National Park for hiking Diamond Hill?
For driving from Galway, head straight out the N59 through Connemara. This is such a beautiful drive you will be hanging out the windows in awe of the landscape. You can stay on the N59 right the way to Letterfrack or take a left turn at Recess onto the R344. This will bring you right to Letterfrack.
From Mayo, head to the N59 and go south. This road will bring you right to Letterfrack.
Bus routes go out to Letterfrack daily from Galway city, allowing you to sit back and enjoy the green fields and wild mountains zooming past the window. For time tables definitely check out these websites:
Diamond Hill Walking Trails
There are 4 trails to choose from when visiting Diamond Hill.
Ellis Wood Nature Tail (Green) 0.5 Kms
This is a very quick little walk at only half a kilometre in distance. This is a perfect trail for a family with small kids. As with the other trails, it starts and ends at the visitor centre however this walk passes through the woods, and allows visitors to enjoy the wildflowers, wildlife and even a waterfall.
Sruffaunboy Walk (Yellow) 1.5 Km
Again this is a shorter loop walk and is ideal for families. This walk also passes by fields of horses and donkeys which the kids will love, although pretty sure everyone does. We were not the only group of “grown-ups” to stop and try and entice the donkeys over to the fence for a quick scratch behind the ears!
If doing the full hike you will pass through this walk either on your way out or back into the visitor centre.
Lower Diamond Hill Walk (Blue) 3 k
The Lower Diamond Hill walk is where you start the incline towards the summit. It is a 3km loop and passes through boggy grassland with large rocks scattered around the landscape – left there by retreating glaciers during the last ice age 14,000 years ago.
This walk includes a wooden boardwalk at parts and although it’s the lower section, you will still see views across Kylemore Lough from this trail. So you won’t miss out if you’re not doing the full hill. From this trail you can continue on the loop back to the centre if you’ve had enough, or start the Upper Diamond Hill trail to climb the summit.
Upper diamond Hill Walk (Red) 3.7 km
The upper Hill trail continues from the lower trail, and brings you right up to the summit of the hill. In doing the Upper walk, you will be taking in parts of three trails (yellow, blue and red) walking about 7km in total. Depending on your speed and how often you stop to soak in the scenery, it can take up to 3 hours to do the whole thing.
It always takes me about double the time I advise for these kinds of walks because I stop literally every 5 minutes to take photos!
On a good day, you will have views of surrounding Connemara. Including Kylemore abbey in the distance as well as Kylemore Lough. Unfortunately on a bad day, these views may be covered by a curtain of fog and cloud – which was my experience!
My Experience of Diamond Hill Hike
The day I conquered Diamond Hill, I was with Eoghan and two friends. We drove out to Letterfrack from Galway and stopped off on the edge of Killary fjord along the way. A blue cloudless sky stretched out above us and we stood and took in – sandwiched between the steep mountains either side, stretching out to the Atlantic ocean.
On the shores of the fjord, you’ll find the “Misunderstood Heron”, named by Loney Planet as one of the worlds 10 coolest food trucks. We wanted to get food but were too early. I will definitely be heading back.
We continued on and finally arrived at the car park. The car park itself wedged but we were able to park along the entrance road – the whole was lined with cars either side.
The Lower trail of Diamond Hill:
After a quick stop off at the visitor centre for a toilet break, we started the lower Diamond Hill walk. We never planned to do the whole thing but just wanted to go to see how we got on. Sadly, the blue skies quickly vanished, smothered by thick grey cloud. However, that didn’t make the surrounding landscape any less beautiful.
We followed the bog road out of the centre which gradually started inclining. Not gonna lie, even though I spend a lot of time outside walking, I would consider myself quite unfit. Only a few minutes in and I was gasping for air haha. I was actually quite worried that I wouldn’t be able to do the whole thing, but as I warmed up it got much easier.
You are on a gravel path at the beginning which eventually meets a flat wooden boardwalk over the more boggy areas. After getting to the point which connects to the upper trail, we decided to continue on and – we’d made it that far after all!
Numerous times we stopped to look out over the landscape, and about halfway up there was a viewpoint where the majority of people were stopping to get photos. Even blanketed in clouds the views were pretty amazing.
The upper hill walk was a lot steeper, naturally enough! Thankfully, there were lots of stone steps to make it easier. At parts you do feel like you’re just clambering over rocks – although maybe that’s due to my height, small people be warned! With a lot of breaks (on my part- which a lot of the time I pretended to be photo stops) we made it to the top.
We were raging, because the closer we got to the top, the further we descended into the cloud. By the time we reached the summit, we were fully enveloped by the clouds and could not see a thing! Pretty disappointing to miss the rewarding views but it was still a really enjoyable climb and I was so happy I did it all. I was very proud of myself!
After planting ourselves down for a snack break, we made our way down the other side again. Once below the cloud line, the weather improved and we could see Kylemore Abbey and Lough not far off in the distance.
The yellow trail on the way back to the Visitors Centre:
I always find going down is so much easier and pretty much flew back down. At the end, when you join onto the yellow trail, there are fields which have horses. They were so friendly and came over for rubs. Which only made the day even better!
The Visitor Centre
The visitor centre is free too and has a photo gallery, information desk, picnic area and children’s playground. There is also a cafe to fuel up before or after your hike and toilets of course!
It generally opens 9 – 530 not including Christmas or Stephens Day, however again I would always check the official website for the accurate times:
The day that I visited, we only used the visitor centre for the toilets before and after our hike. I am quite disappointed that we didn’t check out the grounds more and will definitely be trying out the cafe and exploring a bit more on my next visit.
Other things to note about the Diamond Hill hike:
- Free parking and entry to the park
- Dogs are allowed in the park grounds – don’t forget waste bags!
- No Drones
FAQS about Diamond Hill
How to get to Diamond hill?
It is a handy drive to the visitor centre from Galway city. You will be taking the N59 to Clifden and following the road out to Letterfrack. It takes about 1 hour 20 minutes from the city and is ~78 km. If travelling from the other direction such as Westport, you will be driving the same N59 just south, to get to Letterfrack.
Is the Diamond Hill hike difficult?
Standing at 442m it’s not huge, although the upper walk is definitely a bit of a push to get to the top. Overall I would say it’s not that difficult. If you stop for breaks you can manage it without too much difficulty – If I can do it, pretty much anyone can! That being said, the top is a lot of clambering over rocks and would not be suitable for anyone with mobility issues.
Is Diamond Hill Hike Family-friendly?
Definitely! The two smaller trails are perfect for small children, one allowing them to enjoy the woods and nature, the other bringing them by the horses and donkeys for entertainment.
The lower trail had a lot of kids and there were even children doing the full hike. If you have athletic/energetic kids above ~5 years old I think it would be okay for them to do it. Like I said, we saw small kids who did it with no trouble. There were even babies strapped to their parent’s backs on the longer trail. Overall the place is very family-friendly with a playground in the centre if they’re not tired out enough from the hike!
Diamond Hill Weather
As always in Ireland, you need to be prepared for all seasons in one day! We had sun, drizzle, fog and thick clouds. As always, light layers are best to ensure you are prepared for the weather
- Windproof / waterproof jacket
- A hat that covers your ears – it can get windy!
- Comfortable hiking boots
Final Thoughts on Diamond Hill
I really enjoyed Diamond Hill Hike in Galway. I was surprised by how quickly we managed to do it, even with my 4534r24703813810 breaks! Although the bad weather rolled in, it didn’t really affect our day, we still got to see connemara from above. I already can’t wait to go and do it again, and maybe we’ll even get a bit of sunshine next time!
It is so accessible with paths, boardwalks and steps. Highly recommend going to Diamond hill if you’re visiting Galway.