Established as a National Park in 1932 to protect some of Ireland’s highest mountains and lakes, Killarney National Park has always been a popular area to visit because of its stunning natural beauty. Today, the National Park is mostly visited by parties who wish to experience the Ring of Kerry, a scenic day, or multi-day drive around the Iveragh Peninsula that covers a portion of the park along with other scenic and historic sites. Depending on the time of year, visitors traversing the Ring of Kerry will either experience an open road, or bumper to bumper traffic; but irrespective of when one visits, the Torc Waterfall is worth a stop for a short walk to stretch one’s legs, and to briefly experience some of the fantastic natural features of the national park.
Directions: The waterfall is located directly off of N71, the road travelers will take to drive the Ring of Kerry. From Killarney, the jumping off point for the Ring of Kerry, and the largest town in the region, the waterfall is located four and a half miles (7.2 kilometers) to the South on the N71. The waterfall is well-signed by the National Park on both sides of the road, and while the falls themselves cannot be seen from the road, the parking area is hard to miss. The closest location to the waterfall is the Muckross House, which is located 2.8 kilometers to the north. Travelers who have more time in the area can either hike from the Muckross House, a nineteenth century mansion along well-maintained trails to the waterfall, or take a horse drawn carriage from the mansion (for a fee) to the trailhead.
From the parking area off the N71, the trailhead is readily apparent, and well maintained, heading up a heavily forested area alongside the cascades of the Torc River. After a quarter mile walk (or stroll) under the oak, birch, and ash trees the waterfall comes into view with a small viewing platform near the river. The Torc Waterfall has been a popular place for travelers to visit since the nineteenth century, and irrespective of season, remains a popular hike due to its short length and easy difficulty. From the viewing area, travelers will be able to watch the fall cascade some sixty feet into the river below. At this point, visitors can either head back to their vehicles for an easy, half mile hike, or continue up the trail to experience views of the surrounding area, or continue on to Torc Mountain. While there are larger waterfalls in Ireland and less popular waterfalls, the Torc Waterfall is still worth a visit, especially for travelers in the region, and as I mentioned above, is a great stop for parties exploring the region and the Ring of Kerry.