Thursday 22 June 2017

Dublin Phoenix Park Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 14.2 km (8.8 miles), terrain: a few short hills, gain 90 meters

Dublin Running Routes:
Georgian Heritage  
River Liffey 

Phoenix Park
Dun Laoghaire coastal run 
City Centre loop   

Howth Cliff Walk trail
See the other running routes here!

Phoenix Park is one of those places that every city needs: a big, green oasis full of gardens, sporting facilities and endless trails that wind their way through hill and glen. With playgrounds, flower gardens, a zoo, a fort, a castle tower, palaces, sports fields, ponds and monuments, it provides endless highlights and lookouts and spots to have fun. This is the place where Dublin goes to relax and play in nice weather. 
Trail in Phoenix Park
NOTE: This run is a bit long, so if you want to reduce it to 10 kilometers, just take a bus or tram to Heuston Station, right near the park entrance and begin there. The bus lines 25, 37, 39 and 69 all head west along the south shore of the River Liffey, and then cross the river to get to the park. Or take the Red Line LUAS tram to Heuston.

Phoenix park is diagonally bisected by a road, Chesterfield Avenue. The smaller, northern half of the park is filled with a lot of big things that are in the way of a good, free run: the Dublin Zoo, the Irish President's mansion, the visitor centre and its parking lots, and the polo grounds.

So it's better to head to the southern part of the park, where you can choose from a wide variety of dirt- and grassy trails and paved walkways.
Ha'penny Bridge, looking towards the run
So, if you find yourself visiting memorable Dublin, get yourself to the pedestrian Ha'penny Bridge, which crosses the River Liffey right in the heart of town at Temple Bar.

We'll follow the south shore on the way out, and the north on the way back. So turn west and head out along Wellington Quay along the south shore of the river. To avoid most pedestrians, stay on the sidewalk directly next to the water.
Along the Liffey
This is a busy street, and a main bus route, so it won't exactly be quiet. After you pass Winetavern Street, you'll see the domed Four Courts courthouse across the river.

A few blocks further west, you'll pass the James Joyce House, at 15 Usher's Island. Ireland honors its writers and poets like few other lands.

And two blocks further, you'll see Croppies Acre park and the National Museum of Ireland behind it, across the river (we'll run there later). The huge Guiness brewery is just to your left side.

At the brewery, we're almost at Heuston Station, so keep to the right and cross the river at the bridge, at the 2 kilometer mark.
Park entrance
Now continue westwards along Parkgate Street, heading uphill right to the park entrance. After passing the round Criminal Courts of Justice building, you'll see the stone park  gates to the right, so head up through them into Phoenix Park along Chesterfield Avenue.

I said we'd stay along the south side of Chesterfield, but let's make a great exception right at the start: there is a little gate into the Peoples' Garden on the right side, let's head in there. It takes us away from the street and puts us right into one of the prettiest spots in the park.

Just run straight along the sidewalk into the garden, passing flower beds and fountains.
Peoples Garden
In half a kilometer, you run past a pond on your right side and then cross a little side-street. Continue straight into the next section, which has a little valley. Head up towards the left, to the café, actually the Tea Rooms.

After passing the tea rooms, at the 3-km mark, you'll come to the next cross-street, with the red ticket office for the Dublin Zoo on the far side.

The zoo will block our progress, so let's turn left and cross Chesterfield Avenue and continue southwest on the little street past the cricket fields. The street winds past a pond and then ends at an army sports club.
Where the sports fields begin: keep left and run towards the woods!
When the pavement ends, run straight out into the sports fields. Stay to the left edge of the hurling fields, avoiding trampling them. Head towards the woods on the left side, and you'll connect into a trail heading northwest. You'll probably begin to run past herds of grazing deer. They are all over this part of the park.

Stay on the trail, which is parallel to and above a bigger, paved bike/running trail in the little valley to the left.

Eventually, your trail will merge into the paved one, after you get views of the Irish President's mansion way off to the right, Áras an Uachtaráin.
The Papal Cross
You'll soon cross a car road, Acres Road, where you'll see a gigantic white cross towards the southwest. Follow the path towards the cross, at the 5-km mark. The Papal Cross was erected to commemorate a sermon on that spot held by Pope John Paul II.

We are now running through vast open fields called the "Fifteen Acres", with vistas in every direction. Off to the south you can see the faraway Wicklow Mountains.
The Fifteen Acres, with view of the mountains
Continue running westwards through the lawns. You'll pass the US Ambassador's mansion on the right side.

Follow the trails westwards and you'll come to a crossing of two small roads, Furze Road and Upper Glen Road. Cross the road on the left side and then head down into the valley to the left, along a dirt path.
Glen Pond
You'll come down to Glen Pond, and probably some fishermen, at the 7-km mark. The trail then curves to the left, heading uphill to the south, and connecting into Upper Glen Road.

Cross the road and continue southwards along the dirt trail that runs parallel with the street. Eventually, though, St. Mary's Hospital will block your way, at the 8-km mark, and you'll have to turn right to get back to Upper Glen Road again.

As the road heads downhill, take the first little road to the left, just below the hospital, and that connects into Military Road. This road has very little traffic, so follow it eastwards as it continues downhill, then winding around a few small valleys. We're running along the south edge of the big lawn where we were running westwards earlier.
The Magazine Fort
Eventually, the road will lead you to an old fort, at the 10-kilometer mark. The Magazine Fort was used to store gunpowder, and the older walls and towers were extended with 20th century additions.

Just past the fort, you must go down a steep hill, where you continue eastwards along Wellington Road, heading uphill again. When you reach the top of the hill you'll see a huge obelisk to the right. Cross the road and run past the monument, erected to memorialize the Duke of Wellington.
Wellington Monument
Run past the monument and then keep left and you'll return to Chesterfield Avenue again, across from the Peoples' Garden, where you then exit the park.

Head back towards Heuston Bridge, but instead of following the way we came before, keep to the left and follow Benburb Street to the left of the little triangular park, at the 12-km mark. Follow the tracks of the LUAS tram line, which runs here, parallel to the Liffey a block away on the right side.

A block later, you'll come to a bigger park, Croppies Acre, where Irish rebels ("croppies") from the 1798 Rebellion are buried. The park has been upgraded in the last years and you can now go into it and run parallel to the street.

The Irish National Museum is to the left, with art and design objects.
Along Benburb Street
Continue along Benburb all the way back into town. This northern part of Dublin has a gritty reputation, but there have been some recent upgrades to make life there more attractive. A couple of squares have been fitted out with playgrounds and places to sit.

At Smithfields, you'll see one of those squares, at the Jameson Whiskey distillery, at the 13-km mark.

Later, when you cross Jervis Street with Wolftone Square, you'll run past the new Jervis shopping mall. Right at the mall entrance, you'll see a little pedestrian street turning south to your right, Millennium Walkway.
Along the Liffey boardwalk and the Ha'penny Bridge
Run down the walkway, lined with little restaurants and cafés, until you reach the Liffey. Cross the riverside street, Ormond Quay, and turn left to follow the boardwalk over the river the one block back to Ha'penny Bridge.

Now that was one long and scenic run!


  1. I found this site while looking for running routes in Paris for an upcoming trip. Since I live in Dublin and run in Phoenix Park very frequently I thought I'd check this out. It's a very good route and you sound like a local! I probably wouldn't run along the Liffey with the traffic and forced stops for pedestrian crossings but if I were a tourist I think it would be interesting to see that part of the city at least once. Good job. I am very confident I'll enjoy some of your suggested routes in Paris. :)

    1. Thanks for the encouragement! I hope one of the suggested routes in Paris meets your fancy. Most streets in Paris are definitely NOT runner-friendly, but if you start looking for the parks, riverfront and backstreets, you'll find some great spots to explore!