Torc Falls At Dawn
Our schedule was so full, the only chance we had to visit Torc Falls was on the day we left Killarney. To squeeze it in, my dad and I got up at 5am and snuck out while everyone else slept on til 7am.
From downtown Killarney to Torc Falls, it’s only about a 10 minute drive. That morning, it was still dark and there had been a decent storm the night prior. The road was strewn with small branches and other debris, but we pulled into the falls’ parking lot and waited for daylight to break.
With just enough light to see, we started the hike to the falls. It’s a well maintained path, but it is uphill. One side offers forest views with ancient trees and moss covered rocks. On the opposite side, a rocky drop off to the river. It’s a short walk, not even really a hike. We took our time, being still somewhat dark under the trees, and it took about 10-15 minutes.
The waterfall was gushing with quite a bit of force, sending spray on the surrounding area and path. As it flowed over the rocks and down into the river, it picked up speed to make the river fast flowing and at times, almost rapids-like. There is a ledge you can walk or climb out onto that will allow you to drop down onto the rocks. I’m not recommending that, just saying it’s possible. If you keep going the trail continues upward (a lot of stairs) and offers views of Killarney Lake.
I can’t recommend this early morning venture highly enough! There wasn’t another soul out there, the forest was quiet, the waterfall powerful and inspiring.
We turned back at that point, and returned to the parking lot. If you continue to follow the river, you go under a stone bridge and come out by the road.
On the drive back, still very early morning, a large herd of deer crossed in front of us. We stopped the car and followed them on the road, as they walked through the forest. There is a field where the forest breaks, going back into Killarney. The herd lingered there, at the treeline. My photos don’t do justice, but they were stunning. There were does, as well as a buck. While we kept a respectfully large distance between us, they knew we there and yet showed no fear.
From the dawn setting, to the deserted falls, and the gorgeous deer, the whole experience was stunning and almost fairytale like. It was mysterious and fascinating, giving me the feeling of an older time, as we walked through the mossy forests and encountered deer who had no visible fear of humans. Perhaps it was the pre-breakfast hunger delirium getting me, or perhaps it was simply the magic of Ireland.
For Comparison- Torc Falls During Normal Hours
Keep in mind the prior experience was before most sensible people wake up, and was in November. In May 2017 we visited the falls again, during the late afternoon, to take my mom and sister.
It was a much different experience, as the falls are one of the most popular stops on the Ring, and are right by Killarney. The parking lot isn’t huge, and we had to wait for a spot. There were lots of people there, and a line for the restroom. The bathrooms automatically lock at closing time (around 5pm I believe), so people were hurrying in and out. I can’t confirm if they lock you in, if you’re inside when they auto shut, but we were worried about it, and people were holding open the entry door to make sure no one was stuck inside.
People were lined up to take photos in front of the falls, and there were children climbing all over the rocks below the falls and in the river, looking quite precarious.
Nonetheless, it was still beautiful and a worthwhile experience. Had I not visited previously, without any crowds, I wouldn’t have had any negative thoughts.