McArt’s Fort Loop

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This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
3.2 km
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
222 m
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Directions to Trailhead

The McArt’s Fort Loop is a fantastic outdoor excursion on the western edge of Belfast that will lead you uphill for some stunning views of the city. While out on the trail, you will pass by the Belfast Zoo and the ancient hilltop fortification known as McArt’s Fort, before reaching the summit of Cavehill which offers views of Belfast and Belfast Castle. The close proximity of this trail to a variety of popular attractions makes this a great walk to kill a few hours on the weekend.

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Route Description for McArt’s Fort Loop

If you are looking to visit several fascinating highlights in Belfast in addition to getting some exercise on a fun walk, then you should look into the McArt’s Fort Loop. This short walking route is conveniently located near the Belfast Zoo and Belfast Castle, making it a great option for an exciting day outdoors with the family.

Setting out from the car park, you will make your way to the south and begin climbing up the hillside with the Belfast Zoo on your left. While working your way up to the summit of Cavehill, you will gain an amazing perspective over the city and pass by the ancient promontory fort known as McArt’s Fort. From here, it is only a short distance further uphill to reach the summit.

Once you reach the top of Cavehill, you will enjoy sweeping views of Belfast that reach out to the lough and include the 19th Century Belfast Castle below. After taking in the views, you will head to the northeast and descend the hillside, once again passing by the zoo on your return to the trailhead.

Getting to the McArt’s Fort Loop Trailhead

The trailhead for the McArt’s Fort Loop can be found at the car park for the Belfast Zoo, which is located just off Antrim Road.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground


  • When to do


  • Pets allowed

    Yes - On Leash

  • Family friendly


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McArt’s Fort Loop Elevation Graph

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