Cave Hill Country Park gets its name from five caves, which could be early iron mines, on the side of the main Belfast cliffs. The park has many natural and historical features including archaeological sites, Cave Hill, ecotrails, walking and orienteering routes and Belfast Castle. The park has picnic areas, woodland ares and species-rich grassland. Cattle graze in the park, this helps habitat management.
There are several archaeological sites in Cave Hill Country Park including the remains of a stone cairn, cashel and crannog. The most spectacular is McArts Fort, an ancient ráth or fort which stands almost 368 metres (about 1,200 feet) above sea level.
Getting to Cave Hill Country Park
You can enter the park at Antrim Road (Belfast Zoo), Ballysillan Road (Carr's Glen), Innisfayle Park (Belfast Castle), Upper Cavehill Road or Upper Hightown Road. Take Metro no.1 A-H (Monday to Saturday) or no.1 C-E or H (Sundays).
You can enter the park at:
- Innisfayle Park entrance and carpark, Antrim Road BT15 5GR
- Carrs Glen entrance, Ballysillan Road BT14 8LA
- Grays Lane entrance and carpark, Antrim Road BT15 4EP
- Hazelwood entrance, beside Belfast Zoo BT36 7PN
- Horseshoe Bend entrance, Crumlin Road, BT14 8QU
- Upper Cavehill Road entrance, BT15 5FB
- Upper Hightown Road entrance and carpark, BT14 8RR
There is no exit from Cave Hill Country Park onto the Antrim Road from the back driveway.
Visiting the park
There are cattle grazing in Cave Hill Country Park. When you're in the park:
- keep to pathways
- do not approach cattle
- avoid getting between animals and their young
- keep dogs on a short lead
- if cattle approach, let your dog off the lead
- report any damage to fences
To report damage call 028 9032 0202 (office hours) or 028 9027 0275 (outside office hours). In an emergency, dial 999. To report antisocial behaviour, call 028 9050 0515.
There are three waymarked-trails with various levels of difficulty. The walking trailhead is at the second carpark on the main drive to Belfast Castle from Innisfayle Park.
Cavehill Trail is a 4.5 mile (7.2 km) circular walking route. For this route, you need sturdy walking shoes and clothing for inclement weather. The trail takes in McArt’s Fort. The total ascent of the trail is 256m and needs a good level of fitness.
Estate Trail is a 2.4 mile (3.9 km) circular walking route through the woodland. This follows paths on the lower slopes of the country park. The total ascent of the route is 134m.
Castle Trail is a short 0.8 mile (1.3km) circular trail taking in the gardens in Belfast Castle.
Green Flag awards
Cave Hill Country Park has been awarded the Green Flag Award every year from 2009 to 2020. This award recognises the best open spaces in the UK.
Enjoy panoramic views across Belfast from vantage points on the hillside. The park's natural attractions include heath and moorland on top of the hill, the meadows and Milewater Stream in Carr's Glen Linear Park, the woodlands of Hazelwood and the beautiful surroundings of Belfast Castle Estate. The area is rich in birds and wild plants. Land at Ballyhagan and Hazelwood is designated as a local nature reserve.
Events and conservation
To find out about conservation events, visit Cavehill Conservation website.
To find out what events and activities are on in our parks, go to Park events.
Park opening times
|9 May – 31 July||10pm (9pm for Botanic Gardens)
|1 August – 14 August||9.30pm (9pm for Botanic Gardens)|
|15 August – 28 August||9pm|
|29 August – 4 September||8.30pm|
|5 September – 18 September||8pm
|19 September – 2 October||7.30pm|
|3 October - 16 October||7pm||17 October – 23 October||6.30pm|
|24 October – 30 October||5.30pm|
|31 October – 13 November||5pm|
|14 November – 31 December||4.30pm|