Hiking on Snowdon – Top 6 Hiking Trails

Hiking on Snowdon – 6 routes

Snowdon is the largest mountain in Wales and one of the highest summits in the UK. It is famous for its jagged peak, harsh weather systems, and spectacular hiking trails. Officially, there are 6 of these trails to explore when hiking on Snowdon. Each one is different and all of them culminate at the summit marker 1,085 metres above sea level.

Snowdon is the domineering peak of Snowdonia National Park in the northwest corner of Wales. The landscape is characterised by sub-alpine mountain ranges and epic post-glacial features. Snowdonia has more examples of glacial valleys, pyramidal peaks, ribbon lakes, cwms (glacial basins), and arêtes (glacial ridges) than anywhere in England and Wales.

Hikers flock to Snowdonia to conquer this iconic peak alongside other fantastic trekking areas such as the Carneddau and the Glyderau. In fact, the mountains of Snowdonia were used as a training ground for Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay before they became the first people to successfully summit Mount Everest – the world’s highest mountain.

To join this pantheon of heroes and attempt your own adventure in the mountains of Wales, here are some tips for hiking on Snowdon to get you started.

Best Time to Visit Snowdon

Best Time to Visit Hike on Snowdon

Snowdonia rises above the Irish Sea. Turbulent weather systems strike the coast of Wales with surprising ferocity. The impact of these storms is felt keenly in the exposed mountains of the National Park. For the most part, the storms arrive in winter.

For many months of the year, Snowdon is capped with snow. Frost and sub-zero temperatures are common. Hikers generally avoid winter for this reason. However, anyone looking for mountaineering experience may find themselves in the perfect location for a cold-weather adventure.

Autumn and Spring can be surprisingly cold and rainy. Overcast hiking days and endless drizzle are less than ideal but unfortunately, that’s the way of the world in north Wales. Summer brings the best weather for hiking, and it is the optimal season to visit.

Trails do become busy but that’s understandable given the blue skies, sunshine, and clear weather. The fringe months of May and September are also a good option. The conditions are still optimal but there are fewer crowds to compete with.

Where to Stay?

Snowdonia National Park is absent of any major settlements. It does contain some quaint towns and villages but little else. For a wider range of accommodation options, travellers should look to the cities around the park.

Bangor is the largest location nearby with a good selection of transport options in the area. Hotels and BnBs should cost between £70-100 per night. Alternatively, you can head into the National Park to the town of Llanberis – the closest settlement for those hiking on Snowdon.

Quaint pubs and cosy BnBs are your best option in these villages. Hiker’s hostels are also great for those looking for cheap accommodation and the bunkhouses at The Heights and Pete’s Eats both offer competitive prices.

You can also check out the YHAs at Pen-y-Pass, Idwal Cottage, and Snowdon Llanberis.

For campers, there are too many sites to name. Check out the popular campsites at Llyn Gwynant, Hafod y Llan, Snowdon Base Camp, and Camping in Llanberis. There are also good locations to park your caravan at the Llanberis Touring Park.

If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can wild camp around Snowdonia and try pitching in a remote area of the National Park.

Places to Eat?

places to eat when hiking Snowdon

Wales is known for a few tasty local dishes (think Welsh tea cakes and rarebit). However, it is hardly a culinary hotspot. Many visitors hiking on Snowdon opt for the comfort of a fireside pub meal or a pre-hike snack at a tea garden.

For a high-altitude snack, there’s the Hafod Eryri summit café at the top of Snowdon. This is accompanied by a ranger’s station, gift shop, and summit railway station. It is the perfect place to replenish your energy after a tiring ascent of Snowdon.

Next, you have the cafes close to the trailheads such as Caffi Gwynant, Caffi Gorphwysfa, and Pen Ceunant Isaf. Lastly, you have the pubs and restaurants in the nearby villages. Check out the Cwellyn Arms or The Heights pub for a post-hike ale alongside your fellow hillwalkers.

For a brilliant breakfast, head over to Pete’s Eats or the Pantri, Llanberis café.

The Top 6 Hiking Trails on Snowdon

There are 6 official hiking trails to the summit of Snowdon. They are all out-and-back routes and each one can be completed in a day. Each route requires a challenging climb up +700 metres of ascent. As such, the trails are considered difficult and should only be attempted by those with good fitness.

1. Miner’s Track

Distance: 8 miles

Hiking Time: 4-6 hours

The Miner’s Track is one of two trails that departs from the Pen-y-Pass car park, southeast of Snowdon. It is a popular route and is well-paved to the summit. At 8 miles, it is one of the longer routes, but this is due to a lovely lower section where the trail curls alongside Llyn Teyrn and Llyn Llydaw.

The Miner’s Track was originally built and used by the members of the Britannia Copper Mine. After reserves dried up, mining ceased in 1916 and hikers took over the trail. Along the route, you will see the remains of a disused crushing mill and an old miner’s barracks.

The trail eventually joins the Pyg Track and both ascend a very steep section of the path. Switchbacks and stone steps rise up the valley wall before joining the ridge alongside the Llanberis train track. From here it’s a short jaunt to the summit station.

For the full route guide Click Here

2. Pyg Track

Distance: 7 miles

Hiking Time: 4-6 hours

The Pyg Track is the second trail that begins from the Pen y Pass car park. Both are signposted at the trailhead, but the routes diverge so make sure you choose the right one! The Pyg Track is a mile shorter than the Miner’s Track, but the trail is steeper as it ventures along the side of the valley.

The Pyg Track is also paved for the entirety of the route. There are fabulous views down onto Llyn Llydaw and up towards Snowdon. This route is slightly more challenging than the Miner’s Track, but the views make it well worth the effort.

After Glaslyn, the trail converges with the Miner’s Track and a series of steep stone steps follows. Anyone hiking on Snowdon who wants an extra adventure can choose the Crib Goch route. This is a bonus trail that branches off from the Pyg Track with more details included below.

For the full route guide Click Here

3. Llanberis Path

Distance: 9 miles

Hiking Time: 5-6 hours

The Llanberis Path might just be the most popular trail for hiking on Snowdon. It is certainly considered the easiest due to its steady incline and ease of access. The Llanberis Path starts right in the village of Llanberis.

It follows a well-paved track up through Llanberis Pass. There are fewer steps than on the other trails which make this route appetising for less experienced hikers. However, this steady incline does mean this is the longest route to the summit of Snowdon.

The Llanberis Path effectively follows the route of the Summit Railway. This is a train that takes you up to the Summit Station. It’s a good option for those who aren’t physically able. However, as this is about hiking on Snowdon, the trail is the better decision!

For the full route guide Click Here

4. Ranger Path

Distance: 8 miles

Hiking Time: 4-6 hours

The Snowdon Ranger Path is a quieter and less well-known trail up the mountain. The route commences from the western slope of Snowdon and follows a rugged mostly-paved trail to the summit.

The Ranger Path was made popular by the famous mountain guide John Morton who would often take people hiking on Snowdon. The trail begins alongside Llyn Cwellyn with stunning views of the pristine landscape upon ascent.

The Snowdon Ranger Path passes alongside Llyn Ffynnon-y-gwas and mounts the ridge of Bwlch Cwm Brwynog before joining the other main trails at Bwlch Glâs and heading to the summit.

For the full route guide Click Here

5. Rhyd Ddu Path

Distance: 8.5 miles

Hiking Time: 4-5 hours

Rhyd Ddu Path is a quiet hiking trail that ascends the slopes of the western side of Snowdon. It is a route that is often overlooked by tourists and is favoured by locals.

The first section follows the Beddgelert Path. This was an old pony track used to access the old Bwlch Cwm Llan slate quarry. The quarry has long since been decommissioned but it is a sample of the UNESCO World Heritage slate mines that can be found throughout Snowdonia.

The Rhyd Ddu Path winds its way up the side of Snowdon before reaching Clawdd Coch. From here, the trail ascends to the Bwlch Main ridge and joins the Watkin Path. Together, they approach the Snowdon summit from the south offering an unusual alternative to reaching the peak.

For the full route guide Click Here

6. Watkin Path

Distance: 8 miles

Hiking Time: 5-6 hours

The Watkin Path is one of the most challenging trails for those hiking on Snowdon. It is a long and steep trail that is only paved in sections. One of the hardest parts of the path is the scree slope that must be traversed before reaching the summit.

The Watkin Path is a slice of British history. It was the first designated footpath in the UK and was created by Sir Edward Watkin. The lower section of the trail follows an old copper mining track before the route traces the natural landscape to reach the summit.

The Watkin Path begins to the south of Snowdon under the name “Llwybr Watkin Path”. The trail passes through a woodland and into Cwm Llan. The path then steepens on the ascent to Bwlch Ciliau before joining the Rhyd Ddu Path to the peak.

For the full route guide Click Here

Bonus: Crib Goch

Crib Goch is a bonus trail for those hiking on Snowdon. It is by far the most difficult trail to the summit as it includes a Grade I scramble and follows a sheer ridge to the peak. The exposure on Crib Goch is severe and even the slightest change in conditions can make the trail treacherous.

However, for experienced hikers, there’s no better route for hiking on Snowdon. After leaving the Pen-y-Pass car park, the trail commences shortly after the start of the Pyg Track. It begins with the “bad step” scramble before reaching the Crib Goch ridge.

Recommended Kit List

Hiking on Snowdon requires a special kit list. It is a landscape dominated by mountainous terrain and it requires equipment appropriate for these conditions.

Begin by selecting a good set of hiking boots. These should be a comfortable and trusty pair that are reliable over many miles and steep ascents/descents. Ideally, they should be waterproof hiking boots given the wet weather common in Wales. Make sure they’re worn-in and not fresh out of the box to avoid unnecessary blisters!

Salomon Men's X Ultra Pioneer - waterproof hiking boots

On your legs, you can either choose shorts, leggings, or hiking trousers. Make sure it’s something comfortable, athletic, and suited to the weather conditions. Pack a spare pair of waterproof trousers in case it rains.

For your top, wear a breathable hiking/sports t-shirt. Something synthetic that can wick away moisture. Dress in layers – a zip-on fleece, shell jacket, and waterproof outer layer. Pack all this equipment in a comfortable backpack.

Depending on the conditions, you may also want to include sunglasses, a hat, gloves, and a beanie. You can bring a map and compass although all the trails are clearly marked when hiking on Snowdon. Bring plenty of water, hiking snacks, sun cream, and a small medical kit. Try to keep your backpack light and only pack the essentials!

Final Tips for Hiking on Snowdon

Hiking on Snowdon is one of the national pastimes in Wales. The whole of Snowdonia is loved for its hiking trails, but Snowdon still stands head and shoulders above the others as the most popular. Each of these six hiking trails offers something unique and it’s this variety of scenery, difficulty, and beauty that makes hiking on Snowdon so special.