How to Hike the Snowdon Ranger Path
Hiking Trail Name: Snowdon Ranger Path
Distance: 8 miles (there and back)
Total Climb: 936m (3,071 ft)
Time: 4-5 hours
What is the Snowdon Ranger Path?
The Snowdon Ranger Path is one of the most direct routes to the top of Snowdon – the highest mountain in Wales. It has a relatively low footfall and is a quieter route to the peak. It is one of only two trails to tackle the summit from the west side.
Many people travel to this northern corner of Snowdonia National Park just to tackle this domineering peak. The Snowdon Ranger Path is situated on the banks of Llyn Cwellyn, alongside the Snowdon Ranger Station, and offers wonderful views of the lowland lakes.
As the name suggests, this was a popular trail used by the mountain guide John Morton who would take guided tours up this trail in the 19th-century. For this reason, it is perhaps the fastest route up Snowdon. It is a short path that heads straight to the heart of the mountain.
Although no official date is known, this is supposedly one of the oldest trails around Snowdon Massif. Interestingly, the trail has an ancient name in Welsh and is titled Llwybr Cwellyn (Cwellyn Path) due to the adjacent lake of the same name. Clearly this is a trail that brushes shoulders with history!
How to reach the Snowdon Ranger Path?
The Snowdon Ranger Path is on the north-western edge of Snowdonia National Park. There’s a bus stop near the trailhead on the A4085 that can be reached using the S3 Sherpa Bus Service.
Alternatively, there’s the Welsh Highland Railway which passes right alongside the Snowdon Ranger Station. However, there is no designated stop, and a request will have to be made before departure. As such, this is not a common route for accessing the Snowdon Ranger Path.
For anyone driving, there is a National Park car park directly across from the trailhead. The machines don’t take cards so make sure you bring coins. The parking lot can be accessed by those heading north from Portmeirion and those heading south from Caernarfon, Anglesey, and Bangor.
How to Navigate on the Snowdon Ranger Path?
From the trailhead, the Ranger Path follows a series of switchbacks up a relatively steep ascent. The path then flattens out momentarily whilst skirting the edge of Llyn Ffynnon-y-gwas. From here, the path shoots up the edge of the valley past Moel Cynghorion to join with the ridge of Bwlch Cwm Brwynog.
The trail has periods of loose rock and follows more switchbacks as it continues steeply up to Bwlch Glâs. As usual, 4 of the Snowdon hiking trails converge at this point to collectively make the final push for the summit.
Once you reach the top of Snowdon, you’re faced with a choice. Some hikers choose to descend via a different route. For example, you can follow the smooth descent down to the town of Llanberis for a celebratory drink. From there, you can catch public transport to get you out of Snowdonia. Alternatively, simply turn around and follow the same route back down the Snowdon Ranger Path.
As this path isn’t particularly popular, that can add to its difficulty. With fewer people on the trail than say Llanberis, there are fewer opportunities for help should something go wrong. However, this does make for a wonderful, tranquil hiking experience further rewarded with spectacular views.
Another benefit of the Snowdon Ranger Path is that it avoids the slog of steps that are present on the Pyg Track and Miners Track. Even though the trail has some steep sections that require a bit of scrambling and navigating, this can be better for your knees than a seemingly endless staircase.
Recommended Kit List
The trail is a compact gravel route that eventually turns into loose shingle and slabs of jutting rock. To prepare for this, it’s worth using a good pair of hiking shoes with sturdy soles. There are plenty of opportunities to turn an ankle on this trail so if you’re prone to this type of injury take extra care.
Don’t buy a new pair of hiking boots exclusively for this trail. If you do, your feet will blister terribly. You must wear in a pair before you attempt this hike or use an old set you know to be comfortable. At a push, you can wear trail runners as you won’t be passing through any bogs or water features on this trail. Just be sure you’re confident at hiking without needing ankle support. Read our blog about “Boots or Trail Running Shoes?”
Food & Drink
The trailhead of the Snowdon Ranger Path is pretty uneventful. There are only a cluster of buildings and a parking lot on either side of the road. If you want to buy snacks and food for the hike, it’s best to pre-plan to ensure you’re stocked up before you arrive at the trail.
The YHA Snowdon Ranger is a hostel and bunkhouse for hillwalkers. It has a basic canteen and access to toilets, but this is your only real option for amenities. Make sure you don’t arrive at the trailhead expecting shops and cafés galore as you’ll go wanting!
As with all the trails up Snowdon, you can access the Hafod Eryri Visitor Centre for refreshments and to use the toilets once you’ve reached the summit. Insider, there’s the Summit Café which sells hot/cold drinks, fresh cakes, pastries, and takeaway snacks. There’s also a souvenir shop, some information plaques, and fantastic views across Snowdonia.
Ranger Path Bonus Tips
If you have time, wait for a suitable weather window to ascend. It’s frustrating hanging around Snowdon praying for the weather to clear, but the benefit of good conditions can’t be underestimated.
Rain and clouds are very common on the Snowdon Ranger Path and often the views will be obscured. If you have no choice but to summit on a bad weather day, check the forecast in advance to make note of any weather warnings. Let others know where you’re going and try to ascend in pairs.