Mount Snowdon or Yr Wyddfa in Welsh, is located in Snowdonia National Park in North Wales. At 1085m (3560ft) Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales and is also the only major UK peak that has a train running to its’ summit.
The 360 degree views from Snowdon’s summit are breathtaking and on clear days can stretch as far as Ireland. Mountain views like these are best savoured after they have been earned, and this can be done through hiking to the top.
There are several ways to get to the top of Mount Snowdon. Having hiked to the top multiple times I wanted to put together this helpful guide so you could decide which Snowdon route is right for you.
- 1 Snowdon Routes at a Glance
- 2 Pros, cons and brief descriptions of Mount Snowdon Paths
- 3 What to pack for your Snowdon hike
- 4 Where to stay on your Snowdon hike
- 5 Walking Snowdon Paths Summary
- 6 Like it? Pin it for Later!
Snowdon Routes at a Glance
There are six Mount Snowdon routes to choose from. These Snowdon paths are the Pyg rack, Miners Track, Llanberis Path, Watkin Path, Snowdon Ranger Path and Rhyd Ddu Path. Each trail differs in length and difficulty. The easiest Snowdon route is the Llanberis Path and the most difficult Snowdon route if the Watkin Path.
Here’s a quick overview:
- The Snowdon Ranger Path – a good Snowdon walk for avoiding the crowds
- Pyg Track – the Snowdon path with the least elevation gain
- Miners Track – the best Snowdon route for views
- Llanberis Path – the easiest walk up Snowdon for beginners
- Watkins Path – the most challenging Snowdon route
- Rhyd Ddu – the quietest Snowdon trek
These Snowdon walking routes can also be combined in any number of ways to make great circular routes. The Miners Track and Pyg Track are often combined to make a loop, since they both start at the same location.
However, the issue of finishing at a different location is negated if using the Snowdon Sherpa. This bus service travels around the foot of Mount Snowdon, creating a valuable link between the six main Snowdon trails. A full day pass costs £5 and runs every 15 minutes on weekends in the Summer.
For more experienced hikers there is also the Snowdon Horseshoe, which takes in the peaks of Y Lliwedd, Snowdon, Garnedd Ugain and Crib Goch. This hike is considered the best ridge walk in Wales, arguably in the UK.
Another beautiful ridge walk can be found in the Brecon Beacons of South Wales. Read about the Pen y Fan Horseshoe in this guide.
Pros, cons and brief descriptions of Mount Snowdon Paths
1. The Snowdon Ranger Path
- Distance: 13km/8 miles around trip
- Time: 6 – 7 hours
- Elevation Gain: 936m/3071ft
- Starting Point: Llyn Cwellyn
- Pros: The path is quiet and easy to follow
- Cons: The views are not as dramatic as some of the other trails
This quieter Snowdon trail climbs the west side of the mountain, and with good weather the summit will be visible for most of the walk. This was the trail I took on my first ascent of Snowdon and I still hold fond memories of that hike.
From the car park opposite the Ranger Youth Hostel, cross the road and follow the stone pillar marked with “Ranger Path”. Cross over the railway track, past Llwyn Onn farmhouse and onto a well established path which zig zags steeply out of the valley floor.
Follow the path along a flatter section past the lake, before it makes a steep ascent on to the ridge. Once on the ridge the Ranger Path crosses the railway line to arrive at Bwlch Glas, where several trails converge.
Walk alongside the railway track for a further 15 minutes to reach Snowdon summit.
Keep up with my latest mountain adventures here!
2. Llanberis Path
- Distance: 14.5km/9 miles
- Time: 5 – 7 hours
- Elevation gain: 975m/3199ft
- Starting Point: Llanberis
- Pros: The route is easy under foot and straight forward to follow, so is perfect for families and first-timers
- Cons: The longest and most busy route
Although walking Snowdon via the Llanberis path is the longest route to the summit, it’s an easy path to follow and the ascent is very gradual. In summer the trail is well maintained and doesn’t pose any technical difficulties. There are plenty of car parking opportunities in Llanberis itself.
From the Royal Victoria Hotel Snowdonia, follow the sign marked “Path to Snowdon” along a residential street. After the cattlegrid the path ascends steeply but soon flattens out. Follow the sign onto the mountain path for “Snowdon summit”.
The path continues to ascend gradually, passing underneath the railway track which is bound for the summit. There is a cafe at Halfway House but is only open on busy summer days.
Continue along the well marked path, enjoying views of Snowdon’s peak above and Cwm Brwynog valley below. There is a short steep section to climb to reach the summit plateau before a flatter final push for the summit itself.
On the plateau, make a note of a large stone marker known as Bwlch Glas, which is where 4 paths join together. Pay attention to which path you ascended, so that you don’t miss it on the way back down.
3. The Pyg Track
- Distance: 11km/7 miles around trip
- Time: 6 – 7 hours
- Elevation Gain: 723m/2372ft
- Starting Point: Pen Y pass
- Pros: It’s the shortest, has the least amount of elevation gain and the views are amazing
- Cons: Parking at Pen y Pass is very busy and now must be pre-booked in Summer. Use the Sherpa Bus instead. The path is rough and rugged, involving some a small degree of rock scrambling.
The Pig track is a popular choice with hikers thanks to the fabulous mountain views on offer along the route so it will feel pretty crowded. Pen y Pass is 359m above sea level, which also means there’s a lot less “up” involved to reach the summit!
Start the Pyg Track from the southwest corner Pen y Pass car park. Pre-book to secure a parking place here or, alternatively take the Sherpa Bus from nearby Nant Peris.
Initially the Pyg Track is tough going as you climb over big boulders and up large, man-made steps. There’s another steep push to reach a small pass called Bwlch y Moch. Here you can enjoy fabulous views of the Snowdon Horseshoe and Llyn Llydaw (llyn means lake in Welsh).
The route to Crib Goch ascends steeply to the right, but the Pig Track continues along a flatter section around the mountain. The path continues along its’ gradual ascent until it reaches an intersection where the Miners Track joins up with the Pig Track.
From this point the trail gets much steeper and rockier until it ascends the ridge to a point called Bwlch Glas, where several other paths converge.
Once on the ridge turn left and follow the railway line to the summit.
Why is it called the Pyg Track? There’s some dispute over where this name came from, but it’s most likely because it was the path used to carry pyg (black tar) from the Copper Works in Cwm Glaslyn.
4. The Miners Track
- Distance: 13km/8 miles
- Time: 6 – 7 hours
- Elevation gain: 723m/2372ft
- Starting Point: Pen y Pass
- Pros: This path starts off very gradually allowing plenty of time to enjoy incredible views
- Cons: A popular path and parking at Pen y Pass is very busy and now must be pre-booked in Summer. Use the Sherpa Bus instead.
This track starts from the south side of Pen y Pass car park and provides a gentler start than the big steps of the Pyg Track. Pass above Llyn Teryn and then over the causeway which takes you over to Llyn Llydaw.
Bearing left, the path follows the lake past some mine working ruins, before climbing steeply to Llyn Glaslyn. Walk around Glaslyn, passing some more miners ruins on your right, before climbing steeply once again.
A tall standing stone marks the point where the Miners Track joins the Pyg Track and the final steep push to the ridge. The top of the ridge marks Bwlch Glas where other paths converge. Turn left here and follow the railway line along a gradual climb to the summit.
5. Rhyd Ddu Path
- Distance: 14km/8.5 miles
- Time: 6 – 7 hours
- Elevation gain: 895m/2936ft
- Starting Point: Rhyd Ddu car park
- Pros: Easily the quietest Snowdon route making it great for appreciating the peace and tranquility of the mountains
- Cons: Bwlch Main ridge is not suitable for wet and windy days
Not sure how to pronounce Welsh words? Take a look at this post to learn how!
To truly escape the crowds of Snowdon head to to the village of Rhyd Ddu and take the lesser know trail to the top. From the car park in the village walk to the far end, through the large gate and over the railway.
Follow the wide path keeping left at the fork and then left again at Pen ar Lon, which is marked with a stone pillar. Continue alone the trail crossing two walls and climbing more steeply until the flatter section of Llechog ridge.
Enjoy the views on this flatter section before climbing steeply again towards Bwlch Main, where the South Ridge path joins from the right.
Follow this ridge until you reach a large stone marking the point where the Watkin Path meets the ridge. Remember this point if returning the same way to make sure you stay on the correct path.
From here it’s a steep and rocky climb to the summit.
6. The Watkin Path
- Distance: 13km/8 miles
- Time: 7 – 8 hours
- Elevation gain: 1015m/3330ft
- Starting Point: Pont Bathania
- Pros: The most challenging and rewarding of the Snowdon paths
- Cons: The final ascent is a badly eroded steep path
With the biggest elevation gain and loose scree to contend with at the top, this is the most difficult of the these 6 Snowdon routes, but a favourite with many locals.
From the car park at Pont Bethania, walk along the main road to the National Trust’s farm and campsite, Hafod y Llan. Here you will see a stone pillar marked “Watkin Path”.
Walk through the woods and around the bowl, before crossing the old tramway onto the open access land. Continue on this well made stone path, admiring waterfalls and old copper mining buildings as you ascend.
After passing remains of the south Snowdon slate quarry workers’ barracks, the path ascends quite steeply to Bwlch Ciliau ridge. Turn left to continue along the Watkin path, through rocks and a grassy area until you see a Watkin Path stone pilar.
This signifies the start of the toughest part of this trail. Weaving around rocks and boulders, the path climbs steeply and diagonally to the left. Be aware of loose stones from years of erosion.
Soon enough this path joins up to the Rhyd Ddu path, which signifies the final push to the summit.
What to pack for your Snowdon hike
- Waterproofs – the weather can change quickly in the mountains so always be prepared for wet weather
- Water – bottles with filters are very handy for safely refilling in streams and rivers. Discover which filtered water bottle is the best for hiking 2020 in this comprehensive review.
- A hat and warm layers for the top where it’s quite exposed and windy
- Good hiking shoes/boots – some areas are often boggy or wet and the terrain can be rough in parts
- The relevant Snowdonia map and compass
- These paths are marked on maps.me so download the map before you go
Make sure you have everything you need for a day in the mountains with this day hiking packing list.
Where to stay on your Snowdon hike
Where you base yourself for your Snowdon hike very much depends on which path you decide to walk.
For the Pyg Track, Miners Track and Llanberis Path I suggest staying in the town of Llanberis. This great little town has hiking shops for any last minute purchases, a small supermarket and lots of eateries. Try breakfast at Pete’s Eats for a great local cafe experience.
Idan House is a small BnB in Llanberis which I can recommend as a base. With more time in Llanberis you can relax next to Llyn Padarn, try some paddle boarding or visit Dolbadarn Castle.
For Rhyd Ddu, the Watkins Path or the Snowdon Ranger Path I suggest staying on the South side of the mountain. If you’re happy with a bunk house try Canolfan Awyr Agored Rhyd Ddu. This is perfect for the Rhydd Ddu Path.
For a delightful hostel next to a lake and the start of the Ranger’s Path, try the Snowdon Ranger Hostel. Finally, for the Watkins Path I suggest the cute Bryn Dinas Camping Pods.
Walking Snowdon Paths Summary
Snowdonia National Park is a majestic area of North Wales with many mountains to explore. The highest and most popular mountain to hike in Snowdonia is Mount Snowdon itself. For those unwilling or unable to hike to the top there is a steam train to transport people to the top. See more details about the train here.
However, for anyone wishing to hike to the top of this iconic peak there are several walking trails to explore.
For beginners there is the gradual Llanberis path and for those seeking solitude there are the Rhyd Ddu and Snowdon Ranger paths. For those wanting a big mountain challenge there is the Watkin Path and for those wanting a short sharp ascent there are the Pyg and Miners Tracks.
Simply pick the route up Snowdon which best suits your needs and get ready for a great day in the mountains!
Did you know? Wales has 136 mountains to explore, many of which are found in the Brecon Beacons. In this guide, I discuss the best Brecon Beacons hikes to enjoy during a visit to South Wales.
Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase through them I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. This helps cover the cost of running this blog. Thanks for your support!
Like it? Pin it for Later!
Join my Newsletter Today!