The Routes up Snowdon
The standard Snowdon routes Listed below are the classic and most popular paths up Snowdon. For all routes, allow 4 hours up and 3 hours down. Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of these route descriptions, changes do occur and may affect the accuracy and completeness of the contents, and to the maximum extent permitted, disclaim all liability arising from their use.
- The Llanberis Path (up and down)
- Snowdon Horseshoe (5 ‘nails’ possible!)
- Via the Moel Eilio Ridge and down Llanberis path
- Yr Aran and the South Ridge down the Rhyd Ddu
- The Miners and Pyg Track
- The Watkin Path and South Ridge
- The Rhyd Ddu and Snowdon Ranger Paths
Please note: These descriptions should not be used in isolation. A map compass and knowledge of how to use them is also necessary.
Routes are described are assuming summer conditions. Walkers should also have:- suitable ankle supporting footwear, waterproof jackets and trousers, warm clothing, hat, gloves, food and drink, and survival bag.
Free Printable Map of All The Walks
The Easiest – The Llanberis Path
Also known as the Tourist Path, The Llanberis Path is not the shortest but is the easiest in terms of steepness and terrain and the path is obvious all the way up. Beware! Take good regard of the weather forecast, especially wind, and remember that Winter Conditions mean there is no easy way up Snowdon!
This track is man made all the way although you’ll still need boots with good The Llanberis path of Snowdon ankle support. Every year many people injure their ankles by attempting the stony path in trainers or even high heels! The path was originally used as a pony and mule track to carry tourists up from Llanberis, hence it is a bridle way – although there is a voluntary agreement with mountain bikers to stay off this track during the peak hours in the summer.
Start with your back to the Snowdon railway station. Turn right and then take the first road right (Victoria Terrace). Follow this steeply up until you go through a gated farmyard. Before the next gate on the road, turn left on to a track (signposted Snowdon) and then follow this clear track all the way to the top, with the railway, sometimes on your right and sometimes your left. (If you have the navigational confidence to leave the main path you can head left after the first (and only) stile on this route up to top of the ridge that the main path follows below the crest. Turn right when you reach the top of the ridge with the farms and houses of Nant Peris in miniature below and then follow the crest of the ridge – sometimes steeply up and, beware, there is no path. You regain the Llanberis path after Llechog at the station known as Rocky Valley. This is as far as the train goes on windy days).
On your right is the roller coaster ridge of Moel Cyngorion, Foel Gron and Moel Elio and between these mountains and the path you are on is Cwm Brwynog (Rushy valley) – You can see from the vegetation why the valley got its name, dotted with ruined farms that were inhabited right up to the last century with their own chapel and community – all tenants of the Penrhyn estate. The family’s castle dominates the landscape just outside Bangor.
The gradient is always there – there’s no easy way to climb over 3,000 ft. Around you is lots of evidence of ice-carved landscape with enormous boulders left perched by the retreating glaciers. As you leave after halfway house (at present being rebuilt into a caf? by Mr Morris the landowner and halfway up this route in terms of height and distance) you will see the steep cliffs of Clogwyn Du’r Arddu – itself carved by retreating glaciers with the ruins of copper mines as dark slits in the cliffs and much loved by climbers and botanists alike.
Joe Brown, whose climbing shop is in the village, made several famous first ascents here and a limestone layer sandwiched between volcanic rocks yields interesting botanical finds. You now come to one of the steeper parts of the path as you plod up and under the bridge under the railway.
Do pause after this bridge to enjoy the view down to the Llanberis Pass but it’s a windy place – the valley below is known as Cwm Hetiau (Valley of the Hats) since it’s where the locals went to obtain nice new top hats in Victorian days when the coaches of the railway were open and many a gentleman lost his topper at this point!
After this bridge there is another steep section until the path cuts across the slopes of Garnedd Ugain and the gradient lessens. Beware here if there is any snow or ice and you are not prepared with crampons and ice axe. There are steep cliffs below and accidents have occurred here in the past. Turn back here if in doubt. But, if conditions are good, enjoy the views and look forward to a drink at the summit from the end of May to the last week of October.
The Toughest – The Snowdon Horseshoe Crib Goch, Carnedd Ugain, Snowdon, Y Lliwedd and Gallt y Wenallt
Warning :Crib Goch should not be attempted in poor conditions. It is a serious climb in winter, and is dangerous in strong winds.
The Snowdon Horseshoe is one of the best ridge walks – if not THE best – in the country. The route should not be attempted by anyone with a fear of heights, since it includes theWalkers on Crib Goch, Snowdon beyond knife-edge ar?te of Crib Goch, and for the same reason it should be avoided in high winds, and also in winter unless you are properly equipped and experienced. There is also a walk down a steep scree slope on the South East side of Snowdon.
The route begins at Pen y Pass (the top of the Llanberis pass). In the summer months the car park here fills up very early, and you may need to park in Nant Peris and use the park and ride service (this is also cheaper than using the car park at the pass). From here take the path, which goes up to the right, parallel to the Pass.
This is the start of the Pyg Track which is a well defined path. The mountain in front of you now is not Snowdon but Crib Goch, the first summit which you will be aiming for. After about 45 minutes you will reach Bwlch y Moch (pass of the pigs) from where you will be able to look down to Llyn Llydaw (Brittany Lake), with Lliwedd (your last summit) opposite. A ladder stile shows the way of the Pyg track but you will take the route going up to the West – if you’re still feeling brave. This will clearly be leading up Crib Goch.
The route up starts off fairly well defined but will begin to lose this definition as you go on up. It will be necessary for you to pick your own route up and you will definitely have to use your hands and pick your footholds. At the top of this first scramble when there is no more up, there is a little ledge to pause for a well-earned break before you tackle the famous ar?te.
From the East end of Crib Goch make your way along the ar?te. Route finding is straight forward in that it follows the ridge. The problem is nerves! The drop is steepest to your right, and it is suggested to walk to the left of the ridge and use the top as a handhold. Stick to the top of the ridge as faint paths to the left are loose. The summit is half way along the ridge. Next you have to tackle the Pinnacles – the first two of these can be avoided on the left but the last is best tackled direct rather than trying to follow the circuitous paths, which can lead to more difficulties. Be very careful on this last one since the drop below is awesome! After the descent from the third pinnacle you come to the pass of Bwlch Goch.
From Bwlch Coch you carry on up Crib y Ddysgl (Rake of the Dish), the next knife edge section (not as difficult as Crib Goch). Again this follows the crest of the ridge most of the way (Beware following traversing paths to the left below Crib y Ddysgl as this has led a number of parties in the past into difficulty) until you reach the trig. point at the summit of Garnedd Ugain. This is the 2nd highest mountain in Snowdonia.
Carry on South East off Garnedd Ugain, and within 5 to 10 minutes you will hit the Llanberis path. This is the easiest path up Snowdon, Do not head down here but follow the path up to the Snowdon summit, passing a finger stone which marks the start of Pyg and Miners routes to the left. If you decide that you want to turn back rather than tackle the whole horseshoe, when you reach Snowdon then return to this stone and follow the directions given in the Pyg Track – Miners Track walk.
If you do decide to knock off the fourth nail of the horseshoe, Y Lliwedd, head South West off the summit for approximately 100m until you reach another large pointer stone marking the start of the scree slope which is the final part of Watkin Path from Nant Gwynant. Pick your own way down the scree. Be very careful and do not attempt it in the snow unless you are suitably equipped and experienced.
At the bottom of the scree slope the path becomes more defined at Bwlch y Saetheau (Pass of the Arrows). This is where King Arthur’s knights fought their last battle and watch out for them as you climb Y Lliwedd as they’re supposedly lurking ready for the battle trumpet to wake up and rid Wales of the Saxon invaders!
You will get a good view down to Llyn Glaslyn from where you can look back to Crib Goch and Crib y Ddysgl. After a short while (at Bwlch Ciliau) you will see the Watkin path descending to your right, with Yr Aran visible to the South West. Do not head down but carry on up to the West peak of Lliwedd. The path is not obvious all the way, and you will need to make your way around some fairly large rocks and do some scrambling during the 150m ascent. Once at the summit follow the ridge along over the east peak to Lliwedd Bach. Stay with the ridge for a further 500m, descending during this stage, and then there will be a path down to Llyn Llydaw to your left.
It is up to you whether to take this path down immediately; it’s fairly loose and scrambly and then follow the Miners track round back to Pen y Pass. The alternative is to put the “final nail” in the horseshoe. This is Gallt y Wenallt. It adds approx. 2.5 km to the walk, and about another hour of walking. It is off paths across grass. Basically just keep to the edge and follow around to the peak at the end. It is 619m high, and the best option is to return the same way, descend to Llyn Llydaw and make your way down the final tarmac section of the Miners Track.
A Roller Coaster – The Moel Eilio Ridge – Moel Eilio, Foel Gron, Moel Cyngorion and Snowdon
This is one of the least used routes up Snowdon. This may be because it is a long walk and not for those who don’t like losing height to regain it again but if you want a quiet route from Llanberis this is probably the best. The majority of the ridge is grassy.
The start of this route is by the Spar in Llanberis. There is a road going up to the Moel Eilio, Foel Gron and Moel Cynghorion fron Carnedd Ugain right of the shop, which is signed to the youth hostel. Follow this road up, ignoring any roads going off to the sides. Carry on past the youth hostel, until eventually you reach the end of the road and a T-junction with a track, and you will need to turn right. This track crosses a small stream and reaches another road. Turn left. The grassy hump on your right is an old iron age fort. The road becomes a track and climbs to Bwlch y Groes (Cross Road Pass), where, after the second gate, you leave it to climb up the grassy ridge of the South Ridge of Moel Elio. A rusty bit of metal sticking up is all that remains of the old Marconi transmitter beacon.
Do enjoy the views across Llanberis to the old Dinorwic slate quarry which has eaten away Elidir Fawr to obtain the best quality roofing slate in the world. The view from the summit on a clear day is magnificent and you should be able to make out the mountains on the Lleyn Peninsula, Anglesey and Caernarfon Castle can just be seen to the North West.
From Moel Eilio to Foel Goch is a simple matter of keeping the cliffs (fenced for most of the way) to your left. Take the time to look down to Llyn Cwellyn on the right and also across to the Nantlle ridge beyond. Underfoot are shales and siltstone traced with iron minerals hence the name Foel Goch or red bare mountain. Up and down the switch back you go until, after a steep down, you reach Bwlch Maesgwm, (pass of the valley field) where you cross a well defined bridle way – once an important thoroughfare between the two valleys. Have a look at Moel Cynghorion – your next mountain. It looks as though a great chunk has slipped – indeed it probably has at the end of the last glacial period when a lot of freezing and thawing was going on.
The walk continues up to the North East, and again leaves the well defined paths. Ascend a grassy slope keeping next to a wire fence most of the way up to the summit of Moel Cynghorion. The name means Counsellors Mountain and the legend is that when Edward I conquered Wales and started to build his famous castles he tried to trick the Welsh Bards into coming to an Eisteddfod (festival of arts and culture) where he would have killed them. But they got wind of his plot and ran away to here.
From this summit (the cairn is a little pile of stones over the fence) you can look over to Snowdon, and again see the Llanberis path and the railway line going up in front of you. Turn to the right, and descend steeply to Llyn Ffynon y Gwas (Lake of the Spring of the Man servant) which is the other side of the Snowdon Ranger path, an obvious path coming in from the right.
Follow the Snowdon Ranger path up the zig zags to the left (East). You will join the Llanberis path at the top, and should turn right crossing the railway, and follow the path to the summit. Return by the Llanberis Path.
Yr Aran The Quietest Snowdon Peak and the South Ridge of Snowdon
Yr Aran is the least visited mountain on the Snowdon range.
Begin from the Rhyd Ddu path up Snowdon. This is on the A4085 just past Beddgelert and before Llyn Cwellyn. There is a prominent car park where a new railway station is being built. Take the path beyond the toilets and turn right very soon on a well-defined path, which is the Rhyd Ddu path up Snowdon. You will be able to see the isolated peak of Yr Aran ahead of you. Keep to this path and follow it up, passing a turning on the left that is the Rhyd Ddu path which now goes off to the left up Snowdon; however you will contine straight ahead. The route will take you through some fascinating old quarries echoing with reminders of a past industrial age, to Bwlch Cwm Llan. The pass is here as it represents the weakest link in the rocks between Yr Aran and Snowdon – slate. That is why the quarries are here too.
From the Bwlch you can see the Watkin path, ahead of you, with the Moelwynion being the next range in sight. To the left is the ridge you will follow up to Snowdon later in the day. For now, however cross the wall in front of you and then turn right to follow the wall. This is quite wet ground, and care will be needed to ensure you do not slip. The route is not difficult – just follow the wall until you reach a point where you are facing East, and the ground is dropping away in front of you, and there are crags on the left. You now turn West, and the summit of Yr Aran is approximately 0.25 km ahead of you.
From the summit you will be able to look across to the Nantlle ridge, and Moel Hebog to the West and South West respectively. The Moelwynion are behind you, and to your right is Snowdon. Also visible across the Watkin path is Lliwedd. Descend Yr Aran by reversing the route which has been described.
When you reach the Bwlch continue North up Snowdon’s South ridge. The going is a little scrambly in places with the main difficulty being encountered after crossing a ladder stile. Simply follow the ridge up. You will arrive at a point where the ridge narrows to an ar?te and the Rhyd Ddu path joins your route coming up from the left, and you carry on for a further 0.75 km to reach the summit.
The most famous route for most walkers – The PYG and The Miners Track
Begin at Pen y Pass, and follow the Pyg track leading from the top car park behind the caf? up to Bwlch Moch (Pass of the Pigs) The track is called Pyg, standing for Pen y Gwryd, which is the name of the hotel at the bottom of the pass much used by the earlier mountain walkers.
The mountain in front of you is not Snowdon but Crib Goch. It is a common mistake to aim for the top and find oneself on a far tougher route than that planned! When you reach the pass, cross it and stay on the well defined path which is almost flat for quite a distance as you contour above Llyn Llydaw and below the Crib Goch ridge. There are good views from the path across to Lliwedd on your left, and up to Crib Goch and Crib y Ddysgl on your right, as well as Snowdon in front of you.
The path will start to go up in front of you, and another track will join you coming from the left and the lake below. This is the Miners’ track, so called because it used to be used by the copper miners of Snowdon for walking back to Llanberis or Bethesda after their week’s work. This is the route which you will descend, and is worth noting. Carry on, heading up now but still in the same direction, and you will reach some zig zags with a wall by them. Follow the path up to the finger stone (a large standing rock shaped like a finger), which is used as a marker for the beginning of the descent to the Pyg and Miners’ tracks. Now turn left on to the Llanberis Path, and follow the railway up to the summit.
To return, make your way back to the finger stone, and walk down to where the Miners’ track joined. This is the only place that the path is a little indistinct and confusing with many misleading cairns. The usual mistake is to turn down too soon. Now make your way down this track. The slope is steep, and the best route down is a zig-zag which will eventually bring you out at the blue lake of Snowdon the miners track and the britannia copper mine workingsGlaslyn and the relics of the old Britannia Mine copper crushers. No one really made any money from these mines. There is a letter from a Victorian lady describing how “we have a new hobby in Wales, we dig holes in the ground and pour money into them”! This lake is surprisingly blue because of the copper content from mining. This also means the lake is dead with no fish. Snowdon’s cone, is a splendid sight from here.
The rest of the walk is very clear, on what is almost a road. This will bring you to the reservoir of Llyn Llydaw and to a causeway. The Miners’ track is still obvious as it leads you back to Pen y Pass. You will see a big pipeline carrying water for the hydroelectric works in Cwm Dyli below. You’ll also pass another lake, Llyn Teryn with the remains of the miners’ weekday barracks nestling out of the worst of the weather beside it. From here you can see some volcanic rocks of the same octagonal shape as in the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland and from the rounded top of this feature imagine the glaciers streaming on both sides of the outcrop.
Perhaps the Prettiest Way (except the top scree!)
The Watkin Path. Sir Edward Watkin was an interesting man – a great railway entrepreneur in the 19th century who pursued many adventurous and aborted schemes – including an original channel tunnel and a plan for a huge hanging garden structure in London. This path is the one he built from his summer house in the Nant Gwynant from the end of the slate quarry track to the summit. It starts from the lowest point of all the Snowdon routes, and can be quite strenuous, with a scramble up scree just before the top. Although the route is obvious along most of its length, at the upper end it comes close to some dangerous crags and cliffs, and should be treated with utmost care, especially in poor visibility and bad weather.
Car parking and toilets are available at the start, on the A498, about 4 kms north-east of Beddgelert. In clear conditions, the top of Snowdon with its trig point and cafe can be seen. Cross the road at the southern entrance to the car park, and follow the footpath/tarmac track opposite, with the woods to your left. This estate is the Hafod Llan estate bought several years ago by the National Trust after a well-supported public appeal with Anthony Hopkins helping a great deal. The name Llan in this estate and Cwm Llan below is probably from the fact that these lands were given to Aberconwy Abbey in the 12th century for Llan means holy place or church land.
Keep left as the tarmac track forks right through an oak wood with the ever-intruding rhododendron bushes. This track was built to serve the slate quarries of Cwm Llan and the copper mines down to the valley and then via Beddgelert to Porthmadog. As you round the bend, you will see the valley open before you – which was used as location for the film “Carry On Up the Khyber”. The old incline tramway can also be seen cutting through the hill. If you look across the river above the waterfalls you can see where the waterwheel, which drove the processing plants for the mineral ores. Look out too for dippers often seen in these clear waters.
Continue on the main track through old buildings. Look out for the pock marks on Gladstone rock one – the old quarry manager’s house, used for target practice by WWI troops training, just after you cross the river via the slate bridge. As the path bends left, take a look at the Gladstone rock, where the Prime Minister gave a speech to some 2000 Liberals, at the age of 82 when he officially opened Watkin’s path.
As the path reaches the slate quarries worked briefly between 1840 and 1880, it enters a complex of old buildings, a sudden turn right begins a climb up a series of steps. The path now gives great views of Snowdon to the north, and you can see Clogwyn Du and Bwlch Main, the ridge by which you will descend.
The path climbs steadily closer to Snowdon, until a sharp turn to the east, andCrossing the top scree of the Watkin path on Snowdon another steep climb to reach the ridge at Bwlch Cilau). On reaching the ridge, bear north-west towards the summit. The main path stays to the west of the ridge, but the ridge itself makes an interesting alternative. Upon reaching the scree field, a steep scramble will take you up to the summit. If you stick to the correct route, you should see a finger rock marking where the path meets the Rhyd Ddu/South ridge track which you follow to the summit.
Come back via the south ridge and at Bwlch Cwm Llan head east down to the quarry ruins and back on the Watkin path.
The Quiet Side of Snowdon – Up the Rhyd Ddu Path and down the Snowdon Ranger
Start at the car park in Rhyd Ddu (see route 4). From car park, go north up the track (soon to be next to a railway line) and take the gate to the right. After about 1 km. the track levels out and at this point there is a gate on the left, which leads on to the Rhyd Ddu path proper.
After a while, turn right through an iron gate and gradually climb (N.E.) over open moorland to the west of Lleclog ridge. When the track is faint a line of small cairns marks the way. Turn right along the edge of the precipitous North face of Llechog and look down on the three little lakes of Cwm Clogwyn. One is called Llyn Nadroedd which means Lake of the Snakes but I don’t know why and the other two are Llyn Coch and Llyn Glas (red and blue lakes respectively – guess which is which).
You follow along the top of the cliff-edge as it steepens and narrows and eventually joins the South Ridge. The path soon broadens and is also joined by the Watkin path marked by a finger stone on the right to the cafe and the summit.
The Llanberis path and the Snowdon Ranger path are the same at the top and follow the railway track closely. You will pass a prominent finger stone on your right marking the start of the PYG and Miners’ Track. A few minutes after that look for another stone on your left marking the start of the Snowdon Ranger path over the other side of the railway. Follow this down above the cliffs of Clogwyn du’r Arddu (discussed in other routes above) until you reach a pass at Bwlch Cwm Brwynog where you carry on along the path for 1? km. The Snowdon Ranger continues on and down to the Youth Hostel but, if you want to regain the car park at Rhyd Ddu, look out for a stile over a wall on the left just before the ground starts to fall away steeply again. Cross this stile into the moor beyond. The path is faint but you will see white marker posts which lead down to a stile in the fence. The marker posts continue to the slate tips ahead and go closely round the right hand edge of the tips, crossing a bridge over a stream, then up into the tips.
These tips about the Snowdon routes are fascinating and a famous Welsh poet T.H. Parry Williams (whose home you will see in the old school at Rhyd Ddu commemorated by a plaque) wrote about how every piece of slate we are walking on has been through someone’s hands – someone making bread out of the stone. When you come out of the tips continue following the markers over some more boggy ground until you cross the railway and arrive back in the village and car park.