Hiking Snowdon: What you need to know

Have you ever thought about hiking the highest mountain in Wales? At 1,082 metres, Snowdon is not that high by European standards – but it does offer beautiful views from the summit.

And there’s multiple routes up the mountain so you can choose your own adventure depending on your hiking experience, weather conditions and the level of difficulty you’re seeking.

Wales Climbing off ridgeComing off one of the rock scrambling sections of Crib Goch on the ascent up Snowdon.

When to go

The best time to visit Snowdonia National Park is during the summer months when there’s likely to be less rain. There’s a very high likelihood of rain on any given day in Wales – but you have a greater chance of a clear day in summer.

Fortunately I got very lucky and the day I chose to hike up Snowdon in mid September was sunny and blue, although windy. The following three days in Wales were rainy, foggy and cold!

Wales Crib Goch Dan scrambling Hiking along the razorback ridge of Crib Goch.

Where to stay

The best place to base yourself ahead of your hike up Snowdon is in the town of Llanberis. There’s plenty of accommodation options in Llanberis ranging from hostels to B&Bs – and there’s a couple of restaurants, a Subway and a supermarket in the town to fuel up before and after your hike.

There’s also a YHA Hostel opposite Pen-Y-Pass, where many of the trailheads up Snowdon are located.

Wales Snowdonia Boys PeakTaking a break during the scramble along the Crib Goch route.

Which trail should I take up Snowdon?

There’s many routes up Snowdon – some are relatively easy, while others are a difficult, sometimes scary, rock scramble.

Being the adventurous kind, I opted for the hardest trail which was via Crib Goch, a narrow razorback ridge. If the weather hadn’t been all sunny skies, I would have taken the Pyg Track.

If rock scrambling and steep slopes aren’t your thing, then you can go up the gradual Llanberis Path, which starts just outside the town of Llanberis.

If you’re wanting something more adventurous, try the Miner’s Path, which is flat about two-thirds of the way. The final ascent is a steep rocky climb up to the peak. Ryd d Dhu and the Pyg trails are another step above, the latter running below the ridge of Crib Goch – and adjacent to the Miner’s Path, just higher up.

Wales Snowdonia Wide Ridge ViewScrambling along the razorback ridge of Crib Goch.

Both the Miner’s Path, Pyg Track and Crib Goch trail start from the Pen-y-Pass trailhead. Parking is limited so either get there early or plan to park further down the road and walk about 20 minutes up to the trailhead.

Expect all trails to take about six hours return. You can go up one trail, and then down another. I opted to ascend up Crib Goch, and down the Miner’s Path.

Wales Dan Ridge climb Hiking along the razorback ridge of Crib Goch.

The Crib Goch Trail

There’s no marked trail along the Crib Goch route but you’re essentially making a direct line over the rocky ridge towards Snowdon taking the path of least resistance. It’s a rough, rocky, narrow path the whole way and progress is slow.

The trail at some points is not even one foot wide and you will likely end up crawling along on your hands and knees at some points – especially if it’s windy – negotiating your way slowly across the ridge. It’s not for the faint hearted with steep drops on either side.

I was scared more than once as I negotiated the rocky path as huge gusts of wind blew, knowing one slip and I was likely dead – or at the very least, badly injured on the jagged rocks. Sometimes I would duck down when a big gust of wind came through so I wouldn’t blow off the mountain! This route should only be attempted by hikers experienced at rock scrambling. Extreme care is needed and it shouldn’t be attempted in the wet or low visibility.

Once off the ridgeline, you hook left and head for the summit by a well worn trail where all the trails end up.

Wales Lisa Snowdon summit View from the summit of Snowdon.

The summit of Snowdon is likely to be crowded as a train also goes up to the summit – much to my surprise. But the summit extends over a large area, so you’ll be able to find a spot to enjoy the spectacular views.

Once we took a few happy snaps, we descended down the Miner’s Path. It’s a rocky, sometimes slippery trail as you head steeply down, but then it flattens completely out after about an hour and is an easy 90 minute to two hour stroll back to the carpark.

Wales Miners Path Sunset Walking along the Miner’s Path after descending Snowdon.

Once you’ve tackled Snowdon, there’s also other peaks in Snowdonia National Park to explore such as Tryfan which is also a rock scramble. Sadly the weather wasn’t in my favour and it was too wet the day after I did Snowdon to do more hiking so my road trip buddies and I explored other parts of North Wales instead.

If you’re interested in more hiking, talk to the Tourist Information Office in Llanberis about trails and local conditions, and pick up a map.

Wales Snowdonia hut Some of the beautiful landscapes in Snowdonia National Park.

Equipment List

You should come prepared for all weather conditions when hiking in Wales, so make sure you pack:

  • A rainjacket
  • Dry bag and backpack cover
  • Warm clothing
  • Hat and sunscreen (the sun might come out!)– a beanie will likely also come in handy for the mountain summits
  • At least two litres of water and some snacks.
  • Good hiking shoes are also highly recommended due to the rocky nature of many of the paths – and also often slippery conditions.

Wales Dan Snowdonia LakeThe view from the start of the Crib Goch route.

After Snowdon – Exploring North Wales

If you have a car (which I recommend you do), Wales is the perfect place for some roadtripping.

The scenery is breathtaking with wild, stone-walled framed, narrow roads winding through the countryside; quaint villages; peaceful lakes; moody forests; and lots of cosy pubs perfect to stop for a beer and a piping hot beef and ale pie – just what you need to warm you up after a likely day in the rain. You really just need to pick a direction in Wales and no matter where you end up, you’ll be amazed by the scenery.

Wales Waterfall Conwy Conwy Falls.

Not far from Snowdonia National Park is Conwy Falls. It’s only a short walk and costs £1 for entry, so it’s worth going to check out the falls and the magical Fairy Glen a few metres downstream from the falls. You will really feel like fairies live in this picturesque location.

Wales Fairy Glen Panorama Fairy Glen.

North Wales is also home to lots of castles so learn some history about this country and go exploring along the impressive castle walls and dark towers. My favourite castles were Caenarfon and Harlech, located on the coastline of North Wales.

Wales Castle CameronEntrance to Harlech Castle.

Here’s some photos of some of the beautiful places my friend and I found while driving around Wales. We had no plan, no destination, we just drove to see what we found. What I loved about Wales is it felt so wild and untouched. You could go down any beautiful country lanes and discover beautiful nature.

Wales Windy Road A beautiful tree lined road we came across on our road trip.

Wales castle wallsWandering the walls of Harlech Castle.

Wales Lake HutExploring the shoreline of a lake in North Wales.

Wales Sunrise Lake LisaThis was our camping spot one night during my road trip around Wales. It was freezing this morning and I had on all my layers. But the sunrise over the lake was magical and worth a freezing night in the van. 

Wales River ReflectionsCrystal clear reflections on a river we passed while driving through Wales.

Wales AbbeyThe Valle Crucis Abbey near Llangollen.

Wales Village Bridge viewThe beautiful village of Betws y Coed. We stopped here for a hearty pub meal after exploring the nearby Conwy Falls and Fairy Glen. 

Wales Snowdonia Sunset Sunset in Snowdonia National Park.

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