The Ultimate Travel Plan: Hiking Snowdon
Commanding the Northern half of Wales, Snowdonia National Park is home to some of the United Kingdom’s highest and most eye-catching peaks. The crown jewel of the region is Mount Snowdon itself, or Yr Wyddfa as it’s known in my beloved Welsh language.
This majestic mountain, its accompanying peaks and jaw-dropping valleys are steeped in mythical legends and undeniable beauty. Though the surrounding national park has an abundance of exhilarating activities and quaint villages to explore, hiking to the mountain’s peak is the true highlight for many.
So in that case, here’s everything you need to know about hiking up Snowdon.
This article may contain affiliate links which I may be compensated for at no extra cost to you dear readers!
Where is Snowdonia?
Snowdonia or Eryri, is a mountainous region and national park which covers almost the entirety of northwestern Wales.
This gigantic 823 square mile national park stretches from Llandudno on the Northern coast to Aberdyfi at the centre of Wales’ Western coastline.
Within this monumental park, the 1,085 metres high Mount Snowdon, or yr Wyddfa, commands the highest peak.
Snowdon is so big in fact that it can be spotted throughout North Wales and even as far as Ireland on a good day! There’s little wonder it’s considered the talisman of the region.
How to Get To Snowdonia
Due to its enormous size, there are plenty of access points into Snowdonia National Park. However, travel becomes a little limited once you’re inside the park itself.
Getting to Snowdonia by Car
The most convenient and best way of getting in and around Snowdonia is by driving.
There’s a dual carriageway which loops around the Northwest coast, which makes access easy enough. Entering the park from any other direction means you’ll have to rely on backcountry roads. As beautiful as they are, it might take a little longer.
There are three main roads you could follow:
- A470: From Conwy headed south
- A5: From Bangor headed South-East
- A487: From Caernarfon headed South-West
Once you’re off the main roads, you’ll be travelling along jaw-dropping winding roads that lead you deep into the valleys as you traverse the immense landscapes.
Getting to Snowdonia by Train
Snowdonia can also be accessed throughout the UK by train. You’ll have three options for stations – Porthmadog, Betws-Y-Coed and Rhyd Ddu.
Porthmadog and Betws-Y-Coed are just on the outskirts of Snowdonia National Park, meaning you’ll need another form of transport to get to Snowdon.
Rhyd Ddu train station is placed along the Welsh Highland Railway which cuts right through the heart of the park. It is also the only station that is directly next to one of the trail’s starting points. It’s also by far the most photogenic option of the lot!
If you’re headed there from England, you’ll have three options:
- Follow the Northern coast via Llandudno to Betws-Y-Coed
- Cross Central Wales via Shrewsbury to Porthmadog
- Head to Ruabon and transfer to the T3 TrawsCymru Bus
The best way to book train tickets is through Trip.com. The web page makes the process very easy and even gives regular discounts on UK tickets!
Getting to Snowdonia by Bus
Snowdonia National Park can be accessed via the Snowdon Sherpa bus service which departs from a number of major towns and cities around the Northern coasts including Caernarfon, Bangor, Betws-y-Coed and Porthmadog.
The service travels around the base of Snowdon stopping at several locations, many of which will be at or close to the start point of different hiking trails.
|Walking Path||Sherpa Bus Service||From|
|Llanberis Path||S1 or S2||Betws-y-Coed (S1)|
|Pyg||S1, S2, S4 or S5||Betws-y-Coed (S1)|
Llanberis (S1, S2, S5)
Nant Peris (S1, S2, S5)
|Miners’ Track||S1, S2, S4 or S5||Betws-y-Coed (S1)|
Llanberis (S1, S2, S5)
Nant Peris (S1, S2, S5)
|Snowdon Ranger Path||S3||Caernarfon (S3)|
|Rhyd Ddu Path||S3||Caernarfon (S3)|
|Watkin Path||S4||Porthmadog (S4)|
Coming from England via bus is possible by bus definitely not recommended. Even from border cities such as Chester on bus services alone would take 4 transfers over 14 hours. At the very least a train should be taken to a coastal town closer to the park.
The ultimate guide to trekking the world’s most beautiful volcano and Indonesia’s second-highest,
Though there are plenty of exhilarating activities and gorgeous mountain towns steeped in history to explore, the star attraction is Mount Snowdon itself. Thus, climbing the majestic beast is considered the pinnacle highlight!
In a national park so vast, there is a myriad of trails you could follow. In total, there are six major paths for hiking to Snowdon’s summit – Llanberis path, Pyg Track, Miners’ Track, Watkin Path, Rhyd-Ddu Path, and the Snowdon Ranger Path.
Llanberis Path is by far the most popular hiking trail up Snowdon. This is partly because it starts in the relatively larger and more accessible town of Llanberis, and also due to it being one of the easiest routes.
Unlike others on this list, the 9-mile-long trail is far more of a gradual incline. So much so, that tourists used to be carried up this path by horses, and is still used as a pony path to this day!
The only downside is, that the easy incline makes it the longest trail too.
We go from one of the longest routes to one of the shortest. Yet that very fact makes the 7-mile-long Pyg track also one of the most difficult. With rugged rocky outcrops and challenging traverses, it’s not a favourite with the inexperienced.
The track begins and eventually merges with the Miner’s Track, though this is certainly the more challenging of the two!
But why is it called the Pyg Track? Good question, nobody really knows! Some say it was named by climbing guests at a nearby hostel, while others claim it was from workers that used the path to transport black tar (pyg). The most amusing though is that it’s an English misspelling of one of the nearby regions, Bwlch-y-Moch, or the Pass of Pigs.
Just like the Pyg track, the Miners Path also begins from Pen-y-Pass. As the name suggests, this route was used by miners who would transport copper to serve the Britannia Copper Mine from as early as 1832.
Though mining came to an end in 1916, remains of the industry can still be found to this day.
While the first half of the path is a gradual rise, the second half has a far steeper ascent as it merges with the Pyg track. Yet, the incredible views it provides of the many lakes in the region certainly make up for it!
This is one of the few British trials that have a heavy political connection! It was named after Sir Edward Watkin, who was responsible for creating the path. It was even opened by then Prime Minister William Gladstone in 1892!
Despite its prestigious beginning, it’s actually one of the most challenging routes to the summit. Rough tracks and cliff-edge tiptoeing can spell disaster for the inexperienced.
Rhyd Ddu Path
Ascending the Western slopes of Snowdon, the Rhyd Ddu path is yet another hiking trail that offers some striking scenery across the valleys and rocky terrain.
While it starts off gradually, the trail soon ascends sharply across the rocky landscape as it crosses difficult ridges and steep slopes. Yet again, it’s considered a difficult trail for newbies, though by far one of the most rewarding!
Snowdon Ranger Path
Yet another trail with a tale, the path was named after the “Snowdon Ranger” John Morton who would guide Victorian tourists to Snowdon’s summit. The entrepreneurial man he was, he also opened a nearby tavern, which today has been turned into a hostel, and called it the ‘Snowdon Ranger Inn’.
This route is considered one of the easiest up Snowdon, though does have the occasional uneven terrain and steep ascents.
If exhausting yourself or spending an entire day traversing mountain terrain doesn’t take your fancy, then you’re in luck! The Snowdon Mountain Railway takes visitors to the very top of the summit as it passes some stunning landscapes, making it one of the most picturesque railways in the entire country!
The hour-long ride begins in Llanberis and passes by the majestic sites of Ceunant Mawr waterfall and Moel Eilio mountain. You might even hear the tale of the child-catching with Canthrig Bwt who resides in the mythical boulders of Clogwyn Du’r Arddu (Dark, Black Cliff).
It’s a great option for children and even more so when the weather makes climbing a risky affair.
Where to Stay in Snowdonia
As hiking Snowdon can take up most of your day, it’s worth considering spending the night there! Luckily, you’ve got quite a few options!
Hotels and Hostels
In the surrounding areas of Betws-y-Coed, Llanberis, Blaenau Ffestiniog and a few scattered spots in between, there are a number of quaint little hotels, budget youth hostels and even a few camping pods and lodges.
Hostels begin as low as £22 and hotels for £32, though prices begin to rise sharply.
What better way to get into the adventurous spirit than to spend the night out in the wilderness as nature intended?
Camping is a popular option for many visitors with several campsites throughout Snowdonia National Park. Wild camping is NOT permitted without the permission of the landowner…though that doesn’t stop many.
In and around Snowdonia national park are a myriad of campsites to suit all needs. From luxury glamping cottages to bare basic sites, there’s plenty across all budgets and requirements.
Thank You for Reading! Check Out These Other Helpful Links!
Thank you so much for reading The Ultimate Travel Plan: Hiking Snowdon! Check out these other helpful articles!
A fabulous place – I remember doing this as a kid with my family, great fun though weather was a bit rainy at the time
Definitely a source of pride of us Northerners! I look forward to hiking it again in the future!