Which is the Best Path to Climb Snowdon?
Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales at 1085 meters high and has absolutely beautiful views from all angles - It's therefore an understandably popular mountain to climb.
Snowdon is also easily accessible with lots of paths from each side leading to its summit. But which is the best path to climb Snowdon?
There is no easy answer because the answer will really depend on a number factors including:
- The level of difficulty you are looking for
- Your experience & fitness
- The type of walking you enjoy (easy angled paths, ridges, sociable walks, quiet walks etc)
We will give you the low down on 7 of the most popular main paths to climb snowdon to help you decide which route is best for you.
Map of Snowdon Paths
Main Paths up Snowdon in order of Difficulty
From easiest to hardest
1. The Llanberis path (The easy one)
The Llanberis path up Snowdon is generally regarded as the easiest path to climb Snowdon. It has the easiest continuous gradient all the way up and the path is easy to follow as it basically follows the train line.
This path also has a cafe half way up up called the halfway cafe for those who would like a leisurely lunch before getting to the cafe on the summit.
The Llanberis path is definitely a great path for beginners with limited navigation skills or for those with bad knees (I used this path to descend Snowdon after our scrambling three peaks challenge - by which time my knees were shot!)
If you want to have an explore around a town after your day summiting Snowdon then the Llanberis path is also great because you can walk into the town straight afterwards. We recommend Mafon cafe for amazing home cooked lunches (great for vegans) and there is also plenty of outdoor retail therapy to be had at Joe Browns and Crib Goch.
Llanberis Path Key Facts
Return distance: 9 miles
Ascent: 970 meters
Starting point: Llanberis, LL55 4TY
Parking: There are plenty of pay and display car parks in Llanberis close to the train station
2. The Ranger Path (The quiet one)
Photo Courtesy of Jeff Buck
The ranger path up Snowdon starts from the western side of the mountain and it therefore takes slightly longer to get to for most tourists coming from the East. It is therefore much quieter even though it is a relatively gentle path up to the summit.
This is a great path to take if you are a beginner but want to do a route which is less busy than the Llanberis path. The ranger path is a slight step up from the Llanberis path but only in that there are some slightly rockier steps and the angle is more acute in some areas.
There is a great link up with the Rhyd Ddu path if you cut across country through some old slate mines. This is a personal favourite circular route of mine (never been a fan of doing the same route up and down!) If you are interested please contact us and I will send you the details (I might do a blog on it at a later date).
The Ranger Path Key Facts
Return distance: 8 miles
Ascent: 937 meters
Starting point: Llyn Cwellyn
Parking: Llyn Cwellyn Car Park (LL55 7YS)
3. The Miners path (The scenic one)
The Miners path up Snowdon starts from the busy Pen Y Pass car park (I warn you - get their early, especially at the weekend as it’s generally full by 7 - 7.30am). Check the Snowdonia.gov page for more information as they recently introduced a pre-booking system.
If the miners path stayed as easy as the path starts all the way to the top then it would be by far the easiest path up Snowdon. It does, however, give you a false sense of security and after being virtually flat for the first half goes up steeply on some steep, sometimes scree littered paths.
The Miners path is often used for people just wanting to go and admire the beautiful lakes that sit below the pointy peak of Snowdon towering above them.
It is also quite a good circular route with the Pyg track as you can vary the walk by taking one up and the other down to Pen Y Pass.
The Miners Path Key Facts
Return distance: 7.3 miles
Ascent: 750 meters
Starting point: Pen-y-Pass (LL55 4NU)
Parking: Pen-y-Pass car park
4. The Pyg Track (The quick one)
Photo courtesy of Tim Lawson
The Pyg track up Snowdon is an extremely popular route as it is the quickest and has the least ascent whilst still being relatively easy.
The route finding is pretty straight forwards all the way to the top although it is still possible to stray off the path in bad weather. It is a path that can catch people out as it does have stray potential and also can be prone to avalanches in heavy snow conditions.
Photo courtesy of John Turner
If you want a quick run up Snowdon then this is a great path to take and the views over the lakes are stunning. Just beware - it is very popular and their can be queues getting to the top. The car park is also very busy so make sure you get their early or you may need to pre-book.
The Pig Track Key Facts
Return distance: 7.3 miles
Ascent: 750 meters
Starting point: Pen-Y-Pass (LL55 4NU)
Parking: Pen- Y- Pass car park
5. Rhyd Ddu Path (The secret one)
This is a personal favourite of mine as it’s super quiet, has a good bit of exposure near the top and starts and finishes near a pub!
The gradient of the path is generally ok most of the way up and the path is also very good. The main difficulties for most people come near the top where it becomes a wide ridge and has a narrowish ledge that you have to walk along. I know it’s caught several people out before that have done this as one of their first mountain walks and they couldn’t hack the exposure.
In winter conditions this is a great route to take as an introduction to winter ridge walking. You can make it a little spicy by taking some of the rocky steps head on and have a fantastic day out (with the necessary equipment i.e. ice axe and crampons)
As mentioned in the ranger path description - there is a great circular route using the Rhyd Ddu path and the ranger path - contact us if you would like the information on this.
Rhyd Ddu Path Key Facts
Return distance: 7.5 miles
Ascent: 890 meters
Starting point: Rhyd Ddu
Parking: Rhyd Ddu car park (LL54 6TN)
6. The Watkin Path (The hard one)
The Watkin Path is often regarded as the hard or tough path up Snowdon. This is probably because you start climbing from almost sea level so the ascent is the biggest of all the routes up Snowdon.
The Watkin path is actually not as hard as it once was due to work being done on the path near the top. It used to be a very steep scree path but now it’s just a very steep path!
The scenery on this path is absolutely stunning as it goes through woodlands, past waterfalls and then up the beautiful Llan and Tregalan valleys.
The Watkin path is a great route take if you are fit and want a walk with varied scenery and terrain. There is also a fantastic cafe near the start called Caffi Gwynant which has fantastic menu and delicious cakes!
The Watkin Path Key Facts
Return distance: 8 miles
Ascent: 1015 meters
Starting point: Nantgwynant
Parking: Pay & Display in Nantgwynant (LL55 4NR)
7. Crib Goch ( The spicy one)
Crib Goch has got to be my favourite route up Snowdon and one of the best grade 1 ridge walks in the UK.
It certainly has a reputation and I should think accounts for most of the call outs (alongside Tryfan) for the local mountain rescue team. It is a very exposed- knife edge ridge in sections. It should therefore by only be attempted by those with some scrambling experience. If you are not sure do Rhyd Ddu path first to see how you get on (or Striding Edge in the lakes).
If you can hack exposure then you are sure to have a fantastic day out on this mighty ridge. I will never get bored of this route and so far have been really lucky having cloud inversions on 3 of the many times of have been across it:
For more information on Crib Goch see our blog on the best grade 1 scrambles in Snowdonia.
Crib Goch Key Facts
Return distance: 7.25 miles
Ascent: 763 meters
Starting point: Pen-Y-Pass
Parking: Pen-Y-Pass (LL55 4NU)
Recommended Kit to Climb Snowdon
- Walking boots (please - no trainers!)
- Walking socks
- Walking trousers (jeans will not be comfy!)
- Breathable T-shirt
- Waterproof jacket
- Waterproof trousers
- First aid kit
- Walking poles (optional but will make it easier and less hard work on your legs)
Recommended Books to Climb Snowdon
Cicerone- Mountain walking Snowdonia
Cicerone Great Mountain Days in Snowdonia
Snowdonia Harvey Map (we prefer Harvey maps as they are waterproof, last forever and have a lot more crag detail on than other maps)
We hope this blog gives you the inspiration to get out and try the routes. As ever please do contact us with any questions or leave a comment below - we would love to hear from you.
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