Hiking Snowdon for first timers
Updated: Nov 13, 2020
If you're reading the blog post, you probably know that Snowdon is the tallest mountain in Wales. At a height of 1084 metres above sea level, the mountain itself has attracted thousands of visitors every years. A great thing about Snowdon is that there is a trail for every fitness level. And if you don't want to challenge yourself with a walk up to the summit, there is the train option. Hop on the train and you will beat all the walkers in no time.
Which Snowdon route should you take?
There are several classic routes to the summit and you can mix them up i.e. go up on one route and down on the another to keep things interesting. Below are the most known routes that I've listed based on difficulty level.
#1. Llanberis Path - the longest and easiest route. It's literally a path so it's easy to follow and suitable for families with children. Not surprisingly it's extremely busy. I can confirm that Llanberis trail is very easy as I walked it although you will need enough stamina to last 7km.. Read on if you want to know more details about the walk.
#2. The Snowdon Ranger Path - the second easiest route and the oldest Snowdon route up the summit and named after the Snowdon. Compared with other tracks, it's much quieter because it's not as interesting or dramatic as the other Snowdon routes.
#3. Rhyd Ddu Path - this track is also a fairly quiet Snowdon routes. It's largely straightforward with one reasonably tough section over Bwlch Main.
#4. and #5. Pyg and Miners' Tracks - Both tracks start at Pen-y-Pass and run pretty much parallel with each other. The Miners’ Track starts lower and has a section that runs along the Snowdon Lakes whereas the Pyg Track looks over the Lakes. Both paths join at Llyn Glaslyn and ascend to the summit. Both have very nice view and therefore very popular. You will need a reasonable level of fitness to complete these tracks. Pyg Track is the classic Snowdon route and the level of difficult is fairly consistent throughout the track. Miners' Track starts off very easy but has tough sections later on. I walked the Pyg Track and I absolutely loved it. Scroll down for more information about my experience with the trail.
#6. Watkin Path - this is the second toughest route to the summit. The final section is steep and awful and you'll have to go through loose scree, which makes the route challenging.
#7. Crib Goch - this is no doubt the hardest route to the summit. It's a scrambling route that you will need to have some mountaineering experience to do it. If you want a 'climbing' experience, this is the route. Don't attempt this route in bad weather and it's recommended that you get a mountain guide if you've never done it before.
Our experience with Pyg and Llanberis tracks
We decided to hike up via Pyg and come down via Llanberis. As we had a dog with us, we figured we shouldn't try anything difficult and coming down the easiest route would give the dog some rest. After all, none of us wanted to carry the dog. And honestly, looking at the photos of Crib Goch, I didn't think I could do it anyway. I might be able to do Watkin, but definitely not with a dog. Pyg and Miners' Tracks therefore seemed the obvious choices to us. We spent quite some time debating and decided to go with Pyg, the classic route.
Pyg Track: the trail starts from Pen y Pass and is about 5km long. This is the shortest of all routes. Depending on your fitness, it takes about 2-3 hours. It took us about 3 hours to get to the summit via Pyg Trail with a dog so we were fairly happy with it. I enjoyed the hike on Pyg so much. It was my first proper workout after months in lockdown and I think it was just the right amount of challenge for me at the time. There were a lot of big rocky steps and some sections required scrambling. The final ascent to the summit was probably the most difficult but manageable. The path was straightforward, we did not get confused with the direction at all. The scenery was gorgeous. Not long after we started, the Snowdon Lakes came into sight and very soon we had a full view of the Lakes. We were very blessed to have amazing weather and able to see the Lakes clearly. I mean who doesn't fall in love with this view?
If you decide to walk the Miners' Track, you'll get to walk along some parts of the Lakes before you ascend to join the Pyg Track. We didn't do the Miners' Track but we had a pretty good view of it from the Pyg. The ascent part from the Snowdon Lakes to the Pyg/Miners junction looked pretty tough. However, the walkers on Miners' had a nice easy walk along the lakes, which made up for it I guess. The next time I come to Snowdon, I think I'd go for the Miner's Track.
Once we got the summit, we were in awe of the view (and also relieved that the dog made it!). We found a spot near the summit for a break and have some lunch. It was pretty crowded so as soon as we finished our lunch, we headed down.
This was a photo of what the Pyg Track route looked like. A lot of big rocky steps, some parts were steeper than others and required some scrambling.
Llanberis Path: starting from Llanberis, this is the easiest and longest of all trails to Snowdown. It's basically a route for children and doggos. The path is wide and gradually ascends to the summit. There are a lot of gravels on the path so make sure you wear good comfortable footwear. My feet were quite sore after walking on gravels for a while. We walked this path on the way down and I have to say I didn't enjoy it. It was far too easy for me. It didn't feel like a hike at all and it became really boring after a while. The scenery was good but compared with what we'd seen on the way up via Pyg, it was really nothing special. But well, neither of us wanted to carry the dog down so didn't really have a choice here. It took us about 3 hours to come down via Llanberis Path.
As you can see, the path is wide and not steep. It's therefore easy to walk. The length however may make it challenging for some.
Half way through we spotted a coin-post which apparently was pretty famous. Every inch of wooden post was covered in coins. I wish I had some change with me stuck into the post but it didn't look like it had any room left anyway.
The view on Llanberis was pretty good. We saw a lot of green mountain ranges and fields and also had a good view of the Snowdon trains. It was nice but as you can see from the photos, it was nowhere near as stunning as the view from Pyg or Miners'.
Things to note
Get there early. Snowdon is extremely popular, especially during weekends and holidays. We travelled there on a Monday bank holiday, when people were leaving for home, so we didn't have any problems with parking. But we were told that the weekend before we came was packed with people and cars were overflowing on the streets as they couldn't find a car park. So if you decide to go on weekend, it's advised that you should get there very early (6am, I know...) if you want to secure a spot.
Check the weather forecast. Conditions on the mountain can change quickly. It's possible that you start off in good weather and soon find strong winds blowing over your head and low clouds limiting your visibility. The temperatures can drop very quickly as you ascend so make sure you bring extra layers. And if the weather goes bad, turn back and go home. Some parts can be extremely tricky and hazardous.
Choose your track wisely. People get rescued from Snowdon all the time because they choose routes that are too challenging for them or they come unprepared without the appropriate gears thinking that it's a walk in the park. Even if you're an experienced hiker, don't get complacent. Be prepared.