The Best Snowdonia Hiking Routes

Snowdonia National Park in North Wales covers an area of 2132km², making it the largest National Park in Wales. Scattered over this vast area are 9 mountain ranges with dramatic craggy peaks, over 100 picturesque lakes, 23 miles of scenic coastline and a multitude of peaceful woodland areas.

Throughout the park there is an abundance of walking routes for hikers of all abilities to enjoy.

Top Snowdonia walks can vary from strolling along coastal beaches to scrambling along the top of high mountain peaks. Some of the paths are well trodden and maintained, whilst others require some navigational mountain experience.

In this guide I describe 5 of the best Snowdonia mountain walks. These beautiful Snowdonia hiking trails all involve varying levels of scrambling, which offer an added challenge to your mountain adventure.

5 Snowdonia Hiking Routes At A Glance

  1. Snowdon Horseshoe – The best big mountain day in Snowdonia
  2. The Glyderau via Devil’s Kitchen – The best for viewing iconic Snowdonia landmarks
  3. Cader Idris – The best hike in Southern Snowdonia
  4. Cnicht, Moelwyn Mawr & Moelwyn Bach Loop – The best Snowdonia trek to avoid the crowds
  5. Moel Siabod – The best for views of Mount Snowdon and easy-level scrambling

Be Prepared For Your Snowdonia Adventure!

Before you attempt any of these Snowdonia hiking trails make sure you are properly prepared with both equipment and knowledge.

Check the weather forecast beforehand and then decide if the route is right for you on that day. Several of these routes have exposed edges and steep drops, which can be treacherous in wet and windy conditions.

These Snowdonia treks all require a good level of map reading skills and in poor visibility may rely on compass use. If you are interested in learning how to scramble or use maps correctly, take a look at Freedom Outdoors. Louise instructed me on my Mountain Leader Course and I can highly recommend her.

Once you have chosen your route, make sure you have all the equipment you need. Here is a list of basic equipment needed to enjoy these fabulous Snowdonia hikes.

For a complete day hiking packing list, take a look at this post!

The Best Hikes In Snowdonia – What Can You Expect?

The Snowdon Horseshoe 

  • Distance: 12km
  • Elevation gain: 1062m
  • Time: 8 hours
  • Starting Point: Pen y Pass (Take the Sherpa Bus from Llanberis)
  • Highlights: Crib Goch traverse
  • Map: Explorer OL17

The Snowdon Horseshoe refers to the horseshoe shaped ring of peaks that make up part of the Snowdon Massif. This fabulous ridge walk provides incredible views throughout, making it one of the best hikes in Snowdonia.

This challenging mountain day takes in several ridges and summits and should only be attempted if you’re comfortable with scrambling along exposed edges.

Do not try this walk if you have a fear of heights!

This Snowdon circuit starts from Pen y Pass, following the well signposted PYG Track towards Snowdon. If you’re interested in discovering alternative routes to the summit of Snowdon, take a look at this post.

Upon reaching Bwlch y Moch the real fun begins! Take the right hand path which leads to the first scramble of the day, up onto Crib Goch. Once at the top you will begin the traverse of Crib Goch Ridge, which is 500m of exposed, rocky ridge scrambling. 

With the excitement (terror?!) of Crib Goch over, it’s another scramble onto the second highest point in Wales, Crib y Ddysgl (Garnedd Ugain). From here it’s a straightforward walk onto to Snowdon summit to join the crowds, before descending via the Watkin Path to Bwlch y Saethau.

The final summit of the day, Y Lliwedd, involves some more, albeit easier, scrambling before beginning the gradual descent towards Llyn Llydaw. Join up with the well trodden Miners Track to complete the loop back to Pen y Pass.

The Snowdon Horseshoe is a classic Snowdonia hike
Classic view of the Snowdon Horseshoe

The Glyderau via Devils kitchen  

  • Distance: 12.5km
  • Elevation gain: 855m
  • Time: 5 – 7 hours
  • Starting Point: A5 parking near Glan Denau
  • Highlights: The other worldly rock formations on Glyder Fach and views of the Ogwen valley
  • Map: Explorer OL17

The Glyderau (not the Glyders!) are a group of mountains that get their name from the two highest peaks in the group – Glyder Fawr and Glyder Fach. Hiking up the Glyderau via the Devil’s Kitchen is one of the classic hikes in Snowdonia.

This hike starts from Glan Denau and is a trudge along the A5 to Ogwen Visitor Centre. Here begins a well made path up to Cwm Idwal. Reaching Llyn Idwal provides the first scenic view of the day.

Enjoy the gentle walk around the lake before ascending into Devil’s Kitchen or Twll Du in Welsh. This rocky trail climbs steeply between two crags to reach the plateau. Walk around Llyn y Cwn before taking on the next challenge, which is a loose scree ascent to Glyder Fawr.

Once at the summit it’s a fairly straight froward walk down, then up onto Glyder Fach, passing the intriguing rock spires of Castell y Gwynt along the way. However, if the weather is poor some compass navigation maybe required.

Just beyond Glyder Fach summit is the Cantilever stone which makes for an iconic Snowdonia photo. From Glyder Fach you can descend to Bwlch Tryfan via Bristly Ridge if you’re feeling brave, however I suggest taking the easier path to the east.

Once at the Bwlch there is the option to make a side trip up the South Ridge of Tryfan. This bouldery climb is the easiest route to the top of this fabulous peak and is worth the effort if time and fitness levels allow.

From Bwlch Tryfan there is a straightforward, though initially fairly steep path, down through Cwm Tryfan to the starting point at Glan Denau.

If you love more adventurous scrambles then an alternative to this route is the Bochlwyd Horseshoe. This route ascends via the North face of Tryfan and Bristly Ridge on Glyder Fach and descends via Y Gribin. All of which are grade 1-2 scrambles.

Cader/Cadair Idris Minffordd Path Loop

  • Distance: 9.2km
  • Elevation gain: 862m
  • Time: 5-6 hours
  • Starting Point: Minffordd Car Park
  • Highlights: The ridge walk to Craig Cwm Amarch
  • Map: Explorer OL23

Cadar Idris or Cadair Idris is found in Southern Snowdonia away from main hub surrounding Mount Snowdon. This loop provides a beautifully scenic walk and is a must-do for anyone exploring Snowdonia National Park.

There are various routes to the summit of Cadar Idris, but the Minffordd Path offers a great ridge walk with views of Cwm Cau along the way.

This loop starts from the car park at Minffordd and follows a well trodden path through a pretty wooded gorge. Be warned there are lots of steps on this trail but it at least gets lots of the climbing over and done with.

Keeping left at both forks the effort is soon rewarded with views of Llyn Cau and Cadar peak. After admiring the views the ridge climb begins to the first summit of Craig Cwm Amarch. From this peak there is a short descent to the bwlch, before making the final climb to Cadair summit.

Cadair Idris is a popular hike so don’t expect to have the summit to yourself. Once you’ve taken in the views it’s time to continue the loop along the ridge towards Mynydd Gwerngraig.

This path stays high, providing views over Cwm Cau until it breaks away from the ridge and descents quite steeply back into the valley. Cross the bridge and rejoin the Minffordd Path to retrace your steps through the gorge and back to the car park.

There’s a tearoom near the car park if you want to reward yourself with a delicious cream tea!

Cnicht, Moelwyn Mawr & Moelwyn Bach Loop

  • Distance: 15.4km
  • Elevation gain: 947m
  • Time: 6 – 8 hours
  • Starting Point: Croesor village
  • Highlights: Scrambling up Cnicht AKA the Welsh Matterhorn
  • Map: Explorer OL17

Cnicht is a perfectly shaped, pyramid mountain which is affectionately know as the Welsh Matterhorn. This full mountain day loop walk also takes in the peaks of Moelwyn Mawr and Moelwyn Bach, collectively known as the Moelwynions.

Struggling to pronounce all of these Welsh mountain names? Learn how to say Welsh words in this handy guide!

The starting location for this hike is in the secluded village of Croesor, with free parking at the Snowdonia National Park car park. On clear days you can enjoy views of Cnicht and the Moelwynions for most of the walk to Cnicht peak. The trail to Cnicht is well signposted.

To attain the summit there is a short but fun scramble, although the worst of this can be avoided by following the path to the right. The reward from the top of this climb are breathtaking 360 degree views, with a real feeling of remoteness. However there’s much more to see!

Continue down from the summit towards the pretty Llyn yr Adar, before turning left towards Rhosydd Slate Quarry. The trail becomes more faint here and is very boggy in parts. Navigation can be tricky especially in poor weather.

After passing through the quarry the next climb begins for the craggy summit of Moelwyn Mawr. Take a moment to again enjoy panoramic views of Snowdonia National Park at the summit. Descend Moelwyn Mawr to the southeast before making the final ascent to Moelwyn Bach, which is thankfully 60m lower than it’s bigger brother.

From Moelwyn Bach there’s a long gradual descent along the ridge, passing through a forrest before joining a small road that leads back to Croesor village.

Moel Siabod from Pont Cyfyng

  • Distance: 11.6km
  • Elevation gain: 817m
  • Time: 5 hours
  • Starting Point: Pont Cyfyng
  • Highlights: Scrambling up Ddaer Ddu to the summit
  • Map: Explorer OL17

Perhaps I’d better start with how to pronounce this one since I’ve heard it said incorrectly so many times! Rather than thinking Mo-el Sia-bod, try Moyle Sha-bod and you’ll blend in with the locals quite well.

Although this loop is the easiest adventure on this list it’s still a great walk in Snowdonia. Starting from Bryn Glo car park there’s not much time for a warm up, as the track heads steeply uphill until it reaches the open hillside.

Pass by a disused quarry and two smaller lakes as you gradually climb towards Llyn y Foel. Beware the boggy ground along the way. It’s here the fun really starts with the 1km long, straight forward scramble up Ddaer Ddu towards the summit.

At the bouldery summit you can enjoy great views of Snowdon to the east. The path for the descent is not as obvious and can prove a navigational challenge in low visibility. The walk back down along the shoulder is long but gradual, making it fairly easy on the knees.

Once in the forestry keep an eye out for the path to the right which provides the shortest route back to the starting point at Pont Cyfyng.

Once you’ve fully explored Snowdonia why not head to South Wales and hike the best of the Brecon Beacons?

Snowdonia Hiking Summary

As the largest National Park in Wales, Snowdonia has many options to offer hikers of all abilities. In this guide I have suggested 5 top Snowdonia trails for hikers with mountain experience. These paths are located in different regions of the park and will take several visits to complete.

If you are unfamiliar with map reading or are new to scrambling, consider using a guide before attempting these hikes.

Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase through them I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. This helps cover the cost of running this blog. Thanks for your support!

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