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There are several great routes to the summit, but the Snowdon Pyg Track is one of the best options for first-timers. Here’s all you need to know for your first ascent of this magical Welsh mountain.
The Pyg Track clings to majestic lakes as it advances towards the summit of Snowdon, tracking the contour of the U-shaped valley. A sweeping arc of mountainous ridges spiral out in various directions with a patchwork of hiking trails disappearing over steep-sided pinnacles.
There are several Snowdon routes, each providing a unique experience of this dramatic, imposing landscape. The adventure-seekers can climb over narrow arêtes with vertiginous drops delivering heart-pumping thrills. The off-the-beaten-track crowd head to the quieter valleys and longer trails that meander up picturesque paths.
For first-timers, the sensible option is the Pyg Track.
The Snowdon Pyg Track route to the summit is both the shortest in distance and involves the least amount of ascent. There is nothing technically difficult, and it’s one of the easiest and quickest routes to the summit. But this is no compromise; the views over the boulder-strewn paths and lakes nestled into deep-cut valleys are simply stunning – it’s one of the most picturesque places to visit in the UK.
While the Pyg Track requires some puff, in no way is it a boring slog.
As a bonus, there is a choice of different routes back down. Our favourite passes two lovely lakes which are ideal for a refreshing wild swim among a beautiful rocky vista.
Fancy taking on this icon in Snowdonia National Park? Here’s our complete guide to walking up Snowdon via the Pyg Track – our favourite Snowdon route.
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IN THIS GUIDE
SNOWDON VIA PYG TRACK DETAILS
An excellent yet short route up the highest mountain in Wales
5.3 kilometres one way (3.3 miles)
2 hours, 30 minutes one way
725 metres (+/-)
Medium to Hard – it’s a fair old climb but nothing technically difficult
Late May to mid-July
THE DIFFERENT ROUTES FOR WALKING UP SNOWDON
There are a wide range of excellent yet incredibly varied routes for walking up Snowdon.
For those that like a UK-based adventure, the route over Crib Goch crosses a narrow arête, whose vertical drops won’t fail to get the nerves jangling. The Watkin Path is a long and physically demanding route (with a nasty section of scree) but it probably has the best views during the ascent.
The South Ridge route up Snowdon is less busy and is great for leaving the crowds behind, whereas the Llanberis Path may be the longest to the summit but is also the steadiest; firm and easy underfoot, it follows the train track that gradually rises to the summit.
Then there is the Pyg Track.
OVERVIEW OF SNOWDON’S PYG TRACK WALK
The Pyg Track is the shortest and one of the easiest routes up Snowdon, making it perfect for those attempting the summit for the first time. It starts at the 359-metre-high Pen-y-Pass car park, which sits at the top of the Llanberis Road (A4086). Since the top of Snowdon is 1,085 metres in altitude, a third of the height has been gained before you even get out of the car.
The views are excellent almost all the way round. The path winds through narrow boulder-strewn valleys and contours under towering massifs with views over glistening lakes. Towards the top, the path follows a lovely ridge with views disappearing towards the sea. It’s simply some of the finest and most diverse scenery you’ll see in the UK.
There is nothing technically difficult on the walk. No narrow ridges or vertiginous drops; no exposed paths or tricky scrambles. Towards the summit there is one section which is steep, rising 300 metres in just 1 kilometre. At this point, some loose stones and boulders require careful foot placement, and you may need to use your hands briefly. But, in general, it’s about putting one foot in front of the other and having the energy in reserve to climb the 725 metres of ascent.
The path is generally easy to follow, however, on particularly cloudy days, the trail on the steep section might be harder to follow. Take time here finding the route or check the GPS on your phone.
All in all, it’s an achievable day out for anyone with decent fitness.
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HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO WALK UP SNOWDON VIA THE PYG TRACK?
It should take just under 3 hours to walk the 5.25 kilometres up Snowdon via the Pyg Track. Allow 5 to 7 hours to walk up, take some amazing photos, have a bite to eat, then get back down again.
HOW TO GET TO THE START OF THE PYG TRACK
The walk Snowdon Pyg Track begins at Pen-y-Pass Car Park. There are three good options for getting to Pen-y-Pass and understanding the Snowdon car park situation.
1 – PARK AT PEN-Y-PASS CAR PARK
There are about 60 spaces at the Pen-y-Pass car park (Postcode LL55 4NU). It has always been very busy resulting in people blocking the main road while they linger around waiting for a parking space. In 2021, the authorities started piloting a pre-booking system to reduce the strain on the car park. The pilot is due to run until November 2021, until then, a parking space must be booked well in advance and cars will not be allowed in without a booking. It costs a whopping £18 for 8 hours. Book online through Just Park.
2 – PARK NEAR HOTEL GWYRD & WALK TO PEN-Y-PASS
There is considerable roadside parking around the Pen y Gwyrd Hotel. It’s much cheaper (£2 for 4 hours or £4 for the day) and you don’t need to book in advance. The downside is that it takes 20 minutes to walk to Pen-y-Pass to start the hike and it involves an additional 120 metres of ascent. On peak days you will still need to arrive early to find a slot. The machines take cash only.
3 – PARK AT LLANBERIS AND TAKE THE SHUTTLE BUS
Finally, you can park in the town of Llanberis or Nant Peris for around £5 and take the Snowdon Sherpa bus service. The S1 or S2 transports hikers from Llanberis via Nant Peris to Pen-y-Pass. The journey takes 25 minutes from Llanberis (15 from Nant Peris) and runs every half hour from around 7am to 6pm from Easter to Autumn half term (less in winter). It costs £2 for adult singles, £3 for returns and half price for children.
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INSTRUCTIONS FOR WALKING UP SNOWDON VIA THE PYG TRACK
From Pen-y-Pass follow the blue Pyg Track signposts pointing along a well-laid track. It steadily ascends along a rock path that weaves its way through patches of boulders. After about 1.5 kilometres (30 minutes), the path bends left, steepens and climbs (for 10 minutes) towards a gap in the hills where views of Snowdon slowly reveal themselves.
Clamber over a stile (marked with Pyg Track) and follow the gravel path that now traverses under the vertiginous flanks of Crib Goch on your right. This lovely section of the walk (45 minutes) is not only easy but delivers rewarding views across the Y Lliwedd and Lake Llydaw.
Shortly after spying Lake Glas huddled under Snowdon’s summit, the hard work begins. The next kilometre requires climbing 300 metres of ascent (45 minutes). The path is rocky and can be a little tricky to spot on cloudy days. There’s a very short section of loose scree and a couple of places where you may need your hands, but nothing is technically difficult. It just requires some puff and careful foot placement, so take your time.
Upon reaching the ridge, turn left and walk alongside the train track (20 minutes) to the top where on a nice day you may have to queue for a photo at the summit cairn. Sit down, have a rest, give yourself a pat on the back and soak in the amazing views.
FACILITIES ON THE WALK
There are public toilets at Pen-y-Pass and the Snowdon Pen-y-Pass Youth Hostel. Mallory’s Café (attached to the hostel) serves snacks, pub meals and drinks.
The Hafod Eryri visitor’s centre, on the summit of Snowdon, sells hot and cold drinks, snacks, and souvenirs with panoramic views. Unfortunately, the centre (including the toilets) is currently closed due to COVID, but it intends to reopen for the 2022 walking season. Check their website for updates.
There are no other facilities on route.
OPTIONS FOR WALKING DOWN SNOWDON
From the top of Snowdon, you could walk back the way you came (allow about 2 hours 15 minutes), but it’s often more fun to try a different way back. Here are two great options for completing the walk.
1 – VIA LLANBERIS PATH
If you have parked in Llanberis and got the shuttle to Pen-y-Pass, you could walk down via the Llanberis Path. It’s longer (7.25 kilometres / 2 hours 45 minutes) and requires more descent (950 metres) but its steady-going and you’ll end back at your car instead of having to take the shuttle bus back down. To reward yourself at the end, stop at Café Penceunant Isaf for coffee, or at the Victoria Arms if you need something stronger.
2 – VIA THE MINER’S TRACK
Alternatively, head back on the Pyg Track, but about a quarter of the way down, branch off to the right and take the Miner’s Track to Pen-y-Pass. It’s similar in difficulty to the Pyg Track but it has the added bonus of passing two lakes perfect for a post-walk swim. Glas Llyn is high and wild and nestled under Snowdon’s summit, whereas Llyn Llydaw is lower and (blissfully) a tiny bit warmer.
A fun way to end the walk was to have a pint at the Gwryd Hotel bar. Sadly, since COVID (and still at the time of writing) the bar is only open to hotel guests. Hopefully, this will change, but until then, you’ll have to make do with the much less atmospheric Malory’s at Pen-y-Pass.
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MAP / SNOWDON VIA PYG TRACK
The map below has all the routes mentioned in this guide, as well as the parking places and facilities. To save them to your device, click on the star on the title bar which will load it in GoogleMaps and save it to “your maps.” If you decide to use our map to help navigate the Pyg Track, don’t forget to download it before you leave as there is minimal phone service on Snowdon.
WHERE TO STAY
All these places to stay are conveniently close to Pen-y-Pass, where the Pyg Track route up Snowdon begins.
Perfectly positioned at Pen-y-Pass, the Snowdon Youth Hostel is surrounded by stunning scenery in a truly rugged and rural setting. There’s a choice of private rooms or dorms along with a café, bar and shared kitchen. Wi-fi is available in public areas, but no mobile reception at the hostel means you’ll be enjoying a semi-digital detox.
On the edge of Llanberis village this two-bedroom holiday home makes a great base for walking in Snowdonia. Lovingly decorated in whites, greys and pale blues, its stylish and clean with mountain views and a car park space out front. It sleeps four and they allow dogs.
In the lovely village of Beddgelert sitting under the flanks of the highest mountain in Wales, the Saracen’s Head has the perfect setting. Contemporary well-appointed rooms in a traditional pub, there’s also a great outdoor terrace. Sit back, listen to the River Colwyn gurgle past and take in the vista.
BETWS Y COED
This elegant stone guest house is just a short walk through fields to the village of Betws-y-Coed. Being just out of town, the garden terrace is a beautiful place to relax and it has easy access to many of the best sights in Snowdonia. The breakfast is pretty good too.
TIPS FOR WALKING UP SNOWDON
01 – The Pyg Track route up Snowdon is mostly easy to follow, but there are a couple of indistinct sections tricky to find on cloudy days. Bring a physical map (OL17) or one you have downloaded in advance (there is limited reception on route). Either download google maps offline (which has the route marked) or subscribe to the Ordnance Survey App. It’s £24 a year for all their UK wide maps and allows you to track and save your routes. Perfect for regular UK hikers.
02 – If you are using a phone to navigate make sure it is fully charged, and/or take a charger with you.
03 – The trail is a mix of easy-walking gravel tracks, hard stony paths and loose rocky scree. We suggest using waterproof footwear with a good grip, ideally walking boots or shoes.
04 – Weather conditions in Snowdonia change dramatically. Make sure you take a waterproof and some warm clothes. The walk is not in the shade, so if you’re blessed with a hot day, bring sunblock and a hat.
05 – While there is a café at the summit, it remained closed throughout 2021, so take plenty of food and water. Walking for 5 to 7 hours is tiring and uses a lot of calories.
06 – There’s an option to go for a very refreshing swim on the way down, so don’t forget to take a towel, your best swimwear and a good dose of courage.
07 – Don’t forget your camera. The views are remarkable.
HOW TO GET TO SNOWDON
Snowdon is located in north Wales in the beautiful Snowdonia National Park. By far, the easiest way to get around is in your own car, however, we have more information in our guide to Snowdonia.
Here are more of our UK guides you might be interested in.
Best wild swimming locations in the Lake District
Best things to do in Pembrokeshire
Wild Swimming in the Thames
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