Comparing the different paths on Snowdon

The six main paths up Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) are all different in their own way.

People often ask which is the ‘easiest’ or the ‘best’ of the main paths.

  • Most people will agree that the Llanberis Path is the easiest (but that doesn’t mean it’s easy – it’s long and uphill all the way, and you’ve still got a mountain to climb!).
  • The shortest path, and the quickest, is the Pyg Track, but it’s rugged.
  • The hardest of the main paths is the Watkin Path, given its combined length and ascent.  (We are not including Crib Goch in this.)
  • However, regarding the ‘best’ path, there will never be agreement; ask 6 different people and you’ll likely get 6 different answers. (Do you mean easiest, most accessible, most scenic, most dramatic, etc?)

What we can do, though, is to present a brief summary of the main pros and cons of each path so that you can decide for yourself.

General comments

All the main paths are well defined on the ground and easy to follow in good visibility. For the most part they are wide enough for two people to walk side by side.

In good weather they are safe, and any exposed sections or sections requiring hands are noted below or in the detailed path descriptions.

Timings will vary according to both the path chosen and the walker’s pace and fitness, but estimates are also given in the path descriptions.

Ranked from easiest to hardest

Ranking the six main paths from easiest to hardest isn’t that straightforward – it’s a little bit subjective (what might be easy for some might be challenging for others). Moreover, some paths have a mix of easier and harder sections (e.g. some might swap the Miners’ Track and the Rhyd Ddu Path on account of this).

Also, you should bear in mind that this isn’t necessarily the only criteria to consider. You can read more about the pros and cons of the paths below.

  1.   Llanberis Path
  2.   Snowdon Ranger Path
  3.   Miners’ Track
  4.   Rhyd Ddu Path
  5.   Pyg Track
  6.   Watkin Path
Comparison of height ascended and gradient

There is far more to choosing a path than just considering its length or the height ascended (the latter depending on the height of the start point). Nevertheless, for the sake of comparison, here are the details of the six main paths (ranked by total height ascended, from least to most):

Path Length     (one way) Start height Total height ascended Overall gradient
Pyg Track 3½ miles /  5½ km 359m 726m 1 : 7.8
Miners’ Track 4¼ miles /    7 km 359m 726m 1 : 9.4
Rhyd Ddu Path 3¾ miles /    6 km 190m 895m 1 : 6.74
Snowdon Ranger Path 4 miles /     6¼ km 149m 936m 1 : 7
Llanberis Path 4½ miles /  7¼ km 110m 975m 1 : 7.4
Watkin Path 4¼ miles /    7 km 60m 1025m 1 : 6.67

Llanberis Path

(See detail and route description here, plus information about parking and about combining this path with others.)

The pros:

  • suitable for first-time walkers or large groups
  • a reasonable overall gradient
  • a straightforward, well-defined, wide path, and regarded as the safest and easiest (it’s a bridleway, and bikes and even horses can use it)
  • no ‘clambering’ or scrambling at all; no hands needed
  • a ‘safe’ path with no great exposure at any point
  • a café halfway (open seasonally)
  • served by a frequent bus service, and handy for the Park & Ride bus service
  • on the ‘near side’ of the mountain for most people
  • plenty of parking, and good facilities in Llanberis itself

Bikes and even horses can use the Llanberis Path

The cons:

  • the longest path
  • a considerable amount of ascent because it starts low down
  • it’s the busiest path by far (and popular with large groups)
  • an initial steep tarmac section out of the village, with two later steep sections after halfway
  • less dramatic views and less scenic for much of the lower part of the path

Bwlch Glas, where the Llanberis Path is joined by other paths


Pyg Track

(See detail and route description here, plus information about parking and about combining this path with others .)

The pros:

  • suitable for fit first-time walkers
  • a well-defined path
  • the shortest, speediest route
  • the least amount of ascent because it starts quite high up – at 359 m (1,180 ft)
  • scenic, with dramatic views for much of the route
  • often fairly sheltered from wind until the final ridge is reached
  • ideal for making into a round with the Miners’ Track
  • handy for the Park & Ride bus service
  • on the ‘near side’ of the mountain for many
  • a café at Pen y Pass
  • an option of Crib Goch for those up to it

The cons:

  • hard underfoot
  • rugged, with some high steps and ‘clambery’ sections (not easy for shorter legs), and other challenging technical bits, e.g. hands needed briefly in 3 or 4 places
  • a steep initial mile
  • a fairly busy path
  • often no space to park at Pen y Pass itself (though easily solved by Park & Ride)

Bwlch y Moch on the Pyg Track


Miners’ Track

(See detail and route description here, plus information about parking and about combining this path with others.)

The pros:

  • suitable for fit first-time walkers
  • the gentlest overall gradient
  • the least amount of ascent because it starts quite high up –  at 359 m (1,180 ft)
  • a very easy first 2 miles, with a wide path
  • scenic, with increasingly dramatic views
  • often fairly sheltered from wind until the final ridge is reached
  • ideal for making into a round with the Pyg Track
  • handy for the Park & Ride bus service
  • on the ‘near side’ of the mountain for many
  • a café at Pen y Pass

The cons:

  • fairly long
  • a fairly busy path
  • a steep section up to the Intersection, followed by the ruggedness of the Pyg Track, where hands are needed briefly in 2 or 3 places
  • often no space to park at Pen y Pass itself (though easily solved by Park & Ride)

Between Bwlch Glas and the summit


Watkin Path

(See detail and route description here, plus information about parking and about combining this path with others.)

The pros:

  • recommended for more experienced, fit walkers
  • a fairly quiet path
  • a path with a lot of variety
  • scenic with good views, including to the coast, behind you, as you get higher
  • the option of a round, returning using the South Ridge

The cons:

  • it’s long because it starts so low
  • it has the steepest overall gradient and the greatest amount of ascent
  • part of the final ascent is steep and loose, with hands needed in a few places; coming down this section is not easy
  • served by a less regular bus service

At the summit


Rhyd Ddu Path

(See detail and route description here, plus information about parking and about combining this path with others.)

The pros:

  • the quietest path on Snowdon
  • fairly short
  • an easy start, though the top section is recommended for more experienced walkers
  • scenic views all round for much of the way up
  • the option of a round with the Snowdon Ranger Path or the South Ridge

The cons:

  • Bwlch Main, a narrow exposed section near the top, can be scary for some
  • it’s on the ‘far side’ of the mountain for many
  • served by a less regular bus service

Hafod Eryri at the summit, and the view west


Snowdon Ranger Path

(See detail and route description here, plus information about parking and about combining this path with others.)

The pros:

  • suitable for first-time walkers
  • a quieter path
  • easy to follow
  • no hands needed at any point
  • a ‘safe’ path with no great exposure at any point
  • the option of a round with the Rhyd Ddu path

The cons:

  • a steep start and a steep later section
  • not as dramatic scenery as some other paths
  • the summit is visible almost the whole way (not always good!)
  • as a bridleway, bikes sometimes use it for descent
  • on the ‘far side’ of the mountain for many
  • served by a less regular bus service

Inscription by the entrance to Hafod Eryri


Country Walking magazine recently published the following graphic of the paths on Snowdon:

© Country Walking Magazine


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