Top tips for hiking up SnowdonPublished on 12 Apr 2022 by Amy Greenwood
The iconic hike to the summit of Mount Snowdon is one of the most incredible and popular things to do in Snowdonia. Snowdon is Wales’ highest mountain, standing at 1,085 metres, making it a challenging yet achievable hike for many people. So we thought we’d devise some top tips for hiking up Snowdon…
Snowdon is also the busiest mountain in the UK with around 700,000 hikers each year.
The popularity is in part due to Snowdon’s beauty and the spectacular views with each step of the way. The mountain is also fairly easy to access and many of the routes are clearly marked and simple to follow.
But hiking up Snowdon is no walk in the park and you will need to be prepared and research your route. Hikers need to be dressed appropriately and check the weather reports as you’ll need specialist equipment during adverse weather conditions!
It goes without saying that hikers are always encouraged to be mindful of their environmental impact when hiking up Snowdon. Take all of your litter home with you, park your car responsibly, stick to the footpaths, avoid disturbing any wildlife and be patient with your fellow hikers. Bottlenecks can occur near the summit of Snowdon so be prepared for a chilly queue near the top during busy times. I find a flask of coffee and a sweet treat is perfect for this time!
The walk takes around five to seven hours so you’ll also want to be prepared with a bag full of snacks to keep your energy levels up. We have lots of beautiful holiday cottages near Snowdon so you’re as close as possible and can begin your hike early without the hassle of finding a parking space.
Here are our top tips for hiking up Snowdon and some safety precautions to be aware of.
Which route should you take?
The most important of all tips for hiking up Snowdon is to begin by researching the best route for you. There are a few options with varying degrees of difficulty and how you rank difficulty will be personal to you. Some people may find short and steep to be difficult while other people will find a long, steady climb to be harder!
The Llanberis Path is one of the most popular routes as it has the steadiest gradient. This means it’s the longest hike up Snowdon but it’s suitable for a range of fitness abilities, making it great for a group hike.
The PGY Track and the Miner’s Track are popular options for a steeper and faster hike up Snowdon. These paths join at Llyn Glaslyn so many hikers will go up one path and down the other. The Miner’s Track is also a great option if you’re hiking with someone who won’t make it to the top. The start of this track is very easy and suitable for all abilities, meaning your whole group can begin the walk together and some members can then return to the cafe while other hikers go to the top.
Rhyd Ddu Path is the quietest route up Snowdon and the Watkin Path is the most difficult, so that’s where you’ll want to be for a challenge!
There is an app called Snowdonia Walks App which will guide you along your chosen path and help you to hike safely.
What’s the best time of day to hike up Snowdon?
Personally, I like to begin hiking as early as possible. About 5am is perfect (yes, I said it was early!) as it’s just light enough to see where you’re walking and you’ll be high enough to see a spectacular sunrise.
An early morning hike means you don’t need to rush as there’s no danger of it getting dark during your descent. It’s also slightly quieter and you’ll be finishing your hike just as Snowdon is getting very busy.
If you’re worried about beginning your walk when it’s still dark then I recommend taking the Miner’s Track as the start of this route is easy and you won’t be scrambling across rocks in the dark.
What should you wear to hike up Snowdon?
An important one of our tips for hiking up Snowdon…footwear! There are two things you really need when you’re hiking up Snowdon and that’s a good pair of hiking shoes and waterproofs.
Choosing your hiking shoe is very personal. Some people like the ankle support of a boot while other people prefer a lightweight shoe. Whichever you choose, make sure they have great grips and they’re comfortable. Waterproof shoes are best and make sure you’ve worn them at least 3-4 times before to avoid blisters. I’d also recommend a thick pair of walking socks.
When it comes to your clothing then you’ll need lots of layers as you’ll be hot and cold during the walk. No matter what the weather is like, you’ll get hot during the steep sections but you’ll cool down quickly when you stop to rest.
If you aren’t an avid hiker then you don’t need to pay for expensive outdoor clothing brands. The kinds of clothes you’d wear for the gym are fine!
I like to wear sports leggings or hiking trousers or shorts. I’ll pack some waterproof trousers in my bag in case it rains. On top I’ll wear a sweat-wicking sports t-shirt or vest, a long sleeve top, a lightweight fleece and a waterproof jacket. You may need a hat and gloves too.
Even if rain isn’t forecast, you should always take a waterproof/windproof jacket and trousers. The weather can be unpredictable in Snowdonia and waterproofs will also protect you from the wind and stop you getting cold.
What should you pack in your bag for the hike?
Every member of your hiking party should carry a small backpack with some safety essentials, water, snacks and waterproofs.
Personally, I like to carry as little as possible to avoid unnecessary weight.
In my bag I’ll have:
- Small flask of coffee
- Waterproof trousers and jacket
- Blister plasters
- Sun hat or beanie hat
- Lip balm
- My phone (fully charged + external charger)
- Sandwiches and snacks
- Spare socks
What should you leave in the car?
I personally think that what you leave in the car is almost as important as what you pack in your hiking bag! I like to have some warm, comfortable clothes and shoes to change into, a huge flask of tea and a picnic feast. You’re going to be tired and hungry when you get to the bottom so make sure you have plenty of nice treats to return to.
If you aren’t driving then I highly recommend using the Sherpa Bus service, a shuttle bus as you do need to arrive very early to guarantee a parking space.
Can you take your dog up Snowdon?
Yes, absolutely. If you have a dog who has the energy to make it up Snowdon then you can. Dogs should be kept on a lead and take plenty of water for them. Don’t forget that even well behaved dogs can frighten wildlife or other hikers and some dogs have the tendency to tire themselves out by running back and forth, so keep them close!
Many people will carry smaller dogs when they get near the top as their little legs can’t manage the scramble across rocks.
Do you need to be very fit to hike up Snowdon?
You do need a moderate level of fitness and mobility to climb up Snowdon. Most of the hikes will take around 5-7 hours and will include steep sections. Many people assume the uphill climb will be hardest but coming down is equally tough on your knees, thighs and ankles, so save some energy for the way back down!
Having said that, there is no reason why you can’t walk slowly and rest as much as you need to.
If you aren’t particularly fit then I recommend starting early, choosing a warm day when no rain is forecast and take plenty of water and snacks.
Don’t push yourself too hard and remember that it’s better to enjoy half a lovely hike than trudge to the top and not enjoy it at all.
Taking the train to the top of Snowdon
If you’d love to make your way up Snowdon but the epic hike is too much, then why not take the Snowdonia Mountain Railway? You can pre-book online for a two hour journey to Clogwyn Station. This station is ¾ of the way to the summit and you have a 30 minute stop here to admire the views. The Summit Station will reopen in 2023. The train is seasonal and can get busy so it’s always best to pre-book.
Do you need a guide to hike up Snowdon?
There are plenty of activity providers offering guided walks up Snowdon. These knowledgeable, local guides will undoubtedly offer you an incredible experience while telling you more about the area and ensuring you’re in safe hands for the duration of your walk.
However, a guide is not essential as there are lots of maps and apps to ensure you don’t get lost.