Cadair Idris

Cadair Idris is one of the most popular mountains in southern Snowdonia. Cadair Idris’ cwm (valley bowl in Welsh) formed thousands of years ago by a cirque glacier, and the ice left sharp crags and steep drops as it melted away during the last ice age.

At 893m high Cadair Idris falls just 70ft short of making the Welsh 3,000ft mountains, a good thing as it would’ve considerably lengthened that challenge! It’s name translates to English as “Idris’s Chair”, which accurately describes the giant armchair shape around mountain lake Llyn Cau. Llyn Cau has an incredible deep turquoise colour and is estimated to be 150ft deep at the centre. It’s a popular lake for wild swimming in Snowdonia and a welcome place to have a break on the way up the Miniffordd path.

Cadair Idris Photo Gallery

Photos from many visits to Cadair Idris across the seasons.

Cadair Idris via Miniffordd Trail Route

This Cadair Idris Loop is just short of 6 miles and begins and ends at the Miniffordd Path on the south east of the mountain with a challenging total ascent of over 3,000ft and some amazing views from the summit. The waterfalls through the forest at the start/end are of stark contrast to the boulder laden summits.

Distance 5.9 miles

Time 3 hours 30 mins (walking) 1 hour 15 mins (running)

Total Ascent 3,101ft

OS Maps click to open this route on the OS Maps website

Summits Craig Cwm Amarch, Cadair Idris (also referred to as Penygadair) and Mynedd Moel.

Views miles and miles of Snowdonia’s mountains in good weather.

Cadair Idris Loop | Hiking & Running Trail Routes for Snowdonia 3D Map

1. Parking at the Minifford car park, the well marked trail leads past the cafe and turns right into the forest, climbing steeply alongside the waterfalls. Shortly after a passing gate comes the choice of which way around to do this loop; either left through the ferns and summit Craig Cwm Amarch first or right over the stream on the slate bridge to summit Mynedd Moel first. While both are no easy option, the slog of Mynedd Moel means we go left more than we choose right, which is what this trail route describes.

2. To the left the path snakes up the valley to the stunning valley lake Llyn Cau, a great spot for a rest to admire the view. Continuing upwards around the ridge we reach the top of Craig Cwm Amarch, keeping the drop to Llyn Cau on our right hand side.

3. There’s a short descent from Craig Cwm Amarch before the path turns sharply upwards through the boulder fields to the summit of Cadair Idris. There’s a stone shelter just off the summit that’s great for a break in poor weather conditions.

4. After Idris’s summit, it’s a gentle hill wander over to the top of Mynydd Moel and then down to the south, descending fast to meet a loose scree path alongside a wall. This eventually crosses a stile and reaches the slate footbridge mentioned earlier. Retracing steps down through the forest is the final piece of the puzzle.

Cadair Idris via Mynydd Moel Trail Route

This simple car park to summit trail route is a steady hill climb for most of it’s 3.5 miles. It’s full of great views and takes in four Snowdonia mountain summits.

The choice at the final peak is to return via the same route or descend via Craig Cwm Amarch on our other route.

Distance 3.5 miles (each way)

Time 2 hours (each way)

Total Ascent 2,341ft

OS Maps click to open this route on the OS Maps website

Summits Gau Graig, Mynydd Gwerngraig, Mynydd Moel and Cadair Idris (also referred to as Penygadair).

Views miles and miles of Snowdonia’s mountains in good weather.

Mynydd Moel & Cadair Idris 3D Map Trail Route

1. From the Bwlch Llyn Bach car park on the A487 road the trail heads briefly north east through the immediate stile/gate. This clear trail soon veers sharply up to the left, and continues west towards the first summit Gau Graig (683m). The path ascends steeply alongside a fence on a scree slope and a number of vertical crags and gulleys appear. There are choices here, hanging to the right (near the fence) is easiest, but there’s tons of fun to be had in the gulleys – particularly the “tower” one (see pics).

2. A plateau appears from Gau Graig summit, with a nice stretch of fairly level ground to open out the stride and take in the staggering view of Mynydd Moel. Another minor summit, Mynydd Gwerngraig (686m), is the first lump as the trail starts to climb more steeply. Navigation is simple here, we keep the steep drop to the right and follow the curve of the glacial bowl up to the stone circle summit on Mynydd Moel.

3. The final section from Moel to Idris is often where the harshest weather can be found, but is also the easiest to navigate. The ground falls sharply away to the right and gradually to the left, so in poor visibility we simply keep the drop on the right within eyesight, all the way to the summit of Cadair Idris.

4. After Idris’s summit, it’s a choice between descending the same way we came or continuing around the Idris bowl to Craig Cwm Amarch and down the Miniffordd path. A note for anyone reading and thinking of doing this trail route – the A487 from Miniffordd up the hill to the Bwlch Llyn Bach car park (start point) is a dangerously narrow road with no pavement and fast vehicles. Cader Cabs are a local taxi service who can pick up and drop off this section for ¬£10 (price correct December 2019) – 07766 983 103.

Cadair Idris Video

Winter conditions on the Moel Mynydd to Cadair Idris trail route.