Llyn Cowlyd is the deepest lake in North Wales, with an average depth of 109ft and 229ft at it’s lowest point. A crazy road leads up to this amazing location; driving skills are seriously tested around a long series of very steep hairpin bends and single track (we avoid like the plague in snow and ice).
The views on the journey up over Llyn Crafnant and the Trefriw valley are sublime, but the real jaw dropping starts when the single track road comes to an end. Llyn Cowlyd is flanked on two sides by the stunning steep mountain faces of Creigiau Gleision and Pen Llithrig Y Wrach, with the northern end of the valley flowing towards the Welsh coastline.
Llyn Cowlyd Summits Trail Route
This trail route uses both footpaths and off trail sections to loop the entire lake and summit both mountains. In cases of adverse changes in weather, it’s possible to cut the loop shorter by returning alongside the east side of the lake.
Distance 7.3 miles
Time 3.5 hours (walking) 1 hour 30 mins (running)
Total Ascent 2,288ft
Summits Creigiau Gleision, Pen Llithrig Y Wrach, Craig Ffynnon.
Views Gwydir Forest, the Carneddau, the Irish Sea, Snowdon Horseshoe, Welsh coastline.
1. This Llyn Cowlyd route starts at the end of an unmarked road, a few miles into the hills from the village of Trefriw. A service road leads from the dead end to the north head of the lake and the impressive dam.
2. The real trails begin here, with a little worn path that leads initially east. This soon turns to the south and we ascend Creigiau Gleision via partial sheep trails and across rough heather and gorse. A slightly clearer path appears near the summit and continues south, descending to where the stream feeds the lake and a small footbridge.
3. It’s possible to head back along the east side of the lake for a shorter route, but continuing west we head up to the summit of Pen Llithrig Y Wrach.
4. The final section is a long descent and there are plenty of opportunities to make a short cut down a gulley and meet up with the lake path, or simply continue along the wide hill line to minor summit Craig Ffynnon and finally across to the start.
How to find Llyn Cowlyd
It’s not possible to drive directly to the lake due to the road being locked approx a quarter mile or so before the north tip, and there is only the single road access.
In the village of Trefriw there’s a steep narrow road opposite the Fairy Falls Hotel that leads to Llyn Crafnant. A right hand turn signposted “Pet Cemetery” leads up an incredibly tight, steep and winding road until reaching the dead end and walking the remainder.