Snowdonia National Park is home to some of the UK’s biggest mountains, a rugged and exciting landscape that always leaves one yearning for more. Our Top 10 Snowdonia Walks in 2020 is a blend of hiking (and running) trail routes that vary widely in technical ability, difficulty and, most importantly, the actual experiences.
Any Top 10 Snowdonia Walks list wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the highest summit itself, but you may be surprised to find the Welsh giant only makes number 10 on our favourites list. We’ve included a number of less well known, off the beaten track locations that we genuinely visit repeatedly because they’re simply amazing places to feel alive.
Compiling a list like this is of course subjective, totally dependent on individual expectations. We generally enjoy hiking pretty fast, running, scrambling and seeing lots of varied trails so this compilation reflects that, although we’ve also included a couple of locations we love visiting for relaxed days out with friends.
So, counting down from ten, here’s our Top 10 Snowdonia Walks for 2020…
10. Snowdon (Watkin & Rhyd Ddu)
We couldn’t not include Snowdon itself, but the question was which route to take. After much discussion we agreed the most all round good fun route to go up is via the Watkin Path and descending via the Rhyd Ddu path.
This route begins low in the valleys, wandering through some truly enchanting forest and waterfalls before reaching the quarry area where time seems to stand still. The top of the Watkin is a steep slog, just to make sure the summit feels truly worth the efforts needed.
We love descending the Rhyd Ddu path, it’s an amazing blend of risk, technical sections and flat out trail that just flows together seamlessly. The only thing that stops us running is the views…
Distance: 7.9 miles
9. Pen Yr Ole Wen
A fantastic mountain that offers challenging walks, great runs, scrambling and climbing, Pen Yr Ole Wen is one of our favourites for repeat visits.
It’s a really big chunk of rock, with the southern side providing a myriad of steep yet passable trails, the north east side a phenomenal open trail run and the drops to lake Lloer absolutely breaktaking. It’s also the best mountain to view the entire Ogwen Valley from.
Our favourite route is a simple circular trail – up one side and down the other. It can be done either way round, providing different experiences on every adventure.
Distance: 4 miles
8. Allt Fawr
To truly get away from it all, while still retaining incredible views of Snowdonia’s mountains, this Allt Fawr trail route is an absolute winner.
Starting just outside the well know slate mine town of Blaenau Ffestioniog, the route ascends quickly to around 700m and then rises/falls over a series of smaller peaks as it wraps around the horseshoe of mountains.
Distance: 9.5 miles
7. The 4C Snowdonia Loop
We love this trail route as it combines beautiful lakes, mountains and some of the most magical forest that Snowdonia National Park has to offer.
Beginning at the sublime Llyn Crafnant, the route wanders up and over Crimpiau to Capel Curig, crossing the popular A5 road and heading up to the Ogwen Valley. Crossing back over, the trail follows a seemingly gravity defying man made stream to the staggering reservoir Llyn Cowlyd. The final section is a long descent from Cowlyd back to Crafnant through some truly incredible woodland.
Our loop is just short of 15 miles with no summits, but can easily be extended to take in surrounding mountain peaks along the way.
Distance: 14.7 miles
6. Aran Fawddwy
Easily forgotten due it’s distance from the popular Ogwen and Snowdon walks, Aran Fawddwy is a beast of a mountain and a challenging day out in any weather.
Our favourite trail route takes in a long mountain waterfall, big drops on the summit and the highlight comes on the descent – a narrow downhill path through an ocean of ferns.
Distance: 7.6 miles
5. Moel Siabod
Similarly to Snowdon itself, a list of Top 10 Snowdonia Walks wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Moel Siabod.
This stunning mountain, just a few minutes drive from Betws Y Coed, offers the chance for most abilities to ascend comfortably, with views of all the Welsh 3,000ft mountain tops on a clear day.
We love taking the Ddaer Ddu ridge up to the top, loads of lovely boulders, big drops and amazing views. There’s a big stone circle to get out of the wind and have a nice relax at the top, then it’s dancing time across the “lego bricks” and a short fun descent back to the start.
Distance: 5.8 miles
4. Bristly Ridge & Y Gribin
This is one of our favourite trail routes for a quick blast out, when we only have a couple of hours to spare but need that fix of Snowdonia scrambling.
There’s loads of ways to ascend Bristly Ridge, we go a slightly different way each time, but it all gives tons of fun scrambling and climbing with some awe inspiring exposure and views.
Descending Y Gribin at speed is equal fun to Bristly, huge boulders to leap between, scree sections, the “football pitch” to stretch the legs out before powering down past Llyn Boclwyd.
We should mention Glyder Fach/Castell Y Gwant, as our route crosses these, but standing on a cantilever stone is nowhere near as much fun as going up and down either side.
Distance: 3.8 miles
3. Dulyn Bothy Loop
Dulyn Bothy made it so high in our list because it’s the perfect Snowdonia walk to do with friends and family, so not a physical challenge, but it still achieves a fantastic sense of reconnection with nature and the outdoors.
Taking a comfortable path around a “cwm” (a theatre style valley formed by glacial erosion), our trail route for Dulyn Bothy is a perfect day out with our loved ones in North Wales.
Distance: 5.5 miles
2. Arenig Fawr
Arenig Fawr is the most naturally beautiful place in the entirety of Snowdonia National Park.
This place holds so many wonderful memories for us, from both days and nights out here. It’s hard to write about, as the superlatives don’t seem to do the place justice.
Our favourite walk here takes in a large section of completely off trail wandering, although it’s also common for us to wander back down the main path for a break at the cutest bothy in the world.
Distance: 5.9 miles
1. Tryfan North Face
It was very hard to decide between Arenig Fawr and Tryfan for the top spot in our Top 10 Snowdonia Walks list, but in the end we edged it to Tryfan for the fun factor.
The shortest trail route to make the Top 10, Tryfan North Face is as about as much fun as you can get on a mountain, packed in to just over a mile and half of trail.
It can be walked, ran, scrambled, climbed or a combination of any/all those activities. The views are sublime for the whole trail, and there’s a fantastic sense of achievement every time the summit stones, Adam and Eve, appear in the immediate vision.
Distance: 1.6 miles