A complete guide to hiking the Pyg Track in Snowdonia National Park, with all the information you need to prepare for the hiking trail
This stunning hike takes you to the tallest peak in Wales and is found in Snowdonia National park. To reach the summit the Pyg Track is the most popular route due to the ease of the trail and the incredible views it offers as you ascend. This hike is great for families or less experienced hikers who want to make the climb but equally enjoyable for those with many peaks under their belt.
Having made the ascent a couple of times ourselves we noticed that it was hard to find reliable information online. That’s why we’ve compiled this complete guide with all you could need to know to prepare and make the most of your hike.
In this guide you will find:
- Why it’s called the Pyg Track?
- Details on the ascent
- Details on the descent
- How to get to the Snowdonia National Park and the trailhead
- Accommodation near Pyg Track, Snowdon
- Amenities to be found around the peak
- What to take with you hiking
If there’s anything else you want to know, reach out to us in the comments or send us a message. We’re more than happy to answer any questions and would love to know what you thought of the hike.
About the Pyg Track, Snowdon
The Pyg Track, also known as the “classic route” is the most popular option for those who would like to summit the tallest peak in Wales. Hikers choose this route for good reason as it offers some of the best views of the surrounding peaks whilst also being the shortest and least demanding track up.
The Pyg Track is a simple route to follow as it’s well maintained and a frequently trodden path making it a good choice for less experienced hikers.
The Pyg Track hike at a glance
Hiking distance: 7 miles round trip
Hiking duration: 5 – 7 hours
Altitude: 1,085 meters
Elevation gain: 723 meters
When to hike the Pyg Track: You can hike between March to November.
Outside of the period between November and March expect very wintery conditions. It’s advised that only experienced hikers make the journey during this time as visibility is poor and there the trail can be very wet and slippery sometimes covered with snow and ice.
Suitable for: All ages – there is a clearly marked path for the whole route
Why hike the Pyg Track, Snowdon?
Snowdon is the tallest peak in Wales and the whole route boasts stunning views of the surrounding area.
Whilst hiking you have scenes of the towering mountains: Crib Goch and Y Lliwedd either side of the track. Not to mention incredible views up high of the deep blue Snowdon lakes: Llyn Llydaw and Glaslyn.
The hike is moderately easy and only gets steeper towards the summit, plus the way is clearly marked and with it being such a popular hike you’ll often be accompanied by fellow hikers. This makes it a great choice for families and those wanting an easier day out.
Once at the peak, there is a refuge to get yourself a well-earned cuppa whilst you enjoy the panoramic view from the mountain top. There is also a train service that operates from the summit to the base of the peak. This means that if you feel tired once at the top there is the option to get the train down or vice versa. This is a popular choice amongst families wanting to meet elderly relatives at the top.
Why is it called the Pyg Track?
There is some controversy around how the name Pyg Track originated as nobody knows exactly where the name comes from. One theory is that it’s named after Bwlch y Moch (the pass of pigs) as this path crossed the route and is sometimes spelt “pig” in English.
Others believe that it could have been named pyg because the path was historically used to carry pyg (black tar) from the Britannia Copper Works in Cwm Glaslyn. Another theory is that the path is named after Pen y Gwryd Hostel by climbers who made the ascent and stayed at the hostel.
Depending on who you ask you’ll get a different answer, who knows it could be any one of these theories. There’s something kind of mysterious about nobody really knowing though, don’t you think?
Have you heard a different story about the origins of the name? Tell us in the comments at the bottom!
The way up the Pyg Track to Snowdon
The Pyg Track starts behind the Pen-y-Pass car park heading West, gradually gaining height. The path is marked with a wooden post and a blue sign with “Pyg Track” to let you know you’re on the right path.
The trail runs parallel to Carreg Gwalch, a closeby peak, towards the East Ridge of Crib Goch (a grade 1 scramble – not for the faint-hearted). Continue on the path for 1 mile until it splits below Crib Goch remaining on the Pyg Track route which is clearly marked.
For the next roughly 1.25 miles the trail leads east, nestled between the ridge of Crib Goch above and Llyn Llyydaw Lake below. At this point, on a clear day, it may be possible to see the summit.
The route then takes you through to the basin of the Snowdon Horseshoe with amazing views of the surrounding mountain peaks: Crib Goch, Y Lliwedd and Crib y Ddysg.
The route then continues through the Cwn with some rocky sections, from here you will approach the smaller lake of Glaslyn which is beneath the summit. The path then arrives where the Miner’s Track and Pyg Track meet where you’ll find a large stone marker.
You’re nearly there!
Shortly after here the terrain becomes steeper and the final section zig-zags up towards the summit with Garnedd Ugain (another beautiful peak) on your right. In comparison to the rest of the route, this section is more challenging as it becomes steeper.
As the trail reaches the top of the mountain it joins with the Llanberis Path running alongside the mountain railway line.
From here the Llanberis, Pyg Track, Miners, Ranger and Crib Goch routes all join as the trail approaches the summit. This section of the hike can become very busy for this reason especially during peak season so do take care. The final part of the ascent is very gradual, leading you along a path until you reach a set of steps winding all the way to the summit.
Once there give yourself a pat on the back as you’ve reached the highest point in Wales!
The way down the Pyg Track, Snowdon
To descend, you can take the Pyg Track back down or if you can take a different route following the Miners Track.
Leaving the summit, follow the path with the railway on your left until you reach a turning on the right marked with a stone marker leading down to the Pyg and Miners Tracks.
Turning right here leads you back down the steep zig-zag track you used coming up towards Glaslyn path. Once you’re about halfway down the path splits. Take the right-hand path which leads you down a steep sloop to reach the edge of the lake away from the Pyg track.
The Miners Path then meanders around Llyn Llydaw, passing some disused mining buildings. It then crosses the lake with a gradual descent until you reach Lake Llyn Teyrn. From here the final 1 mile of the track is a casual stroll with beautiful views of Y Lliwedd behind you and the Glyderau mountains directly ahead. The route takes you back to the Pen-y-Pass car park where the trail started.
There are plenty of great hikes around Snowdonia, you can find more here
Getting to the Pyg Track
Travelling by car
There is a car park available at Pen-y-pass but this fills up quickly, often before 7am! There is also parking in Llanberis where the Snowdon Sherpa bus service runs from the village to the Pen-y-Pass, costing £2.00 and only taking 15 minutes. Although some do, it’s not advised to park on the roadside and walk as there is no path and the roads can be dangerous.
Travelling to Snowdonia National Park by public transport
Travelling by bike
Cycling the route is possible but be forewarned there is a mighty hill as you approach Pen-y-pass. Getting off at Betws y Coed station follow the A5 and A4086 for 10.7 miles, it’s clearly signposted.
Accommodation near Snowdon
The Pen y pass hostel is a Youth Hostel and being so close to the start of the trail makes it a popular choice amongst hikers. This is also the hostel that could have given the name Pyg Track to the trail!
For all you happy campers there are also a number of local campsites dotted around the area. We recommend Bryn Tych Farm Campsite as it’s close to the trail and where we chose to stay when we did our three peaks challenge by bike. The campsite has a washroom with toilet and shower facilities and the local surrounding of rolling hills are a beautiful sight to wake up to.
Local amenities near Snowdon
At the base of the trail, there is the Pen y Pass cafe that serves a range of hot drinks and snacks. As you leave Pen y pass and travel towards Betws y Coed there is a small newsagent a few miles down the road with confectionary, snacks and drinks.
As you return to Betws y Coed there are a range of cafes as well as a Spar and Londis that have a wider range of products including fresh fruits and vegetables.
What to take when hiking Snowdon
If you’re hiking in warmer months here are some things you will need;
- Comfortable and breathable hiking shoes
- Hiking shorts
- Breathable top that protects you from the sun
- A sunhat
- Light rucksack for snacks and liquids
- A layer to put on when you reach the summit – even on the warmest days you can feel the chill from the breeze at the top.
- Sun cream
- Waterproof (this is still Wales)
If you’re hiking in colder months you should consider these things:
- Comfortable hiking boots, ideally waterproof and well-fitted warm socks
- Waterproof hiking trousers
- Base layer
- A fast-wicking top
- A fleece – depending on when you’re hiking you may need more than one
- Waterproof coat
- Warm hat or beanie
- Gloves – waterproof if possible
- Neck warmer
- Depending on what time of year you go it may be advisable to also wear thermals. They work wonders when there’s a chill if you buy decent ones!
If your hiking in winter months you will need:
- Insulated hiking boots
- Microspikes if needed for icy conditions
- Snowshoes (depending on conditions)
- Warm socks
- Lightweight fleece hat
- Heavyweight fleece hat
- Lightweight fleece gloves
- Waterproof gloves
- Long sleeve insulated base-layer top
- Long insulated base-layer trousers
- Mid-layer insulation; fleece pullover, or softshell jacket (depending on how cold temperatures are you may need several of these to layer up)
- Hardshell waterproof trousers
- Insulated jacket
- Waterproof jacket
- Spare clothing: long sleeve jersey top, long jersey trousers, extra pair of socks
At any time of year we always have:
- Water bladder – with a large capacity to last the whole hike
- Hiking food – we’ve put together a list of the best vegan hiking foods to bring
- Head torch
- Personal first aid kit
- Fire starting material
- A small knife or multi-tool
If you’re a newbie to hiking with lost of questions about how to prepare, what to take and how to stay safe then don’t panic. Our beginner’s guide to hiking is perfect for those who want to hit the trail but just need a little bit of knowledge and advice.
If you’re going to be camping be sure to check out our camping packing guide
Navigating the Pyg Track
It is generally advised that when hiking in the UK you take a map and compass to navigate your way. That being said, the Pyg Track is very well signposted and a popular route, particularly in the summer, so navigating is very straight forward. There is always a clear track in front of you however there are splits and other joining routes to be aware of.
You can use GPS maps such as Maps.Me as it’s free and perfect for hiking in the UK.
During the winter months, conditions can be very wintery with plenty of snow and ice on the trail. Hiking in this period is only advised for experienced hikers with the right gear, equipment and skills. You will need to have good navigation skills as visibility can be very low and it could be dangerous to hike without such abilities.
When to hike Snowdon
March – April expect wet and windswept conditions.
May brings about cool temperatures but not as wet in comparison to previous months.
June is even warmer and is an ideal time to go as conditions are good and it’s just before the summer crowds make an appearance.
July – August are the best months weather-wise to hike but also the busiest. At this time of year the route can be very busy and at the summit big crowds are expected, especially with the train running during this time.
September – October brings cooler temperatures and fewer crowds making it a more favourable time to hike.
November – March conditions during this period can be very wintery and icy. Hiking between these months is only advised to experienced hikers with the skills and knowledge to do so. You will need the right gear if you’re wanting to hike during this time
The Complete Guide to Hiking the Pyg Track, Snowdon
The Pyg Track is the most popular route as the hike offers beautiful views over the lakes and surrounding peaks. This trail is ideal for those who want an enjoyable hike with incredible views of the surrounding valleys. An easily marked path makes is a good choice for those who are new to hiking or don’t fancy navigating.
When you make the journey we would love to know what you think and if you have any questions let us know in the comments below. Happy hiking!