Pyg Track

By Dave Roberts   

on January 3, 2021   4.6/5 (5)

Pyg Track

Further Details

Route Summary:

Shortest route up Snowdon with the least amount of ascent – but far from being the easiest!

Start and Finish: Pen-y-pass to Snowdon Summit

Distance: 5.19 km

Ascent: 704 m

Time: 3 hours

Timings are approximate and depend on the individual. Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.

Before You Walk up Snowdon, ask yourselfAre you equipped? Do you know what you’re doing? Are the conditions safe? If you answer no to any of these, stay safe, don’t go! Check the weather forecast and make sure you know about walking up Snowdon in the Snow. If you lack experience – hire a Snowdon Mountain Guide.


Good cafe and YHA with bar, public toilets at Pen y Pass.

Public Transport:

Sherpa Buses from Llanberis and Betws y Coed

Traveline for UK Public Transport


Zig Zags are an accident blackspot when iced and navigation from the PYG/Miners juncition to the zig zags can be tricky in mist.

Remember that we cannot outline every single hazard on a walk – it’s up to you to be safe and competent. Read up on Keeping Safe on the Wales Coast Path,  Navigation and the Gear and Equipment you’ll need.

Snowdon Guidebooks:

Recommended Snowdon Maps

Pyg Track Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download

Download file for GPS

Pyg Track

The Pyg track is both the shortest walking route up Snowdon, and the one that involves the least amount of ascent. Despite this, the Pyg Track is not the easiest path up as it can be steep and rocky in places but the paths are generally very good all the way and reasonably straightforward to follow.  The Pyg Track is 5.5km in length and involves around 800m of ascent. If you’re reasonably fit, you should make it up in three hours. Remember to allow time for breaks and stopping to take in the sights, of which there are plenty.

The views of Snowdon are among the best of any route up. The Pyg is also one of the busiest routes up, so consider setting off very early in the morning or mid-afternoon to avoid the crowds. If you do set off later in the day, make sure you’ve got enough hours of daylight left to descend safely. In winter conditions, the upper section of the path becomes very treacherous and in common with all the other routes up, should not be attempted in snow unless you’re properly equipped and experienced.

Route Description

1 You’ll find that the Pyg Track is straightforward from here as the path starts off gradually on short rocky steps with a few sections requiring scrambling. The peak that dominates the view ahead isn’t, as you may think, Snowdon, but Crib Goch (which translates as the Red Ridge – the reason for which is obvious if you can see it). This is a knife edged arête with sheer drops on either side and is regarded as one of the classic scrambles in the country. The Pyg Track  skirts below this ridge and if you look up then you’ll probably be able to see the people on the airy traverse far above.

Pyg track walk up snowdon from Pen y pass

The walk starts from the Pen y Pass car park. You need to cross this to the left of the main café building and the start of the path should be obvious as the gate is marked as the Pyg Track.

Pyg track walk up snowdon from Pen y pass

2 The path is reasonably straightforward. It ascends initially in big steps towards Bwlch y Moch before levelling out. Just make sure you don’t take the path to the right here, marked Crib Goch! You should get your first views from here of the summit, if you’re lucky.

Pyg track walk up snowdon from Pen y pass

3 The Pyg Track contours along the hillside below Crib Goch and above Llyn Llydaw and is a good path all the way, ust take care in the wet as the rock is well polished in places. It’s only once the Miner’s Track joins the Pyg Track that the going becomes rockier and often threads in different directions. I tend to keep right, the routes to the left tend to find scree. Be careful to keep to the path on this stage as it can be easy to stray off as some points.

Pyg track walk up snowdon from Pen y pass

4 If it is thick mist and you have any doubts then turn back, the mountain will still be there next time. Chances are there will be a crocodile train of people going the same way, making keeping to the path a lot easier. On old maps and still by some, this section was know as Llwybyr Mul – the Mule Track, though it’s hard to imagine mules hauling passengers up this part.

5 Ascending slowly, the Pyg Track / Miner’s Track eventually reaches the sheer cliffs below Garnedd Ugain before the wire gabions mark the point at which the path turns right up the infamous zig-zags. In fact, it’s just a zig and a zag and you’re on the crest of the ridge marked by a finger post, Bwlch Glas. If you’re descending, keep to the path. Taking short cuts across the zig and zags just causes erosion. In winter, this section is a notorious accident blackspot, so beware.

6 Take the path to your left, as the PYG Track now joins both the Llanberis and Snowdon Ranger paths to the summit. While the summit of Snowdon is close now, but still another 100m climb. There are steps either side of Snowdon summit and it can often be quite a melee to get to the top on a busy summer’s day. If you do, then you may be able to see the brass plate on the trig point that can be used to identify all the different summits.

Walk up Snowdon via the Llanberis Path

If you face down the railway you’ll see Llanberis and its lakes, then clockwise towards Elidir Fawr and the Dinorwig Quarry that scars its surface. Inside is a massive pump storage power station which you can visit on guided tours and is well worth the few hours it takes. Across to Y Garn and the Glyderau with the Carneddau behind. The next peak, standing alone is Moel Siabod, and then the views become more distant and more difficult to discern.

You can certainly see the Arenig Hills, Aran Fawddwy and Cadair Idris far to the south and then Cardigan Bay, Moel Hebog and the Nantlle Ridge. The solitary lump of Mynydd Mawr and finally the grassy ridges of Moel Eilio stretching off from Yr Wyddfa itself and you are back in Llanberis.Pyg track walk up snowdon from Pen y pass - Snowdon Summit Views
Even if the cloud is obscuring the summits, you will certainly be able to see the new summit building, Hafod Eryri – or Summer Dwelling, which while some do not welcome its presence on the mountain it is certainly much easier on the eye than the previous lump of concrete. There has been a building on the summit for a couple of centuries, and it was William Clough Ellis – who built the most beautiful Portmeirion – who built the previous café. He must have been having an uncharacteristic bad day. This building was described in many ways, usually negative, given  the unflattering tag of ‘highest slum in Wales” by Prince Charles. Anyone who remembers the old building, regardless of their philosophy, would agree that Hafod Eryri is certainly less intrusive and much easier on the eye than the carbuncle it replaced. Remember that some people still refer to it as a hotel but be under no impression that it is, there is no accommodation available on the summit and the building closes with the last train, and for winter.

Hafod Eryri is open for refreshments and an exhibition, but is also the station for the railway. You may be able to get a return ticket down, but it is not guaranteed and you are recommended to ring and book if you intend on doing that. It doesn’t feel very remote now, so take a quiet route down to make sure your day’s been worth it. Better still, if you’re confident of your fitness and hill skills, walk up in the late afternoon. This is the only time I’ll go up for pleasure these days. You’ll rarely see another sole/soul up there at that time, and usually get the summit to yourself. Of course, you’ll get the comments on the way up that you’re going up late. I just smile and tell them I’ve got a bed booked in the hotel!

Now visit Snowdon summit.


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Dave Roberts

Dave Roberts founded Walk Eryri in 2004, with the aim of providing routes that are off the beaten track. Walk Eryri is now part of Mud and Routes which continues to provide more off beat routes and walks in Snowdonia and beyond. Dave has been exploring the hills of Eryri for over thirty years, and is a qualified Mountain Leader. Dave also established Walk up Snowdon, Walk up Scafell Pike and Walk up Ben Nevis just to mention a few.

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30 thoughts on “Pyg Track”

  1. Hi Dave

    Great advise on your site and very helpful indeed

    We are looking to climb snowdon in may with our 6 year old daughter who has walked in the lakes before. Thinking of the PYG or Snowdown Ranger routes. Do any if these have any sheer drops that would be safe children wise. From what I have read PYG is fine?, just a lot of climbing at times to do, which she will love.


    1. Hi Ian – thanks for the feedback! Snowdon Ranger is the easiest and arguably least interesting of those two but still a decent walk. But as you mention, the PYG should also be ok with just the usual dangers (that is, it isn’t Crib Goch and doesn’t have the sheer drops that makes the Rhyd Ddu / South Ridge exposed over Bwlch Main).

  2. Hi, please can someone confirm if the Sherpa bus picks up/drops off in Nant Peris to Pen y Pass on a Sunday?
    I keep seeing about a Saturday-only park and ride there, but it looks like from timetables the Sherpa bus operates there on Sundays? Planning on parking there this Sunday if we can’t get on Pen y Pass car park.

  3. Hi Dave,
    In the early 70’s I was in Snowdonia every month with groups of young people including completing the 14 peaks at one go. I’ve not been there since! At the October half term I will be leading a motly group of grand parents, parents and grandchildren including my own… So boning up on my map reading and compass skills and rope/knot handling in case of scrambling/exposure reassurance. Having done the “standard horseshoe” route many times in reading your Walkupsnowdon I realised I had never done the Southern Horseshoe route. It won’t be on our itinary this time as your route estimate of 8 hours will probably stretch the interest and stamina of some very unfit people! But your photo’s have stimulated the interest for a possible future occasion.. Thank you for a very informative set of routes and illustrations..
    We’ll probably set off on the Pyg Track to give the young mountain goats (grandchildren) something to keep them interested and down by the miners.. I’ll share your routes with them so that they can see where we are going and the route information so that they can have a bash at leading us.. Just hope the way marks are not loads of people ahead of us!!

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