How to climb mount snowdon with a dog
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Planning to climb Wales' highest peak? Maybe even accompanied by your dog? Then in this article you will find EVERYTHING you need to know about the hike up Snowdon with or without a dog.
- About Mount Snowdon
- All trails on Snowdon
- Dogs on Snowdon
- Clothing and packing list
- Arrival and parking
- When climbing Snowdon?
- Weather conditions on Snowdon
- Our Experience: PYG and Miners Track with our dog
About Mount Snowdon: Wales' shy mountain
Yr Wyddfa is the Welsh name for Mount Snowdon, one of the most climbed mountains in the world. At 1085 metres, Snowdon is the highest peak in the Snowdon Horseshoes, a mountain range that opens towards the east and is shaped like a horseshoe from above. Although slightly smaller, the sub-peaks Crib Goch, Y Lliwedd and Garnedd Ugain are significantly less well known. However, Crib Goch has a large following among climbing fans. The route descriptions will tell you why. Anyone who is used to the Alps should think that the 1085 can be conquered quickly. Big mistake. On the one hand, because the vertical meters have to be walked in full, on the other hand, because the location and nature bring with them the same conditions as high mountain hikes. By the way: Edmund Hillary trained here for his ascent of Mount Everest.
How to climb Wales' highest mountain
You should know that there are a total of seven different routes that lead up Snowdon. However, not all of them are suitable for everyone and every dog. I have therefore summarized all routes for you. By the way, our choice was the PYG Track as the way up and the Miners Track as the way back. Please note that unfortunately not all tracks can be combined with each other because they have different starting points. The respective length of the routes consists of the outward and return journeys.
All routes on Snowdon at a glance
Distance: 14.5 kilometers, 975 meters in altitude
Start: Llanberis Car Park
Description: The Llanberis Path is the longest but easiest route up Snowdon Peak. The path runs along the tracks of the mountain railway and is the least "adventurous" route. This route is manageable for almost everyone
Is the Llanberis Path suitable for dogs?: Yes, this route is doable for any dog that can walk 6-7 hours (with breaks). But be sure that you will not be alone with your dog.
Snowdon Ranger Path
Distance: 13 kilometers, 936 meters in altitude
Start: Llyn Cwellyn Car Park
Description: The Snowdon Ranger Route is the oldest track leading up Snowdon. Initially flat and paved, this path also becomes steep at the end. Nevertheless, it is one of the easy routes to the Snowdon summit. The Ranger Path is particularly popular with mountain bikers.
Is the Snowon Ranger Path suitable for dogs?: Yes, this route is the best compromise between safety and beauty. There are of course more difficult sections (it's the highest mountain in Wales!), but a well-trained dog used to long walks can handle this route.
Distance: 12 kilometers, 720 meters in altitude
Start: Pen-y-Pass Car Park
Description: The PYG Track is a route with a particularly varied landscape. The altitude meters are comparatively pleasantly distributed over the entire route. There are very steep passages that require sure-footedness. The PYG Track can be combined with the Miners Track and is particularly suitable for the way there. It has a little less altitude than other routes because the track starts from a pass.
Is the PYG Track suitable for dogs? Yes, but not for everyone. Even if the altitude difference is a bit lower, this track contains passages in the second half where there is more climbing than running. On the one hand, the dog should be at least medium-sized and, on the other hand, it should be very practiced and able to walk independently in steep terrain.
Distance: 13 kilometers, 720 meters in altitude
Start: Pen-y-Pass Car Park
Description: The Miners Track starts out very flat before going up very (!) steeply over a long section. Not easy, but with a little sure-footedness and perseverance it can be done. The scenic route leads along mountain lakes and ruins. In the last section, the Miners Track meets the PYG Track. Tip: Select the Miners Track for the way back. Like the PYG Track, the Miners Track has less elevation gain because it starts from a pass.
Is the Miners Track suitable for dogs?: See also PYG Track: Yes, but not for everyone. On this route, the vertical meters are covered practically in one go, which can be particularly tiring. Therefore, the PYG track is better suited for the way up. On the way down we thought the route was great.
Distance: 13 kilometers, 1015 meters in altitude
Start: Pont Bethania Car park
Description: The Watkin Path is considered the most strenuous track on Snowdon, but also one of the most scenic. It leads across meadows and past waterfalls before climbing steeply. On this track, most of the altitude meters have to be overcome.
Is the Watkin Path suitable for dogs?: For sporting dogs only. Above all, the route requires stamina, and dogs should also be on a leash, as there are free-roaming sheep here. The ground conditions for dogs should be a little better than with other route options.
Rhyd Ddu Path
Distance: 12 kilometers, 895 meters in altitude
Start: Pont Bethania Car park
Description: The Rhyd Ddu Path is considered a scenic track up the Snowdon, which is easy at the beginning but gets progressively steeper over time. At the end the track runs over a small ridge, but this is more manageable than Crib Goch (see below).
Is the Ryhd Ddu Path suitable for dogs?: Only for athletic dogs. Above all, the route requires stamina, and dogs should also be on a leash, as there are free-roaming sheep here. The ground conditions for dogs should be a little better than with other route options.
Distance: 12.6 kilometers, 990 meters in altitude
Start: Pen-y-Pass Car Park
Description: And then there's Crib Goch. Crib Goch is spectacular and is considered an absolute goosebumps tour. But now the big but: Crib Goch is only suitable for experienced climbers and absolutely safe hikers. This track leads unsecured over the ridge of the neighboring peak Crib Goch. The passage is classified as a class 1 scramble. Even if no technical equipment is required to master Crib Goch, you do need a head for heights and a sense of adventure. On both sides the ridge drops almost vertically. In bad weather conditions (and overconfidence) life-threatening.
Is Crib Goch Dog Friendly?: Don't even think about it! Crib Goch is definitely not suitable for dogs.
These are the most dog-friendly Snowdon tracks
As you can see, there are numerous ways to climb Snowdon (with a dog). From my own experience I can tell you that the combination of PYG and Miners Track is easy to do if you have already hiked in the Alps or other mountainous regions. In addition, this route is really beautiful. The assessment of the other tracks is based on careful research. If you are unsure which route is the right one, then rather choose the Llanberis or the Ranger Path. We met all kinds of dogs (and hikers) at the summit, from big to small. On our route, however, only (medium) large and very sporty dogs were on the move.
The right equipment for your Snowdon hike
As with most day hikes, the Snowdon Climb requires layers, as it's cold at the start and at the summit and can get very warm on the climb (and you'll want to take off your clothes quickly). I wore (in April when the weather was dry) trekking leggings, a breathable T-shirt, a fleece jacket, a lightwear down jacket, a headband and a tube scarf or collar. I had a rain jacket with me but didn't need it. In bad weather it is better to pack rain pants, and in very cold weather an intermediate layer, such as a long-sleeved shirt. I did most of the hike in a t-shirt. I didn't put all my layers back on until I reached the summit. So choose things that are easy to pack. Very important: wear really good hiking shoes. As ankle-high as possible. We have a change of clothes, including shoes and socks, ready in the car.
And what does the dog need for the Snowdon climb? We had a dog jacket with us for Frieda, which consists of two layers (fleece and rain protection), which can also be worn individually. We didn't need the jacket due to good weather.
Clothes you need
- Good walking shoes (and socks)
- trekking pants
- sports shirt
- Longsleeve (in case of cold)
- Fleece or knitted fleece jacket
- Down Jacket
- hat or headband
- rain jacket
- rain pants
- Dog jacket (warmth and rain protection)
- Change of clothes (should wait for you in the car)
- The right food for a walk with your dog on Snowdon
- We had 3 liters of water for two people (absolute minimum) and of course extra water for Frieda. Then a selection of snacks. For us it was mainly scones and nuts. We had a portion of dog food, treats and a chew with us for Frieda.
Snowdon Packing List: What else you need for your Snowdon hike with your dog
Since you have to take breaks because of the length of the route, we had a coated picnic blanket with us. We had directions and GPS (Komoot) on our phones. Otherwise, sunscreen and a small first-aid kit are useful companions. If you start the hike in the dark, a headlamp is advantageous. Incidentally, we got along well with a medium-sized backpack (for two people and a dog), since all our things have a very small pack size.
Snowdon packing list:
- Water/drinks (also for the dog)
- Snacks (nuts, bread, fruit)
- picnic blanket
- map/hiking app
- First Aid Kit
- Dog food/snacks
More interesting facts about the Snowdon walk with dogs
The right time to climb Snowdon
In terms of time of year, Snowdon is basically climbable all year round, although some tracks can be really dangerous in snow and ice, or at least you should have the right gear with you. In the summer you should keep in mind that it can get very hot and there is little shade.
As for the time of day, I have a very clear recommendation: we started at 6am, which was just early enough. We had the way there almost completely to ourselves and were able to really enjoy the beautiful landscape. It was already a bit crowded at the summit, as hikers of all tracks meet here and even a mountain railway goes up. On the way back, however, we encountered masses (!) of people, even on one of the less popular routes. With countless people I had the feeling that they will not reach the summit (or will be exhausted in the next few days). In addition, there is no shade along the entire route. On a sunny day, the route is therefore hardly reasonable even in spring (a dog) at noon.
Weather Conditions on Snowdon
In Wales you can experience any kind of weather in a day, sometimes even an hour. And since Snowdon is very centrally located in the mountains, clouds cling to it particularly stubbornly. It is therefore also considered the shyest mountain in Wales. There is often still snow on the summit until spring. Of course there are clear, sunny days, we have experienced that ourselves. To our surprise, weather forecasts were relatively reliable, at least 24 hours in advance. And as mentioned above, there is little shade or shelter from the rain on the trails. We also perceived the temperature differences as relatively large. If it is still quite warm in the valley, it is significantly colder and, above all, very windy on the summit.
Where to park at Snowdon
Snowdon is the most climbed peak in Wales and you can tell that not only on the mountain, but also in the parking situation. Since there are a total of seven routes, there is of course not just one parking lot, but a total of five, from which you can start your respective route directly. All of these car parks are not particularly large and must be pre-booked online. Even if there is apparent free parking, cars without a reservation will not be allowed into the parking lot (at least when it's full, I suspect). We did this two days in advance and paid £18. Otherwise there is the possibility to use the shuttle system. Not an ideal solution for us with a dog, and then you automatically start walking in a larger group, which is a nightmare for me. By the way, you can find the parking spaces in the track summaries above, I have noted the starting point for each track there. The parking lots are accessible every 24 hours.
Our experience: Snowdon with a dog
So much for the information I would like to give you for your Snowdon planning. Are you interested in how I experienced the hike? Then feel free to read on, because now it's getting personal.
Our Snowdon ascent with dog
Our day started early in the morning. We wanted to be at the (pre-booked) parking lot at the Pen-y-Pass Car Park by half past five at the latest to start the hike over the PYG Track from there. From our accommodation, we drove about 40 minutes and found the parking lot straight away. Incidentally, there are also sanitary facilities on site that you should use, there are no more on the hiking trails or at the summit. And so we were actually on time and on the track as planned.
We were almost surprised that we were completely alone. The sun was just coming up, it was a clear day (which is veeery rarity on Snowdon) and as you can imagine we couldn't have been in a better mood. The first kilometers are always slightly uphill on stone paths and the mountain landscape that lies at your feet is really breathtaking. After the first third you come across the fork to Crib Goch which is very clearly protected by a fence making it almost impossible to get lost. Then the view of the mountain lakes becomes clear and you walk a passage without any incline. You really recharge your batteries here. And you need that, because the last third has it all. Fortunately, the view of the rocky flanks of the mountains is so beautiful that it makes the exertion more than bearable, but nonetheless, the climb is really steep. The path is made of solid stone and is comparable to a staircase. Sometimes you need your hands to pull yourself up. For Frieda that was actually hardly a problem, she has often hiked in the mountains with us. Incidentally, we let her run free so that she can decide for herself how she wants to overcome the steep passages. There was only one passage that we had to guide them through. Please only do this if you are really good at assessing your dog and your dog is rather cautious. Although there are few passages where there is a risk of falling, you are ultimately responsible for the safety of your dog.
Summary of our hike up Snowdon with a dog
For us, the hike was actually one of the Wales highlights. The route is just really beautiful and really fun to run. Unfortunately, we saw a lot of people who weren't there for the fun of hiking, but simply wanted to climb Wales' largest mountain. For those who don't usually go hiking, the ascent could be a bit of an ordeal (and even dangerous). Well planned, the hike is really recommended.