9 North Wales Hikes You Should Absolutely Experience
North Wales is blessed with a selection of some of the very best hikes in Europe. But, with the region boasting so many beautiful areas of dramatic scenery that are all ready and waiting to be explored, it can hard to know where to start first!
With such a variety of landscapes, North Wales offers a diverse range of hikes. They can be as leisurely or as challenging as you like, and they offer plenty of places to stop for a quick drink, learn more about the nearby historical landmarks or simply take in the stunning scenery.
Panoramic views across mountains, beaches, lakes, forests and valleys await those willing to find them, and there are plenty of other hidden Welsh treasures to discover along the way. So, read on for a list of some of our favourite North Wales hikes that you won’t want to miss.
1. Snowdon Horseshoe
One of the UK’s classic mountain walks, the Snowdon Horseshoe is an enjoyable yet ferociously demanding hike that includes the famous Welsh peaks of Y Lliwedd, Garnedd Ugain, Crib Goch and the highest mountain in Wales, Snowdon.
Those with a fear of heights may want to avoid this hike, but if you’re up to the daring task, you’ll experience one of the most exciting trails that Wales has to offer.
It starts innocently enough but quickly becomes a steep and rocky scramble through heady heights and rocky ridges. Lovers of scrambling with thrive in the ascent towards some of Wales’ tallest peaks and across tight knife-edge ridges that will prove a real test to your nerves, stamina and determination.
The entire hike is around 10 kilometres long but will take about five to seven hours to complete fully. However, do keep in mind that it is a popular walk so you may wish to set off early if you’d like the route to yourself.
2. Cwm Idwal
Based just off the Snowdonia National Park Visitor Centre, Cwm Idwal may look rugged and mountainous, but it is a relatively simple hike that’s ideal for a relaxing weekend morning walk.
Perfect for families or those seeking a short, gentle trail, the hike offers dramatic views around the crystal-clear waters of Llyn Idwal and steady inclines that are ideal for taking in the beautiful sights.
And, if you are you looking for a spot to show off to your friends on social media, the sheer cliffs forming the headwall of Cwm Idwal (known as ‘The Devil’s Kitchen’) make for an excellent photo opportunity.
However, the final section of the walk around cliffs shouldn’t be underestimated as it can get a little steep and may be more difficult for beginners.
3. Bochlwyd Horseshoe
Arguably the best hike in North Wales, Bochlwyd Horseshoe is a challenging but rewarding ascent that takes in the beauty and splendour of the Welsh mountains.
Hikers will encounter narrow gullies, broad ridges and rocky shoulders which will need to be overcome to reach the top. But, as it is a popular trail, there is an abundance of hand and footholds available to make the climb a little easier.
The route also includes several of the classic North Wales photo opportunities such as the Cannon, Adam and Eve and the Cantilever, so you’ll want to make sure to bring your phone or camera to ensure you can cherish the unforgettable scenery.
A definitive and adventurous outing, it clocks in at a little over eight kilometres and can be very challenging, so you’ll need a decent level of fitness and no fear of heights to tackle it. However, the reward of the stunning landscapes and an immeasurable sense of achievement will make it all worthwhile.
4. Moel Siabod Daear Ddu
If you’re looking for a simpler and shorter hike that still offers a good workout, head to the Moel Siabod Daear Ddu trail located close to Pont-Cyfyng, Conwy.
Classed as a grade 1 scramble, it offers various routes across a steady hill, with many of the trickier sections avoidable if hikers are aiming for a calmer walk. With plenty of ways to ascend, Moel Siabod Daear Ddu is an ideal introduction to hiking for beginners but still holds enough challenges to interested more experienced climbers.
Whichever route you decide to take, the breath-taking views from of the top of the ridge can still be seen with the nearby Snowdon Horseshoe, The Glyders, and the Carneddau all visible.
Perhaps the most attractive trait of this North Wales hike is that it is much less crowded than the area’s more classic routes. Since this journey is a little off the beaten track, it allows hikers to take the trek at their own pace and appreciate the expansive landscape in front of them.
5. Conwy Mountain
Just a short walk from the historic town of Conwy lies Conwy Mountain, a relatively peaceful walk that takes in the gorgeous views of the nearby castle, Conwy Bay and the surrounding coastline.
Famed for its colourful landscape and plenty of photo-taking opportunities of the nearby peaks, Conwy Mountain has something for everyone.
There are several footpaths you can follow, enabling walkers to devise their favourite way of reaching the top. So, if you’re after a challenge, you will have the option of some steeper ascents and descents that may require some scrambling if you so desire.
It will be wise to save this outing for a clear day to get the very best out of the views, and don’t forget to finish off your trip with a stroll around Conwy’s many shops, cafés and pubs.
6. The Rhinogydd
Tucked away in western Meirionnydd is one of Wales’ toughest and steepest hills: The Rhinogydd.
Promising one of the most challenging North Wales hikes, it will be a real test to any hiker’s strength and agility as they will face a wealth of conditions and terrains. Miles upon miles of heather and rock that have rarely touched by hikers will lay before you, providing a vast, one-of-a-kind climb.
Not only will you need excellent navigational and climbing skills to complete this route, but you’ll also need to be prepared to camp, as the course can only be fully completed in two or three days.
Due to the difficulty it poses, it is known as one of Wales’ wildest and least visited mountain ranges, stretching over 20 kilometres from north to south. However, successfully hiking through it will give the feeling of traversing through a forgotten land, meaning for those up to the task will feel a sense of adventure like no other.
7. Moel Hebog
Towering over the village of Beddgelert is the peak of Moel Hebog, which offers a steady climb through a range of terrains. The mountain has a commanding presence over the famous walking village and has become a popular route for beginners and experts alike.
The route is relatively simple to follow but does include a couple of sections where the occasional use of hands might be necessary. However, there are plenty of sturdy, well-established mountain paths that make for a comfortable hike. Keep in mind though that the descent to Princess Quarry is a little steeper so extra care may be needed when in difficult weather conditions.
On a clear day, you can see across to the Snowdon Range as well as extensive views of Beddgelert and the Dinas Valley.
8. Coedydd Aber National Nature Reserve
Quietly tucked away in the valleys on the northern flanks of the Carneddau mountains lies a beautiful hike through Coedydd Aber National Nature Reserve. A straightforward path up to the falls is surrounded by gorgeous green scenery, natural wildlife such as sheep, horses and birds and a spectacular waterfall.
Known locally as Aber Falls, the Rhaeadr Fawr waterfall has been popular with visitors since Victorian times and gives a stunning backdrop to the nature reserves’ peaceful setting.
There is also plenty of historical and archaeological monuments along the way, such as cairns and round and long Irish huts, meaning there is something for everyone to keep entertained on the relaxing walk.
9. Cader Idris
Perhaps the most famous mountain in South Snowdonia, Cader Idris and its towering peak can be seen for miles around and are just waiting to be conquered.
There are many walking routes to take, varying in difficulty, but all are reasonably straightforward with no scrambling needed. However, the hike to the summit of Craig Cwm Amarch will be the most demanding section, and the steep path can take its toll on even an experienced climber’s legs.
You’ll get your reward towards the bottom as there are plenty of pubs and hotels to catch a deserved rest after a long day hiking.
Weekends and bank holidays tend to get very busy on the mountain so if you’d prefer a quieter walk, head up on weekdays in spring or autumn months. The main routes are around four to five kilometres in length, with the longer paths from Llanfihangel y Pennant and Dolgellau being around eight kilometres in length.