PYG TRACK SNOWDON: Complete guide + top tips for hikers!
PYG TRACK SNOWDON: Complete guide + top tips for hikers!
Snowdonia is one of Britain’s most breathtaking national parks. With its extensive network of hiking trails, tranquil lakes, craggy peaks and spectacular views, it’s a truly magical place! There are routes for varying ability levels but the Pyg Track Snowdon is the perfect trail for both seasoned as well as first-time climbers.
There is no better feeling than reaching the top of a mountain and feeling like you’re on top of the world. So, what are you waiting for? Here is your complete guide to hiking the Pyg Track.
Other Snowdonia posts you might like…
- 15 Tips for climbing Snowdon (to ensure you reach the top!)
- Top 10 most awesome facts about Snowdonia
What is the Pyg Track?
The Pyg Track is one of six trails you can take to the top of Snowdon. The others are: the Llanberis Path, Miners’ Track, Watkin Path, Rhyd-Ddu Path and the Snowdon Ranger Path.
All the trails are suited for different fitness levels but the Pyg Track and Miners’ Track are the most popular and accessible routes.
Why is it called the Pyg Track?
According to the Welsh government’s official Snowdonia website…we’re not entirely sure! One explanation they give is that it was named after the pass it leads through called Bwlch y Moch (meaning Pigs’ Pass in Welsh).
Another possibility is that the name comes from when miners used the path to carry “pyg” (black tar) to the copper mines on Snowdon during the industrial revolution.
Why choose to hike the Pyg Track?
The Pyg Track is one of the shortest and most scenic routes up Snowdon. Don’t get me wrong, there are a series of gradual inclines with some rockier and steeper patches (like in the picture below). But for the most part, the Pyg Track is an easy trail to follow with lots of gentle straight paths that take you past beautiful lakes and give you a great view of Snowdon’s peaks.
How do I get to the Pyg Track?
If you live within a couple of hours of Snowdonia National Park and have a car, I would recommend driving up and down in a day (that’s if you don’t want to make a weekend out of the trip).
If you live more than a couple of hours’ drive away, I would advise staying somewhere local the night before. It just means you don’t have to get up too early or worry about traffic or potential blockers on the morning of your climb.
If you don’t have a car, you’ll definitely need to stay the night before. Even commuting from nearby Bangor where the nearest train station is, takes around an hour and a half to two hours on the bus to reach the start of the trail.
Buses only run every three hours as well so if you’re not on the bus by 8am from Bangor town centre, you won’t begin your climb until after lunchtime taking the next bus. Depending on the time of year, this could be problematic if it’s already going dark by the time you’re due to descend.
You can stay at the local YMCA hostel which faces the start of the trail if you don’t fancy taking the long bus ride from Bangor in the morning. However you’ll need to book fast as rooms fill up months in advance.
How long does the Pyg Track take to hike?
If you go by the guide boards, it says it’ll take you 6 hours there and back. However, even if you’re of average fitness I’d say you’ll easily knock at least an hour off that time. With a half hour lunch break, a couple more water breaks and photo stops, I managed to get there and back in less than 5 hours.
How do I navigate the Pyg Track?
Unless you’re planning on climbing in the dark to see the sunrise from the summit (not recommended on your first hike of Snowdon!) you won’t need anything to help you navigate the trail. The Pyg Track starts at Pen-y-Pass and as you can see from the map below, it’s a really straightforward path to follow.
Around 500,000 people reach the top of Snowdon each year so in the warmer months there will be plenty of other climbers in front of you leading the way.
When is the best time to hike the Pyg Track?
As the annoying but frustratingly true saying goes: “The early bird gets the worm”. But more importantly in this case, “The early bird will get a bloody parking space.”
Getting to Snowdon early is a must. I arrived the morning of my first climb at 8am and two car parks were already full. This meant we needed to park further away and wait half an hour for a bus to take us to the start of the trail.
Getting there early is just practical too. Your energy levels are higher in the morning and it won’t be getting dark by the time you descend.
When is the best time of year to hike the Pyg Track?
April to October are considered the best months to climb Snowdon. However, as with most climbing (especially if this is your first time to Snowdon) I would recommend climbing it during the summer months. It may be busier but the days are longer, the weather conditions are better and it’s just more enjoyable.
I once climbed Snowdon in late September to watch the sunrise and the weather was already starting to turn. We never made it to the top because the rocks at the final ascent were too slippery from the ice and the wind was too volatile to even stand up straight on top of the summit.
So the lesson is, don’t risk the disappointment of not being able to summit at the last stretch and just plan your climb during the summer!
Is the Pyg Track difficult to hike?
The Pyg Track is 11km long with an ascent of 2,936 feet. It’s classified as a hard/ strenuous route however I must say as someone who didn’t hike at the time and was below average fitness after a year sat at home in and out of lockdown – I thought it was fine! It is challenging in places as I mentioned earlier with some rockier and steeper patches but you can just take more breaks if you need to.
The hardest part of the track is the final descent where it’s literally a vertical zig zag to the top! But this only lasts for about 15 minutes and you’re motivated by the view of the summit the whole way. You know you’re about to reach the final ascent when you approach this rocky causeway path below.
But no matter what path you pick, everyone needs to do that final ascent otherwise you’d never make it to the summit!
If the kids I saw climbing in trainers can reach the summit of Snowdon (not recommended though!), anyone who is able bodied can.
What do I need to pack to hike the Pyg Track?
Even though I say the Pyg Track is challenging but not too difficult, you’ll still be out hiking for most of the day and will need to make sure you take enough food, water and spare/ additional clothes for every weather inevitability.
I recommend packing the following for your climb during the summer months:
-A proper pair of hiking boots
-Lightweight waterproof backpack
-Lightweight waterproof jacket
-Gloves to protect your hands when you’re scrambling over rocks
-Leak-proof reusable bottle (there are some little streams along the way but in summer they’re more scarce so take enough water with you for the day if you don’t want to risk it)
-A pocket first aid kit just in case you slip and graze your knee for example or need paracetamol for that niggling headache
-Suncream (even if it’s overcast – those rays will get you especially if you’re prone to burning!)
-A jumper and spare t-shirt and socks (just in case it rains or the wind picks up and you start to get chilly)
-Packed lunch and snacks
-Spare cash – around £20 with change for the bus from the car park to the start of the trail
I’d also recommend having spare clothes to change into at the end of the day. It’s not essential but will make you feel so much more comfortable on the way home. Especially if you’ve been caught out in a rain storm or are super sweaty and don’t want to sit in dirty clothes all the way back. Just keep a separate bag in your car with spare clothes and snacks and it’ll save you carrying it.
You’ll find more tips like this in my 15 tips for climbing Snowdon post.
What food do I need to prepare to hike the Pyg Track?
I recommend preparing a carb-rich lunch and lots of snacks to keep your energy levels up. Start with a slow-energy release breakfast like porridge with oat milk, banana and some nut butter for protein.
For lunch, pack high-carb meals such as pasta, sandwiches, fruit and some energy bars. My favourite vegan protein bars are by Graze and Deliciously Ella but any are fine or you can even make your own if you prefer!
What is the descent like?
I would recommend if you are climbing Snowdon for the first time and taking the Pyg Track up to actually descend via the Miners’ Track. It’s a similar difficulty level however is a more steady gradient track which is the perfect trail to come down on (not so much on the way up as it just feels like it’s a solid incline the whole way!).
The Miners’ Track also has some beautiful views and waterfalls to check out which will allow you to see a different side of the mountain from the way you hiked up.
This track is also great for the way down as it’s less busy. The Pyg Track is a popular route up the mountain so you’ll find if you head down the same way you’re minding out the way of people more as you’re trying to navigate down the rocks. Not so fun!
One of my top tips for climbing Snowdon is to make sure you have fun! Yes, it’s challenging, yes, it’s tiring…yes you may think you can’t do it at several points during the climb.
But embrace all those highs and lows because it’s all about the journey (don’t vom it’s true!). And there is no greater feeling than sitting your knackered bum on the edge of that peak and enjoying that breath-taking view.
For more posts on Snowdon click here.
Have you hiked Snowdon before? Would you choose the Pyg Track Snowdon? 😄
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