Taking a trip to Snowdonia is a must when you’re visiting North Wales. But how appropriate is tackling the highest mountain in the country for your four-legged friends?
A common question for hikers and tourists is: can I take my dog up Snowdon? In short, the answer is YES. With many easy-access footpaths, the open sky, and miles to roam, Snowdonia is the perfect place to take your dog. Like the majority of Wales, really.
Anyone who has visited Mt Snowdon will know that dogs are welcome. Plenty of pooches can be seen happily walking around Llanberis and proudly panting at the summit. But before you go on a homeward bound-like adventure, there are some things to bear in mind. Read on to discover how to make the most out of the best walk of your life – while keeping you and your dog safe.
The various paths on Snowdon
Snowdon has many paths that range from moderate to difficult – then there are the “don’t even think about it” routes.’ It’s worth doing a bit of homework before lacing up your shoes (and collar) so you know what you’re in for.
The first thing to consider is your dog’s ability: what breed are they, how old are they, and are they in good health? Smaller hounds will be safer taking the easier routes like the Llanberis Path. More capable dogs will be able to tackle the trickier routes like Rhyd Ddu and the Pyg Track. Below is a comprehensive list of Snowdon footpaths and their suitability for all dogs:
1. Llanberis Path
So popular it’s been mentioned twice! Considered the easiest hike of all, the Llanberis path consists of a steady gradient on mainly easy terrain and clear paths. There’s a hellishly steep incline just before the summit – but we suspect your K9 will be dragging you up it in no time. Apart from this vertical 10 minutes, the common Llanberis path is the best bet for smaller, older, or less agile dogs.
2. Snowdon Ranger Path
A recent improvement to the start of the path means this route is practically a road for the first couple of miles. There are clear paths with plenty of open, green space, and a couple of lakes for your dog to take a dip. The steepness of the middle section is what makes this slightly harder than the Llanberis Path. If all you want is to reach the summit of Snowdon with your pet, in the utmost of safety, then choose the Snowdon Ranger Path. It’s the quietest way up the mountain – possibly the safest – with little chance of encountering other dogs.
3. Miner’s Track
The reason this path is rated moderate is the combination of its easy beginning and reasonably tough second half. Some rate this path easy and quick, with dog-friendly and wide footpaths at the start. But be careful of those slates underfoot (around 3/4 of the way up) and uneven terrain near the top. Spaniels, collies and labs are frequently known to brave it with plenty of rests – but maybe consider a different route for pugs or Dachsunds.
4. Rhyd Ddu Path
Like the Miner’s Track, Rhyd Ddu is easy at the start but proves more difficult midway over the Bwlch Main section. Not suitable for small dogs or those who tend to pull. But the beauty of Rhyd Ddu is that it’s a quieter, less popular route with probably less chance of your dog bolting off or tripping up fellow hikers en route.
5. PYG Track
The PYG Track is a rocky but relatively flat footpath from Pen-y-Pass to the north of Glaslyn. Your dog will love the first half, but scrambling is necessary once you get to Bwlch Glas just over halfway. Capable dogs with equally capable owners will be fine on this. Be prepared to give a little aid on the stepping stones, and consider coming down a less steep route.
6. Snowdon South Ridge
Expect some scrambling and a narrow ridge with this route. You’ll probably meet next to no-one as you clamber up the exposure on Bwlch Main. We recommend only tackling this route with dogs who are extremely well-behaved.
7. The Watkin Path
Looking for a leisurely hike with your pooch up a nice mountain? The Watkin Path is NOT for you. This route has the most ascent, meaning both you and your four-legged friend will be tired sooner rather than later. Avid dog hikers do like the smoother, easier terrain for their dog’s feet and the unbeatable panoramic views. Make sure your dog is good on a leash if you’re using the Watkin Path – sheep are for grazing, not for chasing.
8. Crib Goch
Don’t even consider it with a dog. It means ‘Red Ridge’ in Welsh. No matter what you’ve heard or how much prep you do, we just don’t think it’s worth it. This is a 1000m high, Grade 1 scramble, so a bit different to your usual Sunday stroll.
How to prepare for the hike
Whether you’re walking with the dog or not, preparation is key before taking on the challenge of Snowdon. As easy as others may make it sound, it’s vital to remember that this is the highest point in the British Isles outside the Scottish Highlands. At 1085m high and as home to serious adverse weather conditions, Mount Snowdon must be taken seriously at all times.
Yes, it’s a tourist trap, and yes, you can get some decent Insta pics from the top. But the wild winding hills can be as merciless as they are breathtaking and requires respect at all times. In light of this, make sure you have prepared yourself. Source some decent walking shoes with grips, all-weather clothing, a hat, scarf and gloves. Even in the summer, the summit can get as misty and damp as the Amazon, so take a raincoat and spare layers.
Next, fill your heavy-duty backpack with all mountainy-excursion items like a torch, plenty of water, an area map, and maybe a compass, Pack some high-calorie snacks, a whistle, and a mobile phone that actually has signal and not just a 14 Megapixel camera. Now the lecture is over, here are some tips to help you have the most fun with your furballs!
They’ll need the same protection as you: pack a front range harness, extendable long lead, and a short lead for when things get tricky. Pack extra water for them, along with a dozen poo bags and pockets full of treats. Some terrain doggy booties aren’t a bad shout, especially if you’re planning on hiking the routes on the latter half of the above list.
Dogs and other animals on Snowdon
Here is some general Welsh Government advice for dog owners visiting Snowdon. Their main concern is unfortunately the risk your pooch poses to roaming livestock. This is why it’s essential that your dog is on a lead at all times when in the vicinity of herds. Farmers aren’t opposed to hikers making the most of the beautiful countryside. But your pet should not pose a risk or danger to wildlife – including other people’s dogs.
Under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 it’s an offence to let your dog even chase, let alone attack, livestock. Farmers are entitled to shoot any canine acting in this way. They don’t even have to alert you, and they certainly don’t have to pay out if your best friend dies by the sword.)
If you notice signs for ‘Access Land’ as designated by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, put your dog on a lead now. If you’re walking on a network that’s a Public Footpath, your dog only needs to legally be under ‘close control’ and not necessarily on a lead. Whatever you do, don’t let your dog chase or attack the livestock.
Upland farmers sometimes bring their flocks off the hill. So if you see a herd of sheep travelling across the mountain in a group, put your dog on a short lead. This will halt interference from your own pooch, and will be much appreciated by the landowner.
You might not know this either, but cattle can also pose certain danger. Dogs can aggravate mothers with young calves, and arouse very protective instincts. Let your dog off the lead and focus on yourself if you start being chased by a cow. Hope that your dog will run away and meet you later when the cow risk has been diffused.
Important things to consider
When tackling Snowdon with dogs, there are a few priorities to keep in mind which are:
- Remember what we said above about the leads
- Don’t scare off other animals
- Pick up your poop!
- Maybe the quieter, less popular routes are best
- Choose the right trail according to your dog’s ability
- Get up early, it’ll be worth it
- Water is vital – no matter how many streams you think you’ll pass
- Take regular breaks to rest the paws and feet
What happens when you get to the top of Snowdon?
Congratulations, you’ve made it to the top! You’ve battled loose crags and bustling winds, and you’re now the highest human-and-dog combo in the country. But sorry, you’re still not allowed in the cafe. The Summit Cafe sells hot food, drinks, snacks and even has a cute gift shop for all non-essential things you need at a kilometre in the air. It offers a safe haven for those personally victimised by the Welsh rainfall, and even a blow-air-dryer in the loo to knock some life into your frozen limbs.
But due to health & safety food regulations, dogs still aren’t allowed in. Try huddling with other dog owners in the entrance where there’s just enough shelter for a few families.
Always remember: the descent is sometimes worse than the climb. Not only on your own poor knees and soles but on your dog’s pawsies too. Consider taking an alternative route if you’ve opted for a tougher one up. Or pack a doggy backpack for the way down if your pooch is small enough.
Remember too that on the way up your dog’s pulling on the lead might have been your saving grace. But on the descent, it’ll be your downfall (quite literally.) Consider swapping a tight lead for an extendable one, and choosing a quieter route on a Public Footpath where you can let your best friend off the leash for a bit.
Top 10 dog walks around Snowdonia
If walking up one of Britain’s Three Peaks with your dog is off-putting, there are plenty of alternatives to keep both you and your pet happy. Here’s a list of our favourite canine-friendly treks around the gorgeous Eryri:
- Cwm Idwal – dramatic mountainous scenery in this jaw-dropping National Nature Reserve
- Llyn Ogwen circular walk – a moderate walk perfect for those interested in visiting the resting place of King Arthur’s Sword
- Beddgelert Walk – the graveside & tale of a faithful friend, Gelert, who gallantly died by the hand of Prince Llewelyn
- Trail of Dinas Emrys – an archaeological site where a Welsh dragon is said to sleep
- Craflwyn, Hafod y Llan and Llyn Dinas – discover the lonely lower slopes and hidden lakes between Yr Aran
- Aberglaslyn, Bryn Du & Beddgelert – stop and admire the Aberglaslyn gorge
- Aberglaslyn, Llyn Dinas and Cwm Bychan walk – the fisherman’s path is a varied circular walk boasting some unbeatable scenery
- Rhaeadr Ddu and Coed Ganllwyd – visit the turbulent River Gamlan and the wooshing waters of Rhaeadr Ddu waterfall
- Dolmelynllyn Estate – explore the fascinating remains of the Cefn Coch gold mine
- Dinas Oleu walk – follow in Fanny Talboth’s footsteps and wander through the winding old town of Barmouth