All that's great about this iconic mountain
The 1,085 metre hulk of Snowdon makes it the highest point in the British Isles outside of Scotland. Here are 10 reasons why you can’t really call yourself a British mountain biker until you’ve done Snowdon.
We’re very lucky to have Snowdon. It’s so good that it features TWICE in our 20 best mountain bike trails in the UK feature.
Due to its popularity Snowdon is the subject of an access agreement. We mountain bikers agree that between May 1 and September 31 we stay off the mountain between 10am and 5pm.
Although this sounds like something of a hardship and penalty for mountain bikers, it actually leads to our first reason why you need to ride Snowdon…
1. Avoid the hordes
Relatively speaking anyway. It’s a destination for a lot of people so it’s rare to ride on a “quiet” Snowdon. But being forced to ride the mountain during off-peak times and months means that we avoid the worst excesses of tourist traffic. If you’ve ever tried to ride a popular peak during the summer months you’ll know that it’s often an exercise in frustration. A dawn or dusk raid on Snowdon results in much quieter trail traffic. It’s mainly the last stretch up to the summit point (where the Pyg/Miner’s Track comes in) that gets problematic with people, so be prepared to dismount and be patient for that bit.
2. It’s a proper mountain
It’s over 1,000m. In the UK, technically a mountain is anything over 610m but let’s forget that. Far too common. A bike-able summit point that sits in four figure metres altitude is a rare beast in the UK.
3. You’re allowed on the summit
All too often us mountain bikers get close-but-no-cigar when it comes to summit points. We’re usually assigned a lower pass track that heads over the saddle point. Not with Snowdon. You and your bike can perch right on the summit point. Cue selfie!
4. Epic views
If you’re lucky and the clouds aren’t swamping everything beyond 20ft anyway. Clear air and a 1,085m viewing point results in views that are hugely more expansive than almost anywhere else in the UK. You can probably see your house from up there. Trouble is, these views really are a bit distracting as you begin your descent back down the mountain!
5. All-weather surface
Tourists have been tramping all over Snowdon since the Victorian age and this has meant that the main paths are all firmly surfaced and surprisingly all-weather. Which is just as well because Snowdon does get all the weather. Riding Snowdon’s bridleways is an exercise is riding rock. A lot of rock. Your tyres and your forearms will not forgive you quickly.
6. The Llanberis Path
This is the main drag up to the summit from the town of Llanberis at the mountain’s foot. It’s wide, pretty straight and has been gradually sanitised over the years. It’s by far the best way up the mountain. The majority of it is rideable but there are a handful of stretches that will have you off and pushing. As a descent it’s arguably not so rewarding or challenging if you’re an experienced rider but if you’re a relative newcomer – or you’re a speed demon wanting an out-of-hours hoon – it has its place for sure.
7. The Rangers Path
AKA the one that the mountain bikers do. Quieter than the Llanberis Path. Longer, harder, curvier, curlier, looser, more varied, better views and just really, really flipping good. There are many, many reasons why it was our Trail Of The Year a few years ago.
8. Telegraph Valley
AKA the crazy-fast one after the Rangers Path. It’s all too easy to miss this trail while you’re hurtling down the last section of the Rangers Path. It’s marked by a dinky fingerpost and heads up a featureless, uninviting grass banking. It’s worth the hunting and the pushing up though. An all-out speed affair but one that’s still narrow enough to be called singletrack. A totally joyous way to head off the mountain’s lower flanks.
9. Rhyd Ddu
Rhyd Ddu is not for everyone. It’s dangerous and it’s a very long day out – especially if anything goes wrong. The knife-edge start can ruin your whole ride if you’re not prepared for it (and prepared to walk most of it). It’s also not as all-weather as Llanberis Path or the Rangers Path trails. But if you’re up for it and the ground conditions are okay it’s a wild ride that is hard to find equal of anywhere else in Wales or England.
10. It’s a proper test
It ain’t no trail centre. Snowdon is a real test of you and your bike. You’ll need to be prepared. You’ll need to be acceptably fit. And proficient at repairing a bike. Once you’re away from the main summit paths you’ll also need to be capable of reading a map and navigating.