Best Circular Trail Runs in Snowdonia
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Snowdonia’s better known for it’s hill walking and climbing, but also boasts world class trail runs. Here’s a far from comprehensive selection of our favourite circular trail runs.
1 – Coed y Brenin – This is much more than your usual forestry plantation, with conifers planted with a bit more aesthetic consideration than elsewhere. The Sarn Helen (short and long), Goldrush and Half Marathon trail runs are waymarked trail runs which are straightforward to navigate with the added advantage of starting and finishing at the Coed y Brenin Visitor Centre. The Sarn Helen short route is a steady 6km, mainly on forestry tracks. while the Sarn Helen long route is 8km long and follows more paths, as is the Goldrush Trail. The Half Marathon is on forestry tracks, but challenging owing to it’s length.
2 – Geirionnyd and Crafnant – Running around these lakes is an easy 4k run, but the real challenge is the roughly 16km circuit from Capel Curig. This starts off by climbing over to Crafnant, following the lake before climbing over to Llyn Geirionnydd. There’s then a steady climb over into the Gwydyr Forest and back across to Capel Curig. This one’s pretty tough, especially as there’s an unexpected climb to leave the forest before the final, boggy, decent to Capel.
3 – Beddgelert Forest – There’s plenty of scope here for easy trail runs, but you’ll still manage to squeeze in a couple of 100m ascent. The terrain’s reasonably easy, but navigation is a pain in the arse. Ensure that you take a run to Llyn Llywelyn.
4 – Aran Circuit – This beast’s 20km long, but with only one proper climb (whichever way you do it!). From the Rhyd Ddu side, that’s a 300m climb to Bwlch Cwm Llan but with another sneaky 150m between Beddgelert and Rhyd Ddu.
5 – Tryfan Circuit – This one’s wild and rugged. It’s also borderline fell running considering it tops out at 700m plus…
6 – Cwm Mynach – Starting off from Penmaenpool near Dolgellau, this takes you into the Rhinogydd and reasonably wild terrain. You could continue towards Hafod-y-brenhin and the quarries beyond for really remote!
7- Llyn Padarn and Peris – The circuit of one or both of these lakes is a classic. There’s enough climbing, but not too much. The distance around both is a get-the-mileage-in 15km with stupendous views towards the Glyderau and Wyddfa (Snowdon).
8 – Llyn Elsi – There are a couple of waymarked trails from Betws-y-coed that are easy to follow, The Llyn Elsi Trail takes you around this pretty hidden lake. There’s also the Gigfran Trail that’s a bit shorter, but also waymarked.
9 – North Carneddau – While they’re normally fell runner territory, the north provides some excellent trail runs. You can start off somewhere such as the Sychnant pass and run to over 400m, and possibly some snow this time of year. A circuit around Cefn Llechen is a steady 8km, but runing around Tal y Fan on (you’ll need to work out the return route along the north of the mountain) is even better! Or you can run into the middle of the mountains up Cwm Anafon.
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Photo credit: GORE-TEX® Products / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
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siDave Roberts founded Walk Eryri in 2004, with the aim of providing routes that are off the beaten track. Walk Eryri is now part of Mud and Routes which continues to provide more off beat routes and walks in Snowdonia and beyond. Dave has been exploring the hills of Eryri for over thirty years, and is a qualified Mountain Leader. Dave also established Walk up Snowdon, Walk up Scafell Pike and Walk up Ben Nevis just to mention a few.