Is Cadair Idris Harder Than Snowdon?

Written by Shayle

We are often asked which mountain is harder to climb. Cadair Idris or Snowdon? Both mountains offer unique challenges and rewarding views. It isn’t easy to compare the two, but we will give it a go in this article!

Any spare moment we get, we love to hike! In this article, we ask is Cadair Idris is harder than Snowdon? And we discuss the two so you can choose which suits you best.

Is Cadair Idris harder to climb than Snowdon?

Cadair Idris Vs Snowdon.

Comparing Snowdon to Cadair Idris, it’s fair to say that Snowdon is more challenging to climb. The summit has more technical routes, and the journey is longer. However, Cadair Idris is generally less crowded than Snowdon if you fancy a more peaceful walk. It’s worth noting that the height gain on Snowdon’s PYG Track and Cadair Idris’s Pony Path is the same at 750m.

Cadair Idris

Cadair Idris is known for its rugged and wild terrain in the Snowdonia National Park. The mountain has three main peaks. The highest peak, Penygadair, is 893 metres and requires a strenuous climb to reach the summit. The path to the top is steep and rocky, making it a challenging climb for even the most experienced hikers.

Find all routes here.

Cadair Idris.

Three hard/strenuous routes

Conquering this mountain requires taking one of three recommended routes, all challenging walks. Each route is ‘hard/strenuous’, so be prepared to spend five to six hours there and back. Remember to bring plenty of food and drink, as there are no cafés or toilets on the summit. Cader is a popular destination for school parties, sponsored walks, and group challenges, mainly as it’s one of the Welsh Three Peaks.

Legend of the name

There is a legend that the mountain is named after a giant called Idris. ‘Cadair Idris’ translates to ‘Chair of Idris’ in English, while ‘Cader’ may refer to an ancient fortress. The locals typically call it Cader Idris, but either name can be used.

One well-known legend is that if you spend a night on the mountain, you’ll either go insane or become a poet. However, staying overnight on the peak is not a good idea; it could be dangerous in bad weather. There are many cliff edges to be aware of, particularly in low visibility.

Cadair Idris lake

Parking and facilities

Several parking options are available for visitors to the area, including Dôl Idris (Minffordd), Llanfihangel y Pennant, and Tŷ Nant. Please note that Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park manages the car parks at Dôl Idris and Tŷ Nant and requires a use fee.

Please visit the Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park website for current information on these car parks.

To avoid any issues with parking availability, it is recommended to arrive early during busy times. The Llanfihangel y Pennant village car park is free to use, but it is pretty small. Additionally, restrooms are available at each car park, which can be particularly useful since no facilities are on the mountain.


Snowdon, on the other hand, is the highest mountain in Wales and stands at 1,085 metres. The most popular route to the summit is the Llanberis Path, a gradual ascent that follows a well-maintained trail. While it’s not as steep as Cadair Idris, the climb to the summit is still challenging and requires good fitness.

Snowdon Summit

Six hard/strenuous routes

Snowdon is part of a close-knit family of jagged peaks offering stunning views of Snowdonia, Anglesey, Pembrokeshire, and even Ireland on a clear day. If you’re up for a challenge, you can choose from six different paths to conquer this 1,085-metre (3,560-foot) giant. There are six paths: the Llanberis Path, Pyg Track, Miners’ Track, Watkin PathMiners’Ddu Path, and the Snowdon Ranger Path.

Find all routes here.

Legend of the name

The English name for Snowdon originates from the Old English snaw dun, which translates to “snow hill”. The Welsh name, Yr Wyddfa, is a shortened version of its original name, Gwyddfa Rhita, meaning “Rhita’s cairn”.

According to legend, King Arthur defeated and buried Rhita, a giant, on the mountain. Another legend suggests that Rhita was killed by the giant Idris, who lived on the nearby mountain Cadair Idris. The mountain is also associated with other figures from Arthurian legend, including a legendary water monster known as the Afanc and the Tylwyth Teg, or fairies.

Snowdon in Wales

Parking and facilities

Car parks are available on all the main paths up Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa). The National Park Authority car parks have toilets and are open 24/7. Recently, the National Park Authority launched a free app that shows the real-time availability of vacant parking spaces in certain car parks.

Pen y Pass is the only car park that can be pre-booked, but only during the season from April to the end of October. The Llanberis Path, Pyg Track (at Pen y Pass), and the Miners’ Track (at Pen y Pass) are also served by the Park & Ride bus service from Nant Peris.

Additionally, there are parking options for the Watkin Path, Rhyd Ddu Path, and Snowdon Ranger Path. Parking fees from Pen y Pass go towards path maintenance on Snowdon, while parking fees from other SNPA car parks may be used anywhere in the National Park, including Snowdon.

Learn more about parking in Snowdon here.

Whether Cadair Idris or Snowdon is harder to climb is subjective and depends on the individual hiker’s experience and fitness level. Both mountains offer stunning views and unique challenges that are worth experiencing. So, if you’re up for a challenge, tackle both and decide for yourself which one is harder!

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