Climbing Cadair Idris (also known as Cader Idris) in Wales is one of the best hikes in south Snowdonia. And the Minffordd Path is one of the best routes up with stunning views as you hike past Llyn Cau then up to the summit.
This Cadair Idris walk takes you on a scenic route up the ninth highest mountain in Wales, in Snowdonia National Park, it’s a challenging hike but worth it.
There are three main routes up to Cadair Idris summit at 893 m – the Pony Track, Fox’s Path and the Minffordd Path, although there’s a great scramble option too. (I’ve hiked the Minffordd, Path, Pony Track and scramble route).
The Minffordd Path is the shortest route up to the summit of Cadair Idris. But the shortest also means the steepest route and you’ll feel the elevation increase as you climb higher and higher.
If one mountain summit isn’t enough for your day hike, the route up the Minffordd Path can continue as a circular loop via the second-highest summit of Cadair Idris Mynydd Moel at 863 m.
Here are the full details my Cadair Idris walk via the Minffordd Path including the circular route back down.
Cadair Idris walk via Minffordd Path
Planning your Cadair Idris route
Start by getting yourself the Ordnance Survey OS Explorer 23 map which you’ll need to climb this Welsh mountain. And, of course, a compass too!
Choose your route
But I’ve also walked up via the Pony Track, as well as a fun scramble up on of the gullies near Llyn Cau. (Note – I’ve hiked Cadair Idris in summer and winter conditions – hence the different photos!)
It’s worth checking the mountain weather forecast before your hike, the weather conditions at the bottom can be very different to Cadair Idris summit.
- Check the weather report for Cadair Idris here (www.mountain-forecast.com)
Start of the hike
The Minffordd Path walk starts at Cadair Idris Car Park, off the A487, south Snowdonia. The closest sat nav postcode is LL36 9AJ but once you turn off the A487, you’ll see the signs for the car park at the base of the Minfforrd Path.
The Minffordd Path car park has a small toilet block with information about Cadair Idris (or Cader Idris) on the outside walls. There are enough spaces for maybe 30-50 cars, the car park can get busy at weekends so it’s worth getting there early.
Minffordd Path car park costs
The sign for Cadair Idris parking costs were £3.00 for up to 4 hours and £6.00 for all day (until midnight), I’d hope you would be back by that time otherwise you might be needing Mountain Rescue.
Cash only (correct money), no card payments available.
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Cadair Idris Walk (Minffordd Path Route)
Cadair Idris Car park to Llyn Cau
Hiking distance: 2 km
Hiking time: 1 hour
From the car park, it’s a beautiful and flat start to the walk, down a track towards the tearoom (which was closed in March) then through a little gate.
The flat path lasts about 5 minutes, then the climb starts on the Minfforrd Path and it’s a steep climb so be prepared to get warm. The stone steps take you up through a green wooded area, which is very beautiful, even though tough at the same time.
After about 1 km, the path splits. The right path takes you over a slate bridge signposted Mynydd Moel (this is the end of the circuit on the way back). The left path heads towards Llyn Cau (the lake at the foot of Cadair Idris) via the Minffordd Path.
The path towards Llyn Cau isn’t as steep now so you can catch your breath. As you approach the lake, there’s a huge flat rock, the Minffordd Path route goes up here. From this point on a clear day, you have views of Cadair Idris summit.
Note – Cadair Idris summit is the peak on your right, not the one directly in front which I admit does look higher from this angle!
Top tips for the walk
- If you have a few layers on then I’d recommend taking them off before you start the upwards hike on another steep section of the Minfforrd Path.
- Take a mini side trip to the lake, Llyn Cau for views of Cadair Idris summit. It would make a great picnic stop, you can even go wild swimming
Llyn Cau along Craig Cau ridge
Hiking distance: 2 km
Hiking time: 1 hour
Now you’ve enjoyed the pretty scenery from Llyn Cau, get ready for some more uphill on the Minfforrd Path. Although, on your way up there are a couple of great spots for photos so don’t rush and enjoy the views on Llyn Cau!
Once at the top of this section you follow the path all the way along Craig Cau ridge. This section is particularly challenging, not only is it steep, but there are lots of loose rocks so be careful with your footing.
The path is undulating and takes you on a tough but scenic path, as you can look down to Llyn Cau lake. Don’t get too close to the edge though, it’s a long way down!
Remember that peak that looked like the summit! Well, you’re about to follow the path around to the right and climb up here. It’s more loose rocks so be careful and there’s a treat at the top, a little stile for you to climb over
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Craig Cau to Cadair Idris summit
Hiking distance: 0.5 km
Hiking time: 30 minutes
Depending on the weather, the wind can really pick up on this section of the walk.
But if you think the other side will be any different then you’re likely to be wrong. As I climbed over the steps of the stile I was met with a huge gust of mountain wind. Feeling hungry I had planned to stop here for lunch but I quickly decided that was a bad idea.
On a clear day, as you head down this section, you can look across to the path up to Cadair Idris. Be sure to keep to the path here as there’s a huge drop on your right and it’s easy to veer off the route!
It was at this point the clouds started to creep across the sky, clinging to the top of the mountain. I opted for a few photos just below the summit. A great view as you look down you can see the path you’ve walked up from the lake.
One last climb to the summit of the mighty Cadair Idris. Keep walking uphill then out of nowhere, the trig point appears, yes you’ve made it to the top!
To the left of the summit, there’s a great stone covered shelter. It’s better than the tiny one at the top of Ben Nevis, you could fit maybe 20+ people in there, maybe more. And of course, a perfect place to refuel and have some peppermint tea from my Sigg Hot and Cold flask.
Cadair Idris to Mynydd Moel summit
Hiking distance: 2 km
Hiking time: 30 minutes
From Cadair Idris summit, you have two choices, you can either hike back exactly the same way as you came via the Minfforrd Path.
Or option two is to continue on a circuit and go via Mynydd Moel. The path doesn’t appear on the OS map but it’s a good route all the way down.
This section is a relatively easy hike, the path doesn’t lose too much elevation so within about half an hour you’re at Cadair Idris’s second summit Mynydd Moel. The views from here are lovely and there’s a mini wind shelter at the top as well, handy in windy weather.
Mynydd Moel to Cadair Idris Car Park
Hiking distance: 3.5 km
Hiking time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Now it’s time to start descending back to the finish. The path starts gradually at first but once you reach another step stile it quickly gets steep. The path is full of lots of loose rocks so take your time, now is not the time to fall!
After what feels like forever going downhill, (it makes it worse as you can see the main road in the distance), you reach another step stile on your right.
Climb over this and follow the path all the way down to the slate bridge. (This is where the Minfforrd Path split at the beginning of the walk)
Now it’s back down the steep path to the car park (and it’s so much easier) unless you have dodgy knees like me.
Congratulations you’ve climbed Cadair Idris, the ninth highest mountain in Wales 🙂
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Cadair Idris walk – Clothes, Gear + Tips for the Hike
What to wear for hiking Cadair Idris?
My recommendations for what to wear when hiking mountains are always the same.
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Bear in mind that walking up Cadair Idris via the Minfforrd Path, it’s steep, especially the first section so it’s best not to have too many layers for the uphill hike. But you will want them at the mountain summit!
Another essential item is good hiking boots. They offer support for your ankles, especially on those rocky sections.
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Top tips for climbing Cadair Idris (via the Minffordd Path route)
- Be prepared for how steep this walk is, especially the downhill sections too – hiking poles offer extra support
- Stop by the lake (Llyn Cau) for photos, it’s slightly off the Minffordd Path route
- Pack extra warm layers and waterproofs (even if it’s not supposed to rain)
- Take a map and compass on your walk, if the cloud comes in then you can’t rely on just looking for the path
- If you’re hiking solo tell someone you are doing the hike (and to let them know you’re back safe)
- Pack some lunch and a hot drink
- Remember your First Aid Kit with a few essential items
Planning your Cadair Idris walk in Snowdonia? Ask me any questions about the Minffordd Path (or other routes) in the comments
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