Capel Curig – Llyn Cowlyd – Llyn Crafnant

If you happen to be in Snowdonia with your mountain bike this route might be a good option. It’s located in the edge of the Carneddau range of mountains and it connects two iconic lakes – Llyn Cowlyd and Llyn Crafnant. Those who love the dramatic Welsh scenery as well as cross-country MTB will be more than satisfied.

I’m not gonna lie – it’s not the best ride I’ve ever done but it was definitely worth it and I’d do it again! The main trouble with this MTB route is that there are some bits where you just have to get off your bike. Either the track is too rocky or too steep. However, there are two sweet rewards waiting for you if you decide to give the trail go:

  • the landscape is just stunning and I promise you’ll never forget the views around Llyn Cowlyd and Llyn Crafnant
  • the last 3 km long descend is a hiking track so get ready for lots of rocks, drops and puddles. Some parts are super technical but extremely rewarding at the same time. That’s what I call proper cross-country mountain biking!

Here’s a brief description of the ride so you know what to expect. The route starts in a little car park right in the middle of a cute town called Capel Curig. In the first 4 km you’ll be going through the Welsh farmland towards Tryfan, a peak known for its scrambling routes.

Eventually you’ll turn right, having to carry your bike up and down a little wooden ladder to get to A5. Depending on the weather the next bit might be quite muddy until you get to the path that goes along a little canal – The Leat. The next 1.5 km will be very easy, however, once you turn towards Llyn Cowlyd the fun is about start. Again, this is a hiking route so don’t feel ashamed if you have to push your bike every now and then. If you’re getting fed up with all the rocks and stones just remember that as soon as you reach the end of the lake you’ll spend the next 11km on the road.

After about 6km you’ll get to one of the most beautiful towns I’ve seen in Snowdonia, Trefriw. From there it’s just a short ride to stunning Llyn Crafnant. At the end of the lake you’ll reach another track that is probably too steep to ride but it’s just a short walk to the top with some amazing views of Llyn Crafnant’s valley behind you. Once you’re up you’re about to get the sweet reward I mentioned earlier – there’s a 3km long descend that takes you all the way down to your car. Ideally you have a full-suspension mountain bike but it should be easily doable also on a hard-tail. Just make sure you enjoy the last bit of the trail as much as you can!

The GPS route (in .gpx) can be dowloaded under the map by clinking on the “Donwload” button. I’ll be happy if you share your feedback on this route in the comments. Enjoy your ride!

Download file: MTB Llyn Cowlyd - Llyn Crafnant.gpx
Llyn Crafnant mtb
Carneddau moutains
path to Capel Curig
Welsh farmland
Carneddau with Tryfan in the background
Muddy mtb path in Snowdonia
path along Llyn Cowlyd
Forest road to Llyn Crafnant
Stunning Llyn Crafnant


  1. Pretty technical route, should offer some beautiful views on a clear day… All I can recommend is: avoid doing this on a rainy day after heavy downpours in the area… Takes the fun out of a lot of sections, and becomes a very testing challenge!

    1. Hey Fred, that’s a very good recommendation indeed! As far as I remember, this route wasn’t even easy on a sunny day!

      But since we’re mountain bikers it’s good to challenge ourselves from time to time like that. So many times I have hated myself for not staying at home on a rainy Sunday but at the end it’s (almost) always worth it… 🙂

      Btw. what’s your favourite MTB ride in Snowdonia?

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