Aber Falls – also known as Rhaeadr Fawr (“the big waterfall”) is one of the most impressive and picturesque waterfalls in Snowdonia. Nestled amidst the foothills of the Carneddau range within the Snowdonia National Park, the waterfall plunges 120ft (37m) from the clifftop above into a rocky pool before, before continuing down the river towards the village of Abergwyngregyn.
The waterfall truly is a sight to behold, surrounded by lush green woods and rolling views of the valley which are both dramatic yet beautiful. In addition to its stunning location, Aber Falls is also one of the most accessible waterfall hikes in Snowdonia and is a great option for those just starting their exploration of what Snowdonia has to offer.
To see Aber Falls at its most dramatic, I recommend visiting after a heavy dousing of rainfall if possible. Keep in mind that the waterfall attracts a large number of visitors and can get quite busy, particularly during the height of the summer, so it’s worth arriving early (before 10am if possible). We arrived about 9am and largely had the waterfall all to ourselves, which meant we could really take our time and enjoy the sights at our own leisure.
Parking & Getting to Aber Falls
Aber Falls is located about 30 minutes from Conwy or Bangor not far from the A55 so it makes it super easy and accessible to get to. There are 2 car parks available – the lower and the higher car park. We parked at the higher car park, which costs £5 (a bit pricey we thought!) but does mean you can crack on with starting your walk to the waterfalls straight away. The machine doesn’t take card, so make sure to bring change with you.
It’s worth noting also this isn’t the largest car park around – probably enough room for about 30 cars, so spaces do fill up very quickly. This is another reason I recommend getting to Aber Falls before 10am. We got back to the car just after 11am and passed a lot of people making their way to the waterfall and found the car park to be completely full.
This is an easy 4.2km out-and-back trail, and should take you about 1-1.5h to complete there and back. I’d allocate about 2 hours to comfortably enjoy the waterfall and to save rushing. A map isn’t really needed for this route, it’s well sign-posted and once you’re there it’s obvious where you need to go. That said, the route is marked on AllTrails if you prefer.
From the top car park the walk to the waterfall is pretty relaxed and straight forward, along a well maintained gravel pathway. Make sure to still wear sensible shoes though – particularly for once you get to the waterfall should you feel like exploring further or climbing over the rocks to get a closer view.
The trail is just one path, which takes you through the valley within the Coedydd Aber National Nature Reserve, where you’ll be surrounded by towering forests, alpine fauna and bushy ferns. The whole route follows a very steady and gradual incline and there are a number of picnic areas along the route, so you can stop off for a rest at your leisure and take in all the sights and scenery.
As you reach the top of the incline, you’ll see the waterfall appear a little further along in front of you. Even at this distance it looks impressive as you see it drape over the cliff face and cascade down to the rocks below. When you do reach the waterfall, there is plenty of space for you to sit down and enjoy the views. There’s also a small bridge you can cross to get to the other side of the river. Alternatively you can climb over the rocks at the bottom to get a closer to the look of the waterfall. This is particularly great if you’ve arrived early, as you’ll likely have the area to yourself and can get up close to the waterfall without worrying about ruining other people’s photos! Be mindful of your footing though as the rocks can be incredibly slippery.
Once you’re ready to head back, you can either follow the gravel path back the way you came or use an app such as AllTrails to turn the hike into a circular route for some variety.
Tips for the best experience
- Arrive early, particularly on weekends on during peak season
- Time your visit after a period of heavy rainfall if possible to see the waterfall at its most dramatic
- Bring change for the car park
- Wear sensible shoes
- Dogs are welcome, but keep on a lead due to roaming sheep and other wildlife in the area
- Bring waterproofs if you do fancy exploring the rocks at the bottom of the waterfall
- As you’re in the area, why not visit the local Aber Falls Whiskey & Gin Distillery?
I hope this walking route to Aber Falls Guide was helpful and hopefully inspired you to come visit this beautiful part of Snowdon. If you do take a trip down, or if you’ve been before, please share your experience in the comments below, I’d love to hear it!