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North Wales waterfalls you need to visit

Updated: Dec 27, 2021

I absolutely love a good waterfall, when I was growing up Aber Falls was always a family favourite. These days Aber Falls gets seriously busy, especially during the Summer season and let’s face it, stressing out about where to park and how early to get there is not on my ‘fun day out’ tick list.

So, if like me you LOVE a good waterfall walk here are a few suggestions for impressive North Wales waterfalls you can visit and enjoy with a young family, without feeling stressed about parking or getting there super early to avoid the crowds.


Pistyll Cain and Rhaeadr Mawddach – Dolgellau

Yr Afon trail near Dolgellau takes in the epic waterfalls of Pistyll Cain and Rhaeadr Mawddach, it is a stunning and easy walk from the main Coed Y Brenin car park or the Tyddyn Gwladys car park.

As you walk along the forestry road close to the river the first waterfall you see in the distance is the Rhaeadr Mawddach, though the trail leads you over to a pretty stone bridge where you first get a really good view of Pistyll Cain, Rhaeadr Mawddach is just a few hundred yards away and equally impressive.

This area was once home to Welsh gold exploration, even today you might see modern-day prospectors panning for gold, there’s also the remains of the old goldmine to explore, these are situated on a rocky bluff that sits between the flow of the Afon Gain and the Afon Mawddach. The trail is well marked and I’m confident that determined parents would be able to get around the loop if they have a good pram.

Rhaeadr Mawddach

Pistyll Cain

Parking at Coed-y-Brenin or Tyddyn Gwladys car park for a shorter walk.


Rhaeadr Ddu – Ganllwyd

Not far from Coed y Brenin and close to Dolgellau at Ganllwyd is Rhaeadr Ddu another easily accessible walk. It’s not pram friendly and I’d say it requires an element of nerve as the path is rather craggy and exposed in places.

When we visited on a February day it was raining hard. Our kids, 6 and 8 at the time were with us, this added an element of peril as the path is quite close to the falls in places.

On a dry, sunny day when the weather is calm and the river gentle, I wouldn’t have been concerned but on a wet day and with the river thundering just below I was pleased to get up beyond the falls and safely into the mossy woodland.

We’d love to get back there soon and explore some more by following yr Afon Gamlan upstream as there are more waterfalls and rapids to marvel at.

Parking just off the A470 at Ganllwyd, there is a small free car park opposite the village hall.


Rhaeadr Ddu – Maentwrog

We loved this walk, parking close to the hydropower station we walked up the single-track road until peeling away from the road and plunging down into an amazing gorge where we almost immediately came to the waterfall. Located in a wooded amphitheatre it was so quiet, we must have chilled there for about an hour before heading up the gorge towards the dam at Llyn Trawfynydd.

When I revisited the waterfall in July with my husband, I was shocked by the number of gorge walking groups and minibuses selfishly blocking the single-track road. When we got to the waterfall all was quiet – the only signs of life were another family and an alone instructor at the top of the falls waiting for his group to make their way down the gorge.

Park just off the A496 near the Maentwrog power station.


Rhaeadr Cynfal – Llan Ffestiniog

My final recommendation based on my recent waterfall adventures is Rhaeadr Cynfal. I was lucky enough to venture to this amazing place twice during 2020.

The first time I used a route from the National Trust which took in the old Victorian viewing area, Huw Llwyd’s Pulpit a sacred and mystical place and up to the slate bridge before heading back down the valley – a perfectly nice walk but not so much a waterfall walk, rather more like a river walk.

We managed to make it back to Llan Ffestiniog not long before the October lockdown to do the walk again, this time we met the farmer on the way down to the river, we had a chat and he recommended rather than turning right after the slate bridge that we turn left instead and head up to the large waterfall - this turned out to be brilliant advice the waterfall is amazing and the walk up and beyond is not to be missed. To top it off we walked back along the abandoned railway and over the viaduct – it was a spectacular walk that I cannot wait to do again.

Free car parking at Llan Ffestiniog square


Wales Trails is brought to you by me, Claire. I’m a native of Nant Ffancon in the lower reaches of the Ogwen Valley. I now live in Caernarfon with my husband and two children.

I started this blog so that I could share some of the more out-of-the-way locations, hidden gems that you wouldn’t necessarily come across if you happened to search online for ‘north wales walks’ or ‘snowdonia walks’

Wales Trails focuses on family walks but as the children get older and more confident, and I get more time to roam solo I’m sure this will evolve.

Don't forget to like, comment, share and subscribe. Thank you so much for visiting the site and don't forget, go outdoors, keep exploring and spread the love for outdoors, as there's no better place to be :-)

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