Gain Waterfall Trail at Coed y Brenin


Diverse forest walk with waterfalls

If you savour a walk that features a little bit of everything, the Gain Waterfall Trail at Coed y Brenin Forest Park would be a great choice, whatever the weather. Beginning from the Coed y Brenin Visitor Centre, this fabulous hike takes you through beautiful forest and open countryside to a striking valley and back. You will see pretty rivers, amazing waterfalls and a wonderful variety of flora along the way. The route is described as strenuous by Natural Resources Wales who operate the park. But don’t let that put you off. There is a relatively strenuous section on the return to the visitor centre but this portion of the trail is short and the rest of the hike isn’t particularly challenging. There are several gorgeous spots to stop for a rest or a picnic and plenty to keep you interested throughout.

If you are not familiar with the park, the best news about the Gain Waterfall Trail is the excellent signage and waymarking. You can’t get lost on the 7km route and there’s a nice cafe, not to mention a seat with a view, waiting for you when you have completed your journey. Better still, this is a circular walk and so there’s something new to see around every corner.

Duration: 2.5 hours but it’s worth lingering at the waterfalls.

Terrain: Woodland paths, rocky paths and forest tracks with some steep sections

Coed y brenin river Eden

From the Visitor Centre

The Gain Waterfall Trail begins above the car park adjacent to the display of mining equipment. The trail head features wooden sculptures which are pictured here.  Simply follow the red and white waymarkers to remain on track. The first portion of the walk takes you through beautiful forest and is uphill but not particularly strenuous. You switch between woodland paths and forest roads until you arrive at a more open area with wonderful views of the mountains. There are benches and picnic tables long the route if you fancy a break. Unlike many trails in North Wales, this one is properly waymarked and that is just as well because there are points at which it would be easy to get lost were it not for the red signs.

The trail continues on the forest road until it begins to head downwards towards the picturesque River Eden which is a great place to stop for lunch. There’s a stone bridge over the river and just before this, a path leading down to the water.

Gain Waterfall trail
Coed Y Brenin Waterfall

The waterfall

This is a walk which delivers dramatic changes of scenery. The forest and open areas are stunning but don’t forego spending a little time on the river bank. The Eden tumbles its way down the valley and under the bridge before reaching the impressive Gain Waterfall, creating the prettiest of locations for a break. The stone bridge is an amazing site and excellent photo opportunity (see below). You are now roughly half way through your journey.

After spending a few minutes on the river bank, return to the trail which soon begins to head downwards via a rocky path with loose stones which is a little harsh under foot. You will emerge onto another forest road with the River Mawddach in front of you. Turn right and follow the road to the magnificent Gain Waterfall. If you would like to get a better view of the cascade, there’s a small but precarious path to the right which takes you closer to the falls.

Returning to the visitor centre

After viewing the falls, continue down the forest road until you spot the red waymarker directing you to the right and through the trees. You now face a relatively steep climb out of the valley but this doesn’t take too long to negotiate. It’s then downhill most of the way back to the visitor centre. The return route is largely through forest and via relatively even paths. The Gain Waterfall Trail is a circular route but there is a small section at the end of your walk where you will be retracing your steps.

Natural Resources Wales characterise this walk as strenuous but in truth, it is only moderately challenging. The climb out of the Mawddach Valley is quite steep but you can take a few breaks on the way up. As the trail offers such diversity of terrain and so many points of interest, it’s an excellent choice if you haven’t visited Coed y Brenin before. It is also excellent for dogs as there is no livestock in the park but the route does cross mountain bike trails at several points, so it is advisable to keep dogs close to hand.

Gain waterfall trail at Coed y Brenin


From the Woollen Mill, head for the A487 and travel south towards Porthmadog. After passing Porthmadog, you will drive under a metal bridge and then arrive at a roundabout. Turn left at the roundabout towards Penryhndeudraeth (A487). Keep on this road which becomes the A470. You will eventually see the sign for the Coed Y Brenin visitor centre. Turn left and drive to the visitor centre car park. This car park feature number plate recognition. Pay for your parking at the machine next to the visitor centre shop when you are ready to leave.