A Guide to the Penpych Waterfall and Mountain Circular Hike
A Guide to the Penpych Waterfall and Mountain Circular Hike

A Guide to the Penpych Waterfall and Mountain Circular Hike

Penpych waterfall (sometimes written as Pen Pych waterfall) is somewhat of a hidden gem in the Rhondda Fawr Valley of South Wales, tucked away in a beautiful spot overlooking the small town of Blaenrhondda.  

The waterfall is only one of the features of the Penpych mountain circular walk, which takes you from the valley floor at Blaenrhondda, up and along the top of the valley, and then back down to where you began via a circular route.

Penpych Mountain and its waterfall slip under the radar of most outdoor adventurers, who tend to flock to other, better-known waterfall hikes that this region of South Wales is known for.

Find out how to do this off-the-beaten-track-trail in my guide to the Penpych Mountain circular hike.

Table of contents

Penpych Mountain circular hike route

  • Distance: 6.5 km
  • Elevation gain: 226 m
  • Duration: 2 h – 2 h 30 m
  • Difficulty: intermediate

The hike starts and finishes at the Penpych Forest car park and the post-marked route contains sections of well-maintained, dirt and grassy trail. The route is only moderately challenging for the most part, although there are a couple of sections where the trail becomes steep and narrow, which some may find tiring.

Along with Penpych waterfall, other interesting features of the hike include the picturesque Pen Pych Mountain (actually a large hill) viewpoint serving up the best views of the rugged, beautiful landscape and a forest with tall, golden trees.

Penpych Forest car park to Penpych waterfall

So, starting at Penpych Forest car park, head through the metal gate and join the well-maintained trail.

The Penpych Mountain carpark and walk start point.

This is going to take you the majority of the way to the waterfall. Initially, the path zig zags before taking heading into the woods. It’s a gentle ascent from the start right until the end of the well-maintained path.

After roughly 10 minutes you’ll come to a point where the path splits. Stick to the right and continue uphill.

The Penpych mountain walk path splitting into two directions.

The well-maintained path comes to an end shortly after, when you arrive at the first waterfall of the day. This is a small, pretty waterfall that’s just down a small, steep section of muddy trail in a gorge to the side of the main trail.

A small waterfall on the Penypych mountain trail.

From here, the well-maintained path turns to dirt and becomes much narrower and steeper. This is the most challenging section of the hike and it will bring you up to Penpych waterfall after roughly 10 minutes.

Penpych waterfall framed between two trees.

Penpych waterfall

The waterfall is impressively powerful after a wet period and from the highest point, crashes 21 m onto large rocks below. It’s not possible to swim at Pen Pych waterfall nor touch the water. However, the trail brings you very close to the falls meaning you’ll get wet from the spray.

A stoney path leading to Penpych Waterfall.

Looking back down the valley, you’ll get your first taste of the amazing views that Penpych Mountain hike has in store. From here, you’ll see right down to the valley floor onto houses in the tiny village of Blaencwm.

Penpych waterfall to Penpych Mountain viewpoint

From the waterfall you’ll need to head right and uphill. At first you might not notice the trail, so don’t start heading back downhill. Here the route is again narrow and steep and will zig zag. Take a second to look back and you’ll get an impressive view of the waterfall and the scale of the surroundings. You’ll also see wind turbines above.

Penpych waterfall seen from higher ground. There are trees in the foreground.
Wind turbines above the Penpych mountain trail.

This section of steep dirt trail brings you to the top of the valley. As you reach the top, the path will once again split and, as before, you need to stay right. The trail now becomes flat and grassy.

The Penpych Mountain walk trail forking.

Shortly after, the grassy trail will split into three. Take the middle track and keep straight. The path will begin to bend left as it follows the contour of the valley. At this point, look right and you’ll see a couple of flag poles. These mark Penpych Mountain viewpoint. From here you get the best view of the day looking down the Rhondda Fawr Valley to the horizon.

The view from Penpych Mountain viewpoint. The valley's whole length is visible.

Viewpoint back to Blaenrhondda

Leaving the viewpoint behind, continue on the grassy trail. This section of the hike is easy and continues straight in the direction of the valley head. Shortly you’ll come to the remains of a wall and here the trail splits for a third time. Again, you’ll need to stay right, crossing the remains of the wall and heading downhill into the forest

A damaged stone wall on the Penpych Mountain walk trail.

The forest contains a range of trees and the tallest are covered in a golden/green hanging moss. The initial descent bends its way through the peaceful woods.

Penpych Mountain forest. A path runs between trees and there is a log on the floor.

After a few minutes you’ll come to a waterfall that, initially, you cannot see, but can hear hidden away in a narrow gorge. At this point, the trail splits again and becomes a gravel surface. Head downhill by sticking right and follow the trail until you again come to a split. This time you need to turn left.

The gravel road will bring you all the way down to Caroline Street at the top of Blaenrhondda.

Blaenrhondda to Penpych Forest car park

Head down Caroline Street and into Blaenrhondda town. You’ll need to stick to the same road and walk the entire length of the town. The road name changes from Caroline Street, to Brook Street and finally to Blaenrhondda Road.

At the end of Blaenrhondda Road, turn right to join Blaen-y-cwm Road. Walk along this road and shortly you’ll come to the turning for Penpych forest car park.

Parking for Pen Pych Mountain walk

Free parking is available at Pen Pych Forest car park for a small number of vehicles. This is also the start and finish point of this hike.

More adventure travel guides for Wales

So that’s how to visit Penpych waterfall and complete the Penpych mountain circular hike.

I’ve got plenty of detailed adventure travel guides for destinations in South and North Wales on the A World Over blog. Head there to find inspiration for your next adventure.

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