The Rhinogydd are steep rocky mountains located to the east of Harlech; the Reserve lies at the centre of this mountain range. There are various paths across the Reserve, including two public rights of way and a network of unofficial routes leading to the summits and along skylines. It is also a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation.
The mountain slopes are a jumble of large angular rocks, enormous boulders and steep routes including steep sections and this is regarded as some of the most difficult terrain in Wales. The traditional footpaths, such as the Roman Steps, were probably originally medieval drovers’ routes.
The most popular access is via the narrow road inland from Llanbedr (south of Harlech) to the Cwm Bychan car park and from here walk along the Roman Steps for about 2.5 miles to the Reserve boundary; off the same road is Cwm Nantcol. The east side of the Reserve can be accessed at the Cwrt Forestry plantation off the A470 between Bronaber and the edge of the Coed y Brenin forest.