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Cole (Cold) Mountain Loop

Intermediate
 4.3 (3) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A breathtaking loop with numerous viewpoints around the Cole Mountain summit between Hog Camp Gap and Cowcamp Gap.


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Map Key

6.2

Miles

10.0

KM

86%

Runnable

4,022' 1,226 m

High

3,101' 945 m

Low

1,169' 356 m

Up

1,164' 355 m

Down

7%

Avg Grade (4°)

29%

Max Grade (16°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Commonly Backpacked · Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Overview

This complete loop run links the sections of the AT and Old Hotel Trail between Floyds Mountain and Cole Mountain (frequently referred to as Cold Mountain) through the Mount Pleasant National Scenic Area of the George Washington National Forest. This loop can be done in either direction though clockwise (as shown) provides a better warmup before the sustained climb toward the saddle and summit of Cole Mountain.

Need to Know

Backpackers often connect Cole Mountain with Mount Pleasant using this loop and the Henry Lanum Trail #702 loop for a figure-eight run.

Description

From the parking area off Wiggins Spring Rd, find the Old Hotel Trail as it branches to the right (south) away from the road through the horse gate (see photo). Follow the blue blazes, as the trail winds through the woods crossing a couple drainages without too much elevation gain or loss. It generally follows the contours of the ridges on the southern slope of Cole Mountain.

After ~2.5 miles, you'll arrive at the low point of the run at the Little Cove Creek crossing, just under a mile from the first intersection and the righthand turn onto the white-blazed AT at Cowcamp Gap.

This section climbs moderately up wide switchbacks with intermittent viewpoints to break up the effort. After 1.5 miles, the trail will arrive at the treeless, "bald" saddle of Cole Mountain where the 360-degree views open up around the meadow and runners can bask in the rewarding views that rival any in the surrounding area.

As the trail ducks back into the woods, you'll enjoy a one-mile cool down as the trail descends, sometimes steeply, back to Wiggins Spring Road a hundred yards or so to the west of the parking area.

Contacts

Shared By:

Zander Göpfert

Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 3 votes

#2385

Overall
  4.3 from 3 votes
5 Star
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4 Star
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Recommended Route Rankings

#75

in Virginia

#2,385

Overall
319 Views Last Month
4,170 Since Dec 2, 2019
Intermediate

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Photos

Cold Mountain in December.
Jan 24, 2016 near Buena V…, VA
View north from summit of Cole Mountain on the Appalachian Trail, with summits as far away as Shenandoah National Park easily visible.
Feb 20, 2020 near Buena V…, VA
Hog Wall (from an abandoned farm) crosses the Old Hotel Trail.
Jan 29, 2017 near Buena V…, VA
Meadows on Cold Mountain in December.
Jan 24, 2016 near Buena V…, VA
Cow Camp Gap Shelter makes a great place to rest after a day of hiking.
Jan 29, 2017 near Buena V…, VA
The start of the Old Hotel Trail is located on Wiggings Spring Road near the Mt. Pleasant Parking Area.
Jan 29, 2017 near Buena V…, VA

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