Birding · Commonly Backpacked · Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
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.
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.
Shared By: Zander Göpfert