Strickler Knob - Massanutten MT
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Cold Mountain - Oronoco, Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
5.8 mls N/A
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
3.5 hours plus a half hour for lunch
1,490 ft
George Washington National Forest
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e.g.. 12000 Government Center Parkway 22035 or Fairfax VA
From VA634/Coffey Town Rd: Right onto gravel VA755/Wiggins Spring Rd. following the Mount Pleasant Sign, In 1.3 miles VA755 enters the GWNF and becomes FS48, In 1.4 miles from entering the GWNF park on the left where the AT crosses the road and small parking area. 37.75978, -79.19477

Can't make it to Scotland or Switzerland anytime soon to hike those spectacular high mountain meadows? Well right here in the Old Dominion we have the next best thing! Every hiker in the mid-Atlantic should hike Cold Mountain at least once. The 360° meadow views from the saddle are are some of the best on the east coast.

Cold Mountain is the sister circuit to the Mount Pleasant hike on the next ridge. If you are looking for a slightly longer hike, or a backpack, consider combining this hike with the Mount Pleasant route for a combined 11.3 mile figure eight circuit.

From the parking area continue down FS48 for 0.2 miles. Just before the road splits the Hotel Trail will be on the right marked by two posts with blue blazes. Head up the blue blazed trail for 0.1 miles arriving at a wooden horse gate (the trail on the left leads down to the Mount Pleasant parking area). Stay straight on the Hotel Trail passing through the horse gate. Descend slightly, then in 0.6 miles head back uphill climbing a spur of Cold Mountain.

Reach the spur ridge entering a clearing 0.4 miles from beginning your ascent. At the end of the clearing is one of the prettiest back country campsites in the Blue Ridge. Situated among a stand of mature oak, this site is suitable for multiple tents.

On the southwest side of the campsite, or on its right corner as you approached, the blue blazed trail descends the spur. Continue to follow the blue blazed trail, cross a small stream, then arrive at the crest of a second spur in 1.5 miles (there is an overgrown abandoned trail on the left here).

Continue downhill on the blue blazed trail into Cowcamp Gap, cross Little Cove Creek, then in 200 yards Cowcamp Gap Shelter is on your right. 100 yards to the right/southeast of the shelter in is a large campsite suitable for 4-6 tents, and 75 yards to the left/northwest of the shelter is a spring and the source of Little Cove Creek.

Continue up the blue blazed trail, on the opposite side of the creek than the shelter, and in 75 yards turn left on the Hotel Trail at the sign towards the Appalachian Trail (AT). (turning right and crossing Little Cove Creek at this point leads back to the spring and shelter. note: this side trail is also blue blazed)

Continue up the Hotel Trail for 0.5 miles to the intersection of the AT. Turn right/north on the white blazed AT and make two switchbacks, pass two view points, then arrive at the first open meadow and 4033ft summit of Cold Mountain in 1.2 miles. Continue, passing through a small stand of trees before reaching the the main Cold Mountain saddle, and largest of the high mountain meadows. The saddle provides a 360° panoramas with views of Pompey Mountain and Mount Pleasant.

After re-entering the forest at the end of the meadow, follow the white blazed AT as it winds its way downhill for the remaining 0.6 miles back to FS48 and hike parking area on the right.

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Hiker Reviews For The Cold Mountain Hike (5 Most Recent)
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By: Christina T. Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 05, 2014
What a wonderful hike, and we will definitely be back.

Re: Solitude. This was one of the first beautiful weekends, so we did see a group of hikers right at the start and some packs from a pair of hikers camping, but other than that, did not see anyone else until we got into the parking lot.

Re: Views. The views were spectacular! We will definitely be back for a sunset in the meadow after the end of a summer work day (if you start backward where the Appalachian Trail crosses the street, it's only .6 miles to the meadow).

Re: Difficulty. While there were some areas that were moderate to difficult, other areas were like a leisurely stroll in the park.

Between the campground, the shelter, the stream, and the views, there is so much to see on this hike!

By: C Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, January 20, 2014
Fantastic hike!  We were unable to drive the whole way to the trailhead due to lingering snow (4 wheel drive would make it).  The trail is well marked.  Very secluded, we didn't see any other hikers.  Unbeatable views with great campsites.

By: Heather Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 19, 2013
So fun. I am out of shape, to be honest. So I had to go slowly on the ups. It was foggy that day so I couldn't see the 360 view. Maybe next time. Overall a great hike.

By: Greg S. Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 04, 2013
Hiked this yesterday with my 10 month old son (in pack) and trusty hound dog Boone. We had a great time. The weather was perfect and the view from the top was well worth the hike. Comparable to the views from Grayson Highlands for sure. Found myself wanting to come back again to stay a night in one of the several campsites that I passed through.

By: Paul Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Scotland or Switzerland? Hmmmm... Great is always a pleasure to share the AT with such determined individuals...maybe I could be one of those in the future... By the way...only saw two campers at the blackberry bushes early on the Hotel Trail...otherwise complete solitude... I typically do not rate a hike if it is not worthy of five stars... this case...only 4? I admit the camping spots on the Hotel Trail were impressive (5)...blackberry bushes almost ripe (5)...enchanting forest...Appalachian Trail vistas...all worthy of five stars... Maybe it was the bugs...lots of bugs out on the high meadows in the saddle..this was the highlight of the hike...too many bugs...maybe I am picky...and maybe it was just humid...perhaps the fall would be better... Beautiful not misunderstand me...but as a summertime hike...make sure you bring your Deep Woods Off...

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