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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:
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3.5 hours plus a half hour for lunch
1,490 ft
George Washington National Forest
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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: Sara Beth Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, September 28, 2017
This hike is fantastic. Very easy. You wouldn't have any trouble with a weighted pack, kids, or dog. The saddle is worth every second. It's breathtaking. I spent about two hours in it with my chocolate lab. Today was super foggy, so it wasn't too much for views. But the meadow is something out of a storybook. Be warned, take it slow on the road up to the trailhead. Even in a four-wheel-drive vehicle, it's extremely rough. In my low set 2 Wheel Dr. car, there are point where you're not quite sure if you're going to make it. But you will. Don't be deterred. Just drive slow. :)

By: Victoria Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 16, 2017
My boyfriend and I hiked this and it was awesome. We passed maybe 5 other couples and 2 families the entire 4.5 hours we were out there. The trail is very well marked and it didn't get boring. We went "off the beaten path" a couple of times too that was exciting! We already plan to return because setting up camp here would be a great idea. We passed several tents at the camp ground along the way and were jealous that we weren't prepared. When you get to the top where the meadow is, it becomes so rewarding. Growing up in the south where mountains don't exist, seeing that view was incredible. This was the prefect hike for a Saturday afternoon. Looking forward to going during the fall when the leaves start turning!

By: Nick Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 06, 2017
I've hiked quite a few places in VA, but the near 360 view from this mountain is like no other. The hike is very manageable, almost easy. The meadows are great for pictures. Highly recommend this hike.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 11, 2017
What a great hike! Not too long, not too hard, incredible views from the summit, it was great. We hiked it as described in this guide on a cold but beautiful March day. Always looking for hikes to take visitors on and this will be on that list. A bit of fire damage along the way, but I suspect that is going to really accelerate growth this next year. Perfect place to take a picnic on a nice day if you hike in on the AT. The 0.6 hike to the summit will get their blood flowing and make them appreciate the incredible views. The only possible negative about this one is the access road is a little rough, but not so much you can't get a car up to the parking lot. Just be careful and go a little slower.

By: Jeff S. Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 29, 2016
We did this hike combined with Mount Pleasant, making it an overnighter.  We parked at the Mt. Pleasant trailhead and did that loop with only day packs.  We got back to the car, grabbed our full packs, and took the Hotel Trail shortcut over to the Cold Mountain loop (it is easily spotted from the parking area).  We did the loop clockwise to save the meadows for last.  The first meadow campsite mentioned in the hike info is awesome.  Big enough for a festival! Only about 1.5 miles from the parking area and would make for a nice family camping trip.  We camped around Cowcamp Gap Shelter because of the water source.  We broke camp the next morning and hiked on up to the meadows.  They were beautiful, and so were the views!  Be sure and spend some significant time up there to relax and soak it all in.  We wrapped up our time there and hiked back down to the cars, having to walk on the road for the last .3 miles or so.  This is a great hike and isn't too tough.  Like others have said, you could just park at Hog Camp Gap and take the AT for a short hike up to the meadows. 

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