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Hiker Comments for the Cold Mountain Hike - 1 to 88 of 88   
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By: Naturefunhunt Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, October 14, 2019
Beautiful day! Loved this hike with my furry friend. Saw a few people on the trail, but it was a Monday. Really pretty views along the way and a nice workout. I have done Mt. Pleasant before and this one is now on my go-to list for great views!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 21, 2019
Great hike with an easy to follow trail marker. Spectacular views and secluded without being creepy. Loved it. And easy to do - was my first hike in a while.

By: Chris Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 27, 2019
Great hike, trail well marked. I combined this with Mount Pleasant and camped at the meadow before the AT shelter. Make sure you pack all the water you'll need. The previous commenter who mentioned the drive to the parking area is 100% correct. Take a route from the west into the parking area. I accidentally took the eastern route out and it took FOREVER on a dirt road with deep trenches and no clearance.

By: Lea Ann Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 27, 2019
Traveled via 29south from Charlottesville. If GPS tries to take you across back roads between 29 and 60, don't do it. There is a major bridge out until projected November 2019 on route 718 or 788. The detour takes you all the way back to 29 to where it intersects with 60. Other than that the drive was fine to Hog Camp Gap parking via Wiggins Springs and FS 48 in a Chevy Malibu. No issues if you pay attention and drive around rocks/holes. Car camped there. It was absolutely stunning. Huge area so even though a holiday and the AT passes right through it, we felt alone at our campsite. The hike was as described here. Great views, lots of pretty streams, enough variety of up, down, and level time get a good workout without needing many rest breaks. Enjoy!!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 29, 2018
My teenage and tweenage daughters and I are new to this. We did this hike overnight and thoroughly enjoyed it. The directions here are spot on. I intended to do the loop clockwise, starting with the blue trail, but we went counterclockwise. That was quite a hike with backpacks for people who aren't used to backpacking. We slept in hammocks at the clearing in the middle of the blue trail. Several groups were there and everyone had a good time. This was our first time with hammocks. It went well, but they were colder than I expected. I was bundled in a sleeping bag that has kept me toasty warm in the low 30s, but I was chilly in the low 50s. I was glad we got there early (just before 9 a.m.) and did the hike up the mountain first- we were able to look out over the valley before the fog in the low areas burned off. It was very pretty. The girls- 14 and 12 - really enjoyed it.

I wish I had...

brought more water (we had two reusable liter bottles per person and a gallon jug. We used it all and boiled some spring water).
brought the dog (lots of dogs on the trail)
brought something additional to wrap around the hammocks.

I worried unnecessarily about...

getting lost
getting too worn out
the girls being scared in the middle of nowhere with nobody around (lots of people around. Somewhere around 20 within a few hundred yards of where we camped.)

glad I brought...

a small stove and pot to boil water for freeze-dried meals (fire making is tricky with damp wood).
plastic measuring cups. It seems the right amount of water (and adding 5 minutes to the rehydration directions) makes a big difference in those meals. Toilet paper, hand sanitizer and a small folding shovel.

By: Ian M. Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 8, 2018
Easily one of my favorite hikes in GW National Forest. 10/10 would recommend doing both loops, but FYI “Cold Mountain” is actually named Cole Mountain as you’ll see it referenced on the map/information board at the trailhead parking area. Either way, when combined with Mt. Pleasant, it made for one of the most enjoyable 2-day hikes I’ve done in the blue ridge mountains.

By: Summit bumz Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, January 1, 2018
We have a tradition of New years hikes and this one was no let down. We made a out and back which is very easy to put together in this area if you can navigate maps. We arrived at salt log gap and hiked the AT SoBo to Tar jacket ridge. Temperature was 10 degrees F. Winds were low but clouds blocked the sun. We descended down to hog camp gap parking and onto the hotel trail to the camping spot as mentioned above. It is in very nicely groomed condition. Leave no trace was in full effect so thank to those before. We had things setup before sunset and it had hit 6 F by sunset. We did not come out of our 0 degree bag all night once setup. My thermometer wouldn't work but my phone had signal and it read -5 in Amherst at 6am so maybe -8 up at camp. It took awhile to get moving in the morning but we backtracked to the car on the AT NoBo.

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 6, 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. 

By: Kyle B Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 5, 2016
Some of the best views in Virginia! This is a great short hike or trail run and can even be shortened to a 1.2 miles out and back by heading out on the AT instead of the blue blaze and turning around at the meadows. If trail running, you can combine this with the start of the Mt Pleasant hike for a few extra flat miles. The road up is a bit rough at times but can be easily made with a 2 wheel drive low clearance car. The trail was overgrown in areas, so I would recommend long pants or expect some irritation from the grass/plants. It would make one of the best picnic spots too. Enjoy! Highly recommended if you're in the area

By: Wes Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 16, 2016
Love this hike, this area is beautiful! My friend and I hiked this in mid April, it was a bit chilly in the mornings and nights but was gorgeous weather during the day. Some of the uphills can get a little strenuous if you have a lot of gear, but all in all this is a beautiful hike. The open meadows and views you get from the saddle are worth the effort! There were a lot of day hikers that skipped the loop and just walked in to the meadows, but the overall experience of camping in the first clearing was well worth the effort. Not a lot of water to be found so bring lots/a filter for the stream you will pass before the shelter.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 8, 2016
This hike was OUTSTANDING!! We've completed over 50 hikes in our local area and this is easily one of our top 5. It had everything....tall pine forests, stream crossings, rock outcroppings, open meadows, 360 degree views, and for all of our fellow lady hikers, an outhouse at the shelter location (guys will never understand how happy it makes a girl feel to find an outhouse in the middle of the woods). I think it should be noted that for people who'd like to see the spectacular summit but don't quite feel up to the challenge of a 6 mile loop (my gps read 6.3 miles total), there's always the option of starting the trail from the trailhead right across the road from where you park (next to the metal gate) and hiking approximately half a mile up the trail to the summit and back to your car for an easy ~1 mile out and back with a HUGE reward. Happy trails :) 

By: Doug T Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, March 30, 2016
My wife and I did this hike as a mid week overnight get away during her Spring Break from teaching. We started out in the late afternoon and camped in the meadow with the noted great camping spots. This was indeed the case. Another group of three (man and his two sons) also camped in the meadow and used one of the other areas. We woke up to fog, wind and drizzle which stayed with us all of the way back out to our car. We are going to return and repeat the hike in order to see the large meadow and the views from the overlooks. The fog was thick enough that we could only see about 25-50 yards all of the way out. This is a very enjoyable hike which we plan to visit again.

By: PetiteParadox Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 5, 2015
We did this hike as a combination with Mount Pleasant. Parked at the AT parking lot, then walked down the road to the Mount Pleasant trailhead and the Cold Mountain start is just off of the parking lot. It's a nice easy start, with a short steep uphill, but nothing overtaxing. We did the entire route with our daypacks and then went back to the parking lot, got our overnight packs and walked back 1 mile to the meadows camp ground. It was Labor Day weekend and very crowded, at least 4 other parties in the meadow, not all of whom were camp savvy. The hike itself is relatively easy, a nice starter hike for inexperienced. For experienced backpackers, it would be a touch boring. Pretty, with nice views, but not awe-inspiring (of course, I just got back from Canyonlands, so I might be biased :) Although the meadow site is described as one of the most beautiful camp sites, we belatedly found out that the three camp sites at the top of Mount Pleasant are cozy and even more charming. If you don't mind the wind, they are ideal for a more private camping experience. We ran into two people coming down from Mount Pleasant as we were getting back from Cold Mountain and they said they had the top to themselves. Jealous!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 29, 2015
Help! We lost a cell phone on the trail Saturday. Email me if you found it and we will arrange to pay for shipping.

By: A 911 Dispatcher Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 29, 2015
After hiking Spy Rock the day before I was wary of tackling another new hike the next day but I cannot complain one bit. This is definitely a favorite hike of mine thanks to the fantastic panoramic views and the various types of forest growth along the loop. On top of those were a couple gems of overlooks into the west where the sun was lowering beautifully toward the valley. I plan one day to return up here to do an overnight backpack with how wonderful it was!

By: Shawn R. Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, August 13, 2015
I'll start off by saying that this is a fairly easy hike.  We finished in just over 3.5 hours with several lengthy breaks to take in the incredible views.  The views definitely deserve the 5 star rating that they were given.  You are surrounded by great views while walking through the meadows on the summit.  There are also a couple of outlooks earlier in the hike.  We saw about seven areas of bear scat throughout the hike, but never saw any bears.  We did see a hawk (and some smaller birds), a toad, and countless butterflies and bees.  Also, on the way out we ran into a Timber Rattlesnake and a White-tailed deer.  The solitude was great, as we only encountered three other hikers (one of whom was hiking the entire AT for the second time).  Another really cool part of the hike was the cabin (Cowcamp Gap Shelter) which had a notebook and pen for people to write down a few notes.  This was really interesting! If anyone is interested in camping, there were many camping areas throughout the hike.  This was a great hike and I highly recommend it for just about anyone!

By: Vindemiatrix Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 24, 2015
I decided to the hike loop in reverse, since I had a late start and wanted to make sure I see the meadows on the AT.  Those are the best rewards of the hike for those of us who enjoy views. This loop is one of the best hikes I've done in Virginia for sure, I highly recommend it.  I would say when dry and as of the date of my hike, the road to the trail head is doable for a sedan, but a few spots are rougher, and I parked a mile down the road (Wiggins Spring Rd.) and walked up to the AT intersection where the hike starts.  The GPS files are very useful and make it easier to follow the hike and not get lost. Thank you for providing them.  The path is well maintained and well marked - white blazed on the AT and blue blazes on the rest. It has a great variety of scenery - meadows with and without views, hardwood forest, and pine stands. Keep in mind that Cowgap shelter is on the other side of the stream from the hike itself. In terms of wildlife, all I saw was a couple of huge deer (or buck?).  IMPORTANT!!! Do not trust a driving GPS to give you proper directions on these back roads after you punch in just coordinates as I did. My GPS sent me on a non-existent road and I lost 40 minutes trying to find my way. Follow step by step instructions. 

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 22, 2015
Absolutely loved this hike. It was a beautiful, cool day and the views were spectacular. I did the Old Hotel Trail to the AT and saw several thru hikers. If you haven't done this hike, you should put it on your bucket list -- but save it for a beautiful sunny day. The only drawback is the Forest Road leading up to the trail head -- it's pretty rough and I wouldn't want to try it without an SUV/4 wheel drive.

By: Joe Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 18, 2015
Did the 5.8 mile Cold Mtn/Hotel loop walk with my 70-yr young parents. We mozied the loop in just under 3.5 hours. Sunny and upper 70s and hazy. Enjoyed the meadows and wildflowers, especially dutchman's britches and bloodroot. Plenty of fellow travelers on the trail, all friendly. The Cow Camp shelter was occupied and several tents nearby. We filled our water bottles where the spring comes out of the mountain--tasted great and no gut trouble yet. The lovelyclearingcamp on Hotel Trail was also busy, but large enough not to feel crowded. Road access wasn't as bad as some made it sound. All rocks are completely avoidable. Gnats were a little annoying, but not intolerable if you keep moving, esp. up on top in the breeze. Hope to do it again in fall. Mountain laurel should be lovely in June too.

By: PK Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, April 17, 2015
This was a wonderful hike... nice gradual elevation gain with beautiful views at the top as your reward. Like others have noted, the meadow at the top makes you want to spin in circles singing "the hills are alive!". We went on a weekday and it wasn't too crowded but I can imagine that it would be rather busy on a weekend.

By: Kate W Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 7, 2014
BEES! BEES! DO NOT HIKE THIS SEPTEMBER IF ALLERGIC...WE hiked Cold Mountain the day after Mt Pleasant. The trail winding up is completely different than Mt Pleasant even though the parking area is the same. It was unique in it's own right. We passed one section of pine trees on either side that felt like a different world. It was peaceful and quiet. I am curious where the old stone fence goes or when it was built. WE did not pass a soul going up to Cold Mountain. However, we met two different couples at the top. They had walked up the AT from parking area and back down. This only gave them a 1.2 mile hike, so if you just want to see the view after hiking Mt Pleasant, it would be a shorter route. On top is like another country. I see why someone said they began to sing sound of music and why they say it is like Switzerland. I have never been in a wide open meadow on top of a mountain. You can see Cold Mountain from the summit of Mt Pleasant and we had thought the day before, how do we get there. HIKERS BEWARE. Once you turn onto the AT from the Hotel Trail, you will begin to see the ground filled with holes. These are YELLOW JACKET NESTS!!! A previous hiker even posted a note from the week before about being attacked. Of course we hiked anyway as we had already started. We were attacked twice on the way up to the summit and once on the way down the AT to our car. I got four stings and my boyfriend was stung three times. If you are allergic to bees, avoid this hike in September.

By: Jenn Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 2, 2014
A group of us, including 5 adults and 1 eight year old, cheated and just did the AT portion of the trail, straight to the summit. It was a bit dreary that day, yet we still held out hope we would get good views from the top.

After the short hike (about a half mile), we were sad to see there would be no breathtaking views that day. The summit was completely shrouded in fog and we could barely see each other standing 20 yards apart. Even without the view, my eight year old son was amazed at the fact that we were standing inside of a cloud. Also, just the walk up was a beautiful patch of forest with lots of pretty flowers and interesting mushrooms (bright orange, like construction signs).

I've seen others say the drive is treacherous, but we were able to make it in a minivan with little difficulty, excluding the teasing that I was getting us lost as soon as the road turned to dirt. Back down in the van was worse, as the trailer hitch hit a few big rocks pretty hard even at a crawl.

We will definitely be returning before the summer is done and next time we will try the entire loop without my son. I'll just make sure to check the weather before setting off again! :)

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 26, 2014
Did Cold Mountain on Saturday, 7/26/14. This is one of the best hikes I have done all summer in Virginia. If you follow the route per this site, the first 2 miles plus are pretty boring, relatively flat and winding through some camping areas. The next 2 miles up to the top and through the incredible open meadow is truly spectacular. The top looks just like Hyrule Field from The Legend of Zelda! I spent over an hour at the top taking in the 360 degree views, taking photos and video. This is one of the top 5 most beautiful places I have ever been in my life! The last stint across the mountain top and back down the AT to the parking area is very pleasant, easy, and relaxing. If you are tight on time I'd recommend heading the opposite direction from the parking area up the AT to the open meadow at the top, as it is much shorter than the boring trek through the camping areas.

I only saw 5 other hikers there on that perfect mild Saturday afternoon, so expect solitude on this outstanding hike. The parking area is free, but road access is an extremely long and hard drive even with a 4-wheel drive truck. This hike is so remote and driving access is such a pain that it really will make repeated visits difficult. Nonetheless I highly recommend the Cold Mountain hike over its "sister" hike Mount Pleasant. Expect to spend at least 4 hours (not including the long drive) if you want to take in the amazing meadow views at the top.


By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 1, 2014
Five of us hiked Cold Mountain and had a blast.

We were able to find parking at Hog Camp Gap. There were several cars parked further down on the road but there appeared to be enough room for cars to get past. The Road up to the Gap (Wiggins Spring Gap from route 60) was passable, but definitely meant for slow driving. I imagine this road is horrible when the weather is bad.

Hiked up Hotel Trail and found a massive clearing full of mature oaks. My hiking partners were staying overnight so planned to camp in this spot. We continued on the blue blaze for awhile longer and took a detour up to Bald Knob. This detour added another two miles or so to the trip but the walk was pleasant. The views on top of Bald Knob were not real clear, but maybe it's good in February.

Continued back to Cold Mountain and had a spectacular view on top. One of our hiking partners (the elder statesman of the group) sang songs from Sound of Music.

Overall we enjoyed this hike immensely. The views were great, the trails were well marked and the terrain was not that difficult. We also did not see many people on the trail. I look forward to coming back to hike Mount Pleasant.

Hiked a total of eight miles, saw one bunny and heard something slithering in the brush.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, June 1, 2014
This is a Blue Ridge favorite. Parking was easy. You will want car/truck with some clearance. We overnighted in that beautiful clearing on the Hotel trail. Good water as you start the trail and at Cow Gap Shelter. Once we hit the AT, we went South to bag Bald Knob. It added 2 miles but no good views. Backtracked north on AT to Cold Mt on a clear day and enjoyed the high meadow. We finished the loop, dropped off some day hikers, then headed back up Hotel a Trail to the camp. 7 miles that way total and 9 miles when you add Old Bald. Trail is well marked with some ups and downs. Enjoy!

By: Heather Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, May 26, 2014
My husband and I did this as the second day/night of a three day backpacking loop with Mount Pleasant this weekend. Our car couldn't make it up the gravel road, the ruts in the road were very deep and our car has a low clearance. We ended up parking about 0.5 miles from the AT crossing/ first parking area and walking. We started this loop at the Hotel Trail, which was lovely and not too difficult. The meadow on the hotel trail is beautiful and would be a great campsite for multiple campers. We continued up the shelter and camped at the tent sites there. The hike on the third day was strenuous but not too bad, worth the views! The Cold Mountain meadow was beautiful and we saw several thru hikers and day hikers. Overall a great hike, clear blazes, nice trails, cool shelter to stay at and great views.

By: Craig S. Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, May 23, 2014
We made this into a 2.5 day hike and I am glad we did. I'm out of shape - so it was a little tough for me...but it was definitely worth it! The sights are amazing.

We camped about a half mile in on Friday night then walked about another mile and a half on Saturday and camped in a beautiful clearing with a lot of shade.

We got up around 8 am on Sunday with the intention of camping on the summit of the mountain. However, we got to the summit just after noon and were only about a mile or so from our cars so we hiked on.

Overall great trip!

By: Christina T. Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 5, 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 4, 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...

By: Cindy Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, July 8, 2013
My husband and I did this hike on a Monday while we were staying at Smith Mountain Lake.  What a great hike!  We went exactly as written above.  It was a nice length.  The beginning is just kind of a walk through the woods but you do go past some beautiful spots.  It was fun to stop at the hut along the way and read what hikers that had stopped on their AT hikes had to say.  But when we came to  the meadows it took my breath away.  An absolutely beautiful spot!  I will want to go back to this one again.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 20, 2013
This is a great hikes. The views from the meadows are fantastic. One cautionary note--"Cold Mountain" is aptly named. The winds when you are crossing the meadows on top are brutal, and make it seem way colder. Come prepared for cold is you aren't doing this hike in the summer.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 2, 2013
Great moderate hike, easy to follow with the notes above, and is all about the views. Only saw 2 other groups of hikers the whole time so it’s nice for some solitude. Saw snow fall during the hike up, which was picturesque through the pines in the early portion of the trail. The views are still incredible with so much of the forest barren. Think we would have missed some of those in the spring/summer. At the top was freezing with the wind, but as others have mentioned provided stunning views. Also, it mentions no streams in the ratings but we did cross over a couple of creeks. Definitely a loop I would consider again and maybe starting in the opposite direction.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, December 7, 2012
My son Aaron, his friend Miranda and I hiked the Hotel Trail/AT Loop today. This is the longest hike I've been on since breaking my leg on July 4th. Though it was a bit chilly to start, it was a great day for hiking. Not much Sun and we were walking in the clouds. The initial hike down the Hotel Trail was very easy and especially nice through the pine forest. The camping spot is sweet. The terrain of this hike varies greatly and has nice views. We've been to the Cow Camp Shelter previously a good spot for a snack break. The AT portion is a bit more strenuous but it's a good workout. Summiting Cold Mountain is awesome. Though our views to the East were limited by low clouds, it was still spectacular. Overall, I highly recommend it.

By: Hokie Hiker Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 30, 2012
This was our second hike of the day- the first being 40 miles north where we did Humpback Rocks off the Parkway.

This was an incredibly enjoyable hike- and like most people we enjoyed the ease of the ascents- and the changes in scenery on the hike- so I won't elaborate too much on that.  But I just wanted to add that, hiking the trail as HU outlines- about 1/4-1/2 mile in you go through what seems like should be a haunted forest- dense pines with all the under branches dead- but it's an incredibly neat feeling. 

The second thing I wanted to add- that we loved- is that maybe 1/4 mile after exiting that pine area, there was an apple tree on the trail.  It was a welcome surprise and very enjoyable... but most of the remaining apples were high out of reach- good luck if you can get one.

By: Jonny E Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 9, 2012
Parked at Long Mountain Wayside on US60 - linked the Cold Mountain loop to Bald Knob. The initial climb up the knob is quite strenuous (~2000 ft elev. gain in 3 mi), but peaceful. Slightly disconcerting start (for a solo hiker): sign posted to a tree saying that the FBI is looking for clues about a homicide at the AT shelter at Cow Camp Gap. Nonetheless, I met only friendly hikers and plenty of sunshine along the way. The views are enjoyable, but not spectacular. The apple trees are loaded--surprised the bears and other wildlife haven't been snacking! Saw some wild turkeys milling about on the return trip, and the birds were singing, but not lucky enough to see much else today. All in all, a pleasant walk in the woods. 3.5 stars.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Largely non-strenuous hike that had some real changes in landscape and terrific views. The meadows area on the AT was beautiful. We hiked on a day where separate thunderstorms built early and walked with rumbling from different directions for about an hour and a half. We had hard cold rain hitting canopy and them coming down on us for about a half hour of that time.

About a mile into the hike (before the storms), we had a rattlesnake across the trail in a section where there was scrub to the right. This was about 1:00 p.m. on a warm day. His head was in the scrub, and his tail out on the trail. I made some noise, which seemed to have no effect on getting him to move, but did get him rattling. We had to wait about 15 minutes to give him time to move along. We saw another snake about 5 minutes further on (non-venomous), and a box turtle in the meadow along the AT. Altogether, this was a very memorable 3 hour dayhike.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Did the hike today with a friend. Weather looked like it was going to rain, but held off except for a light drizzle making it fairly ideal weather. Maybe a tad bit cold for June, but I'll take that over blazing heat any day and it was appropriate seeing as it is "cold mountain":) I have done the Mount Pleasant sister trail before, I will say I liked that one a bit better.

We followed the suggested route on hiking upward. It wasn't a very strenuous hike, while you did gain some elevation it was spread out with a lot of ups and downs to give you a break. The woods were pretty, but there was a lot of them with no good views until you hit the white blazed AT. There was some pretty flora along the way as well that was nice to look at.The camping spots looked nice if you were going to camp and there weren't many people there. We saw two ladies that were going camping and then one teenage boy and that was it for the whole 6 miles.

Once we got to the meadows it was really pretty, the clouds were rolling in which limited how far we could see but there were points it was like walking through the cloud. Pretty cool. Then farther down it cleared up enough to get a pretty nice view from the saddle. There was a nice rock there we perched up on for lunch before heading down. We finished the trail in just over 3 hours, but we kept up a good pace and didn't stop really until we got to the rock for lunch.

This is a hike suitable for most people, it isn't difficult and should be fine for children imo. The meadows is definitely the best part view wise. I would recommend this hike to those who prefer more solitude and those looking for an easy leisure hike. It was definitely pretty at the saddle, but not very exciting or challenging during the blue line of the trail so I gave it 3 stars.

By: ATornrose Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 19, 2012

I hiked this with three other 20somethings for a girlfriend's birthday. We decided on this hike by the number of stars it earned from other hikers- completely accurate! The first half was moderate with a steep downward as we hiked down between mountains which met at the bottom with a chilly creek to cross. We met some nice folks who showed us the topo map when we realized we were about to encounter the uphill. It was definitely worth it. Everytime we thought we'd reached the top, the trail would bring us to another more beautiful overlook. Maybe a little tough for young kids- unless you have a backpack!

By: James Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, March 26, 2012
Great Hike, I did The Mount Pleasant hike with a buddy of mine last year. Absolutely breath taking view of the parkway and a complete 360 view for a solid 1/2 mile at the summit. Pretty easy hike but Im an avid hiker so it could be rough for some. Definitely do it, reminds me of a Ronan/ Scottish feel too it. Im definitely gonna come back when everything is in full bloom. Worth every step, happy trails.

By: Brandon Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, February 26, 2012
Myself and a few of my friends hiked this mountain yesterday. It was a very brisk 35-45 degrees with quite a bit of wind at the summit. This is a very well marked trail, and while there are a few 'forks in the road', the guide on this site will help you navigate with ease should you get confused on which direction to go. It wasn't too difficult, there were some portions that were a bit steep but nothing we couldn't handle. I'd say this is a very good hike, for the experienced or the casual, and the views at the top make are fantastic.

The summit is very unique, with the rolling, open hills and 360-degree views all around without being obstructed by trees. It was very nice. We will definitely be coming back when we are more prepared photographically, and plan on doing the cold mountain/mount pleasant hike together while camping at the camp site.

The road to the parking area can be a little rough as the last few miles is gravel and then switching to straight dirt. Buena Vista is a cozy little town as well, and we enjoyed some margaritas after we finished in the evening.

Overall, great hike!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, November 20, 2011
I am a seasoned backpacker. I go about 30 miles a week, and am attempting to hike every peak I can find in va this was an awesome hike, with meadows, overlooks, dense pine forests, historic stone walls, huge trees. This hike was very easy if you hike often. This is a must do for anyone who lives in the area!

By: Eebee4 Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 29, 2011
Wonderful. Overnighted at Hotel site in season's first snow. Can't describe the beauty of the ice frozen to the trees and ground cover. Amazing views and varied terrain. As good if not better than the Pleasant Mtn hike. Highly recommend.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Since this is the 2nd hike I've taken from reading HU, I thought I would give a review.

Getting to the trail: If you're coming from the Lynchburg area, the safest way would be US29 to US60. But we took the scenic route up US501 and the BRP. The unpaved forest road (FS48) is very rocky and bumpy. My front-wheel drive car made it, but the drive was very cautious and slow as to not bash the oil pan on a rock. A vehicle with higher ground clearance like an SUV or Truck would be recommended. For parking, there was plenty when I was there, but you could go park at the Mount Pleasant trailhead if you needed to, since the Hotel trail goes within sight of it.

Route: I did the clockwise loop, as suggested, and that is definitely the way to go. There are some undulations and some steep sections so it's not the easiest, but good for working the legs. The section on the AT was a gradual up and down. I ate lunch just past the USGS marker on a rocky section to the right protected from the wind.

While the weather was a nice 75F and clear east of the Blue Ridge and the foliage is in peak color along the lower elevations, the leaves had all fallen off the trees at 3300-4000 feet where this hike takes place. And the temperatures were 15F cooler. I would suggest doing this hike in late September / early October for more leaves and more colorful foliage.

As the trip guide mentions, it took right at 3.5 hours, even with a short stop for lunch.

Next year, I'll be doing my higher altitude hikes in September/early October.

By: Two hikers, Two Dogs Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 1, 2011
Decided to try this hike based on the reviews here and really enjoyed it. We hiked it as written (up the Hotel Trail, down the AT) and were glad that we did, as the reward of the views came rather near the end. We brought our two dogs along and they seemed quite pleased with the trail as well. It was a beautiful fall day, albeit a bit cold and breezy, but the visibility was great to the east and west and we enjoyed the meadows at the top. Thanks for an informative website catered to hikes in this region!

By: jonny e Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, September 25, 2011
Did this hike via the AT coming up Bald Knob (parked at Long Mtn Wayside on Rte 60), and linked this loop to the Mt Pleasant Loop for a long day hike.

I've hiked cold mountain before on a sunny day and seen the glorious views, but yesterday foggy and rainy, unfortunately, obscuring any views from the top. Nonetheless, there is still plenty to enjoy on this hike, and it was a nice change-up, felt like being in a cloud forest. The leaves on some of the oaks are changing, the ferns on the way down to the parking area on FS48 are bright gold, squirrels and salamanders scampering around. Sort of a metaphor for enjoying the things close-by, instead of chasing the next big thing. The meadow at the top is a really great place to stop and look around. A perfect spot for a picnic and lingering on a sunny day. There are 2 nice rock outcroppings on the AT section. Somewhat surprisingly, only saw 4 other groups out the whole day, so less foot traffic than I would have guessed. All in all, a very nice hike, probably would have gone 4 stars on a sunny day, and will definitely return. Bring your wind-gear or rain jacket if you go in late fall, the name implies, it really can get chilly up there!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 20, 2011
A really good hike on a very warm day. We only saw 2 other hikers and they were on the AT headed to the shelter from the parking area at Hog Camp Gap. The hotel trail is a good hike with varied forest and open areas. The old hotel site is a great camping area if you bring water. On the AT portion on the last bald section of the mountain we walked up on a 3 1/2 ft rattlesnake and fortunately his color made him stand out in the mowed long grass. This hike has so many different types of areas and enough climb to be a challenge (particularly on a warm day) it is truly a gem.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Really a fantastic hike. I was fortunate enough to have great weather. The hike has some pretty varied flora and fauna, keeping it interesting. The campsite and overlooks were beautiful as expected they were great places to relax for a second and enjoy the scenery. The final meadow was spectacular, reminiscent of the Appalachian Trail around Carver's Gap. I also was fortunate enough to run into a doe and a snake on this hike. I'd definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a good way to spend an afternoon, or even a night.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 18, 2011
Each year our Boy Scout troop organizes a backpacking trek for our new Scouts that combines a short backpacking effort with a longer hike with daypacks. This trip was one of the best ever. It was a short 1.5 mile backpack trek from the parking area to one of the most beautiful backwoods campsites we've ever stayed at. After setting up, we did the 5.8-mile loop with daypacks, eating lunch at the Cow Gap shelter. Hiking through a high alpine meadow was a high point for both the new Scouts as well as our more seasoned hikers. An absolutely perfect weekend.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, June 16, 2011
We usually hike Old Rag or White Oak Canyon but thought we would hike something new and different. HU's directions and distances to Cold Mountain were very accurate but if you are from the west end of Richmond and want to save 15 - 20 minutes drive time then go 64W and 29S. We did the hike on a Thursday and saw only one person on the 3 1/2 hour hike which was a real nice change from Old Rag and White Oak Canyon. The meadows and views at the summit are priceless, truly like hiking the hills of Scotland. If you want a really different hiking/summit experience hike Cold Mountain. Warning: much of the trail had uncut grass which we were not prepared for. We avoided walking through the grass as much as we could but we still managed to get a few chiggers. If you hike Cold Mountain from mid May to mid October spray your ankles and legs for chiggers before you hit the trail.

By: Scoutmaster Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 9, 2011
Have to say this area is as pleasant as it gets! Great place for a nice backpacking trip and combined with the Henry Lanum Memorial Trail, a nice day's hike! Link to trip along with pictures (scroll down a bit) here:

So enjoy and you can see the fun in everyone's faces! Oh and in my opinion (oh, 40 years experience...not enough yet though!), it is one of the best Campsites in George Washington National Forest! Thanks for the writeup and enjoy everyone!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 13, 2010
We did a combined Henry Lanham Memorial Trail Loop and the Cold Mountain Loop for a weekend backpacking trip. Hiked intp the the base of Mount Pleasant on Friday night and watched the deer graze while we set around the campfire. Saturday morning we woke to a clear blue sky and no wind which made the views to the east and west absolutely magnificent.  The day time high was in the mid 60's was excellent for backpacking and the night time lows hovered around 38 - 40 degrees. Without the leaves on the trees, the views from the trail, the rocky knobs and the open medows were superb.

By: Rich Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, October 11, 2010
This was a great hike.  I think fall colors will peak at this location around the weekend of the 16th.  Colors were good on Columbus Day, but still a lot of green.  Watch for apple trees scattered along the trail.  They are excellent and taste like Macintosh. Butter and Eggs wildflowers are in full bloom right now in the small field with the great campsite.  We noticed lots of hawks migrating along the ridge.  If you don't want to hike the full 6 miles, you could hike the loop in reverse and simply stop when you get to the big field at the top.  If you have young kids, bring a kite or frisbee.

By: Ghostrider Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 8, 2010
Gorgeous day for a hike--70s and crystal clear. I hiked this (and the Mount Pleasant trail) counterclockwise and definitely would recommend doing it the other direction. Going the way I did, the best part of the hike--the meadow--comes at the beginning. One other piece of advice: the trail can get a bit confusing around the shelter at the bottom of the mountain, so pay close attention to your map. It's easy to end up hiking to the tent site instead of staying on the main blue trail.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 4, 2010
My wife and I hiked this as an overnighter. The hike up to the big campsite was awesome! Found a wild apple tree and lots of blackberries. Set up camp under the big oak tree. Was a little windy, but one of the best campsites I have ever stayed at! A couple of random hunting dogs wandered in to camp and ended up staying the night with us (and the two other couples that were camping there) but they were nice enough. All in all I would highly recommend this hike to everyone!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, August 12, 2010
I brought a friend with me for the Mt Pleasant / Cole Mtn combined overnight hike. We hiked Mt Pleasant loop first with only some water and lunch, switched to our overnight packs with all the gears at our car at Hog Camp Gap, and hiked approx 1 mile to the campsite under the big oak tree, spent overnight and hiked the rest of Cole Mtn loop the next morning. Both of us liked the Cole Mtn loop better than the Mt Pleasant loop, but we enjoyed them both.

With respect to time allocation, the 1 mile hike to the campsite took us around 1 hr with all the heavy pack with A LOT OF water (approx 2 gallon for 2 ppl). The morning section of the second day only took us 2.5 to 3 hours with lighter weight in the packs, even when we were taking it easy.

The direction for the campsite could be improved. I would write that ".., after the horse gate entrance, descent 0.6 miles, then ascent 0.4 miles. Reach the spur ridge by entering a clearing. At the end of the clearing is one of the prettiest back country campsites in the Blue Ridge."

And it is indeed pretty. Thanks for sharing this place with me.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 31, 2010
A really solid hike. I did this on Saturday, camped at Glen Maury, and then hiked Mt. Pleasant on Sunday morning. I didn't run into a soul (awesome), hiked at a fast pace and got a good work out (double awesome), and was very impressed by the views from the saddle - certainly not to be missed (triple awesome). My only question: about half-way through the hike, in the forest, I noticed a crumbling stone wall running for a distance in either direction. It was maybe about as high as my chest. What was that? Some remnant of yesteryear? A marker of someone's territory? It certainly looked old, but I couldn't figure out what purpose it was serving in the mountains.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, July 16, 2010
I am thinking about doing this hike in the next couple of weeks. Has anyone hiked the loop in the opposite direction? I would like to end the day with the great grassy campsite which is 1 mile from the parking lot...any thoughts???


By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 30, 2010
We enjoyed this hike very much...left a little late in the day so we didn't get on the trail until almost was a little hot and humid. The open meadow near the end was beautiful. Everything was well marked and the Cow Gap Shelter area was a nice place to sit and eat a late lunch.

By: Graham Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 16, 2010
We combined this hike with the Mount Pleasant hike as a two-day trip. It was everything we hoped for! the weather was perfect, the views were fantastic, the campsite (marked on the map on this page as "the best camping spot in the GWNF") was indeed very nice. We did see several other groups and shared the campsite with one group (although it was so large, there was plenty of space). We decided to do both hikes in the opposite direction from the one listed here, and I think that improved our chances of solitude, as we passed only one group in the same direction as us. I rated this hike 4/5 if only because the Mount Pleasant overlooks were more impressive. The directions were very accurate, but I would warn anyone travelling from the West (through Buena Vista) that the sign marking Coffeytown Road (rt 634) is overgrown and not visible when travelling eastbound on Rt. 60. Obviously this is only an issue in the spring/summer.

By: Emily Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, May 2, 2010
Fantastic hike. Only difficult part of this hike was the access road which is a bit rough but our honda accord made it up alright. Great variety and very different than your typical blue ridge hike. The inclines are gentle and the majority of the incline is a ridge walk with great views and breeze! The meadow at the top was beautiful and we had to all to ourselves on a sunday afternoon which was a surprise.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 11, 2010
I didn't enjoy this hike that much. It was way to tough for me. Like i even brought 2 waterbottles but i went through them so fast. lots of rocks and hills. it was really very tough. and btw, i'm a pro hiker! :)

i mean like i didn't NOT like this hike, i guess it's just that it could have been better. i was passing all these kids on the way and i was like "UR A N00B ROFL"! They were upset but couldn't catch up with me because i power walk like a champ.

email me if you feel like hiking sometime!

By: FaLaLa Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, March 9, 2010
...access road not passable in a passenger car. Snow and ice covered. If you have a large guess is you'll be fine. I"m going to wait a month or so to attempt this again! Can't wait!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, March 1, 2010
Anyone know how the access road is (i.e. snow covered, mud, or ok)? We're planning on hitting this in a couple of weeks and curious on how the road is to the parking lot. Thanks in advance for your time.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, August 27, 2009

Great backpacking trip - BMRS in VA Beach really hooked us up with a great place to go.

We did the Cold Mountain/Mt Pleasant routes together. Started at Cold Mountain, and then hiked to the summit of Mount Pleasant to Camp.

Water Source by the Cowgamp shelter was as advertised. Found a stream (marked on the Topo) on the way to Mount Pleasant Summit on the Western Branch of the trail. Did not check other marked watersource in the vicinity of the summit - but it looked like steep going to get down there.

Camping on summit was windy, but the high-use areas were sheltered. Suggest that the marked camping area on the Mount Pleasant map will be a better site - you can go to the summit as a side hike, w/o packs, and it will be more enjoyable.

If anyone has another suggested entry level backpacking trip, we're interested in your suggestion- send me an email.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 19, 2009
There's something truly civilized about the Cold Mountain / Mt. Pleasant / Pompey circuit. My trail dog Willie and I camped at the lower meadow on Cold Mountain on Saturday night, and rose early to break camp and hike the balance of the 11.3 mile figure 8 circuit. It was a perfect night, a perfect day, and a spectacular hike! The lower meadow on Hotel Trail is the place to camp . . . there's room at the Shelter, but it's heavily wooded and cramped with more than 2 tents. The meadow is huge, and we had an amazing view of the stars. There's camping at the parking lot for Hotel Trail / Mt. Pleasant for car campers, and there's a few good (but rocky) spots at the top of Mt. Pleasant . . . but the bees were busy, and the trails were busier (on Mt. Pleasant). This has become my favorite hike (second perhaps to Mt. Rogers, but easier access). Three 4,000 plus footers in 6-7 hours. Trails are VERY well marked . . . just fantastic.

By: Cool Breeze Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 27, 2009
This was a very easy hike, but the views were great. There's nothing technical about this hike. Hiking shoes are nice, but a good pair of walking shoes will get you through it just fine. I used a little more than a liter of water, but a hot day will put you in the sun often. The day me and my girls (8 and 11) did this trail - we had clear skies - the only way I would recommend this hike otherwise you lose a lot of the magic around you. We took this trail around hitting Cold Mountain at the very end. This loop brings you through some beautiful mountain meadows that are ideal for a lazy lunch break. There's a few small streams to marvel at. The real treat is walking up Cold Mountain itself. There are several places indicated by cameras on the map that give excellent views of the valley below. Cold Mountain itself has a wide open summit with a set of boulders and a marker that also make a great place for a lazy lunch. Leaving the summit is another beautiful walk along a ridgeline meadow that gives excellent views. The walk back to the car from the summit is a quick walk.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, February 8, 2009
Nice weather, accompanied by generous amounts of mud!  We encountered lots of deer throughout the hike.  The trail is marked so well, much better than the markings inside SNP.  The balds were very much like Scotland, especially with the squishy, watery mud that was all along the trail.  We had lunch at the gap shelter, and shared conversation with a couple who were gearing up to head to GA to through-hike the AT this summer.  I was not expecting the hike to be used so much, it was pretty busy.  I would love to return to do some backcountry camping, however I wonder if it would be crowded? 

By: Kim & Paul Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 1, 2008
We did this hike on a Saturday afternoon and enjoyed it immensely!  The trail was varied and beautiful throughout.  The views from the top of the ridge are spectacular!  The meadow at the end was beautiful.  The write-up on this site is accurate and very helpful.  We'll definitely do it again someday.

By: willhike Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 10, 2008

I did this hike on Friday to avoid the weekend crowds. The leaves are beginning to change and the views were spectacular. I'd recommend this hike to anyone looking for an easily do-able day hike. The major uphill portion was not bad at all and broken up with several stops for taking in the vista.

Here are some pictures from the hike via the standard route:

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 27, 2008

We did this hike in a figure-8 loop with Mt. Pleasant. We camped overnight at the suggested campsite on the review, which is rated as the best in the GMNF. The campsite was impressive, and the grass/moss was nice to sleep on and didn't dirty our gear overnight. There is plenty of cover in case it rains as well (as was our case). The camping at the shelter, however, is very good as well. The shelter is in excellent shape, and there are several camping sites near the shelter. The nice thing about the shelter is that there is plenty of cover, reliable water source and an out-house.

The balds of Cold Mountain were excellent, although we were not rewarded with any views due to the cloud/fog cover. The vistas on the way up Cold Moutain were in excellent condition - trees were not blocking these views and it was nice to have a nice place to take a break on the way up (potentially - depends on weather). I see this hike as a poor-man's Black Balsam Knob (in NC). If you like this hike, then I'd highly suggest the balds of Black Balsam just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC in the Shining Rock Wilderness area. Black Balsam Knob is great because you can camp on the bald, no such luck on Cold Mountain - it is prohibited.

The bald on Cold Mountain is fairly large, and the views looked to be (potentially) better than those of similar bald hikes like Gregory Bald in the Smokies. If you're looking to see a sunrise from the bald, it'd be a pretty far hike to get from the parking lot or the shelter at the base of Cold Mountain to the summit. You'd be better off packing up early and hiking to the top. (For instance, at Gregory Bald, the campsite is only 0.5 miles below the bald, providing a good 'basecamp'). Enjoy!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, September 19, 2008
Me and my wife just hiked yesterday and it was awesome! We hiked up to the perfect camp site that's about a mile up from the parking lot and had it all to ourselves. In the middle of the night we heard lots of loud howling that sounded just like wolves, does anyone know if that is possible for the Cole mnt. area? If so, then that makes the hike even cooler. we took our time going up to the peak, stopped at Cow Camp Shelter and left a note in the journal, and made lunch at the first overlook. Weather was beautiful and the view from the top was amazing.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 17, 2008
We chose a very nice day to go up to Cold Mountain and were rewarded with some amazing views. The beginning portion of the hike is fairly standard until you reach the first campsite. We thought the clearing was very pleasant, as did the deer we startled when we got there.

A bit past the campsite the climb begins and the meadows on top are well worth the effort. The views from the top, and the meadows themselves, make this a very unique spot in VA. To see such high open fields was a real treat to someone like me, used to rocky outcroppings and tree covered peaks.

The trip from the meadows down to the parking lot is quick and relatively nice. I believe a somewhat motivated group could easily go from the parking area up to the meadows (follow the directions in reverse) for a picnic without much trouble.

All in all, one of the best spots I've been to in VA.

By: B. Love Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 26, 2008
Made this the 2nd loop in the figure 8 with Mt. Pleasant. I viewed the saddle meadow from the Mt. Pleasant summit and looked forward to being on it. It was more serene and panoramic then I anticipated. Starting the hike, Mother Nature doused me with an isolated t-storm, but the views are so good even at the beginning of the trail I could see it was safe to continue. The trail itself is well marked, both the blue blaze and the AT, and easy to follow besides. This site was very helpful also in pointing me into the right direction once I came up into the 1st meadows. I anticipated a punishing climb to the meadow summit and saddle after a significant descent. However, the trail winding around the mountain made the ascent much easier. Plenty of vehicles in the parking area, but I never felt crowded on the trail, a lot of camping at the trailhead. The figure 8 with Mt. Pleasant makes this hike very rewarding!

By: Stephen Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 6, 2008

We took the loop yesterday in some moderate fog and light mist, but the scenery was still beautiful! The streams were more active because of the drainage off the mountain, which made the hike more surreal. The directions off this page were fabulous and I highly recommend this hike.

By: Greg Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, December 8, 2007
We took our Scout troop on the loop and camped near the spring and shelter. We had 29 people between boys and adults. It was one of the best backpacking trips we have taken for a short hike. We were somewhat disappointed in the spring flow so I would advise having a good filter or take your water. We hiked it in a clockwise direction and it was a wonderful condition trail

By: Amanda B. Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, November 16, 2007

My dad and I hiked this loop early on a Friday morning.  We didn't see a soul up there, and it just so happened to be a sunny day during the peak leaf weekend.  The views were gorgeous.  We really enjoyed the different foliage and trail surface as the loop went along.  The entire environment changes from one mile to the next!  My dad, who's been hiking for 40ish years, said he'd rarely seen a short loop so beautiful.  Thank you very much for running this site -- I use it all the time.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Hauled the RV up to the KOA at Natural Bridge to take in a few hikes in the area, your site made the selection very easy. The Cold Mountain hike was a perfect mixture of good exercise, solitude and panoramic views. We didn't linger on top, the wind chill up there was, how shall I put it, noticeable. Images online at

By: Khrys Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 3, 2007
I haven't been on a hike in the VA mountains in about 10 years and this was a good hike.  My wife and I set out with a few reservations about possibly getting lost with the directions provided on this site, but it all worked out great!  We only had one hic-up along the way.  Just after the second rocky viewpoint on the AT towards the end of the hike we lost the trail!  we were looking around for a while before we realized that the trail takes an abrupt turn up hill over some rocks.  Once that was overcome, it was a great time.    I think we are going to go on another hike this coming weekend!

By: Mike P Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 18, 2006
Did this as a weekend hike and stayed at Cowcamp Gap shelter. Really enjoyed the views on the bald top of Cold Mountain (on my National Forest map it is labeled as Cole Mountain). We also added in Bald Knob (which ironically is tree covered) and found pieces of an old crashed airplane on the side of the AT. All and all it was a fun weekend and I would recommend this hike to anyone interested in a moderate hike with great views.

By: B. Gordon Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 24, 2006
Thanks to Tony Van Vugt for his latest hiking review of Cold Mtn.  It enticed my friend and I to see if it was as beautiful as described, it was!!  It certainly was not the hardest hike we have done but with the variety of trees, the well maintained trails, the abundance of Mountain Laurel and ferns, and then to top it off near the end of the hike with the high mountain meadows, it was worth every ounce of gas from Richmond.  The only place in Virginia that I have seen that has similar meadows is the Balds of Grayson Highlands/Mount Rogers in Southwest VA and that is over 5 hours drive from Richmond.  We went to Cold Mtn with a 60% chance of rain but we were blessed with Sun early in the hike and then mostly cloudy the rest of the hike with no rain.  We will be back on this trail on a clear day and we are sure it will be even more beautiful.  All directions as descibed on this website were very useful and accurate.

By: Johnny Winnsgay Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, April 11, 1910
What a wonderful day for a hike!  The views were just as good as I remember.  While the circuit is great, the lazy can just hike the opposite direction and be on the summit immediately.

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