Cole Mountain via Appalachian Trail is a 9.5 kilometer heavily trafficked loop trail located near Vesuvius, Virginia that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking and nature trips and is best used from April until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 9.5 km Elevation Gain: 392 m Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

hiking

nature trips

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

backpacking
3 days ago

I completed this as part of an overnight backpacking trip doing both the Mount Pleasant Loop and the Cole Mountain loop. This is a fantastic trail with a good variety of landscapes. I completed this trail clockwise, which saves the biggest ascent for the end, but also saves the summit for the end and it was more than worth it. This trail is not too easy and not too hard. It makes for a good workout. At a little over 1 mile (going clockwise), you will reach a nice grassy area which is a gorgeous spot to camp if planning on doing a backpacking trip. That is what I did, there are numerous spaces and a few fire rings. After the grassy area, there is also the Cow Camp Gap Shelter which is another good option for camping. Once you make it to the white blazes, the trail beings its biggest ascent and eventually the trees thin out leading to summit. The forest gives way for the bald, grassy highlands filled with boulders, flowers, and berries with with 360 degree sweeping vistas. Definitely best saved for the end. After the highlands, you will descend into the forest again for a nice, easy ending back to the access road. Warning: The access road leading to this trail is awful, it has many ruts and holes. If you do not have a high-clearance vehicle take it slow.

hiking
5 days ago

This was my second time hiking this on 5-12-20 (first time on 4-27-20). During both those times, Spring had barely begun on the mountain. What a beautiful mountain meadow with great views on both sides! The summit is lovely too. I chose to do an out and back, starting at the first parking lot, and taking the A.T. to the top, which took about 1 hr 7 min total. I haven’t done the loop yet. It is very windy at the top, just like neighboring Mt. Pleasant, which you can see from the meadow. The drive in is a gravel road with a lot of ruts, rocks, and wash boarding, but doable if you take it slow. I drove a 4x4 truck, but I saw regular cars in the parking lot. You can park at the Mt. Pleasant parking lot to do the loop, so that you end with the meadow. I can’t wait to come back when the Spring foliage is all in and the leaves are on the trees!

hiking
5 days ago

Easy trail with beautiful views!

9 days ago

Wonderful trail and was able to completely enjoy this location all to myself at this time, 4-2-2020. Nice views, hiked up from FSR to embrace the brisk (cold) sunrise.

hiking
20 days ago

This was a great trail! Super easy even though it’s almost a 6 mile loop, but the view at the top is worth it. Be prepared for wind and bring appropriate layers!

21 days ago

Hiked 05/03/20: All roads and trails are open. Entire loop for us was 6.4 miles. Dirt road to the hog gap camp parking area (which can get crowded) is passable with any vehicle when it's dry if you take your time, but it's about 1/2 mile from the Mt. Pleasant parking area with more parking available. We hiked the loop clockwise, taking all the elevation gain at the beginning, to get the reward of the views at the top. The old hotel trail to the AT is beautiful, clean, and has a good mixture of forests, meadows, and moderate inclines. The old hotel trail meets the AT about 4 miles or so, leading to the open meadows of Cole Mountain at mile 5. Beautiful 360deg views are very rewarding. From the peak, the AT leads back down to the parking area, and is all downhill for a great cook down. The entire trail was clean, clearly marked, and I'd highly recommend the loop. (Side note - go back again to hike the Mount Pleasant trail!)

hiking
rocky
25 days ago

Without a doubt one of the best trails in Virginia! The trail is well blazed, but is not designated anywhere as “Cole Mountain”. Instead, follow the AT if going counterclockwise (recommended), or Old Hotel Trail if going clockwise from Hog Camp Gap parking area. The trail offers active streams/small waterfalls, sweeping vistas of mountains and valley, diverse landscapes and flora a plenty this time of year. The trail is a solid moderate hike!

28 days ago

Hiked 4/28/20 was beautiful - parked at mount pleasant trailhead which was open. hog camp gap parking was also open.

hiking
29 days ago

Same question as the person below, is the trailhead actually closed? The GW National Forest website says it is but there are people saying they just hiked it on here

hiking
1 month ago

Just a quick question. Can anyone tell me if the trail head and the parking at Hog Camp Gap is open?The GWF website says the Hog Camp Gap trail access is closed but I see that it has been hiked recently. Thanks !

hiking
1 month ago

We went yesterday, beautiful hike with amazing views! It is still open at the time I wrote this review

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

Great trail with great views!

hiking
1 month ago

I love this hike. make sure you do it clockwise so that you reach Cole Mountain towards the end. So rewarding with that view

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike and views. couple easy creek crossings.

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful trail. The view at the top is better than Sharp Top in my opinion. Also, this is easier than Sharp Top. When I went it wasn’t busy but I’ve heard that to be an issue. The road to the trailhead is sketchy and rocky so be prepared!

1 month ago

extremely beautiful!! pretty simple with great views throughout the hike. would go again!

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome trail. The view was astonishing. We were not expecting the grassy area at the top of the mountain. This made our experience even more great with the view. There was a neat stone wall off the path near the peak where people set up camp. Will be back to hike again!

hiking
2 months ago

This could have been an AMAZING experience had AllTrails not sucked at identifying the entrance. This is one of the most beautiful trails we've hiked but direction is the make or break. We took 45 mins trying to find the entrance and eventually started at the end, which made it anticlimactic. The best views are at the end, but for us, they were the beginning. Do not attempt this hike below 50°F, the cold, wind and altitude can be damaging. Will be returning as the flowers bloom to experience this trail for the magic it is.

hiking
2 months ago

Super amazing views!!!!!

hiking
2 months ago

My favorite day hike yet on the AT in VA!! Wow the view is absolutely spectacular from the bald! And 360 views from different areas. Definitely not one of those places where there is only one small area to see a view. Absolutely magical! Also the hike up is relatively short!

hiking
2 months ago

Great small loop. One source of water on the lower section at the tent sites.

hiking
2 months ago

My girlfriend and I did this for a day hike this weekend. We took our time and it took about 3.5 hours with a few stops when we had particularly pretty views. I drove a Hyundai sonata and was super wishing I had a car with more clearance. The road is gravel with some large dips. I took it carefully and all was well. Wouldn't risk it if the weather looked iffy though.

hiking
muddy
3 months ago

Beautiful hike! Took about 2.5 hours with fantastic views from the summit. Challenging for us, but we’re already planning to come back and do it again with our dog!

hiking
icy
muddy
rocky
3 months ago

Ok. Starts off easy and then all up hill.

gravel road to trail head, not too rough

Really wonderful trail- took the loop clockwise, which leaves the fireworks for the end of the hike. Decided to add a bit on the end by hiking the first knoll after Hog Camp on AT heading south. Saw a lynx, deer and loads of squirrels:) trails are well maintained, graded and Cow Camp shelter looks in good condition.

hiking
rocky
6 months ago

Very beautiful hike

hiking
no shade
6 months ago

great open bald hiking

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