Cole Mtn. / Mt. Pleasant Figure-Eight Loop

I have re-scheduled this hike after cancelling 11/25 for lack of participation.  Hopefully more hikers will be interested / available this time around!  If it doesn’t come together this time, I’ll take the hint.

Basics: Length — 11.5 miles (with shorter option available); Difficulty — Strenuous, but less so than some of my previous hikes; What to Bring — Standard day-hiking gear, lunch, and money (or car) for the carpool; Cost — $6.00 based on a 56-mile drive each way; Highlights — open ridge views from the top of Cole (a.k.a. Cold) Mountain, spectacular summit views from the two knobs of Mt. Pleasant.

Detailed Description: This hike includes two of the nicest mountains in the central Blue Ridge of Virginia.  It’s one of the classic hikes in our region — a definite must-see if you haven’t been before, but also worthy of return visits.  This hike is essentially two discreet loop hikes, so we can do them in either order.

Cole (Cold) Mountain Loop — After a brisk climb out of Hog Camp Gap along the Appalachian Trail, the hike follows the exposed spine of its namesake mountain with striking views.  We can hike to Cow Camp Gap then follow the Old Hotel Trail back to Hog Camp Gap or cut the loop shorter with some downhill bushwhacking.

Mt. Pleasant / Pompey Mtn. Loop (Henry Lanum Mem’l Trail) — This hike is a steady climb to the crest of the ridge of Mt. Pleasant through mature hardwood, then a short, steep ascent to the two knobs of the mountain.  Each knob has a spectacular view from rock outcrops, especially with leaves off of the trees.  Back on the ridge, the trail rolls to Pompey Mountain (limited view), then descends steadily back to the trailhead.  

I would rate each loop as moderate on its own, but strenuous overall when done together.  Hikers should be in moderate to good shape for this hike as we will need to keep a steady pace.  I will likely cancel if the weather is rainy, snowy, or blustery.  Here is a Google map of the hike: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1YFEW1zQfLBTnnPUTVICDpY8JPxk&usp=sharing