Mt. Pleasant / Cole Mountain Figure-Eight Loop

Basics — Hopefully, the third time’s the charm as I had to cancel this trip twice at the end of last year.  Difficulty — high end of moderate or low end of strenuous; Length — 11.3 miles; Carpool — 55 miles, so $5.50 per rider; What to Bring — Standard hiking gear, money for carpool (or car), lunch.

Detailed Description — This is a splendid hike in Virginia’s central Blue Ridge that features two of the region’s best vistas.  The hike consists of two discrete loops, and we may divide into two sub-groups if we have a large group.

Mt. Pleasant / Pompey Mtn. Loop (Henry Lanum Trail) — This loop climbs steadily through deep woods for about 2.2 miles to gain a high ridge.  From there, it is a modest climb to the dual peaks of Mt. Pleasant.  Each knob has spectacular views from rocky outcrops.  The loop continues along the wooded ridge to Pompey Mountain with a modest view, then descends (steeply at times) back to the trailhead.

Cole (also recorded as Cold) Mountain / Old Hotel Loop — The second loop begins with a stringent but relatively short climb along the Appalachian Trail to the open pasture summit of Cole Mountain with stunning views.  The trail re-enters the woods before descending to Cow Camp Gap and the Old Hotel Trail.  The Old Hotel Trail skirts Cole Mountain for about 3.5 miles, passing Cow Camp Gap Shelter and the old hotel site (a magnificent campsite) before reaching the road.  If we are running late, it is possible to cut the loop by going off-trail down the ridge. 

Here is a Google map with the route: