Beginners will love this hike because it's an easy/moderate 1.2 miles with a meadow-like summit destination offering 360° panoramas with views of Pompey Mountain and Mount Pleasant. If you're feeling adventurous, set out for your hike about 1.5-2 hours before the estimated sunset (see Sunset Calendar) and watch the sky transform into dusk. The sunset is truly breathtaking. Be sure to allow 2+ hours if you want more time to explore the summit in day light, take pictures, practice yoga, enjoy a picnic, etc. Pack a flash light for safety, but keep in mind the moon offers the best lighting and your flashlight will actually prevent your eyes from adjusting. There are two paths leading to the summit. One is a narrow trail and the other is a much wider, grassy fire road. The fire road is ideal for sunset hikers making their way back to the access point / parking area.
Learn More: virginiatrailguide.com
GPS: 37.75978, -79.19477
Vesuvius, Amherst County, VA 24483
* 30 min from Pedlar Camp
Parking Area to Summit | There are several hiking options from this access area. Take the white-blazed Appalachian Trail for the 1.2 mile straight shot up the mountain to the pasture-like summit. * The forest service road to the Cole Mountain trail head / parking area is unpaved and bumpy. Cars that are quite low to the ground are not advised.
Summit to Fire Road | Head back towards the trail you arrived on. Continue straight rather than taking the original trail down. You will reach the fire road, which will take you directly to the parking area. The fire road is wide and grassy. * Sunset hikers should locate the fire road before it’s completely dark. On moonlit nights you will have great visibility, but it can be a clumsy trip to the fire road if you're unfamiliar.
JUST SO YOU KNOW . . .
- There is room for 5 to 6 cars in the parking area by the Appalachian Trail crossing.
- The full Cole Mountain Loop is a moderate 5.8 mile hike, with multiple access points. Learn more at hikingupward.com.
- Cold Mountain is also the sister circuit to the Mount Pleasant hike on the next ridge. If you are looking for a slightly longer hike, consider joining the Mount Pleasant route for a combined 11.3 mile figure eight circuit. Learn more at hikingupward.com.
- Cole Mountains is commonly referred to as "Cold Mountain," though it's official name through the U.S. Geological Survey is in fact Cole Mountain.