Come kick off October with me on this great 18-miler! I'm happy that the long, hot, humid summer is over and fall has arrived! This is a beautiful hike, and is definitely among my favorites in the area, with rolling hills, awesome vistas, and one of the coolest camp sites (if we can snag it) around.
From Hiking Upward:
Can't make it to Scotland or Switzerland anytime soon to hike those spectacular high mountain meadows? Well right here in the Old Dominion we have the next best thing! Every hiker in the mid-Atlantic should hike Cold Mountain at least once. The 360° meadow views from the saddle are are some of the best on the east coast. Cold Mountain is the sister circuit to the Mount Pleasant hike on the next ridge. Mount Pleasant has both an east and west summit, each with spectacular views.
Info from the trip in April: http://www.meetup.com/DC-UL-Backpacking/events/17345929/?a=ce1.2o_grp&rv=ce1.2o
Another nice write up: http://www.roanoke.com/outdoors/hiking/44337
The basic trip concept is that we'll meet at West Falls Church as per usual at 8am. The Drive is a little over 3 hours to the trailhead, so (with a gas/coffee/donut stop) we can expect to be on the trail by 11:30am. We'll start the hike from Highway 60 along the AT, climbing steeply out of the valley, up 2,000 feet to the top of Bald Knob, where we'll encounter the rolling open hills that alternate between 3,000 and 4,000 feet. We'll hit Cold Mountain and then break off toward Pompey Mountain and on to Mount Pleasant, where we'll plan to camp up high on the ridge. Water won't be available adjacent to the campsite, but there is a small spring that will hopefully be running just before our last uphill. We'll certainly plan on a fire and flasks for Saturday night, and all-in-all will cover roughly 12 miles and a few thousand feet elevation gain.
Sunday we will complete the trail loops depicted in the the Cold Mountain / Mount Pleasant hikes on Hiking Upward, before regaining the AT and descending into the valley. We'll cover the remaining 6 or so miles and then plan to head out for a late lunch nearby before the drive back to DC.
Google Map Directions to Trail Head - 3 hours from West Falls Church: http://www.google.com
Here are write-ups on the segments -- but be aware we are not doing the trails as described below. We are starting and ending on the AT as it leaves Route 60 and doing a loop through the Mount Pleasant area and Cold Mountain.