Cole Mountain

Cole Mountain Via Appalachian Trail

Cole Mountain is a popular hiking destination located in the George Washington National Forest in Virginia. The mountain is part of the Appalachian Trail and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. The trail to the summit is challenging, but the reward is well worth the effort.

The Cole Mountain hike is a 6-mile loop trail located near Buena Vista, Virginia, and is considered a moderately challenging workout. When I went the road to the trail was a bit icy and slushy. Also, note that it’s a single-car lane.

Cole Mountain

Location & Access

The forest service road to the Cole Mountain trailhead is unpaved and bumpy.  There is only room for five or six cars in the parking area, but if you drive a little bit further there is some additional parking.

  • Parking: The parking lot is small, so be prepared to arrive early, especially on weekends.
  • Facilities: There are no restrooms at the trailhead.
  • Water: Be sure to bring plenty of water with you, as there is no reliable source of water on the trail.
  • Gear: Wear sturdy hiking boots and dress in layers. The weather can change quickly in the mountains, so it’s important to be prepared for anything.
Cole Mountain
  • Route: The hike begins by following the Appalachian Trail uphill. The trail is mostly wooded but with some open meadows and rocky outcrops offering scenic views. You’ll eventually reach Cow Camp Gap, where you can find a shelter for backpackers and a large meadow for camping. From Cow Camp Gap, you’ll take the Hotel Trail which will lead you back to the starting point.
  • Difficulty: Moderately challenging. The hike features a steady uphill climb for the first mile, but the rest of the trail is fairly gradual.
  • Distance: 6 miles loop
  • Elevation Gain: 1,300 feet
  • Estimated Time: 3-4 hours

Have you ever hiked on Cole Mountain? Share your experience below.

German by birth, living, hiking, and camping in the US. Addicted to Coffee. Enjoys going to concerts. Also, Artist + Author. I love to encourage you to explore beyond your backyard. 

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