This 6.2 mile loop combines the Hotel Trail and a piece of the Appalachian Trail to bring hikers by a fantastic campsite on the way to beautiful high elevation meadow views.
The Cole Mountain hike is within the Congressionally designated Mt. Pleasant National Scenic Area.
Two-tenths of a mile from the parking lot, watch for the blue-blazed posts leading up to the right. The Hotel Trail begins here and passes through a wooden horse gate soon after. Following the trail through the woods for 1.4 miles leads to one of the best campsites in the area. Continue along the trail for 2.9 miles and you will see Cow Camp Gap, a shelter for Appalachian Trial travelers.
This shelter is one-half mile off the Appalachian Trail so it is not heavily used, despite its thorough upkeep. Follow the access trail to the A.T. At about one mile down the A.T., the spectacular views begin!
The mountain meadows of the bare saddle are covered in wildflowers that are rivaled only by Thunder Ridge. The first is the largest of the meadows, which become successively smaller before descending the .6 mile to Hog Camp Gap.
From the Lexington Visitor Center, drive east on Washington Street to a left at the stoplight onto East Nelson Street (US-60). Continue for 15 miles through Buena Vista and beneath the Blue Ridge Parkway overpass to a left onto Coffeytown Road (Route 634). Drive 1.6 miles and turn right onto Wiggins Spring Rd. The parking lot for Hog Camp Gap and Cole Mountain is on the left after 2.5 miles. There is another parking lot at the Mt. Pleasant loop trail head a short distance ahead on the right.
- Explore the Cow Camp Gap Appalachian Trail shelter to see an example of where hikers rest while they traverse the 2,168.1 miles between Springer Mountain, Georgia and Mount Katahdin, Maine.
- In some guides the trail is known as the Cold Mountain Trail.
- Stargazing and watching the sun rise and set over the meadows of this area is strongly encouraged. An early morning or late evening experience at Cole Mountain is unforgettable.
- Pack a picnic in and pack the trash back out. JJ’s Meat Shak in Buena Vista is a great source for sandwiches and sides.