Our merry little group consisted of five people, and everyone had a good time on the 6.3 mile loop. The elevation gain was about 1,300 feet, so we got a steady workout during our miles. Here is the track of the Cold (also called Cole) Mountain hike, which we hiked clockwise as shown by the arrow, and starting and stopping at the upper left point of the track.
Most of the hike is through southern Appalachian forest, but a half mile or so of the Appalachian Trail is a "bald" with fabulous open views. Here are some photos from the hike today, starting with one of my four fellow hikers about a mile into the hike.
I didn't see water, but other than that, this area would be a fabulous campsite.
The group admires the first views, with much better ones to come.
Here is the first of the balds that we came to.
We found a sweet spot for a lunch break, chatted in the sun, admired the views, and watched hawks and vultures fly overhead - including a possible peregrine.
Here is a panoramic view from the bald - click to enlarge.
Our group of five out in the bald.
Loads of apples on this tree should mean deer and bear in the area.
The Blue Ridge from the bald on top of Cold (Cole) Mountain.
Kathy is having a good time on the hike.
Here is another panoramic view from the other (north) side of the bald.
The goldenrod was the most vibrant I think that I've ever seen it.
With so much of the mountains in Virginia covered with trees and not having any views, the balds on Cold Mountain are a real treat.
I liked this tree - a mountain ash, we thought - positioned next to the large boulder.
Can you see the two bees in with the goldenrod - the bumblebee in the middle and the honeybee on the right with the bulging pollen sacks? The bees are working overtime to gather food for the winter.
This was a really fun hike. I was glad to finally lead an ODATC hike, especially with such a nice group of people. I enjoyed hearing all about people's adventures and plans!