• Activities:

    Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Loop

  • RT Distance:

    6.15 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    1700 Feet

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Scenic
Wildlife

This is a great beginners backpacking trip or hiking day trip to see west and east facing summits and to catch a great sunset and sunrise. One of the prettiest backcountry campsites I have ever experienced with easy access to water, dog friendly and very secluded. A true local gem.

From the Mount Pleasant Parking Area, take the blue blazed Pompey Mountain Trail that is just beyond the horse gate. As it's a loop, you can start at either entrance, but I prefer heading left to get the longer leg of the hike before the summit (always better to have an easy journey down in the am). At mile 2.5, you will intersect with the Henry Lanum Memorial Trail and there is a sign for the summit of Mount Pleasant.

There are also places to camp in this area if you prefer to not camp near the summit or all those spots are taken. It's .5 miles to the summit and some of the prettiest backcountry campsites in Virginia. There are three sites up there, all with small rocky fire pits. Going during the week, I was the only one there hiking and camping.

Near the summit, there are two lookouts -- one east facing and one west facing. Turn left for east, and right for west. The two lookouts are one of my favorite things about backpacking to this spot. The next morning, or when you are done enjoying the view, just head down to the intersection of Henry Lanum Memorial Trail and head left to complete the 6.15 mile loop. If you want, you can combine this trail with Cole Mountain for a 12 mile trip.

The Mount Pleasant Scenic Area is part of the George Washington National Forest, and does not require any passes or permits for entrance, camping, or hiking. This is a pretty off the radar area, but be warned that Boy Scouts do bring their troops here, but they camp near the parking area and not near the summit. Enjoy this little known gem!

Pack List

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Food and snacks
  • Water and water treatment
  • Hiking poles
  • Air mattress
  • Camp stove
  • Camera
  • Hiking boots
  • Layers for the summit -- it gets windy!
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Reviews

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Did this hike with my boyfriend and our 80lb flat coated retriever during the last weekend of October and we all absolutely loved it! Went on Friday afternoon and spent the night. Didn't see another person until we got back to our car the next morning! The campsites all looked great and the views from both east and west summits were spectacular. Getting to see them at sunset and sunrise was ideal! But be aware- the summit can be extremely windy! Since we went in late fall we had high winds and steep temp drops at night but it was totally worth it! Next time we just may pick a slightly more protected camp site if the winds are strong!

4 months ago
4 months ago

Loved the hike, definitely a tough hike for a bigger due to the incline. However it was well worth it for the views. I camped with a buddy on the west summit campsite. Definitely lots of wind up there but unfortunately bad weather came early and ruined the trip. Otherwise great hike and trip, would definitely do it again. Cheers!

4 months ago
4 months ago

The parking lot is all the way at the top of a tiny gravelly road that will tear up your car, but the hike and the views are so worth it. It's a great sunset hike, but a little scary walking back in total darkness so definitely bring headlamps/flashlights or set up camp for the night! There definitely aren't very many people, even on a summer weekend evening, so if you're looking for a serene spot to catch a gorgeous sunset, this is the hike for you.

7 months ago
7 months ago

This is a beautiful hike which I've done twice while running the Mountain Masochist 50 Miler. It's one of the prettiest views in the area and definitely worthy of your time and energy. My only suggestion is to avoid hiking it the first weekend of November as there will be ~350-400 people on this trail throughout the day as this summit hike is part of the Masochist Trail Run and the road to the trailhead will be massively congested. It's a great atmosphere but likely the most crowded weekend of the year!

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

This hike has a high reward to hiking effort ratio. I hiked it as an out and back along the Henry Lanum Trail...it gets the steepest along the spur trail to the summit, but it is not a difficult hike overall. The views from the two summits are much better than the nearby Cole Mountain in my opinion, and I only encountered 8 other hikers on a summer weekend. Definitely a hike to add to your list!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

After seeing some of your pictures for this adventure it quickly rose to the top of my list. We were lucky and didn't encounter too many people. The trees in the valley were green but the rest of the mountains had yet to come alive again. Regardless, the hike was beautiful. A few times it looked like the trail went off in the wrong direction but as long as you pay close attention to the blazes you won't get lost. Great review!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Views were gorgeous. Our dog loved it. Start early! We didn't see anyone on the way up, but passed a dozen people heading up when we were coming down.

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

This was a great hike. We took our dog and she was in heaven. We got a little lost when you should turn right and go over the river but once we turned back and got on the right path it was a great (and exhausting) hike up the mountain. The views with breathtaking. Luckily we started super early. We didn't see anyone the whole trip up, but coming back down passed about a dozen people heading up.

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

Christin Healey Explorer

Explorer, adventure seeker, lover of life and all things creative.

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