Mount Pleasant trail in Virginia is one of the more popular hikes in the region. With almost 500 reviews on Alltrails, you can see why it is so highly rated. This hike is part of a designated section of the George Washington National Forest called Mount Pleasant Special Management Area. The other two trails in this area are Tar Jacket Ridge to Cole Mountain and Long Mountain Wayside to Little Irish Creek. There are two different areas you can go to once at the top to get spectacular landscape views from the East and West.
The trail is well-marked and easy to follow. Depending on the time of year you go, you should watch out for snakes and other animals. Throughout this guide, I will showcase the landscape through my photos and give you a rundown on how to complete this day hike. The George Washington National Forest along with the Jefferson National Forest covers 1.8 million acres. There are so many good hikes to do in this area, like Big Schloss. I honestly prefer this area over the much more popular Shenandoah National Park.
Mount Pleasant Hike Details
- Distance: This hike is around a 6.3-mile loop trail. This varies slightly depending on if you do the entire hike or not.
- Duration: On average it will take people 3 to 4 hours to finish. This depends on your fitness level and the time of the year as well as which trail you take.
- Difficulty: I’d rank this hike as moderate to difficult because of the length and slight elevation gain.
- Incline: The elevation for this hike is around 1350 feet.
- Trailblazer: You will be following a blue trailblazer for this hike
For more information, as well as reviews, checkout Alltrails
Where is Mount Pleasant Trail located?
Located 40 minutes to the east of Lexington lies the Mount Pleasant trail. Virginia is filled with many hikes outside of Shenandoah and this is one of them.
This hike is in the George Washington National Forest, which is my personal favorite area in Virginia. This is because there are many great hikes with 1/4 of the people (or less) than you would find in the National Parks across this country.
How to Get to Mount Pleasant
The easiest way to get directions to the trailhead for the Mount Pleasant hike is to find it on Alltrails and click directions. If you don’t have the app then head to VA634. You will then see a sign for VA755 and the road will turn to gravel. Keep following this road until you see Mount Pleasant. Continue to follow that sign and eventually this will lead into George Washington National Forest. You will be on the gravel road for a while but keep following this until you get to a gate and then the small parking lot.
My Suggested Hiking Gear
Below is a list of some of my favorite hiking/travel gear I bring everywhere. Everything below is something I currently use and never leave my house without.
- KEEN Durand II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots: I finally upgraded my hiking boots in 2022 and these are fantastic. They have top-notch ankle support and are super durable.
- Petzl Tikka Headlamp: A headlamp for hiking is a must if you’re like me and love sunrise hikes. This is a great price for a quality headlamp and also has a good red light to not disturb others in the morning.
- Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks: I originally got these as a present but I had to buy more because these are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever tried on.
- Grayl GeoPress Water Filter Bottle: You will never have to rebuy plastic water bottles. This is the best water filtering device on the market. It is excellent for hikers and travelers alike.
My Experience on the Mount Pleasant Hiking Trail
Once you park your car you will see two different trails. You want to follow the Henry Lanum Memorial Trail. All of the reviews from Alltrails and elsewhere suggested that you go counterclockwise (right trailhead). This is because you will be going downhill more on your way back than taking the other trailhead to start. We meant to do this but somehow messed up and went clockwise. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad and I still thoroughly enjoyed it. This was probably my favorite hike of 2021 for many reasons. We completed the Mount Pleasant hike in Virginia in August but luckily we had the whole trail to ourselves.
Other Hikes You’d Love in Virginia
- Tibbet Knob Trail
- Grayson Highlands
- Bearfence Mountain
- Stony Man Trail
- Turk Mountain
- Blackrock Summit
Making Our Way Through the Lush Forest
The trail was very lush with greens everywhere. Many different types of animals were to be seen. Later on, there were about 15 butterflies all hanging out. Some of the reviews on Alltrails talked about a supposed rattlesnake blocking the trail, so if you hike around these parts then be aware of your surroundings. We definitely felt the incline a lot going this way but thankfully we were not in the sun practically ever. If that was the case, then we might have regretted going the clockwise route.
Mount Pleasant Trail is so unique because you come across many different features along with it. Big boulders, many bees pollinating, and what seems to be a different type of forest with little to no vegetation. Keep following the Henry Lanum Memorial Trail and the blue trailblaze. You will come up to a sign that connects the other trailhead. As you follow the blue blazers, you will come across a sign that points you toward a spring and more unique land formations.
Hiking to Both Overlooks
The legs are really starting to burn now. The incline on Mount Pleasant Trail starts back up again but it is getting close to the peak of the hike. You will know you’re at the top when it starts to level out and you see a sign pointing towards the East and West outlooks. Both of these views are incredible with views of the lush green mountains for miles and miles. We took the West outlook route first and then came back to do the East outlook route. It was hard for me to say which one I preferred because they were both so spectacular.
It was a perfect summer day in August here. You have to climb up some rocks to get to these viewpoints on the Western outlook route but it’s well worth it. It’s a perfect place to sit down and eat lunch. The only problem that we had was there were so many horseflies. These were also the largest horse flies I have ever seen, so that wasn’t fun but still enjoyed it. After we ate we went back down and walked back to then go up to see the Eastern Outlook. We didn’t stay there as long as we did on the Western outlook but the views were just as good.
We headed back the way we came to that East and West outlook sign. From there follow the same trail until you see the sign above. We went left because we accidentally went the clockwise route but take a right if you followed the other reviews of people saying go counterclockwise.
Final Thoughts on Hiking Mount Pleasant Trail
This was hands down one of my favorite hikes that I did in 2022. The lush greens and the wildlife you see everywhere made the hike as well as the perfect sky at the outlook. Overall this wasn’t a hard hike and I think the moderate rating is appropriate. It can get hard while going up some of the inclines, especially during the summer heat. Thanks for reading my guide and I hope you get to try this trail out soon!