Cold Prond Pond Loop Trail (Milepost 299)

Difficulty Rating: 2


Trail Sign


Call me naïve, but I actually expected to find a pond somewhere along this trail. There is a map (here) of the Tanawha Trail, which passes near this trail, that shows a body of water in the middle of the loop. Maybe I’m just blind, but I didn’t see it.

I must say, this trail is not one of my favorites. It’s short—0.3 miles round-trip—and there isn’t much to see. But, perhaps those looking for a rather short nature trail would like it.

In fact, for the minimal distance, this trail offers a diverse set of habitats to wander through. The trail begins at the right end of the overlook and is marked with a sign. The other trail access leads to the Tanawha Trail, a separate, 13.5 mile trail that parallels the parkway.

From here, the trail descends slightly into a dense forest of rose bay rhododendron, hemlock, and mixed hardwoods. Multiple grass species line the forest floor, and it was apparent when we passed through that the grasses along the edges of the trail are kept in check to prevent the trail from becoming overgrown.


Entering the trail, surrounded by dense rhododendron and a few trees


The trail splits soon after leaving the parking lot into either end of the loop. One path lies straight ahead, while the other heads off to the left. I chose to keep straight, but I didn’t notice an advantage to either path compared to the other.

Continuing along the trail, the parkway parallels the path on the right for a short time and then the trail turns to the left. A clearing soon opens on the left, where a large, flat, grassy area is visible. The trail follows along the edge of this area for a while, and then splits again as it begins to round the back of the loop. The path leading to the left, with a narrow footbridge leading over a tiny creek, is the correct path to stay on the trail. (I didn’t walk the other path to see where it goes; maybe if I’m feeling adventurous one day, I’ll go back and check it out.)


The trail winding through the grass


Beneath this footbridge, there is in fact water running into this grassy area, and since the trail loops around it, this may be the ‘pond’ that gives the trail its name. I mean, it’s entirely possible that there are several inches—or feet—of water at the base of these grasses. The majority of them were taller than I was, and I didn’t have my marsh boots with me, so I wasn’t about to find out.

The trail then ascends slightly through the grass. The trail is very well-maintained here as well, so that even two people walking side by side would be well clear of the grass. As the trail rounds the end of the loop, trees become more numerous and the trail arrives back at the first intersection. From here, you must retrace your steps to the parking lot.


Possible location of the pond

Grassy area at center of loop--possible present/former location of the pond (?)


I found this trail to be very easy. There are a few roots to step over, and a downed tree blocks the path at one point, but otherwise it’s smooth sailing—it’s very short, and almost entirely flat. The only reason I didn’t give it a 1 is because I see trails rated ‘easiest’ as being accessible to almost anyone—i.e., a paved, handicap-accessible walkway. While thistrail doesn’t quite meet those qualifications, it would make a nice nature walk for even the most novice hikers.


~ by theartsynaturalist on October 1, 2010.

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