"We have an inspiring conservation story for our visitors to take home along with their memorable experiences on the mountain.”
By Daniel White
Warm Springs Mountain forms Bath County’s natural backbone, an ever-present and instantly recognizable ridge running along its center. Visitors have been drawn to this area for centuries.
The first tourists ventured to Hot Springs and the Warm Springs Valley seeking the reputed healing powers of thermal springs fed by water from the mountain above. The famous springs provide relaxation and rejuvenation to this day.
Visit now though, and you will find a range of options, from cultural events to outdoor adventures. No visit is complete without an excursion to The Nature Conservancy’s Warm Springs Mountain Preserve.
“Warm Springs Mountain Preserve offers three public hiking trails,” says Marek Smith, who directs our programs throughout the Allegheny Highlands. “From our Sandy Gap Trail, you can connect with extensive trail systems leading into the George Washington National Forest and on to Douthat State Park.”
Guided hikes to Flag Rock and mountain biking trips to other areas are offered through our partnership with Natural Retreats outfitters. Public guided hikes also are available on the preserve and adjacent public lands via the Old Dairy Hiking Club series, presented by the Conservancy and Virginia Hot Springs Preservation Trust. Group tours are available upon request.
Self-guided options on the preserve include the Ingalls Overlook and Bear Loop trails, featuring interpretive signs that highlight plants and wildlife, as well as conservation efforts.
The Conservancy established Warm Springs Mountain Preserve in 2002 by purchasing more than 9,000 acres, our single largest land purchase in Virginia. Our commitment remains to protect the mountain, enhance its health and share its natural wonders.
We reached a major milestone in spring 2012 with the single largest controlled burn that the Conservancy and the U.S. Forest Service have ever conducted together. The project will rejuvenate nearly 5,000 acres of forest.
“We’re restoring an entire ecological system here,” Smith adds. “So we have an inspiring conservation story for our visitors to take home along with their memorable experiences on the mountain.”March 22, 2013
Daniel White is a Conservancy senior writer based in Charlottesville and a correspondent for Passport to Nature.