Open to the Public
Explore the trails at Warm Springs Mountain Preserve. View All
Warm Springs Mountain Preserve helps stitch together thousands of acres of forest and conservation lands in western Virginia’s Allegheny Highlands. The preserve anchors our efforts to protect and restore a key wildlife corridor and habitat for an amazing diversity of natural communities, plants and animals.
Before You Go
- View Preserve Guidelines. Please note: dogs are not allowed at any Conservancy preserve.
- Explore a virtual view of Warm Springs Mountain
9,269 acres on and around Warm Springs Mountain
The preserve features Virginia’s only substantial montane pine barren, a globally rare, arid, fire-dependent landscape. The mountain harbors at least two other rare natural communities, three rare plants and eight rare invertebrates. Situated within a 77,000-acre unfragmented, largely roadless forest block, the preserve helps maintain healthy, breeding populations of interior-forest-dwelling songbirds, provides key habitat for wide-ranging mammals, and protects headwater tributaries of both the Jackson and Cowpasture rivers.
Through diverse conservation partnerships, the Conservancy continues to research, protect and, in certain areas, restore the rich ecology of Warm Springs Mountain and the Allegheny Highlands. Currently, our key strategies include:
- Collaboration with federal and state agencies to restore the historic fire regime of fire-adapted and fire-dependent pine and oak forest communities
- Inventory, monitoring, and control of non-native invasive plant species
- Working with the George Washington National Forest to build and manage a network of resilient forest sites critical to the preservation of biodiversity within the Central Appalachians
March 2012 marked the 10th anniversary of the preserve: View our anniversary slideshow.
LEAF Interns assist in clearing trails at Warm Springs.
Ingalls Overlook Trail
See how the Conservancy conducts prescribed fires at Warm Springs Mountain.
Two trails are currently open to the public: the Ingalls Overlook Trail and the Sandy Gap Trail. Click on the links below to download trail maps (pdf).
Ingalls Overlook Trail — At the northern end of the preserve, park at the Dan Ingalls Overlook, located on Route 39 just outside the village of Warm Springs. Here you will find the trailhead for the Ingalls Overlook Trail. Interpretive signs along the trail (2.4-mile round trip) provide an excellent introduction to the mountain.
Sandy Gap Trail — At the southern end of the preserve, park at the small gravel lot on Route 703 (Airport Road) just past the south entrance to Bald Knob. Cross the paved road to the gravel Bald Knob service road and you will find the trailhead for the Sandy Gap Trail. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 1930’s, this trail (3.2-mile one-way trip) provides excellent views to the east, travels through the George Washington National Forest, and connects to Douthat State Park.
Go on a treasure hunt with your family! What will you find?
Take a virtual tour of Warm Springs Mountain with our interactive map.
Visit Warm Springs for outdoor adventures and an inspiring conservation story. Learn more in our Passport to Nature: Escape to Warm Springs Mountain.
Local Conservancy staff members periodically offer guided hikes, providing visitors with opportunities to explore many facets of the mountain. Contact our Warm Springs office to inquire about group tours: (540) 839-3599.
While black bear populations are healthy in the western part of the state, you are unlikely to encounter a bear while visiting one of our preserves. More often than not, a wild bear will detect you first and flee from the area. However, black bears that have become accustomed to humans and their foods may not run away. In these cases, certain precautions are offered for consideration (source: USFS):
- Do not run. Remain calm, continue facing the bear and slowly back away.
- Keep children and pets close at hand.
- Make lots of noise. Yell, rattle pots and pans, whistle and break sticks.
- Travel in groups.
- Stand upright. Do not kneel or bend over. Wave arms, jackets or other materials.
- Never approach or corner a bear.
- Never offer food to a bear.
- Be aware of the presence of cubs and never come between a bear and its cubs.
- Fight back aggressively if a bear attacks you.
Warm Springs Mountain Preserve is located in Bath County, Virginia - approximately 60 minutes west of Lexington, 75 minutes southwest of Staunton, and 30 minutes north of Covington. The Preserve’s public trails are best accessed from either State Route 39 just east of the village of Warm Springs at the Dan Ingalls Overlook, or from State Route 703 near Ingalls Field Airport.
Download a vicinity map to help plan your visit.