This 150-acre preserve gets its name from the refrigeration effect that takes place inside its talus — a sloping mass of boulders at the foot of a mountain.
Ice Mountain Preserve This 150-acre preserve gets its name from the refrigeration effect that takes place inside its talus — a sloping mass of boulders at the foot of a mountain. © Kent Mason

Places We Protect

Ice Mountain Preserve

West Virginia

Ice Mountain Preserve protects a collection of boreal plants usually found much further north.

For generations of North River Mills residents, summertime meant weekend pilgrimages to Ice Mountain. There, at the rocky base, they’d chip off chunks of ice to cart home as the critical ingredient in fresh, homemade ice cream and chilled lemonade.

Ice Mountain gets its name from the refrigeration effect that takes place inside its talus — a sloping mass of boulders at the foot of a mountain. In cooler months, dense, cold air sinks deep into the talus, and ice masses form inside. As the weather warms up, the cooler air flows out of vents among the rocks at the bottom of the slope. It’s here, at the foot of the mountain, that many local children would eagerly gather ice.

What We're Doing
  • Working with volunteers to control invasive non-native plants, such as tree-of-heaven, garlic mustard and Japanese stillgrass, which compete with the preserve’s native and rare plants.
     
  • Partnering with the US Forest Service and West Virginia Department of Agriculture to prevent the death of hemlocks (which shade and cool the ice vents) from an infestation of a non-native insect pest – the hemlock woody adelgid. 
     
  • Cooperating with West Virginia University geologists on research about the formation and conservation of the ice vents system. 
     
  • Monitoring natural forest regeneration in tornado damaged areas to inform forest restoration efforts. 

Sustained by the cool air flowing from some 60 small holes and openings at the base of the talus, species such as twinflower, dwarf dogwood, Canada mayflower, and bristly rose all can be found here. 

The  preserve also provides habitat for breeding neotropical birds such as warblers, vireos and thrushes, as well as a collection of birds and animals that are typical of the Central Appalachians. Lucky visitors may spot a raven nesting on the outcrops of "Ravens Rocks," catch a glimpse of an otter or mink fishing the North River, or hear a coyote howling at dusk. 

Ice Mountain Preserve
Open for guided visitation, Ice Mountain takes its name from the accumulation of ice inside the mountain's talus, a sloping mass of debris at the foot of the mountain. Supporting boreal plants grow around the cold-air vents.

Ice Mountain Preserve Located in Hampshire County within the Central Appalachian region.

Two trails traverse the preserve, taking visitors through the forest to either the rare plant area or the sandstone cliffs.  The preserve is open for guided visitation most of the year, and visitors are asked to reserve a trip three weeks to a month in advance. Trips are usually held on Saturdays. To minimize impact, groups are limited to 15 participants. 

To schedule a tour, please call (304) 496-7359, or visit our trained volunteers’ web site.

Support Our Work at Ice Mountain Preserve

The Nature Conservancy has been working to combat threats to Ice Mountain Preserve through research and restoration efforts. You can play a role in supporting these important conservation efforts.