What to see
Spring is prime time for wildflowers and bird watching. Summer is peak season for wildlife sightings, especially during morning and evening walks. And autumn offers beautiful displays of forest foliage.
The Ingalls Overlook, Sandy Gap and Bear Loop hiking trails are open daily. These three trails offer distinct experiences, from expansive mountain views to a close-up look at a globally rare pine barren, along with opportunities to extend your hike on adjoining public lands.
Scroll to the bottom of this page to find a preserve guide and trail maps for download.
Bear Loop Trail—From the village of Hot Springs, travel US 220 South for 7.7 miles, turn left on State Route 606 and travel 2.6 miles to the crest of Warm Springs Mountain. Turn left onto State Route 703 (Airport Road) and travel 6.2 miles to the trailhead, just left of the entrance to Ingalls Field Airport. This 3-mile loop trail is relatively flat and with several overlooks offering stunning panoramic views. Interpretive signs highlight the mountain’s diversity of wildlife species and habitats in addition to TNC’s efforts to restore the region’s fire-adapted oak and pine forests.
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 2.4-mile (round trip) Ingalls Overlook Trail. Interpretive signs along the first mile provide an excellent introduction to Warm Springs Mountain and the region’s natural history. The trail then climbs among a series of scenic rock formations with views of Shenandoah Mountain and the Cowpasture River valley before looping back to the main trail and returning to the overlook.
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 Corps in the 1930s, this 3.2-mile trail (one-way trip) features tranquil vistas and unique stone work, travels through the George Washington National Forest, and connects to the Douthat State Park trail system. This trail can be accessed directly from State Route 703 or from Forest Road 125, in which case the views of the Falling Springs valley from the trailhead overlook make this a truly rewarding climb.