Ice Mountain Preserve

Central Appalachians

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.

While it’s no longer necessary for people to collect the ice that forms there, the mountain’s base still sees its share of visitors who come to see the site’s rare plant community, native forest and the North River. 

Current Conservation Work

The Nature Conservancy has been working to combat threats to Ice Mountain Preserve through research and restoration efforts. These include:

  • 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. 

Play a role in supporting these important conservation efforts and make a gift today!


See A Slideshow

See what makes the Ice Mountain Nature Preserve so special!

What You'll See

Ice Mountain Preserve, located in Hampshire County, protects a collection of boreal plants usually found much further north. 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 149-acre 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. 

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.

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


From Winchester, VA

- Take 50 West to Capon Bridge, WV
- In Capon Bridge, cross the bridge then turn right on Cold Stream Rd/Springfield Grade (by the white Methodist Church).
- Proceed 8 miles to North River Mills.
- You will see the white North River Mills Methodist church on your right, then pass a house and barn on your right.
- The Old Inn is the next long white house on the right.

From Romney, WV
- Take Rt. 50 East, and proceed 9.5 mi.
- Turn left on Rt. 29 North.
- Proceed 6.9 mi. to Slanesville, WV
- Turn right on Cold Stream Road (Springfield Grade, across from the Slanesville General Store).
- Proceed 4 miles to North River Mills
- Cross a single lane bridge and watch for Johanson's block house on the left.
- The Old Inn is the second house on the left about a mile beyond the bridge.


Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

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