Ice Mountain is a natural formation of ice at dozens of small air pockets venting freezer temperature air -- coming out of a big pile of rocks year round that has much to do with some unusual geology called an Algific Talus Front (a shaded, cold facing large pile of rock falls over millennia creating 1000's of vent pockets at the very thick base).
Containing a very fragile eco-system on Nature Conservancy private property, this hike requires a trained docent (guide). To line up a docent, know your day and time and ask Steve Bailes in advance -- he will help you: typical hike times are starting at 10am on Saturday or Sunday -- arrange ahead if you can:
email Steve at: -- you can cc me if you like --
it is less than 10 minutes from camp and really spectacular - check out my photos from Ice Mountain hike: click on link:
Also, Raven Rocks is an alternate hike on the same trail system and offers some of the best views in Hampshire Co.
Directions: North River Mills, WV. 7 minutes, turn left out of camp onto Coldstream Rd. towards North River Mills town. Park by church or the old Inn at in the town of North River Mills on Coldstream Rd.
Swim-holes along the North River in Rio, WV
Well known landmarks along the North River in Rio, WV include Whale and Turtle rock -- popular parking, swimming, and fishing areas along the gorgeous rapid filled North River -- about 30 minute drive.
Directions: (Rio, WV) There are a couple of pull over parking areas along Ford Hill Rd. about a mile north of the intersection with Rt. 29 from the town of Rio. Pull over and swim, hike, play, fish. If you fish, you must have a state license.
Biking along the Cacapon River on River Road in Capon Bridge
A really extraordinary bike ride is just minutes away... River Road in Capon Bridge is a beautiful quiet country road that parallels the capon river all the way from Rt. 50 in Capon Bridge to the town of Yellow Springs about 12 miles away.
Directions: Right onto Coldstream road out of camp -- 4.5 miles later, turn left onto Rt. 50.... You can park at the River House or better the capon bridge library and take the short bike over to River Road on the other side of the green truss bridge.
It is not recommended that you bike from camp down Coldstream Rd as this is a more highly used and busy winding road that is dangerous for bikers. Go to town and park and walk or ride over to River Rd.
Also, still use extreme caution when biking on any road, esp. around curves and when vehicles are passing you in either direction.
Upper and Lower Berry Hiking Trails (on-site)
Buffalo Gap Retreat has a couple of hiking trails that are easy to moderate level and provide some nice views of the valley below depending on foliage.
The Upper and Lower Berry trails are accessible near the Spa on a maintained dirt and grass road that starts near the large sand bowl.
In the late spring/ early summer months, wild raspberries followed by blackberries are abundant and can be picked by all.
Swimming & Kayaking along the Cacapon River (1.5 miles and 4.5 miles)
Buffalo Gap has a neighbor named Curtis Sine who allows folks to park on his property along the river for $5/donation per vehicle about 2 miles from camp en-route to capon bridge along Coldstream Rd.
Bring your kayak or innertubes or canoe and enjoy the shallow river waters at the parking area or deeper areas just upstream.
Tube down to the River House cafe and green truss bridge and have friends pick you up and enjoy some coffee or food afterwords.
You can also park at or near the River House cafe in Capon Bridge and float or kayak from their riverfront property. They have a donation box that you can contributed too on the banks of the river there.
Short Mountain Wildlife Management Area
(23 miles - Kirby, WV)
Short Mountain Wildlife Manage Area provides some off-road driving and primitive camping as well as more rigorous hiking opportunities about half an hour from Buffalo Gap.
The road to the mountain ridge and beyond is best suited to trucks and/or 4wd's depending on recent rains. Once the summit is reached (about 3 miles), there is primitive camping at the pinnacle.... continue down into the valley and explore ponds and streams that ultimately lead back down to the North River in Rio.
Directions: from Buffalo Gap -- take Coldstream Rd. about 7 miles to Slainesville, turn left onto Rt. 29 -- go about 6 miles and turn right onto Rt. 50 -- a couple of miles later, turn left onto Augusta Ford Hill Rd. -- go about 8 miles south to Short Mountain Wildlife Refuge Rd. Drive to the summit for views and ridge hiking or continue to the next valley between two mountains for the big ponds and stream hike all the way to the North River if you allow time.