Management Plan for The Boar Hole Cave Preserve

Anastomoses decorating a passage in Boar Hole Cave. (Photo by Kevin Downey)


The West Virginia Cave Conservancy (WVCC), a nonprofit, West Virginia Corporation, acquired property containing the Cowen Entrance to the Boar Hole Cave in October of 2023. The cave is one of three entrances (The Portal, Radio and Cowen) to a cave system with approximately 12 miles of passage. The property is located on the south side of Friars Hill Road, Greenbrier County Route 9, approximately 0.5 miles West of Esty, West Virginia.

WVCC purchased a parcel of less than an acre, fee simple. The parcel has a walking easement from the public road to the cave entrance. In addition to the fee simple parcel, the purchase also included the right to travel through any cave passage accessible from the cave entrance that extends under the seller’s remaining land.


The original entrance (Cowan Entrance) to the cave was dug open by Dave Gillespie and Dave Cowan in July of 1994. It is at the base of a headwall in a doline on the south side of Friars Hill Road. This hole drops down about 18 feet in a tight chimney to a 10-foot crawl and another 8-foot drop. Upstream is several thousand feet of passage to a breakdown choke. Downstream leads to the main portion of the cave. The Radio entrance was dug open in the late 1990s and the the Boar Hole was connected to the Portal cave in 2002.

A caver in Rind River, the main waterway in Boar Hole Cave. (Photo by Ryan Maurer)

Cave Resources

The Boar Hole Cave System is listed on the Significant Cave List for aesthetics, depth, geology, hydrology, and length.

Surface Resources

The Conservancy’s property containing Boar Hole Cave is an open field used as hay land and pasture adjoining an early stage mixed hardwood forest. The surface resources will be maintained in as near natural state as possible, based upon the needs of WVCC.

The Cowen (Historic) Entrance into The Boar Hole. (Photo by Nikki Fox)

Publicity Policy

WVCC will publicize its ownership of the Cowen entrance to the Boar Hole Cave Preserve only to the extent necessary to accomplish WVCC’s mission. Publication of details and location information will only be available within the established caving community. Information available to the general public will be limited to information needed to promote WVCC’s educational and scientific goals. In the event of a rescue at The Boar Hole, WVCC will make every effort to minimize media coverage, especially any location information.


The Board of Directors has established a management committee to implement and monitor this management plan. The Board will be responsible for any plan changes. The Property Manager will report to the Board on the status of the preserve, with any recommendations for changes to this plan.

The Preserve Manager will be responsible for monitoring the following rules controlling use of the preserve:

  1. No camping or fires are permitted.
  2. All trash and human waste must be packed out.
  3. ATVs, dirt bikes, and snowmobiles are not permitted on the property.
  4. No defacement of the cave, or its contents, is allowed.
  5. Parking in designated area adjacent to public road.
  6. No hunting will be allowed on the property. No fireworks or firearms will be allowed on the property.
  7. No commercial activity, including cave-for-pay, will be allowed on the property.
  8. Collections of biological specimens, geological materials, paleontological remains, archaeological materials, or any other material while in any cave or on any property owned or managed by WVCC requires the express permission of the WVCC. Permission will not be granted unless the applicant demonstrates that they hold, at the date of collection, all applicable state and/or federal permits for such collections (e.g. West Virginia Department of Natural Resources Scientific Collection Permit, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Cave Collection Permit, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Scientific Collection Permit, et cetera). Permission to collect will be at WVCC’s discretion, even in cases in which the applicant holds all appropriate permits, and may be withdrawn with notice at any time.
  9. Visitors’ conduct should conform to National Speleological Society conservation guidelines, and to NSS Safety and Techniques Committee recommendations.
  10. Visitors are expected to comply with all applicable state and federal laws.

A caver during exploration of the Blastoid Belfry section of Boar Hole . (Photo by Yvonne Droms)

Access Policy

WVCC has a goal of maintaining access to as many of the major cave systems in West Virginia as possible. This entrance to the Boar Hole will be maintained in an “open” condition to visitors, regardless of any organizational affiliation. No prior contact is needed to visit the cave. No release form is required for visitation.


There is limited parking space on the north side of Friars Hill Road adjacent to a private road, Lytewood Place. Do not create new places to park on the Preserve or surrounding properties.

Property Manager

The Preserve Manager of the Boar Hole Cave Preserve is Carroll Bassett. You may contact him at for further information about the cave.

Large Passage in The Boar Hole. (Photo by Ryan Maurer)