Management Plan for Burnholt Cave

A caver in a highly-decorated upper-level passage in Burnholt Cave. (Photo by Nikki Fox)


Burnholt Cave is located south of Lewisburg, outside of Fairlea, West Virginia, and is a quarter mile southeast of the Huffnagle Road. The West Virginia Cave Conservancy (WVCC) has taken responsibility for management of the cave and its resources for the current landowner.

The cave was gated in August 2020 per the request of the landowner.


Burnholt Cave, also historically called Fullen Cave, was once used as a domestic water supply. A concrete dam was constructed in the cave to provide a reservoir for water collection. At the time, a dramatic archway over the sinkhole was part of the fabrication, which has since collapsed. The only remnants that remain are some of the foundation blocks.

The entrance room of Burnholt Cave. (Photo by Nikki Fox)

Cave Resources

The Burnholt Cave entrance is an 8-foot-deep vertical drop, which has a ladder to descend, to a slope that leads south. This immediately opens into a breakdown-floored room about 25 feet in diameter and 25 feet high. There is a stream that exits the southwestern wall, flowing downstream, and the main way one is an more obvious passage leading south. This passage extends upstream for about 150 feet, becoming both stooping and wading. This was, at one time, the entirety of the known cave.

Burnholt is, however, a multi-leveled cave, and there is a steep mud climb that leads right off the stream passage to the upper level. This passage, in turn, leads south-southwest for almost 500 feet. There are a large number of formations, clay floors, pits that can be stepped across, and both an upper-upper and lower level.

The lower level that is accessed in this area is less than 150 feet long. It contains the stream, and has ceiling heights that vary between 4 and 12 feet.

The upper-upper level is accessed via a climb (that becomes a squeeze) about halfway along the upper level. This upper-upper level extends both north-northeast and south-southwest, and is about 400 feet long. It is often narrow enough to require sideways crawling, has ceiling heights between 1 and 8 feet, and is profusely decorated.

The upper level ends at a downward slope where the stream passage is rejoined. This stream passage, at present, has a surveyed length of about 500 feet. It is relatively wide with bedrock ledges when it is encountered, but it narrows and becomes a bedrock tube as one proceeds farther south. The passage is usually of walking height, but there is a 9-inch-high pinch over flowstone at one location.

The stream passage’s upstream “terminus” has the dimensions of about 10 feet high and 7 feet wide. This terminus blows significant air, and the exploration upstream was stopped only by a lack of time, not by any constriction in the passage. To date, there is a little over 1,500 feet of passage mapped.

Burnholt Cave is formed in the Sinks Grove Limestone. Its water has been dye traced to Davis Spring. The cave is not a significant bat hibernaculum.

Surface Resources

Burnholt Cave is an overgrown sinkhole. The cave entrance is surrounded by a young forest and the property is used during hunting season; thus no access allowed during this time.

The gated and locked entrance of Burnholt Cave. (Photo by Nikki Fox)

Publicity Policy

WVCC will publicize the Burnholt Cave only to the extent necessary to accomplish our mission goals. Publicity of details and location information will only be available within the established caving community. Publicity available to the general public will be limited to information needed to promote our educational and scientific goals. In the event of a rescue at Burnholt Cave, WVCC will make every effort to minimize media coverage, especially any location information.


The Board of Directors has established a property manager 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 property manager will be responsible for monitoring the following rules controlling use of the preserve:

1. No camping or fires will be permitted at this time.
2. All trash and human waste must be packed out.
3. ATV’s, dirt bikes, and snowmobiles are not permitted on the preserve.
4. Collection of rocks, flora, fauna, etc. on the surface is prohibited. Any collection underground must be done in accordance with West Virginia laws, which require a permit from the state, based in part on permission from the Board. The Board will approve such requests on an individual basis, based on scientific need.
5. No placement of permanent bolts or anchors is allowed. No other defacement of the cave is allowed.
6. Parking is allowed only in designated areas.
7. No hunting will be allowed on the property. No fireworks or firearms will be allowed on the property.
8. No commercial activity, including cave-for-pay, will be allowed on the property.
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 stands over a canyon in Burnholt Cave. (Photo by Nikki Fox)

Access Policy

The cave is gated and locked. The Burnholt Cave Preserve shall be maintained in an “open” condition, and will be freely available to all responsible cavers, regardless of organizational affiliation. If, in the future, additional information indicates that some resource needs some additional level of protection, whatever minimal controls needed to protect the resource may be instituted.

In general, access to the cave will be maintained as open as practical. No release form is required for visitation. No cave-for-pay, or any other activity “for pay” is allowed.

The WVCC reserves the right to deny access to any individual or group who, in its sole estimation, presents an actual or potential threat to the preservation of the resource, and may employ any and all remedies available to landowners with respect to trespass.


Parking near the entrance sinkhole is not allowed. Space is limited as only three vehicles can be accommodated. Visitors must park at the top of the hill, along the access road (all-wheel drive recommended during wet weather) and then hike down a short distance to the cave’s gated entrance.

Property Manager

The Property Manager of Burnholt Cave is Mystik Miller. You may contact her at for information about the preserve such as, permission, gate combo and directions.

Permission to enter the cave is granted by the discretion of the Property Manager.

A caver in the lowest level of Burnholt Cave — the stream level. (Photo by Nikki Fox)

Welding during the gate instillation in the summer of 2020. (Photo by Nick Socky)