Management Plan for the Preserve of Icebox & Friars Hole Cave Entrances into the Friars Hole Cave System

Lew Bicking (left) sits at the Friars Hole Cave entrance that was dug open on Aug. 16, 1962 by George Titcomb and Charlie Schwab. Today this entrance is unstable and is not be entered. (Photo from the collection of Barbara Hille)


The West Virginia Cave Conservancy (WVCC), a non-profit, West Virginia Corporation, acquired property containing the Friars Hole Cave and Icebox Cave on Aug. 4, 2022. Both caves are entrances to the Friars Hole Cave System. The property is located on the northwest side of Friars Hole Road, Greenbrier County Rt 5/1, approximately 1.75 miles WNW of Renicks Valley, West Virginia.

WVCC purchased a 3.5 acre parcel, fee simple. The parcel fronts the public road and the caves are roughly in the center of the property. The topography consists of a prominent steep sided sinkhole with a stream running the length of the sinkhole and entering the Friars Hole Cave. 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.

Friars Hole Cave and Icebox Cave are 2 of the 11 entrances to the Friars Hole Cave system, a major cave system of over 50 miles in Greenbrier and Pocahontas Counties. Access varies for other entrances to the Friars Hole Cave System. Some of the other entrances are owned by individuals who do not welcome visitors to their property.


DC Grotto cavers dug open the Friars Hole Cave entrance in 1962. Icebox Cave was reported by DC cavers in 1966 and was originally called Ice Cave #2 as ice was known to linger in the entrance well into August.

In 1976 Friars Hole Cave was connected to another known cave in the area, thus creating the Friars Hole Cave System. During this year several other area caves were also connected into the system, which expanded the footprint of the cave.

Recent interest in the southern portion of the Friars Hole Cave System has seen use of the original Friars Hole Cave Entrance for exploration and mapping. In January of 2020, the Friars Hole Entrance was becoming increasingly unstable and efforts were made to extend Icebox Cave and connect it to downstream passage in the Friars Hole Cave. By September of 2020 the Icebox Entrance was usable for access to the main cave.

NOTICE: At this time the Friars Hole Cave Entrance is VERY unstable and is NOT to be entered.

Icebox Entrance of Friars Hole Cave System. (Photo by Nikki Fox)

Cave Resources

The Friars Hole Cave System is listed on the Significant Cave List for biology, depth, geology, hydrology, length, and recreation.

The system is currently over 52 miles and is actively being explored. On December 31, 2021 Friars was the first cave in the state to break 50 miles in length. The system resides in two counties: Greenbrier and Pocahontas.

The Icebox Entrance is one of 11 entrances and is the southernmost entrance of the system. It is in a sink that captures a small stream that goes into unstable South Friars Hole Entrance. Icebox lies 50 feet away in the same sinkhole without any water entering.

Once down the vertical drops of Icebox, dry passage heads down a couple of easy climbs to a large passage containing a stream. This is the Friars Hole Trunk, measuring 65 feet wide and 15 feet high. To the north (right) is upstream Friars Hole and to the rest of the main cave system and the other entrances. To the left is downstream Friars Hole where the cave’s southern-most passages reside.

Surface Resources

The Conservancy’s property containing Friars Hole Cave and Icebox Cave is an early stage mixed hardwood forest. An intermittent stream passes under the public road and flows several hundred feet through the tract before entering the caves. The surface resources will be maintained in as near natural state as possible, based upon the needs of WVCC.

The Friars Hole main stream passage with a caver rappelling down from Parker Mountain Passage. (Photo by Nikki Fox)

Publicity Policy

WVCC will publicize its ownership of the Friars Hole Cave Entrance Preserve only to the extent necessary to accomplish WVCC’s mission. Publicity 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 our educational and scientific goals. In the event of a rescue at Friars 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 is only available along the 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.

The Star Chamber in the southern part of Friars Hole Cave System. (Photo by Nikki Fox)

Access Policy

WVCC has a goal of maintaining access to as many of the major cave systems in West Virginia as possible.

The Icebox Entrance 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.

The caves on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve require advanced caving skills including vertical rope work. All visitors must be proficient in vertical rope techniques to consider visiting the caves. The drops in the entrance section of the caves are not free climbable and visitors should be aware of proper routes and rigging.


There is limited parking space for three vehicles on the west shoulder of the public road. Do not create new places to park on the Preserve or surrounding properties.

Property Manager

The Property Manager of the Friars Hole and Icebox entrances property is Randy Rumer. You may contact him at for further information about the cave.

A caver rappels the last of the original route in the Friars Hole Cave drops, a route that should no longer be used. (Photo by Nikki Fox)

Cavers in deep water during a dye trace with fluorescein. Current science, research, and exploration is ongoing in the Friars Hole Cave System. (Photo by Nikki Fox)