Management Plan for Lost Cave Preserve

Historic signatures on a large breakdown block in the entrance room of Lost Cave. (Photo by Nikki Fox)


The West Virginia Cave Conservancy (WVCC), a non-profit, West Virginia Corporation, purchased Lost Cave, located in Greenbrier County, West Virginia, on May 29, 2020. Lost Cave is located immediately adjacent to State Route 63, approximately 2.6 miles east of the town of Alderson, West Virginia.

WVCC purchased a three-quarters of an acre parcel, fee simple. The parcel is roughly rectangular, with the Lost Cave entrance located in the center of the northwest quarter of the parcel. The parcel is basically a deep sinkhole on a hillside. 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. A significant portion of the cave does extend under the seller’s remaining land.


William E. Davies, in his 1949 Caverns of West Virginia, documented Lost Cave. He noted that the cave had been used for saltpeter mining during the War of 1812 and the Mexican War. During the Civil War, the cave could not be relocated, hence its name.

This cave has been an occasional popular cave with locals and cavers for recreational caving. In 1977 and 1978, members of The West Virginia Association for Cave Studies mapped the cave.

A caver in one of the many crawls that have remnants of the 1800s saltpeter mining. (Photo by Nikki Fox)

Cave Resources

Lost Cave is listed on the Significant Cave List for history, recreation, aesthetics, geology, biology, hydrology, paleontology and length.

The only evidence that remains of the historical saltpeter mining operation is a number of obvious dirt mounds in the northern part of the cave.

During 1977 and 1978, when Lost Cave was surveyed, surveyors observed a number of cave rats. In early 2020, when some of the original surveyors payed a return visit, cave rat nests were still in evidence, but no cave rats were observed. WVCC plans to have flagging tape and signage at the cave rat nest area to warn visitors not to disturb their nests.

Lost Cave has a total surveyed length of 3,735 feet, and a depth of 53.5 feet. The moderate length of this cave, and the lack of significant obstacles, such as vertical drops, make this cave a suitable one for recreational trips and people new to caving. Climbing down the entrance slope into the cave provides the only real vertical relief in the cave.

The cave is not a significant bat hibernaculum.

Surface Resources

Although Lost Cave Preserve is relatively small, there are some nice features on the surface. The northeast property boundary is Laurel Creek, which occupies a rocky channel. Laurel Creek, which originates at the top of Muddy Creek Mountain hundreds of feet above the preserve, can vary considerably in flow volume, depending on the weather.

The sinkhole that contains the entrance to Lost Cave is rather picturesque. A stream exits a small tube in the Alderson Limestone, just above the entrance and then falls over a lip of Union Limestone straight into the entrance.

The surface resources will be maintained in as near natural state as possible, based upon the needs of WVCC.

The entrance to Lost Cave. (Photo by Nikki Fox)

Publicity Policy

WVCC will publicize the Lost Cave Preserve only to the extent necessary to accomplish WVCC’s 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 Lost Cave, 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 placement of permanent bolts, standing ropes or anchors is allowed. No other defacement of the cave, or its contents, is allowed.
5. Parking is only available on the shoulder of State Route 63. Parking is only recommended on the river side of Rt. 63, where the shoulders are particularly wide.
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 from Lost Cave, and the Lost Cave Preserve, or any other cave or 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 crawlway leading to the Anastomoses Crawl. (Photo by Nikki Fox)

Access Policy

Lost Cave 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 “No Trespassing” signs are to warn visitors to the preserve not to stray onto Anvil Rock Enterprises’ land for safety, due to Anvil Rock Enterprises’ nearby shooting range.


Parking is not available on the preserve. The southeast boundary of the preserve is the State Route 63 right-of-way. The rocky draw of Laurel Creek, protected by a guard-rail, and the steep hillside as one progresses west along the boundary, preclude any vehicular entry onto the preserve.

Parking is only available on the shoulder of Route 63. Parking is only recommended on the river side of Route 63, where the shoulders are particularly wide and can accommodate a number of cars.

Property Manager

The Property Manager of the Lost Cave Preserve is Mystik Miller. You may contact her at for further information about the cave.

Lost Cave has abundant crawling for the adventurous caver. (Photo by Nikki Fox)

Flowstone-covered rocks in one of the few decorated areas in Lost Cave. (Photo by Nikki Fox)