Cool Spring Battlefield

Sometimes I debate with myself if I should share a place or not. Many of us photographers are not disclosing locations of photos because those locations can be overran with people hurrying to get a photo. I do hikes that I don’t share but I decided to go ahead with this post. Why? This is conservation land that is protected and I want people to know what is possible. This wonderful nature preserve sits next to Shenandoah River and is in Clarke County.

Shenandoah River as it runs through Clarke County, VIrginia
Shenandoah River

Cool Spring Battlefield sits on land that, just a few year ago, was a golf club. When a friend told me about it ages ago, he said, “you know, the old golf club.” Well, I am not a golfer so I wasn’t sure. I did some research and located the area and headed there last year. I loved it. The care of the land is under Shenandoah University. They use it for learning but are also allowing the land to grow back to its nature habitat. There are paved trails that were once for golf carts and some unpaved trails. And the place is huge. I only went a little ways my first time there. This time, I wanted to go to the end. It was well worth it because there is a section that climbs quite a ways and you have a beautiful view of the rolling countryside located on the opposite side of the river.

Beautiful View

I went pretty early in the morning and was blessed with a mostly empty park. The peacefulness was needed and I enjoyed the silence. While walking, I passed a Yellow-Crowned Night Heron. I was sad to have disturbed it. I attempted a photo but it was just a bit too far away and behind some tall grass so I couldn’t get a good focus. More on the herons later… As you reach the far end of the trail you’ll hear a waterfall. While it is not very large, it is pretty. I’m excited to return to photograph this waterfall in the spring and then again in the fall. I think the scene will be even better! It started to snow pretty heavily while I was attempting photos of the falls so I eventually had to stop. The flakes kept landing on my lens and I couldn’t wipe them away fast enough.

Waterfall at end of former golf course

The trail continues on past the waterfall. There is a ranger/park sign structure with a sheet of paper and pen. You are required to sign your name and state where/how far you’ll be hiking. This is a safety requirement and everyone should comply with it. The River Trail eventually meets up with the Appalachian Trail. I’m definitely going to be returning for that section of the hike.

If you like birds, one of the highlights of the park is the Great Blue Heron Rookery located across the Shenandoah River. It is quite a beautiful sight. When I have been there, the sky has been gray so they look like vampires hanging out on the branches with their nests. I counted 13 along with several nests. It is a sure thing that you’ll see herons when you visit this park. As always, please respect them and give them their space.

Heron Rookery with great blue herons and nests
Heron Rookery

What I love about this place is that it is a wonderful example of land conservation. Closer to me, in Loudoun County, Goose Creek was a golf course. I saw just last fall that it closed. They will be building houses on the land now and have already built a storage unit. This golf course ran right next to Goose Creek (duh) and it, too, could have been conserved instead of being turned over to more development. Granted, Cool Spring was a historic area due to the battles that took place during the Civil War and that probably went a long way in protecting it from development. However, this is a great option for future golf courses that go under. Let the land grow back naturally and preserve the trails for runners, bikers, hikers, etc. I found out, after emailing a word of thanks to those who administer the land, that there are thousands of acres of land protected around the former course and across the river. I think it would add up to close to 4,000 acres. That is remarkable.

If you decide to visit Cool Spring Battlefield, please respect the rules. Your dog stays on a leash. You Leave No Trace. No fires. Respect the land and stay on trails as much as possible Let’s keep the land pristine and beautiful.

About Jennifer G

Nature lover. Being outside keeps me sane and balanced.

Posted on March 5, 2019, in Virginia Hiking and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Alli Templeton

    It’s nice to know some areas are going back to nature after human use. Beautiful pictures, especially the waterfall. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading! I agree. I think it is a great idea. I work hard to “protest” the over-development that is happening near me. I think it is a great example of what’s possible.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Alli Templeton

        You’re doing a great job. We have a huge over-development project over here, and it’s scary to think how far it will go. It’s good to know there are people out there who care.

        Liked by 1 person

      • We have data centers here. They are going up everywhere with the promise of lower taxes (they haven’t gone done yet in 5 years) Now they are creeping onto former farmland and it is disturbing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Alli Templeton

        Goodness, yes that is disturbing. I can’t see taxes ever being lower in reality. Over here we also have disturbing encroachments on our ‘green belt’ land, which was originally ringfenced as specially-preserved countryside that was guaranteed never to be built on. That promise hasn’t lasted either, and now the green belt is gradually being developed. Scary stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Its heartwarming to hear when land is protected for everyone to enjoy, rather than developed for monetary gain. I’m so grateful for the parks we have around here.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks for the heads up on this site, Jennifer. I’ll have to give it a try soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Funny, I first read this as, you had found a battlefield in the spring, and it was cool. 😄 But now I appreciate both the visuals and the info. We aren’t going through WV on this trip, but I’m filing this away for the future.


  5. Beautiful pictures. We have kindred souls. I love the peacefulness of being out in nature too. It’s calm and exciting at the same time.

    Liked by 1 person

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