Eidolon Nature Preserve

The Old Stone House.  The house has been gutted, but it's still a nice-looking remnant of the past.

The Old Stone House. The house has been gutted, but it’s still a nice-looking remnant of the past.

Today marked the final step of my local nature preserves tour, and Eidolon didn’t disappoint.  The preserve is a lonely place on top of a mountain outside of Great Cacapon, West Virginia, and it offered up the opportunity to take a long stroll without running into a hoard of other hikers.

We weren't able to hit all of the trails.  The ending point for the Old Coach Road (see right) is a little bit confusing, but the rest of the trails are very well-marked

We weren’t able to hit all of the trails. The ending point for the Old Coach Road (see right) is a little bit confusing, but the rest of the trails are very well-marked

The 354-acre tract is run by the Potomac Valley Audubon Society and is the property of The Nature Conservancy (TNC).  The land was willed to TNC by Marguerite Zapoleon, longtime resident and author of Everyone Needs a Mountain, or Skylife at Eidolon.  The book describes living on the mountain and is out of print; however, older copies are available from a variety of sources on the internet.

There are two entrances.  There is very limited parking along Orleans Road.  Walking up the road from the green gate leads to a placard with information and maps.

There are two entrances. There is very limited parking along Orleans Road. Walking up the road from the green gate leads to a placard with information and maps.

There are a number of trails in the preserve, the most-rugged of which is the Old Coach Road.  This 18th century trail starts out relatively flat before descending to a dead-end near Woodmont Road.  Staying on top of the mountain allows hikers to wander a series of easy loops and connector trails, the highlight of which is the remains of the still beautiful shell of the old stone house.

At the junction of Old Coach Road and the Yellow Trail

At the junction of Old Coach Road and the Yellow Trail

There weren’t enough hours in this short winter day to hit every trail (we missed the blue and white trails), but we did rack up 4.3 miles with a combined elevation gain of 916′.   On the way down the mountain on the Old Coach Road, several deer took off in front of us.  This preserve is open to hunters, so hiking during deer season should be done with extreme caution.  Eidolon doesn’t have the rare plant and animal life of other nature preserves, but today it more than made up for it in solitude.  In all, I would advise anyone to take in the local nature preserves and find a favorite of his or her own.  They all have strong points certain to satisfy anybody looking for a short hike.

Parting shot from one of the many trails

Parting shot from one of the many trails

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