Yankauer Nature Preserve is located roughly halfway between Martinsburg and Shepherdstown on Whitings Neck Road. The 104-acre tract is managed by the Potomac Valley Audubon Society for The Nature Conservancy. There are a number of possibilities for short hikes in the preserve, but we generally opt for the outer loop, which is made up of all or part of the South, Kingfisher, and Cedar Loop Trails. At 1.8 miles, this lariat hike is very easy (just over 50′ of elevation gain) and entertaining.
The “entertainment” primarily consists of the many interpretive signs along the way. Yankauer is probably the most popular of the local PVAS sites; thus, it also offers an educational experience for kids of all ages. I know I’ve learned a lot! Another highlight is a great view of the Potomac River on the Kingfisher Trail. Looking across at the Maryland shore, you’ll see the Big Slackwater boat ramp, and the recently constructed section of the C and O Canal Towpath by the same name is about a mile upstream. Also, this overlook is the site of an interpretive sign containing a map of the entire Potomac River basin.
On a number of our trips to Yankauer, we’ve seen deer and paw paws in their various stages of ripening. Paw paws aren’t among my favorite fruits, so my eating habits aren’t any threat to the local food supply! Nevertheless, there are numerous reasons to pay a visit to the preserve. I particularly like it on rainy and snowy days when longer, more difficult hikes aren’t feasible. In all, this is a very nice place to get away from it all for an hour or two. I will definitely go back in the near future.