Guilday Preserve

John Guilday Caves Nature Preserve

The John Guilday Caves Nature Preserve is in Pendleton County, West Virginia. The property is better known as the Trout Rock caves. Trout, New Trout, and Hamilton Caves are the three largest caves, with Hamilton at about 4.5 miles in length. Used by cavers for many years, the caves harbor numerous animal species, adding to the management challenges.

In 1983 the NSS completed the purchase of the 40 acres of forested land, near Franklin, West Virginia. This property has been the site of significant paleontological excavations. The property has been designated the John E. Guilday Memorial Cave Preserve in honor of the late John Guilday who was one of the foremost paleontologists in the country working with cave-deposited material (and a long-time NSS member). He was research curator at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. He also made the initial paleontological studies in Trout Cave.

Please Note the Following Statement About White Nose Syndrome !!!

The John Guilday Caves Nature Preserve will reopen for limited visitation on March 12, 2011. We strongly encourage any visitors to ensure their cave gear is thoroughly decontaminated to U.S. Fish and Wildlife standards before visiting another site outside the ten mile radius they recommend. See

West Virginia is essentially surrounded by WNS positive states. Our bat counts at the preserve indicate two things. First, in Trout and Hamilton Caves, both positive for WNS, the overall population is dwindling rapidly. There are essentially no bats left in Hamilton Cave. Trout Cave continues to be an important site for the endangered Indiana bat with a slight increase in population from last year. However the large population of Little Brown bats is almost gone, as only 8 remain. The Pipistrelles have also been hit hard, but remain a bit more populous. Indianas are actually the largest current wintering bat group in the cave. Second, New Trout Cave seems to be unaffected by WNS, and offers a ray of hope, albeit a small one.

Hamilton and New Trout caves will be open for visitation and will remain open all year. Please ensure your gear is clean before arriving. Decontaminated is better, especially if visiting New Trout Cave. If you plan to visit both caves, please visit New Trout first. Because Trout Cave is now utilized by two endangered species, the Indiana bat (90) in the winter and the Virginia Big Ear bat (159) in the summer, it will remain closed all year. There is not a reasonable period when it can be opened without disturbing one or the other groups.

This policy will be reviewed at least annually, and is subject to change on short notice as conditions change. The Preserve will do all it can to protect the bat populations in our caves while permitting recreational, scientific and educational use to the extent possible. Again, visitors should ensure they follow USF&W guidelines regarding WNS after leaving the property.

The Cave Preserve Committee, headed by Dave West, is responsible for management of the cave preserve with goals of encouraging re-establishment of bat hibernation and preservation of the paleontological sites to be investigated, as well as continued recreational caving.

Preserve Management Plan   [PDF, 125Kb]

If you have questions about this Preserve, e-mail Dave West at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.