Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer, I love to stop at Cool Springs to hike the five miles of beautiful trails along the Shenandoah River. Formerly a Civil War battlefield, this lovely tract of land was a golf course for decades, but in 2013 it became a nature sanctuary and outdoor classroom through the efforts of Shenandoah University. There are very few places I return to hike again and again, but this is one of those special ones.
Located right off Route 7 West before it crosses the Shenandoah River, this 195 acre oasis is easy to get to (though be careful of the potholes in the access road) and offers a perfect glimpse into the beauty of the Blue Ridge. You can park your car in the generous lot and choose to go either left or right along the sparkling river. Dogs are welcome as long as they are on a leash, and the former golf cart track is paved and relatively flat, perfect for strolls when the ground is muddy or for people who are physically challenged or have young children. For those who want to huff and puff a little, the track to the right offers a climb up the mountain for a grand view of the Shenandoah Valley.
This pretty place is absolutely full of birds, butterflies, flowers, and grasses. No matter the season, the place is magical, the many small ponds, puddles, and streams sparkling, the sycamores bone-white against the sky, and the sound of cows and geese hanging in the air. Spring is particularly magnificent, with bluebells thick on the Shenandoah bank, but summer’s miles of mowed paths, and fall’s scenic display always make me want to come back again and again. And winter with the stone walls and bridges covered in snow may be my favorite time to visit Cool Springs.
Afterwards, lunch, dinner, or drinks in Berryville or Winchester is a nice ending to the adventure. Thank you Shenandoah University for opening this wonderful facility to the public, giving everyone the opportunity to experience the serenity and magic of the Shenandoah.