The major portion of the management area's two parcels, totaling nearly 4,000 acres, is located in Northwestern Fauquier County. Beginning at its lower reaches, the property rises in a series of steep inclines and benches to the crest of the Blue Ridge. The property's long northwestern boundary closely follows the mountain crest, occasionally straying westward into Warren and Clarke Counties. Elevations range from 700 to 2200 feet. Though predominately a hardwood forest, there is some semi-open land at the lower elevations and at the top of the Davenport Tract. Terraced slopes on the lower portion of the area mark where rows of fruit trees once grew. Other physical features include numerous rock outcroppings, and several major streams and ecologically unique spring seeps.
The area is open daily from dawn to dusk.
(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) requires visitors to obtain an an Access Permit for department-owned Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and public fishing lakes, who are age 17 and older, unless they possess a valid Virginia hunting, freshwater fishing, or trapping license, or a current Virginia boat registration, or are otherwise waived. Please see Access Permit Waiver Guidance.
Daily or Annual Access Permits for WMAs and department-owned public fishing lakes statewide are available for purchase online, at any license agent, or by calling 1-866-721-6911 during business hours.
The cost for the Daily Access Permit is $4 per person. The cost for the Annual Access Permit is $23 per person and both prices include the $1 per transaction license agent fee. Call 1-866-721-6911 during business hours to order a Group Access permit.
The opportunities to hunt, fish, view wildlife and spectacular displays of wildflowers, or hike a stretch of the famous Appalachian Trail, contribute to the area's broad appeal.
Hunting: Deer are the most sought after game on the area (refer to the Hunting and Trapping in Virginia digest and/or posted rules for special deer regulations). There are also both fall and spring turkey hunting opportunities. Small game hunters will find squirrels to be plentiful and woodcock hunting along the brushy low-lying streams can be rewarding. Grouse in fair numbers can be found in the thickets around brushy old fields, old orchards and home sites, and regenerating timber harvests. Enhancements of wildlife habitat include timber harvesting and maintenance and development of early-successional habitat. Old home sites and overgrown apple orchards continue to provide habitat diversity. Remaining stands of mature oak, hickory, white ash, and other hardwoods provide ample mast and den trees.
Fishing: The 10-acre Thompson Lake is a public fishing lake and designated "stocked trout water." A trout stamp is required in addition to a fishing license. As a result of the lake unexpectedly draining in 2008, the smallmouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, and channel catfish populations were depleted or significantly reduced.
Parking is provided in 11 designated parking areas. The Appalachian Trail crosses the entire mountaintop portion of the management area, and there are numerous well defined trails and roads that provide foot access to the area's interior.