Valley leading to Dutton's Cave. Cave pictured at right. (c) J.S. Reinitz

Valley leading to Dutton’s Cave. Cave pictured at right. (c) J.S. Reinitz

Tucked away in a wooded valley hidden between vast cornfields sits Dutton’s Cave. Its short, wide mouth yawns open at the base of a high rock cliff, and a small spring trickles into a creek just before the entrance.

The path to Dutton's Cave is blocked at the foot bridge. The cave was closed in 2010 because of concerns over white-nose syndrome. (c) J.S. Reinitz

The path to Dutton’s Cave is blocked at the foot bridge. The cave was closed in 2010 because of concerns over white-nose syndrome. (c) J.S. Reinitz

I explored the cave about a decade go, finding a large cavern just inside and a tall cathedral room a bit further back.

These days, Dutton’s Cave is off limits. Conservation officials closed it in 2010 because of concerns over spreading white-nose syndrome, a fungus-based condition that can wake hibernating bats to fatal results. The fear is that people will unwittingly carrying the fungus from one cave to another on the bottom of their shoes.

During a recent trip, I found the cave blocked at a bridge just short of the entrance.