Otter Creek Wilderness, WV Backpacking Trip

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The Otter Creek Wilderness, WV backpacking trip occurred the weekend of May 10-12, 2002. Participants were Bill Isham, his wife Chris, Charlie Johnson, Jerry McCumbers and Christine DiLapi. This was a 2 night, 2 day 14 mile circuit hike. 5/10/2002- Jerry McC and I carpooled from Manassas, VA to the Seneca Rocks Visitor's Center, arriving there at around 2PM. This visitor's center is one of the most elegant government buildings that I have ever seen. It looked more like a hotel lobby than a typical visitor's center. We got some info on Seneca Rocks, which we plan to come back and hike up to one of these days.

We then got to the Seneca Shadows Campground at around 2:30PM. We checked in with the campground manager, who was very friendly and courteous, and then went to our site. It was on a hilltop that overlooked a valley and was directly across from the Seneca Rocks. The view was awesome. Bill Isham, his wife Chris and Charlie Johnson pulled in around 4ish. Then Christine DiL arrived around 6ish. We set up our tents, leisurely made dinner and then sat around the campfire and had some casual conversation. We were all in our tents by 11PM.

5/11/2002- We got up at sunrise around 6:15AM, got packed up and were on the road by around 8:30AM. We ate breakfast at Yoakum's Restaurant about 2 miles west of the campground. It was a good country breakfast. We then traveled west on US33 about 30 miles to FDR91. We turned right and took this road to the end and began the hike at the Condon Run trailhead.

We were on the trail by 10:00AM. The first 4 miles were along the Otter Creek Trail. It was mostly level to very slightly uphill. We paralleled Otter Creek the entire time. The trail was wet most of the time because of alot of recent rain. We were concerned because some weather forecasts called for rain tonight and tomorrow. We had to cross Yellow Creek, which was not bad. Then we got to the 4 mile mark and had to cross Otter Creek. It was knee deep and we had to take off our boots to get across. Man, was it cold! One of our party slipped and took a spill into the cold water but recovered and made it to the other side. We then travelled about a quarter mile and got to a 3 way split. We were supposed to turn left and ascend on the Moore Run Trail. But we AGAIN had to cross knee deep Otter Creek. We did it. No one fell in this time. We took a lunch break and then started up a 2-3% grade along Moore Run. This trail appeared to be an old railroad bed. The footing was good and the hike pleasant. We came across some old horse shoes and an old cast iron stove at one point. The guidebook said this was a former log loading station. We then descended to Moore Run. 2 of our party fell in while crossing this creek. They were OK. Only their pride was hurt.

We then started another up. It was steep at first and then leveled out. About this time we started looking for campsites. We passed the Turkey Run Trail, then entered a huge boggy area. It was very reminiscent of Dolly Sods. We squished through it and then encountered another railroad bed like trail. It was along here about 200 feet before the McGowan Mountain Trail that we found a camp site. It was somewhat crowded, a little uneven and cluttered with dead rhodo wood. But it was the best around so we took it. It was a nice night, warmer than last night. We did 8 miles today.

5/12/2002- We got up again at sunrise. It did not rain during the night. It looked like it would today though. I just hoped that we could get packed up before it did. We started out at around 8:00AM. We turned left onto the McGowan Mountain Trail. We immediately had a big up. We passed 2 trail intersections and were not sure which way to turn. We guessed left each time and were correct. Whew! When we got to the top of McGowan Mountain we first went through a Rhododendren patch, which was neat and very level hiking. We then started a slight down and went through a pine forest with a moss covered floor. It was very impressive looking. We were making great time and everyone was conversing and doing well. We got to the intersection with the Yellow Creek Trail at around 10:30AM and turned left. Again we encountered alot of water on the trail. It was a nice downhill hike. We got to the intersection with the Otter Creek trail at around 11:00AM, turned right and started the final 1.1 miles back to our cars. It was at this time that the rains came. It thundered loudly and the rain came down heavilly. We didn't really mind since this hike was going so well. We got back to our cars around 11:30AM. It rained intermittantly the rest of the day.

This was one of the best hikes that we had done in awhile. The distance was right, the weather was 98% right, the terain was easy (the only real up was at the beginning of McGowan Mountain) the scenery was fantastic and the company was great. We saw only 4 other day hikers on this hike and only 1 small snake just off the trail. This trail is highly recommended for a backpacking weekend that you will undoubtedly enjoy and long remember.

Mike C

More Pictures

Tenting at Seneca Shadows
  Tenting at Seneca Shadows.
  By Bill Isham
Clearing a campsite along Moore Run Trail
  Clearing a campsite along Moore Run
  Trail.  By Bill Isham

View of Seneca Rocks, WV
  View of Seneca Rocks, WV.
  By Bill Isham
Group picture before the hike
  Group picture before the hike.
  By Bill Isham
View of Otter Creek, WV
  View of Otter Creek, WV.
  By Bill Isham
Hiking the Moore Run Trail
  Hiking the Moore Run Trail.
  By Mike Calabrese


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