Spruce Knob/Seneca Creek Backpack

 

Description: This is a moderate 14.1 mile shuttle backpack in one of the premier venues of the Potomac Ranger District of the MNF, WV. In reality this hike can be completed in a day without packs if you get an early start. Since I have to drive from Baltimore and enjoy the area so much I prefer to camp the night before at the semi-primitive Spruce Knob Campground that is minutes away from either trailhead and spend at least one night along the creek.

 

Day one has you starting at the Spruce Knob Parking lot and hiking about 9 miles. Your route is either all flat or downhill with the exception of a steady, wet and gradual climb along the northern 2 mile section of the Lumberjack Trail. You begin on Huckleberry trail and descend to Lumberjack. After Lumberjack youíll descend along a series of open meadows and then follow the bottom segment of Huckleberry Trail to Seneca Falls where you will spend the night.

The next day is spent gradually ascending 5.0 miles out of Seneca Creek valley as you visit all of the waterworks the creek has to offer.

Google Custom Directions to Seneca Creek Tr car drop-off

Custom Google Directions from Seneca Creek Trailhead to Spruce Knob

 

The Huckleberry Trailhead is behind a picnic shelter in the north corner of the parking lot (bus parking area).

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Printable/Downloadable Map

Downloadable Map

View 3-D Map!

Zipped National Geographic. TOPO! GPS and Universal GPX Files

GPS Text File For Non-TOPO! Users

 

Trail Notes: From the parking lot proceed down Huckleberry Trail (TR533). The first 2-2.5 miles is spent weaving in and out of alternating Spruce groves and heath and fern meadows on a relatively flat to slightly descending grade. It seems that every Spruce grove has at least one campsite although they are all dry.

 

At about 3.1 miles descend to a large campsite nestled in a very large grove. The trail goes both left and right but follow the sign and turn right onto a grassy woods road. In a 100 yards or so a blue diamond with a black arrow will direct you to make a left turn onto a footpath which leads to yet another woods road and a sign stating the mileage to Seneca Creek (1.8 miles) and Lumberjack Trail (0.4 miles). The woods road goes in either direction. Bear left at the sign. The woods road soon enters dense woods. As it begins to disintegrate, look for another blue diamond with a black arrow directing you to turn right onto a narrow footpath. Descend, steeply at times, to the junction of Lumberjack Trail (TR534).

 

Turn right onto Lumberjack trail. This is an often times very wet railroad grade. Climb gradually and at 2.i miles arrive at the junction of the High Meadows Trail (TR564). This trail starts on an old Railroad grade or woods road but soon turns sharply left, following a barbed wire fence as it descends to the first meadow. Watch for blue diamonds on the right that direct you through a rocky area just before the meadow. This is a great lunch spot as you take in the Seneca Creek valley enclosed by the Allegheny Mountains.

 

Walk straight across the clearing and pick up a narrow post with blue blaze that puts you back on the trail. Youíll descend along the face of the hill and re-enter the woods on another woods road. Just before the road appears to enter a clearing look for blue blazes on the right directing you on to a footpath that leads to a lower part of the meadow. Watch for blazed stakes and cairns marking the way. Cross the meadow and re-enter the woods again. Cross a stream and enter one more beautiful meadow. As you look back up the hill you can see all of the meadows you have walked through. Cross this last meadow, pass a cow salt feeder and descend to the junction with Huckleberry Trail (1.8 miles from leaving Lumberjack Trail).

Turn right and follow the trail down to Seneca Creek Trail (TR515) (0.6 miles). Turn right onto Seneca Creek Trail. Soon pass Seneca Falls on the left. The campsite is immediately below the falls on a bench along the creek. There is enough room for several tents. If for some reason the site is full, reverse direction and cross Seneca Creek. There is a nice grassy area here that can also accommodate several tents.

 

The rest of the outing is pretty obvious. Enjoy a nice 4.8 mile walk as you gradually climb out of the valley on Seneca Creek Trail. This entire trail is an old railroad grade except near the end where it becomes a woods road. The grade is barely noticeable especially in comparison to all of the downhill walking accomplished the day before. You will have to cross the creek about four times. The first one, just above the falls, is the most problematic. There is one place where you have to climb up, over and around some boulders to avoid a blow-out of the grade.

 

Try to allow time to visit all of the water works along the way. Some may be hidden behind a wall of Rhododendron so keep your ears alert for the sounds of water falls. Also keep an eye out for an unmarked side trail on the left. I believe this is an old railroad siding that once lead to a mill. Follow it to see what makes be think this! The side trail comes back to the main trail so you donít have to retrace your steps. I canít recall itís exact location. I know itís just below Judy Spring (See following description.) but canít recall if itís above or below Bear Hunter Trail.

 

Pass Bear Hunter Trail (TR531) on the right at 1.68 miles from the falls. The last time I was there the sign was missing but the trail was obvious. Shortly thereafter arrive at a grassy clearing. This is the site of the old Judy Spring Campground. The well has been capped off but the area remains a favorite campsite for backpackers. I canít recall ever walking through this meadow with there at least being one tent set up in the orchard. A bridge, leading to Judy Springs and Judy Springs Trail, is on the left. Continue straight on Seneca Creek trail.

 

Pass Swallow Rock Trail (TR529) on the right at 1.18 miles from Judy Spring and, in another 1.36 miles, Tomís Lick Trail (TR559) also on the right. From there walk another 0.92 miles to the parking area and your awaiting cars.

 

Reference: Monongahela National Forest Hiking Guide, de Hart and Sundquist, 7th Edition

Printable/Downloadable Directions and Trail Notes

Read about a recent outing to Seneca Creek.

Critique this outing!

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Name:   Fmatt
Date(s) of Hike: 08/08/2015
Hike Name: Seneca Creek/Spruce Knob
Ranking: 4.5

Outing Critique: Great hike with diverse scenery! The only strenuous part was the descent starting at High Meadows - it's the last leg of the first day and was difficult.  The directions, as stated in other comments, are a bit off, though it's pretty straightforward.. Once you hit High Meadows Trail (which was our favorite part), you'll keep going through three large meadows. After the third meadow, you'll come to a creek crossing - it's a small waterfall with water running over smooth rocks and then falls down some small levels. Be careful crossing - it's an easy one to slip on and seriously hurt yourself.  After this crossing, the trail winds for a half mile down hill, with campsites on your right as you defend. There's no clear signs, but once you get to the bottom and the creek is right in front of you, you have two options. Go left, you'll immediately come to a creek crossing that's at least 20 feet long. Go right, and you'll follow the creek and pass by the falls and a lot of camp sites. If you camp, you'll need to cross the stream (this is the start of the Seneca Creek trail). There's also a few campsites on this side of the stream.  We came out on the Seneca creek trail as we didn't want to do all the uphill and re-hike the huckleberry (but also had a car parked there...you wouldn't be able to walk back to your car at Huckleberry trailhead from Seneca trailhead without a ride). There are at least 4 creek crossings on the full Seneca Trail which vary, but you should be ready to take off your boots at least once or twice.

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Name:   Christopher Robin
Date(s) of Hike: 8/1-3/15
Hike Name: Spruce Knob-Seneca Creek
Ranking: 4

Outing Critique: We did most of this hike last weekend, just did it a bit differently. We started out at Spruce Knob on Saturday morning in beautiful clear weather with temps in the 70's. Hiked down Huckleberry Trail and took Horton Trail after the 4-way with Lumberjack Trail. Huckleberry is a very nice trail, mostly in spruce, but with a few clearings that probably had great views 10-15 years ago. Took a quick left off Horton onto Judy Springs Trail, which opens up to some awesome meadow views. Soon you are back in the woods and cross the bridge at the intersection with Seneca Creek Trail. Seneca Creek is a very nice trail along the creek, with many great campsites. We found one we liked and spent our first night there. Sunday we headed to the falls and then up Horton to High Meadows trail. I would suggest watering up at the creek at the start of High Meadows, its the best on that trail and for the rest of the day the way we went. High Meadows is a nice trail through the meadows up to the top of the ridge, it does get steeper as you go though. We found Lost Meadows at the top of High Meadows, then took Lumberjack Trail back to Huckleberry Trail. Our last push was Huckleberry to the closest nice campsite near Spruce Knob. There we set up our camp, got water for dinner that we had stashed in the car and relaxed and watched the beautiful sunset. Since we had no walk out on Monday,we had time to visit Seneca Rocks! This is a great hike!

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Name: Matt "Fever" Swenson                                                                                Hike: Spruce Knob-Seneca Creek (reverse)
Date: 4/17/2010 - 4/19/2010                                                                              Rating: 4.3

Critique: I just took a few friends on this route over the weekend. We started hiking down the Seneca Creek Trail and found a really nice campsite along the creek. Unfortunately, the wind was gusting through the valley, and we had a failure on a tent pole, so we were left sleeping under the stars. The second day, we continued down the Seneca Creek Trail and saw some amazing waterfalls. We then took the High Meadows Trail which impressed us all, especially the first timer. After reaching the top of that trail, we used the Lumberjack Trail to meet up with the Huckleberry Trail. The Lumberjack Trail is an easy grade; however, it was VERY muddy. We then hiked up the Huckleberry Trail and made camp in a small clearing, protected from the wind this time, at the top of the steep accent. The last day, we hiked the remaining 4 miles to the summit of Spruce Knob.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this trip; however, the trails were a bit steep for the first timers. At times, the trail seems to go straight up the mountains and meadows, rather than switch back and forth. I will definitely hit this trail up again in the future, after I have hit the high points in NY, NH, and ME.

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Name: WVwanderer                                                                                                  Hike: Spruce Knob/Seneca Creek
Date: 8-13-05 thru 8-14-05                                                                                    Ranking: 5

Critique: critique & photos can be found at
http://wvwilderness.blogspot.com/ under the heading "Seneca Creek Backcountry". Of note, we opted to skip the LumberJack and High Meadows part of the trip. We will hike this section next time. An excellent hike overall!

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