Otter Creek - NW Loop

Description: This is yet another loop through the scenic Otter Creek Wilderness in the Monongahela National Forest, WV. It can be done as a day hike with an early start or a short, overnight backpack trip. Except for some potentially challenging creek crossings I would consider this one of moderate difficulty. After ice out and/or periods of heavy rain these crossings will test your skills. The first crossing cold be 2.5 to 3 feet deep although under normal conditions it is much less. There are four crossings of the main creek and one of Moore Run. Another word of caution: In the summer the last part of Turkey Run Trail (an old woods road or RR grade) will be thick with stinging nettles. Wear appropriate pants or gators! The focal point of the trek are the miles of fantastic ripples, chutes and waterfalls that make up Otter Creek.

Google Custom Directions

See the suggested directions in the Outing Critique below.



Printable/Downloadable Map

View 3-D Map


Trail Notes: There are no signs or blazes in Otter Creek Wilderness so bring a good map(s), trail notes and a compass. Although this hike is rated moderate (except for the creek crossings) you should be or be with an experienced hiker. There are very few false trails. All trail junctions are usually marked with cairns.

From the Big Springs Gap Trailhead proceed downhill toward Otter Creek. At first the trail uses an old woods road to cris-cross Spring Run. It will switch banks before finally veering away from the stream and ending at Otter Creek in about 0.78 miles.

Wade/ford Otter Creek. Otter Creek Trail is on a RR grade on the other side. After crossing turn right (south) and proceed up the grade.

In 1.1 miles pass the junction of Green Mt Trail on the right. Pass two campsites on the right before arriving at a third right at the next ford.

Cross Otter Creek. In about 2.2 miles arrive at Moore Run. This is the best lunch spot on the creek in my opinion. After visiting this area cross Moore Run and pass a good campsite on the right. You will pass at least one more campsite on the left and another on a slight rise to the right before arriving at the next ford about 1 mile above Moore Run. Cross Otter Creek and arrive at Possession Camp, a flat, grassy area capable of housing several tents. There used to be a shelter here but it was removed in keeping with Wilderness standards.

In a couple hundred yards above Possession Camp pass a large swimming hole. The junction with Possession Camp and Moore Run trails is at a large bolder to the left. At this point turn right towards the creek. Locate the cairns marking Moore Run Trail and ford Otter Creek for the last time.

Moore Run Trail follows an old RR grade gradually up McGowan Mt as Otter Creek falls away from it. At about 2 miles the trail has been re-routed up a short, steep incline to yet another RR grade. Shortly after that arrive at the junction of Turkey Run Trail on the right. Turn right onto Turkey Run Trail.

You will climb up and over a plateau and descend a bit to cross Turkey Run, a small stream. Shortly after crossing the run the trail climbs up to an old woods road. In the summer this could be overgrown with stinging nettles so wear long pants or gators for this part!! Follow the woods road out to FR701 which is about 3.75 miles from the last trail intersection.

Turn right onto FR701 and follow it back to your vehicle.

Printable/Downloadable Directions and Trail Notes

Critique this outing






Name: Victor                                                                                                           Hike: Otter Creek-Northwest
Date: July 20, 2011                                                                                                Rating: 4

Critique: Directions to Big Springs Gap trailhead were helpful, there were signs, but no sign noting to take the left fork above the old dam. The hike down Big Springs trail had lots of nettles and with 5 kids (4 ages six and under) and 3 adults in our group, a bit of nettle clearing was needed.

We ended up setting up camp south of the junction of Big Springs with Otter Creek trail at a very nice site. There was a few trees blown down across the trail where we camped and I embarked on some trail maintenance while camped there.

We did not do a loop trip but did a day hike up to the confluence of Moore Run with Otter Creek which is a beautiful place to take a break. A tree had blown down right where the Green Mountain Trail junctions with otter creek and some more trail maintenance was done.

While at our campsite we discovered a large rattlesnake way too close for comfort with little kids around and so it was killed. I'm sure all the mice are now doing a party dance but it beats a snakebite in the middle of nowhere. First snake I've ever killed. We did have one very smart mouse that kept finding a way into our food at night. I had food hung between two trees about 25' apart, about 10' off the ground with about a 4' drop from the horizontal rope to the food bag. I need to figure out a better rodent protection system. Maybe a grubpack would work but I'm still looking.

We ended up having someone hike back up Big Springs Gap trail and relocate the vehicle to the Otter Creek Trailhead and then hike back in from the North. This was mainly to avoid the nettles but also to let the part of the group from Florida that were with us to see the North end of Otter Creek. There is a very recent extremely large hemlock that virtually took out the otter creek trail within 1/4 mile from the swinging bridge on the North end of Otter Creek trail. The trail is passable on the upper side of root ball but on one side there is a muddy drop (climb) of about 4 or 5 feet to navigate. In low water a route right by the water might also be possible.

We had the largest lightning storm I've ever experienced while camping happen one evening which was a bit nerve racking on the kids.

All in all a great trip, a gorgeous location, and the temperature was quite pleasant despite the hot temperatures across the state at the same time. Last time I was at Otter Creek camping I discovered a camp site with a huge amount of garbage left behind that we burned or hauled out. This time we only found one soda bottle which we also hauled out.



Name: Morgantown hikers                                                                                   Hike: Otter Creek NW Loop
Date: 7/5-6/08                                                                                                      Rating: 4

Critique: A good hike through some wet terrain. We hiked the route in the reverse direction as it had rained quite a bit before we hiked in and we didn't want to get caught at the fords of Otter Creek. Turkey Run and Moore Run trails were nice, but nothing special. The trail along Otter Creek was just wonderful. I think that is some the slowest hiking I have been on as we just kept stopping to appreciate the beauty of the stream. Overall, a very good hike that lends itself to waterproof boots.

There is a problem with the directions to the trailhead: Fox's Pizza no longer has a sign (that we could see), so it isn't the best reference. Here are some better directions:
Following US Route 219 South into Parsons: As you come into town you will make a sharp left turn next to a car dealership. Immediately after this look for a small sign on the left side of the road for Otter Creek. Turn left just past the sign onto Central Avenue then immediately left again onto Billings Avenue (If you come to a bridge over Shavers Fork you have gone too far). Continue below.

Following US Route 219 North into Parsons: At the stoplight, turn left to continue on Route 219 North past Sheetz, McDonalds and over a bridge over Shavers Fork. After the bridge take the first right onto Central Avenue then immediately left again onto Billings Avenue.

Follow this road through town, past a cemetery, and onto a chip-sealed road. At the intersection with 2 gravel roads, turn right. You should see a sign for the Experimental Forest after you round a curve. Follow this road and take the left fork when it splits above the reservoir. A parking lot with a trailhead sign in a sharp curve is Big Springs Gap trailhead. Turkey Run trailhead is a little further up the road.


VA Hikes MD Hikes WV Hikes PA Hikes Contact Us Home