Otter Creek Backpack


Description: This can be either a 12.8 or15.9 mile moderate backpacking trip (Base Mileage) through one of the prettiest wilderness areas in WV. Side out and back slackpacking hikes can be spun off of these loops. The hardest part is accomplished at the very beginning: hauling your packs up a 1300 foot elevation gain over 2.5 –3.0 miles. Once on the top of Shaver’s Mountain you will walk along a relatively flat ridge trail, weaving in and out of mixed hardwoods and conifer plantations. You’ll then descend via Green Mountain and Possession Camp Trails to Otter Creek, the focal point of any hike in the area. Here you’ll be able to explore the many falls, chutes and rapids along a 4 mile stretch of the creek, some without the encumbrance of your pack or explore the bogs of Moore Run on McGowan Mt., before climbing up and over Mylius Gap as you return to your cars. The route described here is the shorter route and uses Possession Camp Trail to descend into the valley. Use the Green Mountain Trail to the creek for the longer route. Tent icons mark some of the better campsites.

GPS data is for this long route. Most of Possession Camp Trail is a railroad grade and pretty obvious.

Being a wilderness area, there are no signs or blazes in the Otter Creek area. The trails are, however, well worn and the intersections, for the most part, are marked with cairns. Bring an accurate map and trail description when undertaking any outing here.


Directions from US33 at Alpena Gap:

  1. If traveling west on US33 turn right onto CO12.
  2. Proceed 4.6 miles almost to a bridge that crosses Glady Fork.
  3. Make a hairpin left turn onto FR162.
  4. Almost immediately turn left into the Mylius Trailhead (sign on right side of FR162).

Google Custom Directions



Printable/Downloadable Map

Printable/Downloadable Map

View 3-D Map of Short Route

View 3-D Map of Long Route

Zipped National Geographic. TOPO! GPS and Universal GPX Files

GPS Text File for Non-TOPO! Users


Trail Notes: Mylius Trail (TR128) starts as an old gravel jeep trail. As the grade increases a grassy jeep trail bears to the right. Continue straight on the well-worn road. You’ll cross a power line swath and a wildlife clearing (I don’t recall the order.). Soon the grade will increase even more as it passes an abandoned pasture full of Hay Scented Fern enclosed in barbed wire on the left. At this point bare right onto an obvious narrow footpath that climbs Shaver’s Mountain at an angle. For a short distance near the top you’ll find yourself back on a pretty flat jeep trail before the final ascent to the top of Mylius Gap on another narrow footpath.


The intersection with Shaver’s Mountain Trail (TR129) at about 1.6 miles from the beginning of the hike is at a flat area under a canopy of large trees with little under story. All four directions are marked with cairns. You’ve climbed 900 feet so far. Turn right onto Shaver’s Mountain Trail and climb another 400 feet over the next mile or so. Only the beginning of this ascent is steep. The rest is pretty gradual.


At about 2.00 miles from the last trail junction come to an apparent four-way intersection. A left turn will shortly lead you to a grassy area and spring. A right turn will lead to the site of an old shelter which has been removed. Both are good places to camp should the need arise.


Continue on for another 0.93 miles (Includes side trips to spring and old shelter site so is actually less) to the junction with Green Mountain Trail (TR130). There used to be a sign hanging from above on Shaver’s Mt Trail noting “Trail Abandoned” for the continuation of that trail. I think the trail has been rerouted away from that junction and it now, more or less, merges into Green Mountain Tr. There is no sign. Bear left (North-west) and follow Green mountain Trail to the junction with Possession Camp Trail (TR158) in a Grassy area surrounded by conifers.  This is another good mountain top campsite if the small stream that crosses Possession Camp Trail close by has water.


SHORT ROUTE: Possession Camp Trail is one of the most picturesque mountainside trails in the valley. Almost it’s entire length is along a railroad grade encapsulated either with Spruce and Hemlock or mature deciduous trees. At one point you’ll descend between some large rocks and quickly regain the railroad grade.

In about 1.2 miles from the last turnoff cross the headwaters of Possession Camp Run. As you reach

the opposite bank look for a collection of lumbering artifacts that previous hikers have deposited on a large flat rock on the left side of the trail. In another 0.5 miles the trail will become exposed more to the sun and is the probable cause of a healthy growth of Green Brier in this area. This soon dissipates as a mature forest once again surrounds the trail. In another mile cross an un-named tributary with a nice set of mini-cascades and descend to Otter Creek (3 miles from the last trail intersection.


The intersection of Possession Camp Tr with Otter Creek (TR131) and Moore’s Run Trails (TR138 - on the other side of Otter Creek) occurs at a large rock. The intersection itself is marked with a cairn. Turn right and in about 0.2 miles reach a huge campsite. This is the first option for camping. There are other sites all along Otter Creek in either direction between Green Mountain Trail to the north and the Creek crossing south of Possession Camp Trail. When I lead this particular circuit we camped here and visited the many falls and slides between it and the next southern creek crossing on day one. On day two we left our gear and visited Moore’s Run (1.2 miles north of camp after crossing Otter Creek) and the falls in between before finishing our trip.


LONG ROUTE: From the junction of Possession Camp Tr and Green Mt Tr turn right (West) staying on Green Mt Tr. Initially you will be hiking on an old RR grade. In about 0.46 miles look for a cairn and footpath to the left off of the grade. Turn left here and follow the footpath for 1.58 miles to otter Creek. (You’ll pass one more campsite w/water at 0.67 miles after leaving the RR grade. This is the last campsite before the creek.) Turn left onto Otter Creek Tr. There are 3 campsites here. The middle one is hidden up on a hill and is not used much. The last is right at the creek crossing.


Proceed south on Otter Creek Tr. Fords are marked on the map. You’ll pass numerous waterfalls, rapids, chutes and swimming holes along the way. There is a short section a little after the first crossing where the trail leaves the RR grade and becomes a narrow footpath clinging to the side of a hill. There are a couple of bad blowdowns across the trail that can be tricky to climb over. Take your time and be careful!!! Make sure you visit the confluence of Moore Run with the creek. It’s the best break/lunch spot on the creek! At 3.1 miles from the last major crossing of Otter Creek cross one more time and arrive at a huge campsite along the creek. This also used to be a site of a shelter that was removed in keeping with wilderness regs.


If you get a chance visit Moore Run Bogs. Continue south on Otter Creek Trail for a few hundred yard to a cairn on the right just before Possession Camp Tr on the left (Big Rock). Cross the creek, climb a short hill to gain a RR grade and follow the trail for about 3.1 miles. (The trail continues further to the junction of McGowan Mt. Tr.) You’ll be able to see the bog to the left. Look for a faint trail covered with a few limbs to the left. Bushwhack at an oblique angle to the trail until you run into a Rhododendron thicket. Pick your way through this to eventually reach the bog.


CONTINUATION OF BOTH ROUTES: From camp head south (upstream) on Otter Creek Trail, passing Moore Run Tr on the right and Possession Camp Trail on the left.


Ford Otter Creek at about 0.3 miles above Possession Camp Trail. In about 0.7 miles reach Mylius Trail marked by cairns. Turn left onto Mylius and ford Otter Creek for the last time.


Climb steeply up Mylius trail for about 0.84 miles until you reach the gap and junction with Shaver’s Mountain Trail that you visited on the first day. Descend on Mylius Trail, retracing your initial steps back to your cars.


The origin of the el fresco industrial artifact museum: On the links (Otter Creek-SW and Otter Creek BP)  that describe trips to the Otter Creek Wilderness area we make mention of this museum. We often pondered who started this  on the bank of Possession Camp Run at the ford of the trail by the same name. Here’s the story: 

 Hello MrHyker,

I was reading your description of Otter Creek. Been there many times,
and I had to grin at the sentence describing the artifacts on the flat rock
on possession Camp trail, where it crosses the creek.

My wife & I visited that area for the first time in the early 80's. She
was the one who started that "display". She's always finding interesting
stuff on the trail. I look around, she's always looking down it seems,
and making me stop to examine some interesting what-ever that I just
stepped over.

We were eating lunch at that location, and the first thing she noticed
in what was then a sandy spot in the stream was an old horseshoe. Then
she found something else, then another widget, then another
thingamabob.......It was a  kinda fun game for about an hour as we dug
around in the creek and found stuff, and laid it on the rock.

In 2004, I repeated that hike, and I'd all but forgotten about that
incident until I happened on that rock, now covered with all kinds of
stuff. Nearly brought me to tears because she can't hike anymore, but
there was one of the many legacies of our WV excursions over the years. Took
a couple of pictures that day, found something else to add to the pile,
and left it for the historians to figure out.

I enjoy your web site. Will have comments to add to it later.


Printable/Downloadable Directions and Trail Notes

Read about our 2004 trip!

Read about our 2005 trip!

Critique this outing




Name:   Donna
Date(s) of Hike: 07/17/15-07/22/15
Hike Name: Otter Creek Backpack
Ranking: 2

Outing Critique: Did this loop, intended to make it a bit longer (with day hikes on McGowan, Possession Camp, and Moore's Run), but after Green Mountain Trail and the piece of Otter Creek Trail in between Moore Run and the Green Mountain trail, we ....gave up.   Mylius Trail is fine.  So is Shavers Mountain.  Green Mountain Trail is horrible and miserable, or as another backpacker we ran into said: "Abysmal".  It's one big seemingly never-ending mucky bog.  Couple that with being constantly smacked by or crawling through rhododendron and briars, add in the inevitable blow-downs (though nothing like others encountered two years ago), and a slippery rocky trail down Green Mountain (with water flowing on the trail at multiple portions)---err.  No fun.   The piece of Otter Creek Trail from Green Mountain to Moore's Run is no fun, either.  In several areas the very narrow poorly constructed trail clings to the side of a steep mountain, with an occasional portion of the trail washed out and dangerously muddy/slippery.  In two areas along Otter Creek Trail from Green Mountain Trail heading south there are re-routes around blow-downs--make sure that you take the re-routes (which go UP); don't try to plow through and go straight ahead.  While Otter Creek was very pretty when we could see it (most of the time it is hidden in rhododendron and blow-downs), the effort put into the hike made it not worth it.  Nicest campsite was by Moore Run.  Sitting there on the rocks in the middle of Otter Creek looking at a small but beautiful waterfall was very, very sweet.  But again...not worth it, given the horrible shape of Green Mountain Trail and the piece of Otter Creek Trail from Green Mountain Trail down to Moore's Run.  And yes, I get that it's wilderness.
(M.R.Hyker Note: All who are contemplating exploring wilderness areas should read this government link and any other links found within before going on the trip. The wilderness may not be for you!)  But one would think that there'd be at least some *minimum standards* for trails in wilderness areas.   We didn't see it.  Don't expect to make normal hiking time and don't expect even minimally maintained trails--they're *a mess*.  Perhaps then you won't be as disappointed as we were.



Name: Steve                                                                                                              Hike: Otter Creek Backpack

Date: 04/14/15                                                                                                         Rating: 4


Critique: Awesome hike. The first two miles on Mylius are "straight up" (as told to us by a local that built the trail in 1969) and a good test to determine if your pack weighs too much. The Possession Camp Trail has several large fallen trees that will slow you down as you look for routes that will allow you to pass. In one case the only path was to climb the log and jump down. Crossing Otter Creek at Mylius can be a bit technical if it's rained recently. It was a gorgeous visit and I look forward to seeing more of the Otter Creek Wilderness. Thanks for the report.


Fording Otter Creek




Name: Wooly Bully, Shortstack, Christopher Robins                                         Hike: Otter Creek Backpack (modified)

Date(s): 08/16-18/14                                                                                             Rating: 4


Critique: Having a base camp in mind we changed this hike to proceed directly to the waterfall area.  We originally planned to camp at the Otter Creek / Moore Run / Possession Camp Trail junction, but ended up proceeding further north to find an open site.  Busy day, lots of campers.  But easy to why so many come here, the falls and deep pools of Otter Creek make for great swimming in about as scenic a place as can be.  At this point we decided to ditch the base camp and proceed with a regular backpack.  We stopped at a really nice site, where Moore Run joins Otter Creek.  We spend most of our time hanging out on the large flat rock, real nice views upstream, downstream, and to the side with Moore run flowing toward us.  Pretty cool having dinner practically in the middle of the creek!  Chris made a great campfire, and we hung out real late to 9:30 or so.
Saturday night and Sunday morning brought lots of rain.  Very heavy at times.  Fortunately the rain tapered off at 7am, but the wet conditions scuttled any plans for breakfast on the rock.  Continuing north on the Otter Creek Trail took us thru some large areas of fallen trees, most probably from the 2012 storm.  Re-routes bypassed the harder hit areas, with the trail running farther up the slope.  We also had to navigate over and around quite a few fresh blow downs, in wet and slippery conditions, with the trail very narrow and VERY close to the edge, making for a much more difficult hike than on Saturday's wide open trails.  But the fantastic scenery really made up for the extra work.  Conditions improved after the ford and on to the Green Mountain Trail.  After a steep climb, we leveled out and eventually turned on to the Possession Camp Trail.  After only few blow downs on the Green Mountain Trial, we ran into a bunch more on the Possession Camp Trail.  Nice gentle downward grade, passing a deep crevasse (must be a better geological term) in the rocks, two creeks with pretty waterfalls, and some really cool overhanging rocks.  After reaching the Otter Creek Trail we retraced our route and set up camp at the Mylius Trail junction, at the nice site under the hemlocks beside Otter Creek.  Chris the "firemaker" came thru again, creating a nice blaze from soaking wet fuel.
No rain on Sunday night, and dry on Monday Morning!  We continued on the Mylius Trail back to the car, meeting two young men employed by Trout Unlimited for the purposes of monitoring hemlock trees (applying insecticide if necessary) and also monitoring nest boxes for flying squirrels.  On the drive back we stopped to get pictures of Seneca Rocks, made another stop at the USFS Potomac Ranger office to pick up a bunch of maps as well as a lot of info from the friendly ranger, and then for a good lunch at Family Traditions in Petersburg.
Overall the routing worked out well, with distances of 5 / 10 / 2.5.  No problems navigating, only advice to GPS users is that the Possession Camp Trail is not on the .gpx listed for this hike.  The scenery was about as nice as it gets; Otter Creek is truly "waterfall central"!  But the blow downs and wet conditions made for tough going on day #2.  Had we encountered those conditions on day #1 we may had turned back.  Also very little wildlife, we saw just a few toads, a snake, very few birds, and no fish.  Thankfully no mosquitoes!




Name: Kyle                                                                                                                 Hike: Otter Creek Backpack

Date: 10/19/13                                                                                                         Rating: 5


Critique: Did the whole backpack loop. It was excellent. The trail damage has been cleared and is good to go. Only a few trees to duck under no big deal. The trail was great the descent on green mountain trail is steep and rocky a little rough on the knees but not to bad. Didnt see one person the whole trip!




Name: Michael Mac                                                                                                   Hike: Otter Creek - Condon Run to Dry Fork

Date: 06/17/13                                                                                                         Rating: 5


Critique: Hiked the entire length of the Otter Creek trail and, as noted already by Corey, there is approximately a mile and a half stretch near the middle of the trail that has yet to be cleared from the storms last year. Encountered only 4 people the entire hike: a couple hunkered down right in the middle of the aforementioned storm carnage, and 2 forest workers on their way to check out a significant landslide (on the Otter Creek trail, in the midst of the uncleared area). The workers informed me that this stretch of the Otter Creek trail, along with Green Mountain trail & Possession Camp trail are the only areas that remain to be cleared...and will be tackled in the fall most likely.



Name: Corey W.                                                                                                        Hike: Otter Creek Backpack

Date(s): 06/14-16/13                                                                                            Rating: 2


Critique: **WARNING** *SECTIONS OF OTTER CREEK TRAIL NEARLY IMPASSABLE SUE TO FALLEN TREES AND LANDSLIDES* Our group of six began at Mylius trail head at 5pm. We climbed the moderately steep but charming Mylius and Shavers Mountain trails until we arrived at a nice flat grassy campsite near the edge of a cliff on Shavers Mountain where we found a mostly obscured view of the valleys and mountains in the distance. In the morning we filled up our water bottles at the spring at the campsite on the other side of the trail opposite our own, and continued on to Green Mountain trail. This trail was thick with vegetation, wet, rocky and steep as it neared Otter Creek. Some time after the first crossing we were forced to struggle through OVER A MILE OF FALLEN TREES, BUSHES, AND SOIL DANGEROUSLY CLOSE TO THE CREEK BANK which delayed us for several hours. Luckily we brought a small axe and WERE FORCED TO CHOP OUR WAY THROUGH SEVERAL FALLEN TREES TO GET THROUGH. We went on at a extremely slow and tiresome pace until nearly dark when we camped in a site surrounded by fallen trees. We were very worried we were not going to be able to make it out the following day, or if we would miss our turn altogether due to the fallen trees, and that we may have to go about 10 miles back the way we came. Thankfully, we found the next morning that we only had to travel about a quarter of a mile more through the fallen trees before we reached where the trail had been cut clear. From that point on the hike was pleasant and beautiful, but we were all so stressed over the hard trek over the destroyed trail that we didn't get to enjoy it very much and were just happy to have gotten out without more than cuts, bruises and fatigue. This hike would have been very enjoyable (5 out of 5 rating) if the trail had been clear, but as there was no warning of this danger at the trail head, I am writing this review to alert others of the adverse conditions to be expected. I for one would love to hike Otter Creek again, but not until the trail is cleared. Hike at your own risk and take care!


Photo of trail damage.




Name: Chris Hughes                                                                                                 Hike: Otter Creek Backpack - Lost Green Croc
Date: 4/6-7/12                                                                                                         Rating: 5

Critique: Two of us took the hike starting from Mylius Gap trail-Shavers Mountain Trail- Green Mountain- Possession Camp- Otter Creek- Mylius Trail loop. (The shorter route as described by your notes) Absolutely gorgeous which made us wish we spent more time down near the water. Due to the cooler temps, we couldn't enjoy the water to the fullest extent though. Temps were in the 30's over night and high 50s and 60s during the day. The boggy sections along shavers mtn. trail are enough to suck your boot right off.

Note - The "abandoned trail" sign that is mentioned in your notes was nailed to a tree at the merge off the Shavers trail and the green mountain trail. Other hikers that we encountered did miss it, but your notes made me look for it.

Note- Unfortunately, I lost a green croc along the way most likely somewhere along the possession camp trail. If anyone finds it, please fell free to let me know or dispose of it so it gets off of the trail system. I did hike back a good mile from otter creek but didn't come across it.


Name: Androo                                                                                                           Hike: Otter Creek Backpack
Date: 05-06 August 2011                                                                                        Rating: 5

Critique: I was part of a group of four planning our first overnight backpacking trip after years of car camping. The shorter of the Otter Creek Backpack loops looked perfect for our group - under 15 miles, with a longer first day leading to a scenic destination (reward!) where we could set up camp.

We went in Friday, 05 August 11, driving to the trailhead from our basecamp in Audra State Park. As to be expected, we started a bit later than I had hoped but were on the trail by 8am.

The morning fog burned off pretty quick as we ascended. The climb of Shavers Mountain proved to be perfect for our group. Challenging, but never spirit-crushing. I also found that the delicious energy chews I had brought were an effective group reward after particularly difficult stretches Even so, reaching the Shavers Mt Trail intersection (900ft climbed) was met with plenty of joy. The rest of the climb was easy.

We broke for lunch at the grassy area/spring on Shavers Mt (the left turn of the 4-way intersection). This was a nice spot, although there were tons of (non-biting, thankfully) flies. Also, I don't think there had been much rain, or perhaps my expectations were just off, but the spring seemed low to me. We had brought tons of water however, so it wasn't really a concern.

Continuing down the Green Mountain Trail it began to rain while in the Rhododendron (or Mountain Laurel? There were no blossoms to make it easy for me to tell) so we hurried on to the intersection with Possession Camp Trail. While waiting under the canopy, we saw our first other hikers, a group of three that came from the same direction behind us, but continued on the Green Mountain Trail. After about 20 minutes, the rain stopped and we turned on to the beautiful Possession Camp Trail.

We finally made it to Otter Creek around 3pm (beating my planning guess of 1 mph with plenty of time to spare) and celebrated by collapsing on the rocks for a while

Eventually we hiked north along the creek, and found our campsite. We returned to one of the beautiful swimming holes and everyone enjoyed the cool and refreshing water while we ate dinner.

The next morning, it looked like rain was coming, so we skipped the big breakfast and got a move on. Heading south on the Otter Creek trail, we came across one more group of two camping next to the first big ford (south of the Possession Camp/Otter Creek/Moore Run intersection).

As soon as we got our boots back on the other side, it started to rain. It quickly became a ridiculous Forrest-Gump-in-Vietnam-scene downpour. Luckily, we were prepared and our packs stayed dry. And we were so quickly soaked that it was funny instead of miserable. Even so, we kept a pretty quick pace back to the Mylius Trailhead, and were headed for home by 11am

In conclusion, I can not recommend Otter Creek highly enough for a similarly novice group. It really was the perfect mix of challenge (just one big climb), solitude (only five people despite a Friday-Saturday in summer), and destination (arriving at the creek was the perfect reward after 9 miles of hiking). Also, while I over-prepared (with GPS, and Topos, and printouts) the trails were all very clear and easy to follow which definitely helps to put the rookie hiker at ease.

Best of all, the trip worked exactly as I hoped, and the entire group was hooked and is eager to go backpacking again.


Name: Steve Appler                                                                                                 Hike: Otter Creek Backpack
Date: 5.20.11                                                                                                            Rating: 5

Critique: Weeks of rain finally let up and we had an excellent trip. The many days of rain prior to our trip (almost 4 for the entire month of May) was a concern when planning the trip because crossing Otter Creek for any kind of loop trip is unavoidable and potentially dangerous when water levels are high. We decided to chance it and we truly lucked out. The weather the entire weekend was mostly sunny and warm with little humidity.

We parked at the Mylius Trailhead near Rt 12 and at about 6pm on Friday evening the four of us, Amy, Tom, my brother Greg and I, headed up the trail. Greg and I had been on this backpack in September 10 and were looking forward to this return.

Mylius was steep, sometimes dangerously narrow, wet and boggy, but passable. When we reached Shaver's Mtn Trail we turned right onto it and kept climbing. The foliage, including thick mosses and lots of ferns, stood out in a deep, darkly rich, vivid green against the dark wet ground. There was at least one section under a grove of hemlocks (near the small stand of virgin hemlocks) where we expected to see gnomes, fairies and leprechauns. And we hadn't even started drinking! The virgin hemlock stand (last time Greg and I passed them in the dark and were looking forward to seeing them in daylight) was rather an anticlimax. I'd seen the virgin hemlocks years ago in Ramsey's Draft (before the wooly anelgid infestation killed them) and my expectations for this grove were too high. But here the trail leveled and hiking was easy after the long (3-1/2 mile +/-) climb up.

When we reached a small junction of trails marked by a cairn we turned right off of Shaver's Mtn Trail to walk about 200 yards to reach the site of the old shelter. It's a great, open, grassy site with wide open mountain views and makes a perfect campsite. There is plenty of wood for fires (alas, it was all soaked) and several fire rings. The skies were clear all night. That campsite is the only place we found along the trail with any miniscule cell reception.

Saturday morning we needed water so Greg and I hiked back down to and crossed over the Shavers Mtn Trail past some excellent campsites to a very clear bountiful spring where we pumped / filtered all we needed for breakfast and the days hike. We broke camp and started hiking around 9:30 continuing up the Shaver's Mtn Trail. It was boggy, but level and easy to hike. We saw lots of beautiful rhododendron that we had hoped to see in bloom. Unfortunately, we were probably two weeks early.

We had read warnings to be careful not to miss the turn onto the Green Mtn Trail. The last time we didnt have that problem and found ourselves on the Green Mtn Trail without realizing wed changed trails so this time we looked carefully for signs of that junction and still saw no sign of the transition. Without my GPS we would not have known for awhile that we were on a new trail.

We followed the Green Mtn Trail through a series of difficult to cross mud holes and puddles that the trail had become - a foot wetting inconvenience, but a beautiful trail nonetheless. This section of trail is easy and pretty. We soon reached the grassy clearing where we found the trail junction with the Possession Camp Trail. There's a fire ring in the clearing that had some articles of clothing, a box of matches and assorted other "clues." Greg had an elaborate story developing based on foul play, but we found no bodies. No cell service, either, so contacting CSI was out. There is a good spring hidden away back in the laurel.

In planning our trip we had decided not to continue on the Green Mtn Trail down the long rocky slope to Otter Creek for fear that the water levels would be too high to cross. Greg and I hiked down that trail back at the end of September '10 we knew that we didn't want to have to turn around and hike back up. That section of trail is long, very rocky and slippery. Going down was tough enough back in September. We didnt want to do it again this them and then climb back up. We decided to try the Possession Camp Trail this time and take our chances crossing there.

We headed down Possession Camp Trail and entered a different terrain. It was steeper with some rocky sides made difficult by the recent rains. Beware of wet roots aiming downhill. But the rains probably made the beautiful waterfalls more spectacular. Each stream was right-out-of-magazine-photo-beautiful and fairly easy to cross. There were two dramatic waterfalls and a number of smaller, yet still lovely waterfalls to pass. When the trail was more consistently west facing the damp hemlock groves wed hiked through earlier morphed into a dryer deciduous forest where the trail was lined in some places by sticker bushes, with small colonies of pink lady slipper and other delicate flowers. The trail seemed to follow an old road that had washed out in places. In general, the earlier hemlock trails were flat, easy to travel and beautiful, but this dry section of trail wasnt quite as appealing. At one point we heard the roar of a powerful stream and were sure we'd reached Otter Creek
. However, it was a just another side creek with falls swollen pouring down the mountainside. Possession Camp Trail is worth the trip just by itself.

We reached the Otter Creek Trail, hiked south for a short distance, had lunch in a large, well established campground and then decided to head back not too far north to try our luck at crossing Otter Creek. The last time Greg and I were there we found some quite desirable camp sites on the other side of the creek that we hoped to reach. We found the normal ford location to be too dangerous - we could not see all the rocks and the current was strong. Just downstream, though, the creek is wide and the bottom is flat. Although the current was strong, we made the crossing without incident and went on to find two excellent sites close to that ford right on the creek.

From the last time Greg and I knew that that stretch of Otter Creek was amazing. And as is noted on this site the beauty of that creek is best appreciated by walking upstream. So, we passed those perfect campsites heading north just to see if there was anything better and to enjoy the creek. After a half mile, or so, we headed back and set up camp next to Otter Creek where the rushing roar of the stream was background music all night. We got to the site early enough to set up daylight, pump water, take a break and relax. It was a great day. The first night up on Shaver's Mtn we were unable to get a fire started, but this second night we managed to get quite a fine fire going (Thanks to Tom's diligence and fine Fire-Marshalling talent). All the wood was damp so we were grateful. It got chilly by the creek at night.

Sunday morning we were all up early (Amy even got up when we made enough noise), had an excellent breakfast and broke camp. We crossed Otter Creek again without incident and headed south. We passed a few very large camping sites that would easily have supported a Scout Troop and probably had in the past. At a side stream near that ford there is a beautiful campsite with another spectacular waterfall just upstream. We were surprised, though, to find that we needed to ford Otter Creek again. When Greg and I were last there in September the fords were so easy that we didn't even remember them for this trip. Otter Creek was wide here, though, and we crossed fine. Same thing with the next 2 fords (where Amy lost one of her hiking shoes). The last ford was just after we turned back onto the Mylius Trail to head back to our cars. The creek was deep there, but with enough dry rocks to be passable. We stopped and ate there while we waited for chivalrous Greg to return from going back
to try and find Amy's shoe. We followed Mylius up the relatively gentle mountain slope crossing some streams where in one place we looked down on another rhododendron grove with a waterfall idyllically running through. We reached the junction with the Shaver's Mountain Trail and stayed on Mylius backtracking the way we'd come in two days before until we reached our cars and headed back to civilization after another great trip.

And civilization took the immediate form of the Alpine Lodge. I'd read about that fine establishment in another trip report on this site before Greg and I went last time. We tried it then and thoroughly enjoyed the ice cold Yuengling. The four of us met up there for a congratulatory (and not especially healthy) final feast before heading home. We consumed their last six bottles of Yuengling, and more.

I would highly recommend this trip and any variation of it listed on this site. It's a spectacular setting, a challenging, but thoroughly beautiful hike and the opportunities for special campsites are everywhere. And during the entire time we were there we did not see one other person. None. Zilch. It is amazing that a place that unique was there just for us. This WAS the weekend of "The Rapture," so we just figured that we were simply debauched heathens that got left behind. It would have been appropriate, but why would we be left alone in this paradise?


Name: Keith Lehman                                                                                                Hike: Otter Creek Backpack
Date: 10/ 16- 8/2010                                                                                              Rating: 5

Critique: I modified this loop by skipping the Shavers Mountain Trail and going North on Possession Camp Trail, turning left onto Green Mountain Trail, and then left again onto Otter Creek Trail and out along Mylius. I did this as a two night trip but it could easily be one with one overnight. This is one of the best hikes I have been on and it would suit just about anyone for the rich scenery, moderate uphills, and challenging (but not really dangerous) water crossings.

The hike up from the Mylius trailhead was along a very well maintained forest road for about a quarter of a mile then turned onto single track. Shortly after crossing a clearing you go onto unmarked trail. At this time of year (mid-October) a lot of leaves are down and staying on the trail is challenging. My rule of thumb is if I walk about 200 feet and it doesn't look like a trail again, I backtracked. The right turn after hiking along the old busted up barbed-wire fence was where I had the most difficulty. Dont follow the old logging road, instead go a bit higher and look over a very large blow down to find the thinner trail going along the edge of the mountain. Further on there is another point of confusion where the trail splits off of another logging road. Look for a small cairn on the left.

After the intersection with Shavers Mountain Trail its pretty easy going. I camped the first night at the ford about 7/10 mile north from the ford at the Mylius/Otter Creek intersection. There were several great sites at that intersection including one hard to find on a little side trail on the right off of Otter Creek Trail. Look hard for it as it appeared to be excellent (occupied when I got there).

The next day we (me + dog) traveled north on Possession Camp Trail. The gentle railroad grade was super easy and there were several well-spaced water sources. The campsite at the intersection with Green Mountain Trail was not a good one. Its right along both trails in the open. There is a small site or two along Green Mountain Trail but they are rocky and of very low quality (no place to sit). The hike down the mountain is rather challenging due to a fair number of loose rocks and some pretty steep sections. It would be less fun coming up though I think.

I camped the second night near the intersection of Green Mountain and Otter Creek Trails. The site was up over a hump on the left of the trail (not right on the water) and was pretty decent. There are better sites further down (or up actually) Otter Creek. Several great waterfalls and cascades will slow you down if you like scenery and picture-taking. Some of the water crossings were pretty challenging and you should take the time to switch shoes if you don't like wet boots. There were several manageable blowdowns but one small landslide took the trail away fro about 40 feet. When you get to this section backtrack a little bit and get down on the creek bed to bypass this section. The footing is very loose and dangerous (don't ask how I know this). The campsites near where Moore Run dumps into Otter Creek (not the trail intersection) look very nice and look to be near some good swimming opportunities (not tested).

Overall, I can't recommend this area more highly. The scenery is very much like the lower half of Dolly Sods and there were far fewer people using the trails. I saw very little litter even though the trails seem pretty well used. I had a great time and plan to return regularly to explore more of the Otter Creek trail system.


Name: GaliWalker                                                                                                      Hike: Otter Creek Backpack (Day hike)
Date: 06/20/10                                                                                                         Rating: 3.5

Critique: A Fathers Day hike. My last hike had taken me to West Virginias Otter Creek Wilderness, where I had been enthralled by the scenic creek. Enthralled enough to make the region my destination of choice, despite the longish drive from Pittsburgh. I decided to put together a loop hike that would allow me to spend most of my time in the mountainous terrain above the valley, but would also take in enough of the main attraction, that is Otter Creek.

Out of the house by 2:45am and on the trail by 6:00am...these early starts are never easy. I took off on the Mylius Trail, portal to the wilderness, through a pretty forest. Steady, though gentle, climbing took me up increasingly nicer terrain until I intersected the Shaver Mountain trail at a pass. I headed north along the Shaver Mountain trail, hoping to get most of the climbing out of the way early. Some side-hilling got me to the ridge crest where an open forest greeted me, carpeted wall-to-wall by ferns, rhododendrons and mountain laurel.

The Shaver Mountain ridge undulated gracefully before me. I had hoped to catch the rhododendrons in bloom; the big show was only just beginning, but it was still a wonderful sight. Without the blooming laurel and rhododendron this section might have been ordinary (since views were obscured by trees, laden with summer's bounty), but with the flowers it was quite special. Eventually, I intersected the Green Mountain trail, but not before I second-guessed myself and needlessly doubled back, to the tune of an additional 2mi...but whats 2mi between rhododendrons?

A short stint west along the Green Mountain trail took me to my next junction with the Possession Camp trail. Here I headed southwest on a beautiful trail. Sandstone cliffs, pretty streams, fern fields, a variety of mushrooms, rhododendrons and mountain laurel had me engrossed...which is when I rounded a kink in the trail and observed a black bear doing the same about 50 yards ahead. I stopped but the bear didn't: without pausing it turned around and scampered off. So, after numerous years of hiking, this is how my first bear encounter happened. Curiously un-dramatic.

I kept dropping down towards Otter Creek, to eventually intersect it at a lovely waterfall complex. It was extremely pretty there, with mountain laurel flowers decorating the boulders, as well as some pools amongst the rocks. I continued south along Otter Creek (I had already explored the northern section on a previous hike), rock-hopping to cross-over to the other side. Fast, level hiking soon had me at the junction with the Mylius Trail, which took me back up to the pass, where I had left it for the Shaver Mountain trail 6hrs earlier, and then back down to my car.

Stats: ~15mi, 8.5hrs.



Name: Jim Leo                                                                                                           Hike: Otter Creek Backpack
Date: 10/25-26/09                                                                                                   Rating: 4

Critique: Mike, Thanks so much for providing the trail descriptions and waypoints. The GPS really does make wilderness hiking a more carefree adventure. Our trek was Mylius to Shavers, Green Mnt, Possession Camp, Otter Creek and back to Mylius. Camped at the intersection of Green Mnt. And Possession Camp, nice camps sites here. Dropped to the low 20's. First time for me in about 12 years and first time for my girlfriend. I would highly recommend not reading " A Walk in the Woods" (Bill Bryson) while out on the trail. She was up half the night scared out of her wits and of course everything was fine. It's a comedic but true slant on wilderness experiences. Possession Camp is the most beautiful trail, lots of Hemlock and rhododendron along most of the trail and little tributaries and springs along the way. The section of Otter Creek is equally beautiful. Some of the best camp sites are right along the the Otter creek trail just after the intersection of Possession Camp, Moore Run and Otter Creek. I hope she'll try it again. You're doing great work, Mike.


Name: Ramesh                                                                                                          Hike: Otter Creek Backpack
Date: 9/22/2006                                                                                                      Rating: 5

Critique: Just wanted to add to Melissa's note that the coordinates for the turnoff for the overlook from Green Mountain trail are 39deg 00.802min N, 79deg 38.187min W. The overlook itself (at least the one I went to) is at 39deg 00.868min N, 79 deg 38.235 min W, with the trail to the overlook being 0.1 miles long.  When coming back from the overlook and if heading towards Otter Creek, make note of the turnoff to make a sharp right onto Green Mountain Trail; otherwise, if you don't pay attention, you will end up heading towards Possession Camp Trail (and waste some time backtracking when you realize your mistake!)


ame: WVwanderer                                                                                                  Hike: Otter Creek Backpack
Date: 08/4-5/06                                                                                                        Rating: 5

Critique: We decided to head back to Otter Creek Wilderness last weekend and explore some more of the area. Another great hike in an area that is quickly becoming my favorite place to hike. A complete description of our hike with photos can be found at under the heading "Otter Creek Backpack" (August 2006 archives if it is no longer on the main page)


Name: Melissa                                                                                                           Hike: Otter Creek Backpack
Date: May 27-28 - 06                                                                                               Rating: 4

Critique: Great info! We just got back from the same hike- although we hiked it in reverse order. I wish I had read this site before going. We spent quite a bit of time looking for the turn off to Shaver's Mountain Trail (from Green Mtn. Trail) only to realize we were already on Shaver's. Adding to our confusion was the "missing" Adirondack shelter. If you go on this hike, make sure to bring at least a good topo and compass.

I noticed you didn't mention the great overlook (and small camp spot) at the beginning of the descent to Otter Creek from the Green Mountain trail. After crossing through a meadow, look for a trail on the right marked with a cairn. It's a little bit out of the way, but well worth it. (I forgot to mark it on the GPS- sorry!)


Name: Michael P. Bishton                                                                                        Hike: Otter Creek Backpack
Date: Sep 8, 2005                                                                                                      Ranking: 4

Critique: Thanks for the thoughtful effort you put into the information on your web site and to the service you provide the hiking/backpacking community in this area. The information on your web site really helped a lot in making this trip possible so that we would not get lost along the way and could enjoy the sights that Otter Creek had to offer. We plan to go back.

We really enjoyed the varying landscape and microclimates that were a constant and changing feast for the eyes as we hiked along. From fern-covered areas under tall shading trees, through deep woods with fallen moss-encrusted trees and rocks, lovely meadows and the delightful walk along the creek. We camped on the edge of one of the meadows and watched the stars come out and fill in the arc that formed the Milky Way.

We started late from the Mylius parking lot and hiked in a counter-clockwise direction, so we did not camp at the Otter Creek camp site that you show at the northern-most point on your map. We camped on the edge of a lovely circular clearing that exists at the intersection of the dark blue trail (on your topo map) and Green Mountain Trail.

Your waypoints that shows camping/water sites came in really handy! I printed out your GPS text file and put your waypoints into my little GPS, which helped a lot because I knew when we were approaching the waypoints. My GPS agreed exactly with your waypoint locations but not with the total trip miles. Mine showed 14.9 miles with my tracking set on highest. I thought that was interesting.

I printed out your hike description, which helped a lot as we went along so that we would know what to look for as we reached the important waypoints.

I was able to help three backpackers along the way because of the information that we had taken with us from your web site (topo map, description and GPS log). Two of the backpackers took note of your web site - - and planned to visit it for future hikes in this general area.


Name: Steve Kelley                                                                                                  Hike: Otter Creek Backpack
Date: Sept 17-18, 2005                                                                                           Ranking: 4

Critique: If you want to experience a moderate, yet wild backpack, this is a good choice. While the hike up Shavers Mt. is nice, there are no views other than looking up under the tree canopy; the rewards are subtle, but the solitude is sublime.

However, the star of this show is Otter Creek. At the north end of the trail, boulders the size of shotgun shacks litter the creek like play things. In the middle section of the trail, the water cascades off platters of stone. It is very hard to stray away from the creek once you reach it.

One of my questions heading out was how long it would take to reach the trailhead. From Loudoun, we were able to arrive at the Mylius trailhead off CO 12 in 3:30, not including a 30 minute stop at Seneca Rocks en route. It's about 40 minutes from Seneca Rocks, crossing over the Eastern Continental divide

We followed the directions for the loop up Shavers Mt. trail. The transition in the vegetation was quite interesting the further we advanced up the ridge. When we reached the rhododendron thickets, we thought "how interesting." Little did we know that they would become omnipresent for the remainder of the hike and give us a healthy appreciation for avoiding at all costs.

The transition from the Shavers Mt. to the Green Mt. trail is gradual and not at all obvious as mentioned. Not traveling with a GPS, we relied on the description along with our map printout and a compass. The rest was dead reckoning, and with obstructed views of the surrounding landforms, this was, at times, a crapshoot. But we pressed on.

By the time we reached the intersection with the Possession Camp trail, it was about 3 PM and we had been hiking steadily for 3 hours. We decided to set our sights on reaching the north end of Otter Creek continuing on Green Mt. trail. However, we ended up following several single-track paths through fern covered terrain, but the paths seemed a bit inconclusive - not quite sure of the railroad grade mentioned which we thought would be fairly obvious.

We backtracked toward the cairns, then warily entered a trail that seemed to have what looked like a railroad grade berm on either side. I say warily because the rhododendron crowded in on the path, reducing it to a mere 12" of space at shoulder height. We gamely advanced through the thicket as the branches beat on our packs like a car wash. To say we weren't too certain this was the path would be an understatement. But the berm that ran parallel to our route indicated it was some residual railroad grade. Eventually, it opened up and we made it out of the thicket, but the thought of perhaps being wrong of the path was a source of some consternation, but the compass indicated we were headed in the right direction.

The remainder of the trail followed the script all the way to the final toe jam section down to Otter Creek. We made it there by 4:30.

We turned south at that point and set up camp about 150 yards north of the intersection. The campsite was very nice and offered privacy. Not having time to explore extensively, we set up camp and prepared to rest. The creek was pretty cold, but I managed to ice down my feet and legs in a shallow pool - it was very peaceful.

The next morning, we dawdled a bit and didn't break camp until almost 10:00. Looking at the map, we thought the ford was at the far northern tip to where the trail is colored red. We headed right (north, or downstream) from our campsite, past the Green Mt. trail intersection, until we figured we could ford the creek.

We crossed the creek, but on the other side there was no obvious trail. How could it be? We crossed back. Then went further south (up stream) and tried again. On the other side, the ubiquitous rhododendron embraced us like tourists on the wrong side of town. This was getting weird, we thought. We crossed back again. Finally, we walked back to our campsite - there had to be a trail across the creek! We crossed - no trail. We crossed back, but then I spied cairns upstream about 50 yards. The ford was marked with a tall cairn of rocks on either side.

Chagrined, we went up stream, took off our boots and waded to the west bank. Nearly 2 hours after setting off we finally crossed the damn creek about 200 yards upstream (south) of our campsite. We had basically had camped on the Otter Creek trail without realizing it.

We then had to hike double time to get back on schedule. We made it over/around blowdowns and muddy corduroy paths as the trail hovered over Otter Creek and finally took in some very picturesque waterfalls. A lost hunting dog adopted us along the way and we had lunch at the Moore Run falls.

Around the time that we forded back to the to the east shore (this should be marked "Ford #2" if heading south) of Otter Creek at just south of the Possession Camp trail intersection, we ran into a group that was a little confused by the trail. We estimated we were near Possession Camp, but were pretty much opposite Devils Gulch. However, after leaving them behind, we crossed at a ford to the West Bank (ford #3 southbound) then ended up continuing upstream (south) some more.

We ended up missing the cairn marking the Mylius Trail ford (#4 crossing from northwest to southest). We overshot it by almost a mile and had to retreat. We ran into the same group - also using your description. For some reason, they were just as confused by the Possession Camp/Otter Creek intersection as we were. The compass told us we were going west-southwest and we knew we had missed a turn.

We went back to the cairn and crossed the creek. We found the Mylius trail up a steep embankment as described. The rest of the trail was a sprint back up the Mylius Gap and back to the car. We had made it out of the Otter Creek Wilderness Area. It was not easy, but we wanted a challenge. But the challenge was in interpreting the directions - perhaps more detail on the fords (cross to the east or west bank). I believe that we were thrown off by the ford (second from the north on your map) that we did not have to cross. A picture and reference to the Moore's Run falls would allow for one distinct landmark (it is listed simply as a ford on your map)

Closer scrutiny of the directions revealed where we got off track, but the Mylius / Otter Creek intersection was obvious (traveled southwest more that 10 minutes!) once we realized our mistake. Without a GPS, compasses are an absolute must, but don't expect to make out landforms other than the creek - every ridge looks nearly identical to the uninitiated! While it would be nice to follow the Adirondack's definition of wilderness areas and, at minimum, identify trailhead markers, you get none of that help here.

The water was low enough to allow us to "dry ford" all but the northernmost ford. While the water was cold, I can see how it would captivate kids of all ages to check out some of the chutes and slides and swimming holes. With kids (age 12+), I would suggest bypassing Shavers Mt. and going directly to the .28 Mile ford and setting up camp. Perhaps go another mile downstream (north) to the Moore Run campsites on the West Side of the creek. Use the time to explore the creek! You need to get wet!


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