Big Run-Seneca Creek-Lost Meadows Backpack

Description: This is a 24.6 mile composite of Allegheny Mt-Seneca Creek Loop, Lumberjack Tr-Seneca Creek Loop and the  Spruce Knob-Seneca Creel Backpack. Both of these hikes are quite popular. To provide a bit more of a sense of seclusion, part of the Big Run Trail and the North Prong trail have been added to the circuit. Each pass through or along meadows seldom visited by hikers. Further adding to the adventure is a 7 mile pack-less excursion of the High Meadows which includes two previously un-described meadows, the highest of which is the largest and grandest one we've yet to encounter in this venue. Add these to the ever beautiful "official" High Meadows and the water works of the creek and you have one of the best hikes in the area.

Safety Note: There are approximately 7 creek crossings and a few crossings of North Prong. The latter are seldom an issue but during periods of high water the former can be pretty challenging.

Google Custom Directions

The hike begins at the Big Run-Allegheny Mountain Trailhead.




  Printable/Downloadable Map (11X17)

View 3-D Map

Zipped National Geographic TOPO! GPS and Universal GPS Files

GPS Text File for Non-TOPO! Users


Trail Notes: All trails are blazed with blue diamonds except the one that goes to the "Lost Meadow". It is not blazed.


Day 1: As you look at the kiosk the Allegheny Mountain Trail is to the right behind a yellow forest gate. The Big Run Trail is just to the left of the kiosk. Follow it as you descend steeply, crossing two tributaries and then Big Run itself. After this last crossing the trail will at times be on an old railroad grade. Initially you'll be in deep woods but as the trail flattens out you'll skirt a couple of nice meadows. At 1.57 pass a small campsite in the spruce to the right, cross a stream and turn right onto the North Prong Trail. This is also an old railroad grade and crosses the stream about four times. In 1.24 miles pass an old bridge across the stream and the Elza Trail on the left. The trail then begins a gradual climb on a double track road as it skirts an upper meadow. This is the last chance to get water until camp. As you near the top of Allegheny Mountain you'll walk through two grassy hunter's plots. In 1.62 miles from the Elza Trail arrive at the Allegheny Mountain Trail. Turn left.


In 0.56 miles pass the Leading Ridge Trail on the left. In another 0.47 miles cross Swallow Rock Trail. In 1.32 miles cross the Bear Hunters Trail and in 1.73 miles pass Spring Ridge Trail on the left. Pass through a wildlife clearing and turn right onto the Horton Trail, a footpath that will quickly deposit you at the banks of Seneca Creek in 1.09 miles. There is a small campsite above the creek if you wish to call it a day but the best campsites are below Seneca Falls. Cross the creek and turn right on Seneca Creek Trail (another RR grade). Soon you'll notice a "siding" with three nice campsites. Of course, the most coveted one is that which is closest to the falls. If these are occupied there is another site above the falls but you'll have to ford the creek again. You've hiked a total of 9.8 miles at this point. If planning on doing the following day hike set up camp here.

Day 2, 7.0 mile day hike: Assuming you camped below the falls grab your day pack and head upstream on the Seneca Creek Trail. Just before the ford above the falls turn left onto the Huckleberry trail. After a brief scamper up a footpath turn right onto another RR grade. Cross a stream and turn right (not left) onto yet another grade. In 0.46 miles pass the High Meadows Trail on the left (your return leg of the hike). Begin a gradual climb as the trail climbs Spruce Mountain at an angle. You'll visit a small meadow just before passing the Judy Springs Trail on the right at 0.91 miles from the High Meadows Trail and then a much larger meadow just before reaching the Lumberjack Trail. These meadows are full of Blackberries later in the summer.Turn left onto the Lumberjack Trail. You will still be gaining elevation but at such a slow rate it will barely be noticeable. Be prepared for some muddy going. This trail can be quite wet in places and never seems to dry out. In 2.07 miles the trail ends and the High Meadow Trail bears to the left. This is the only trail junction where there is no sign. If you wish to explore the "Lost Meadow" continue straight on the old RR grade. as of this writing it is blocked by a couple of fallen trees but it is easy enough to work your way around them. In a very short distance there will be a small meadow on the left. you can either follow the right edge of it or stay on the grade (becoming overgrown at this point) to a nice campsite. Pass through the campsite and enter a larger meadow partially lined with Red Spruce. Cross the meadow on a slight diagonal to the left and find the continuation of the RR grade through the evergreen forest. In a matter of a couple of hundred yards enter the "Lost Meadow" with grand views all around you. We strongly recommend you turn left at a cairn and walk up the hill to a large rock to get one of the best views of the trip.


After taking in the view retrace your steps to the junction of the Lumberjack and High Meadows Trail. Turn right and soon find yourself following an old barbed wire fence on the right. Over the next 1.86 miles the trail will alternate between open meadows and deep woods. Take your time enjoying the meadows (more blackberries). You'll cross a stream just before the junction with the Huckleberry Trail. Be careful! Every time we've crossed it someone has slipped on a big, flat rock. From here turn right onto the Huckleberry trail and return to camp.


Day 3, 7.5 miles: Today is all about the waterworks of Seneca Creek. Although today's hike is pretty easy you'll want to linger at all of the falls and chutes along the way. Head upstream and cross the creek above the falls. Often this is the only ford were you might have to take off your boots. That is unless there has been a lot of rain. You'll ford the creek four or five more times  and pass several attractive campsites before the hike is over. In 1.96 miles pass Bear Hunter Trail on the right. There is a very nice campsite on the left with an old grist stone as a table and a waterfall on a tributary across the creek. Shortly after this walk through the old Judy Spring Campground. The apples are small but very tasty if hiking here in September. A bridge crossing the creek here leads to more campsites and the Judy Spring Trail you passed yesterday. Do not turn here but continue up the creek. In another 1.28 miles pass the Swallow Rock Trail on the right. A lot of the next 1.43 miles will be through a tunnel of young Red Spruce trees. Turn right onto the Tom Lick Trail. Cross the creek on a small footbrige. The trail is a wide grassy woods road that climbs gently to the ridge of Allegheny Mountain. In 1.13 miles arrive at the trail by the same name. At this point it is a hunter's road. Turn left and in 2.34 miles arrive back at your vehicle.


Printable/Downloadable Directions and Trail Notes

Critique This Outing



Name:   Chris
Date(s) of Hike: 06/23/15 - 06/25/15
Hike Name:MNE- Big Run - Seneca Creek - - "Lost Meadows" Backpack
Ranking: 3

Outing Critique:  Without this site, my backpacking exploration would be limited to state parks and the ever popular well known local trails in Pennsylvania so thank you for having this site.

Bottom line of this critique is wear knee high gators, long pants, and bring a dry set of camp shoes.The trails are very well marked with newer signs labeling the trail names but not distances.

We explored the Big Run - Seneca Creek trail in late June to find that most of the side trails other than Seneca Creek Trail are very overgrown and made for more difficult than traditional trails that are well maintained. I am not sure if the overgrown trails (some areas have grasses up to our shoulders in height, 5 feet high) are normal or abnormal here.  One horseback rider mentioned briefly that the trails may be overgrown due to a limited state budget. I am not sure if that is true though. The other issue was there was continuous mucky/boggy areas that never seem to dry.  Our feet were sinking constantly and made for unsure footing as if were were walking through wet horse poo.

As we came down the beginning of Big Run, it was a nice but steep gravel trail.  As we approached the meadows, the trail got progressively overgrown and we found ourselves getting cut on our exposed lower legs with briers or stickers and worrying about gathering many ticks.  The tick situation ended up only being a few during our travels, but they were present. My yellow lab dog was leading the way down the trail by burrowing her head into the grasses and hoping for the best. We were thankful to find the north prong trail sign and gathered our breath by taking a break at the campsite just before North Prong.

North Prong trail was a bit better but the stream crossings were plentiful and higher than normal due to recent heavy rain.  Our boots and feet were soaked due to not having gaitors and the water being higher than our boot tops.  I don't think the trail is used enough to be able to rock hop and it would be absurd to take your boots off for every creek crossing. I was grateful for the uphill climb up to allegheny mtn. trail after the old wooden footbridge at the Elza Trail.  The meadow that we passed shortly after that was the biggest and best one we saw. A few deer were seen along the North Prong.

The Allegheny Mtn. Trail was flat and easier to make some miles but there is much debris and the mucky trails continued.

We cut our mileage short due to tiredness and cut down Swallow rock trail.  The campsite at this intersection was full of high grass as well and ticks would be my concern if staying there.  Swallow rock trail was just barely a trail, but was just a muddy/mucky downhill mess with no sure footing.

Once we arrived at Seneca Creek trail things got much better.  The trail was well defined and flat.  We made our way to Judy Springs campsites across the footbridge.

Day 2

We day hiked down to the main waterfalls which you suggested camping by.  We had plenty of time, but chose not to explore the high meadows area.  Looking back at it, that was a dumb decision, but I was so concerned that the trail conditions would have been just as bad as the other day. There are 3 fairly big sites down at the base of the falls. The one above the falls looks a little tight and maybe has room for one small tent.

Day 3

We took the Seneca trail back and enjoyed the creek crossing and the more well groomed trail.  We were debating to go up the Tom Lick trail and finish our trip on the Allegheny trail or just continue on the Seneca trail and just walk the road the 1.1 mile to the Big Run trailhead. We chose the Tom Lick/Allegheny route.  The Tom Lick was a fairly easy climb for a mile and we passed a campsite on the left that is an option if absolutely need be.  The rest of the Allegheny was mucky and had at least 3 down trees that crossed the trail completely.

All in all, we had a great time, but for anyone looking for a basic backpacking trip and not a high grass, mucky adventure, I would suggest simply doing an out and back backpack from the Seneca Creek trailhead.

I would love to know if these trail conditions are normal or if we just hit it at a worse time.


Name: Tom                                                                                                       Hike: Big Run-Seneca Creek-Lost Meadows backpack

Date(s): 4/30 to 05/02/2013                                                                      Rating: 4


Critique: Did this hike minus the Big Run entrance. Started at Seneca Creek trailhead instead. Warm days, chilly nights, beautiful water works. A small handful of other hikers. Was nice to hit High Meadows when it isn't overgrown. Also found the plane wreckage on Lumberjack since there was no vegetation. Had walked by it many times before and never saw it. Enjoyed the understory off-trail a bit too. Went past the Lost Meadow and found another trail to an even higher meadow on top the mountain. Looks like a 4-wheeler or hunter's trail that is easy to follow. Could be getting onto private property. Beyond the top of the mountain, I did not explore to the north, but you can look south along the entire spine of Spruce Mountain. Farther away you can see clear to Bald Knob on Back Allegheny Mountain over in Pocahontas County. One interesting feature is visible in the brush behind the fire ring near the south side of the the Lost Meadow. There are three nearly identical rock cairns spaced in a line about the same distance apart, each is 6-7 feet tall and remarkably well built. They have been there a while, as evidenced by the trees and brush growing in and around them. Maybe aliens built them, or maybe they are markers along an old trail. Anybody have a clue who built these and why?? Love this hike, and plan to go again, possibly this fall in the color season.


Name: Dave L.                                                                                                 Hike: Big Run-Seneca Creek-Lost Meadows Backpack
Date: 5/27-30/2010                                                                                      Rating: 4

Critique: This is a great backpacking loop with lots of changing scenery. We hiked this during the Memorial Day Weekend and started hiking Thursday afternoon.

Thursday we only went as far as the campsite in the pines just before the North Prong Trail. This campsite is very nice and has water nearby. It's also only about a half hour hike in from the trailhead so if arriving late this would be a great site to camp at.

Friday we woke up around 6 AM and headed out towards Seneca Creek with hopes of camping near the falls. Leaving our camp from the pines we encountered a very wet and muddy trail along the creeks and small meadows that we passed (North Prong/Allegheny Trail). A portion of this hike is a bit dull as we were hiking on a seldom used forest road. Leaving the forest road we got on a steep foot path down to Seneca Creek where we had to ford the creek by taking our boots off due to high water. Once crossing the creek we passed three occupied campsites including the one we wanted to stay at under Seneca Falls. Due to occupied campsites we decided to hike up the Seneca Creek trail to a large campsite along the creek just before the old Judy Springs Campground. We stayed at this site for our last two nights.

The third day was our day hike day through the meadows and to the lost meadow. This was one of the best hikes of the trip for me. The hike reminded me of Mount Rogers with the numerous open meadows and vistas that we encountered. While exploring the lost meadows portion of this hike we encountered a black bear and enjoyed watching it hunt for insects in the grassy meadow. After spending all day exploring the meadows we hiked back down to camp along the creek and called it a day.

Sunday was day four for us and it was our last day. After taking our time enjoying the morning along the creek we broke camp and headed down the popular Seneca Creek trail. While hiking this trail we saw soooo many people. However, after leaving the trail via the Tom Lick Trail we saw nobody. That was pretty much the story of the trip. While hiking and camping along Seneca Creek we saw saw at least 2 or 3 dozen people (which is to be expected on Memorial Day Weekend and at such a scenic trail) however, off the Seneca Creek Trail we saw a total of 4 people and that was along the High Meadows Trail. I believe there is solitude to be found on this hike if one avoids the Seneca Creek Trail and hiking on Memorial Day Weekend (Though fighting the crowds along Seneca Creek is worth it due to how spectacular this creek system is).

In total we hiked over 26 miles but that is mostly due to exploring the high meadows.


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