Morgantown, WV: Otter Creek Wilderness

By Rachel Sayers
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By Rachel Sayers

The cool water of Otter Creek cascades over my bare legs, tickling my sore arches as it courses by the natural rock chair I’m sitting on. I climbed 4,432-foot Shavers Mountain this morning—midway through a 14.7-mile loop—and this watery respite is exactly what I need. After a quick rest, I’ll continue down the trail past thick layers of pink rhododendron and white mountain laurel to my riverside camp, where I’ll probably soak my feet all over again.

Trip stats
Distance:
14.7 miles
Time: 2 days

Turn-by-turn
From the Mylius Trailhead

(1) Follow the Mylius Trail 1.5 miles northwest up the southern face of Shavers Mountain to a four-way junction.
(2) Turn northeast (hiker’s right) onto the Shavers Mountain Trail and continue 2.7 miles along the ridge to a fork.
(3) Merge west (hiker’s left) onto the Green Mountain Trail and descend to Otter Creek at mile 8.1.
(4) Make a hard left onto the Otter Creek Trail and follow the creek .9 mile south to camp.
(5) Continue 3.4 miles south on the main path. (You will need to ford Otter up to five times; prepare for knee-deep water in August.)
(6) Veer east (hiker’s left) onto the Mylius Trail and follow it 2.3 miles to your car.

Campsite
Otter Creek (mile 9)

Set up camp on the banks of Otter for easy access to the creek’s abundant pools, chutes, and waterfalls. The site (first-come, first-serve) is big enough for two tents; another site .2 mile downriver allows for spillover. Nighttime bonus: Enjoy nature’s best white-noise machine.

Bear country
Otter Creek Wilderness hosts one of the state’s largest black bear populations, thanks both to its remoteness and substantial size. Keep an eye out as you pick your way along Otter Creek. (In summer, bears are most active at dusk and dawn.) For tips on bear safety, visit backpacker.com/survival/bears.

Find fungi
The rich humus of the Otter Creek basin, a byproduct of the area’s logging past, supports a wide variety of fungi. Look for tasty morels in spring, when the ground is wettest and temperatures are mild. Scan year-round for the spongy fungi near large, rotting trees. (Note: Never eat anything you can’t positively identify.)

DO IT
Trailhead 38.961411, -79.607663; 50 miles west of Petersburg off Sully Rd. Season Summer for blooming rhododendrons and warm temps (better for swimming); fall brings foliage; spring for other wildflowers Permit None Custom mapbit.do/BPmapOtterCreek ($15) Contactbit.do/MonongahelaNFTrip databackpacker.com/OtterCreek

Trail Facts

  • State: WV
  • City: Morgantown
  • Distance: 0.0