The Trough

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Canoeing through The Trough

The Trough is a large river gorge carved by the South Branch Potomac River and situated in the Allegheny Mountains of Hampshire and Hardy Counties, West Virginia, USA. The area was the site of a 1756 skirmish of the French and Indian War, known as the "Battle of the Trough".

The steep slopes of the Trough are forested primarily with oaks, hickories, and Virginia pine with several rock outcrops visible on both sides. The two wooded ridges that define The Trough make it inaccessible from either side. Entry into The Trough is only by the South Branch Valley Railroad (along the foot of Mill Creek Mountain) or by canoe or boat.


The Trough is a narrow valley bounded by Mill Creek Mountain to its west and Sawmill Ridge (1,716 feet) to its east with the South Branch Potomac River flowing in between them. The Trough's opening is located at the southern slopes of Mill Creek Mountain and Sawmill Ridge at McNeill in Hardy County. Mill Creek Mountain on its western edge is made up of several steep ridges and knobs while Sawmill Ridge to its east is one long continuous sharp ridge. River Ridge (1,906 feet) is the first of Mill Creek Mountain's ridges to rise over the South Branch. For canoers, The Trough officially begins at the South Branch Valley Railroad's wooden trestle at Sycamore just after Stony Run empties into the river.

The Trough continues its northwestern track with several bends in the South Branch Potomac and large boulders dislocated from the ridges above dotting its shores. The Trough then passes into Hampshire County at High Knob (2,648 feet) on Mill Creek Mountain followed by a series of knobs separated by spring gaps. It is at the third spring gap where Wickham was once located at on the railroad. Following Wickham, Mill Creek Mountain's Long Knob (1,725 feet) spans the western side of The Trough while Sawmill Ridge remains to its east. Sawmill Ridge ends at The Trough's Mouth where Sawmill Run runs off it and joins the river. Sector is located at the mouth's western edge with Glebe located to its east. The cement supports of the old bridge that once carried Fleming-Sector Road (County Route 8/3) connecting these two communities are still visible on either side of the river. For canoers, The Trough's end is at the Harmison's Public Access Site after the old bridge behind The Trough General Store.


The Trough General Store in Glebe at The Trough's mouth offers canoe rentals and shuttles canoers and kayakers to The Trough's opening near McNeill in the South Branch Wildlife Management Area.

The area is well known as a habitat for endangered bald eagles, hence its Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad sightseeing train on the SBVR. Visitors can board the train at Wappocomo Station on West Virginia Route 28 in Romney.

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Coordinates: 39°13′25″N 78°51′27″W / 39.22361°N 78.85750°W / 39.22361; -78.85750