Otter Creek Wilderness

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Otter Creek Wilderness
Part of Monongahela National Forest
Wilderness Area
Monongahela National Forest - Otter Creek Trail near Condon Run Trailhead.jpg
Otter Creek Trail (shown near Condon Run trailhead) runs the length of the Wilderness.
Country United States
State West Virginia
Counties Randolph, Tucker
Coordinates 39°01′58″N 79°39′13″W / 39.03278°N 79.65361°W / 39.03278; -79.65361Coordinates: 39°01′58″N 79°39′13″W / 39.03278°N 79.65361°W / 39.03278; -79.65361
Highest point McGowan Mountain [3]
 - location northeast of Bowden
 - elevation 3,912 ft (1,192.4 m) [4]
 - coordinates 38°59′00″N 79°41′39″W / 38.98333°N 79.69417°W / 38.98333; -79.69417
Lowest point Dry Fork riverbank
 - location southeast of Hendricks
 - elevation 1,751 ft (533.7 m) [5][6]
 - coordinates 39°04′03″N 79°36′51″W / 39.06750°N 79.61417°W / 39.06750; -79.61417
Area 20,698 acres (8,376.2 ha) [2]
Established 1975 [3]
Management Monongahela National Forest
Owner USDA Forest Service
IUCN category Ib[1]
Nearest city Elkins, West Virginia
Location of Otter Creek Wilderness in West Virginia
Website: Otter Creek Wilderness

The Otter Creek Wilderness is a U.S. Wilderness area located in the Cheat-Potomac Ranger District of Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia, USA.[2] The Wilderness sits in a bowl-shaped valley formed by Otter Creek, between McGowan Mountain and Shavers Mountain in Tucker and Randolph Counties.[3] It is crossed by 42 miles (68 km) of hiking trails. Otter Creek Trail is the longest, at 11 miles (18 km).[7]


By 1914, almost all of the virgin forest in the Otter Creek watershed had been timbered, mostly by the Otter Creek Boom and Lumber Company, but also by the owners of several small farms and homesteads.[2] In 1917 key land purchases were made by the U.S. Forest Service as part of the formation of the national forest system. The Otter Creek area was managed as a multiple use forest, including some second growth logging, until the passage of the Eastern Wilderness Act in 1975.[8] The last private in-holding was acquired the same year.

2009 addition[edit]

The Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 added 698 acres (282 ha) to the original 20,000 acres (8,100 ha) of the Otter Creek Wilderness.[9] This addition is situated on the northern and eastern flanks of McGowan Mountain leading down to Dry Fork. It provides much of the scenic view for this popular river which contains excellent whitewater paddling and trout fishing.


The Shavers Mountain Spruce-Hemlock Stand, a 68-acre (280,000 m2) red spruce-hemlock stand of old growth forest, is partly within the Otter Creek Wilderness.


  1. ^ "Otter Creek Wilderness". Protected Planet. IUCN. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "Otter Creek Wilderness". Monongahela National Forest. Retrieved April 13, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c Otter Creek Wilderness page, GORP web site, accessed April 15, 2008
  4. ^ USGS Bowden Quad Topographic Map, as displayed on TopoQuest, accessed July 6, 2008
  5. ^ "Elevation for Low Point of Otter Creek Wilderness". U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 2009-05-19.
  6. ^ "Otter Creek Wilderness Proposed Expansion". Monongahela National Forest. 2008-03-11. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-05-19. Retrieved 2009-05-19.
  7. ^ Otter Creek page, web site, accessed April 18, 2007
  8. ^ Wilderness Description page, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy web site, accessed April 18, 2008
  9. ^ "Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2009-05-14.

Further reading[edit]

Lichen covered boulder in Otter Creek Wilderness. (The species is Umbilicaria mammulata.)