The United States Congress designated the Otter Creek Wilderness (map
) in 1975 and it now has a total of 20,706 acres
All of this wilderness is located in West Virginia
and is managed by the Forest Service.
In a natural bowl between Shavers Mountain (on the east side) and McGowan Mountain (on the west side) lies Otter Creek Wilderness. Most of the numerous streams in the area flow into Otter Creek, which runs north across the Wilderness into the Dry Fork River. These streams frequently flash flood during periods of heavy rain. From the mouth of Otter Creek, the terrain rises to about 3,900 feet on McGowan Mountain. The area, logged extensively between 1897 and 1914, now sports a second-growth forest, dense thickets of rhododendron and mountain laurel along the streams, and a variety of mosses in damper regions. Spruce dominate the higher country and give way to hardwoods such as black cherry and yellow birch lower down. Black bears have returned and are reunited with white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, hares, rabbits, grouse, and several species of squirrels. Beavers are active in several spots. Timber rattlesnakes may be seen, and Otter Creek shelters a small population of brook trout.
You can explore the Wilderness on 42 miles of trails, many following old railroad grades. The longest and most used path is the Otter Creek Trail, more than 11 miles long, which follows Otter Creek with bridge access across Dry Fork River on the north end. Once on the trail, you'll have to ford the creek several times.