Seneca Creek, West Virginia, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV-V+ (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||170 fpm|
|Max Gradient||350 fpm|
|N F SOUTH BRANCH POTOMAC RIVER AT CABINS, WV|
|usgs-01606000||2500 - 10000 cfs||IV-V+||01h00m||503 cfs (too low)|
For a video documenting most of the drops on the run, mostly from a Go Pro helmet-cam perspective, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWPpWalp6hA
Upper Seneca Creek is an extremely long and demanding run. The stream is very remote and its
length along with the hike in make this a creek for only those in top shape. There are several
tall ledges and falls, which make for an exciting time. The rapids, in general, are not as close
together as most steep creeks. The big drops are broken up by long stretches of continuous, steep
Class 3-4 rapids. Although not the toughest creek around, the drops are pretty big and there are
numerous undercuts to watch for. Luckily, the trail parallels the creek most of the way, making
scouting and portaging a lot easier.
Begin hiking down the Judy Springs Trail until the creek becomes big enough to paddle (usually after about a mile of hiking). Above Judy Springs, the creek flows swiftly over Class 1-2 rapids with strainers and beaver dams complicating the float. At Judy Springs, the gradient picks up and the creek starts dropping over ledges and slides. Soon, you will come to the first falls, a junky 10 foot double ledge runable in the middle. A half mile of small slides and ledges take you to another 10 foot falls called Coach's Corner runable on the right off a nice boof ramp. Soon, you will come to the big one, Upper Seneca Falls.
Upper Seneca Falls- This is one of the cleanest 30 foot waterfalls that you'll ever run. A series of small ledges carries one to the lip. Run left of center, down a 10 foot slope leading to a 20 foot free fall into a very deep pool. Oh yeah!
Standing Rock Falls- After a mile of smaller rapids and broken up by a 12 foot falls, you'll come to this monster. Standing Rock is a 20 foot double falls with some serious piton potential. It slopes down 12 feet before clapping on an ugly shelf and falling another 8 feet into a pool. If you decide to run it, start in the middle and make sure you get your bow up! Portage on the left.
Knife's Edge- This is a series of diagonal ledges in a steep walled gorge. The top ledge is a 5 foot boof that leads into a 10 foot boof. After landing, start stroking hard to punch the large hole at the bottom of the slide immediately after.
Below Knife's Edge, the gradient picks up for about a mile and the creek goes down a continuous series of slides and ledges (some up to 10 feet high). Notable is Oprah's Minge, which is an 8 foot sloping ledge with a rock at the bottom that is best avoided with speed to the left. This section is quite exciting and can be demanding due to the fact that it is about 6 miles into the run. Take your time and watch for strainers!
Lower Seneca Falls- The creek will start to widen out and you'll come to a large horizon line. Here, you will find a narrow 20 foot falls into a nasty hole. Make sure you paddle hard and get a good stroke as you go off the falls.
Unfortunately, the last 4 miles of the run are through a dredged out channel. There are lots of trees to portage and the area gets pretty scrapy in spots. Take your time and don't let this section put a damper on an otherwise spectacular day.