Seneca Creek - 2. (Lower) Forest Service Campground to Route 28 Bridge


Seneca Creek, West Virginia, US

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2. (Lower) Forest Service Campground to Route 28 Bridge

Usual Difficulty III (for normal flows)
Length 6.2 Miles
Avg. Gradient 70 fpm
Max Gradient 90 fpm

Early Ledge Slide On Lower Seneca Creek


Early Ledge Slide On Lower Seneca Creek
Photo of Mark Anderson by Kelly Guerrero taken 4/2001 @ 6 ft at Petersburg

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
N F SOUTH BRANCH POTOMAC RIVER AT CABINS, WV
usgs-01606000 5.75 - 10.00 ft III 72h20m 4.88 ft (too low)


River Description

This stream has it's beginning at the highest point in West Virginia on Spruce Knob and spills sharply off the Allegheny Front. Unlike the waterfall-chocked and much harder upper section, this lower section offers a continuous Class -II-III slalom ride from start to finish that intermediate and higher paddlers can enjoy. The main hazard on this run is downed trees and two or three portages can be expected.

Putin along the county road 33-3 (a gravel road that turns south off state highway 55/33). There are pullouts along the way and there is a backcountry access at the trailhead where the creek turns away from the road. White Run, a rarely run Class IV adventure, continues along the road. The creek parallels the gravel road for the first 1 1/2 miles and the rapids are fairly continuous Class II to III ledge slides. The eddies are few, both because this is a small and steep stream and because some sections still reflected manmade channelizing following 1985 floods.

When the creek turns East, look for the first strainers in a bend that tends to pick up wood. Just below here you will encounter the first large Class III drop. This double ledge requires a careful line between offset and wide hydraulics. Below here you will encounter several easier ledge slides and hydraulics that give this section a roller coaster fell. As you approach the hamlet of Onego, begin looking for a pool above the biggest rapid on the creek. This Class III should be scouted the first time, as it requires a tight line between two beefy holes. Below here you will encounter additional hydraulics before the creek crosses under Route 55/33.

The rapids now tend toward chute drops with large eddies on the right or left. But things stay busy. When you can see Seneca Rocks in the distance you are in the final stretch of the run. There is an old 2 foot dam about 1 mile from the takeout that was best run on the right in 2001. From here, the water is primarily Class II boogie water.

Takeout either at the Route 28 bridge in Seneca Rocks or just downstream at the Seneca Rocks Recreation Area parking area. In both instances, be careful not to blow by your intended beachead. There is supposed to be a bridge gauge on the Route 28 bridge but this author and several paddling companions never could find it from land or water. It may have been covered by debris. Still, a visual inspection is sufficient for determining flow. Check this out only during extremely wet periods. The Petersburg gauge, as noted above, should be at least 4 feet and should probably be rising or at least steady.
StreamTeam Status: Verified
Last Updated: 2006-04-25 10:51:31

Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
April 22 2011 (2741 days ago)
Robert FarmerDetails
Every so often a huge log jam forms just downstream of White's Run, around the left turn, against
the cliff on the right. By the time when you see it, you can't avoid it. Luckily, I found a
boat-width slot, that time, when it surprised me. Hike down from the White's Run put-in to have a
look before putting in.
February 23 2011 (2799 days ago)
mnoud (151136)
Ran it on 02/21/2011. We put in right above the confluence with Whites Run. There was one
strainer/portage just around the corner from that, followed quickly by a nuisance strainer that you
could brute force through. Other than that no real strainers of consequence and a really fun run.
There was the occasional piece of wood to be seen, but all easily avoidable. Exercise caution at
higher levels because a few of these were duck-unders at levels around minimum, and could be
problems with a lot more water.
April 29 2008 (3829 days ago)
Michael W. WellmanDetails
Be aware that there is a river wide strainer just upstream of the turnoff from WV state highway
55/33 to county road 33-3 (Whites Run Road, I believe it's called). It's not trivial to carry
around it as it's in moving water with 6 to 8 foot vertical banks; most of our parties on April 22
- 24, 2008, chose to skip the top mile of the run and put in beneath this. This would be just
downstream from the first pullout on the left as you drive upstream. There were a few minor
strainers downstream of this, including one triple strainer; however, at least on our trips, all be
reasonably negotiated without getting out of our boats.
April 26 2008 (3832 days ago)
Stephen J. EttingerDetails
This is a really terrific paddle, with nice scenery and an interesting variety of rapids. The first
ledge is perhaps the trickiest, as you may not see it until it is too late, and there is a boulder
right in the middle -- the best route is probably on the right. The second ledge, soon after
Roaring Creek enters from the left at Onego, was easiest (altho a bit scrapey) on the left. The
final ledge, Junkhouse Rapid, when you are within sight of Seneca Rocks, should also be run on the
far left, to avoid a bad hydraulic. (The WV guidebook talks about a channel around this ledge, but
that is no longer the case.) For a zero level, look from the downstream side under the bridge at
Onego -- the tops of the white calcified marks on the middle pier, which look rather like a broken
horizontal line, will be just at the waterline.
March 10 2007 (4245 days ago)
Robert FarmerDetails
Just to emphasize: there is a double-ledge, double-hole drop behind a boulder where I got stuck and
had to swim after coming down the upper section (not really Class 3, so much, at high levels). I've
usually run it on the right, but that seems, uh, unsatisfactory. Try left. And the ledge at Onego
is truly terrifying at high levels. I snuck it tight right. Stay out of those holes, for sure!
Also, the log jam near the top can usually be snuck without portaging if you cut left way-high
above the log jam.


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