Otter Creek - 1. Fish Liming Operation to Big Spring Gap

Otter Creek, West Virginia, US


1. Fish Liming Operation to Big Spring Gap (Upper Otter Wilderness)

Usual Difficulty IV-V(V+) (for normal flows)
Length 9 Miles
Avg. Gradient 96 fpm
Max Gradient 250 fpm

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-03065000 4000 - 20000 cfs IV-V(V+) 00h20m 5690 cfs (running)

River Description

You can surf on over to read the Zone Dogg's story.

Upper Otter Creek is one of the best steep creek expeditions in West Virginia. It is the ultimate "source to mouth" run, starting on the tiniest of tributaries flowing through a marsh and going all the way to its mouth at the Dry Fork of the Cheat. It is very long and committing requiring a high degree of skill and endurance, you have paddled 6 miles before you reach the first Class 5 rapid!

You will puton a small tributary called Condon Run and scrape your way for about 1/4 mile until you reach the marsh. At the beginning of the marsh, there is a 5 foot dam onto a concrete slab that can be run anywhere or easily portaged on the right. For the next 4 miles, the creek winds slowly through the marsh and passing through some of the most gorgeous scenery in West Virginia. There are many trees down but you can fight your way over, under, and through most of them.

After about 4 miles, the creek bed changes from sand to rock and the creek starts going down actual rapids that grow in intensity as you travel further downstream. There several fun warmup slides and boulder drops that will carry you through the next 2 miles. Just above where Yellow Creek enters, there is a steep cascade that is best run left of center.

Yellow Creek enters about 6 miles into the run and, besides adding volume, it marks the beginning of the steep section (4 miles dropping close to 250 feet per mile). After a few long slides (one that is fairly steep), you come to a 15 foot falls onto rocks. This is best run far right down a flume. This flume leads into a rocky cascade that requires you to angle left. Right below this, is a 100 yard long slide.

The creekbed changes from slides to boulder drops below here. Most boulder drops are boat scoutable but some are pretty steep. Be on the lookout for trees through here. After a couple miles, the run steepens noticeably and the boulder drops begin to be as challenging as those found on the Upper B. Several of the drops are pretty long and steep with multiple moves to make. There are several good boofs in through here but also some nasy undercuts. The boulder drops let up a little after about a mile but there are still many steep drops left. Eventually, the run will completely let up to Class 2-3 and you will notice the Otter Creek trail has switched to the right bank, signaling the start of lower Otter. Continue for another 2-3 miles of Class 3-4 rapids to the Dry Fork.

* On a recent trip (3/24/05), there were many downed trees in the rapids. Most were able to be gotten around but several were in nasty places. There is a tree just downstream of the falls that needs to be portaged. The next two slides have trees in them, the second one is in a particularly dangerous place near the bottom of the slide.
StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2005-03-27 16:58:15


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.
July 9 2007 (4212 days ago)
Trevar BenningtonDetails
A group ran this 7/6/07. All of the wood is clear in the steep sections (thanks to John Moore) and
we ran all drops. One drop, right side after an island had some new limbs in it but is easily seen.
There is still a bunch of wood in the last 2-3 mile runnout before the dry fork though so keep a
heads up after the steep sections end.
May 5 2005 (5007 days ago)
Geoff CalhounDetails
There are TONS of tree in this run - the first 2 miles are faster walked than paddled (as of late
march) the upper marchy section is sweet, but trees are a horrendous problem. around every bend is
a problem to be negotiated, its fun if your in the mood for headwaters, but it took hours to get to
the 15 footer be prepared and start early! as a result we had to hike out (we had wanted to make it
to the dry fork but only put on at 1 pm) and then back in the following day to finish the paddle. I
think most (if not all the ones in the whitewater section were passable, at the low level we were
there at - but 2 or 3 were very sketchy. the drops arent big but usually blind and bony. needed
more water in the creek, sneakers, a creek boat (lost my boat day before...dont ask) flashlight,
more food, a faster group, and a chainsaw.