Seneca Creek - 1. (Upper) Judy Springs to Forest Service Campground

Seneca Creek, West Virginia, US


1. (Upper) Judy Springs to Forest Service Campground (Upper Seneca)

Usual Difficulty IV-V+ (for normal flows)
Length 13 Miles
Avg. Gradient 170 fpm
Max Gradient 350 fpm

Bobby running Upper Seneca Falls

Bobby running Upper Seneca Falls
Photo of Bobby Miller by John Pramik taken 04/22/06

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-01606000 2500 - 10000 cfs IV-V+ 01h01m 16.7 cfs (too low)

River Description

For a video documenting most of the drops on the run, mostly from a Go Pro helmet-cam perspective, go to

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.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2011-04-13 13:29:22


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.
March 23 2010 (2741 days ago)
Alex ZendelDetails
From a Boatertalk post today. still tons of wood
on seneca. it was pretty clear through the big falls, then beginning maybe a quarter mile below,
there was a lot of sketchy wood all the way to the end.
October 13 2008 (3266 days ago)
x (1)
Robert Farmer---The last time that I did this, Knife Edge had changed dramatically, which was a
huge surprise, because it had looked immutable. Plus, there were a lot of trees in it, so I
portaged. I just wanted to let you know, that, yes, sometimes this little bedrock creek does move
around a bit, so watch out!
June 5 2006 (4128 days ago)
Robert FarmerDetails
When the upper is running, the lower is usually scary-high, even if you've just come down the

Also, below Knife Edge, the creek gets easier, lulling one into a false sense of confidence before
some sometimes-sticky ledge holes above Lower Seneca Falls. Below here, the water splits around
islands, usually necessitating some portages.
April 24 2006 (4169 days ago)
Robert MillerDetails
There is a bad tree pinned in the bottom of Knife's Edge, making the rapid a wise idea to portage.
Other than that, there are the usual strainers to watch for, with most being ones you can maneuver
September 22 2003 (5114 days ago)
Kevin WilliamsDetails
Judy Springs Trail is now signed as "Seneca Creek" A "duh" factor there but we
drove past it figuring that Judy Springs intercepts the creek.

As for water - we had Hurricane Isabel the night before and at the Seneca Rocks bridge the lower
was CRANKING. Take out looked high but not quite out of the banks, we had what I would call perfect
water and were able to put-in waaaay above Judy Springs although the added wood was a pain. It
could have been run substantially higher than we did it- I'd probably put on if the water at the
take-out were a bit above the banks (but not much)

As of 9/19/03 it had wood in one only drop right after knife's edge- it was a big log so it could
stay there for some time and it's in a bad place so make sure you walk down there and look after
knife's edge.

No joke about the portage trails- they run most (but not all) of the way down the creek and make
scouting a breeze.

Not as tough as I thought but the 30' falls is sweet and easy and the canyon is beautiful.

It's hard to catch, the shuttle is LONG and you really need a full day (we took off after dark) but
grab it if you can!!!

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