Monongahela National Forest is filled with hidden pockets to explore. One of these pockets, Seneca Creek, is just a few miles past a paved road to the highest point in West Virginia. Forest Service Road 112 leads visitors towards this point, Spruce Knob, but just past the intersection to Spruce Knob, FS 112 becomes gravel and descends a few miles to Seneca Creek and the Seneca Creek Trail. We suggest you take the road less traveled and follow FS 112 to Seneca Creek for a day, weekend, or even weeklong adventure in Monongahela.
Seneca Creek Trail begins as an old roadway along the creek. The trail is smooth and wide as it slowly descends downstream.
Soon enough the creek becomes noticeable. The trail follows the creek closely in some areas. Seneca Creek Trail features several crossings of the creek. Often in the summer, users can cross the stream with dry feet. During high water though; and often in the spring, these stream fords can be difficult or impassable. Take care when crossing the water, and be sure to keep your pets close when the water is moving swiftly, too!
Judy Springs is a little over three miles from the FS 112 parking lot. Previously a developed campground, this area is still a popular backcountry camping spot. Judy Springs offers plenty of water, open meadows, and a popular trail junction with Judy Springs Trail. Be sure to take the short side trail and watch water pour out of the rocky springs which provide the namesake for this area!
Waterfalls can be seen all along the trail as multiple side streams cascade into Seneca Creek. Upper Seneca Creek Falls are an impressive 30 foot feature at the terminus of Seneca Creek Trail. Skilled boaters may run these falls in the spring, while hikers and cyclists prefer to enjoy the cooling pool at the bottom of the falls during the summer. These falls are less than five miles from the parking area at FS 112. Horton Trail lies across the top of these falls, which may not be passable at high water. Even though these falls are impressive, don't forget to look for the other falls along the way downstream!
Multiple campsites exist throughout the length of Seneca Creek Trail. This trail is popular though, so don't expect to have the whole creek to yourself! Be sure to practice Leave No Trace ethics, and pack out your trash.
Here's What We Suggest:
Most folks hike this trail as a nearly 10-mile long out and back. Instead, we suggest you grab a Purple Lizard Map and take note of the multiple loop options in this section of forest! One of the most popular loops begins at the top of Spruce Knob Lookout Tower. Hikers and cyclists enjoy traversing the ridge along Huckleberry Trail, then descending to Seneca Creek Trail. Seneca Creek Trail is an easy to moderate climb, and very rideable. Hikers will want to set up a shuttle vehicle at Seneca Creek Trail parking area, while cyclists may choose to grind up the long gravel climb along FS 112 back to Spruce Knob parking area.
Huckleberry Trail includes a few rock garden features, which are coveted by a select group of hikers, trail runners, and cyclists. Most other folks simply try to get through the rock gardens without too much damage to their ankles and bikes!
Lumberjack Trail is another option for adventurers, although beware this trail is often wet and sloppy.
Judy Springs Trail and High Meadows Trail, on the other hand include a few spectacular mountain meadows and vistas year-round.
Yet another option: look at the trails leading westbound away from Seneca Creek Trail. Tom Lick Run Trail, Swallow Rock Trail, and Bear Hunter Trail. Use any combination of these trails and Allegheny Mountain Trail to make an enjoyable loop with Seneca Creek Trail!
Whichever route you decide on and for whatever length you stay in this magical spot, be sure to visit Seneca Creek Trail as it surely is a gem within Spruce Knob Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area!
Grab your Lizard Map and go on an adventure today!
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