In a natural bowl between Shavers Mountain (on the east side) and McGowan Mountain (on the west side) lies Otter Creek Wilderness. Most of the numerous streams in the area flow into Otter Creek, which runs north across the Wilderness into the Dry Fork River. These streams frequently flash flood during periods of heavy rain. From the mouth of Otter Creek, the terrain rises to about 3,900 feet on McGowan Mountain. The area, logged extensively between 1897 and 1914, now sports a second-growth forest, dense thickets of rhododendron and mountain laurel along the streams, and a variety of mosses in damper regions. Spruce dominate the higher country and give way to hardwoods such as black cherry and yellow birch lower down. Black bears have returned and are reunited with white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, hares, rabbits, grouse, and several species of squirrels. Beavers are active in several spots. Timber rattlesnakes may be seen, and Otter Creek shelters a small population of brook trout. You can explore the Wilderness on over 40 miles of trails, many following old railroad grades. The longest and most used path is the Otter Creek Trail that follows Otter Creek with bridge access across Dry Fork River on the north end. Once on the trail, you'll have to ford the creek several times.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Otter Creek Wilderness.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.
(Known as the Eastern Wilderness Areas Act) - Public law 93-622 (1/3/1975) To further the purposes of the Wilderness Act by designating certain acquired lands for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System, to provide for study of certain additional lands for such inclusion, and for other purposes
Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 - Public law 111-11 (3/30/2009) An act to designate certain land as components of the National Wilderness Preservation System, to authorize certain programs and activities in the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture, and for other purposes.