Otter Creek Falls in Late Summer

Every state with mountains has an “Otter Creek”. Some states have more than one. The Otter Creek in my valley got its name back in colonial times when Native Americans lived here. I’ve seen otters in the pond down the road, and I’m told that otters still live in the creek, but I’ve never seen any there. It’s not a big creek as creeks go. It had a family of beavers build a dam a few years ago, but a flash flood washed it away. There are ruins of a mill where the creek narrows and exits the valley down by the main road. Gold was panned from the creek for a long time, and there’s still some gold there if you have the patience to look. After a good rain, the creek becomes a torrent, filling up with all the runoff from the entire valley, but most of the time, it’s just a slow moving stream that gurgles along as it makes its way to join Cove Creek a mile or so to the east. I’m sure there must be some fish in the creek, or the otters wouldn’t be there, but I’ve never seen anyone fishing.

This morning the dogs and I walked west, past an old 19th century farmhouse, to the only falls that I know to exist along the water’s course. I had never been up there in the summer, and I realize now what I have been missing. The creek drops about ten feet as it cascades down a huge slab of rock. The sound is hypnotic, and the tranquility of the place is the best I’ve found anywhere in the entire valley.

Otter Creek Rhododendron
About two-thirds of the way to the falls, Otter Creek passes one of only three houses built close to the creek. Carolina rhododendron cover the steep bank.

Otter Creek Currents
Heavy rains can swell the creek well over its banks.

Otter Creek Chimney
The farmhouse dates from the time of the Civil War. The falls are about a quarter miles past this historic relic.

This morning I made a video of my trek up the creek to the falls. It’s only two minutes, but I think you’ll feel the same peacefulness that I felt during the hike.

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