When most people talk about running Manns Creek in WV, they almost always refer to running Glade Creek to the confluence of Manns Creek and continuing down to the New River. This in itself is arguably the best all-around, most 'classic' West Virginia creek.
'Real Manns Creek' refers to Manns Creek proper, which starts near the horse stables in Babcock State Park and continues to the confluence of Glade Creek. On the map below, the differentiation between the two different runs should be evident.
Real Manns Creek, which I'll refer to simply as Manns for the rest of this post, has a max gradient of 520'/mile and demands the greatest technical creeking skill of any of the amazing creeks around Fayetteville, WV. For the first couple of days of 2011, the December snowpack of the previous year decided to melt at a nice rapid rate - fast enough to get most of the creeks on the area nice and high. The gauge upstream of the Grist Mill on Glade Creek was about 13". There is now a webcam on the Grist Mill at babcocksp.com, which is a major boon for creekers in the area. I had done Manns a few times, but not for at least 5 years or so. I had the honor of going with Shane Groves of Nettie, WV for his virgin run. He was fired up to explore a new run on his home turf.
The gauge at the put-in read about 5.5", solidly on the high side of good. But still excellent nonetheless. From the put-in bridge Manns Creek appears to be a gentle brook meandering through thick rhododendron.
Don't let that fool you - it quickly picks up pace and plunges over the first drop with no eddies anywhere near the lip.
You really don't want to miss the eddy above this monster of a rapid, as my buddy almost did. Here is the infamous Energizer from the top. The bottom of this 5-part rapid is about 60' beneath this first part - vertically.
Without enough crew for safety Shane and I decided to just run the bottom drop of this behemoth. To this day, Energizer is still the hardest single rapid I've ever run. There are multiple crux moves, pin spots, twisting slots, piton rocks - and if one thing goes wrong it'll be a chain reaction of carnage.
A long stretch of continuous boulder rapids brings you to this perfect double drop:
Manns Creek above the confluence is only 1.7 miles, but feels like an eternity. It is so continuously steep, and requires so much focus that it leaves you with a feeling of euphoria when you finally reach the takeout in one piece. It is a truly epic class 5+ hair run that will test even the most seasoned creekers. IMHO, it is twice as technically difficult as Glade from the Gristmill down. It just doesn't let up:
If you choose not to continue past the confluence with Glade Creek down to the New on a flooded Manns creek, a steep hill awaits you on river left that goes up to an old mining rail-car road. Shane nears the top of the steep part of the hike: