Little Devils Stairs - North SNP
Spectacular gorge climb up Keyser Run
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Little Devils Stairs - Sperryville , Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
5.5 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
4.0 hours plus a half hour for lunch
1,480 ft
Shenandoah National Park
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e.g. 12000 Government Center Parkway 22035 or Fairfax VA
Park at the end of VA670/Keyser Run Rd. and parking area for Little Devils Stairs.
38.73060, -78.25827

Because of the steep grade the first two miles of the Little Devils Stairs hike in the Shenandoah National Park can be tough if the day is warm. The best time to do this hike is the early spring when water levels are at a peak, making the numerous waterfalls along the run that much nicer. At one point the trail even passes through a small set of falls.


The second half of the hike follows the Keyser Run Fire Road back down past the Bolen Cemetery. This is a pleasant walk through some old growth. If you would like to make this hike longer add the 3 sections of the Piney Branch hike to make the circuit a little over 9.0 miles.

  • Mile 0.0 –The hike will begin up the right side of the parking area on the blue blazed Little Devils Stairs Trail. After 0.9 miles the grade will increase sharply as the trail climbs the ravine, and starts crisscrossing Keyser Run.

    The Little Devils Stairs Trail is hard to spot in places and you have to look for the blue blazes on the trees. However, if you believe you've lost the trail it's difficult to go too far off track, as the gorge is very narrow and trail runs along one side or the other of the stream. As you climb up the gorge there are several spots that require hand over hand climbing.

    Near the top of the ravine The Little Devils Stairs Trail becomes less steep, then makes several switchbacks before leveling off completely and arriving at the intersection of the Keyser Run Fire Road, and four way junction.

  • Mile 2.0 - Turn left down the yellow blazed Keyser Run Fire Road and in 2.0 miles enter an old hemlock forest before arriving at the Bolen Cemetery and intersection of the for the the Hull School Trail.

  • Mile 4.4 - Stay left down the yellow blazed Keyser Run Fire road where it becomes steeper for the final 1.1 miles back to the parking area.

  • Mile 5.5 - Arrive back at the parking area.
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Hiker Reviews For The Little Devils Stairs Hike (5 Most Recent)
Review the Little Devils Stairs hike here!   Average Rating:   Share Hike: 

By: moondrunk Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 20, 2014
A fantastic hike on a beautiful spring day. Water levels were just right for the cascades to be gorgeous, and there were numerous wildflowers blooming abundantly all the way up alongside the run. We had no trouble tracking the blazes up the gorge, and many of them looked like they had recently been refreshed. We took the long way back, Pole Bridge to Piney Branch trail, and were very glad we did--the hike along the river was wonderful, and the water was high enough to make the two crossings quite interesting.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 20, 2014
Fantastic and challenging hike! My dad was a little uneasy about the difficulty level on this one, but we took our time and had a blast! The only disadvantage to taking a break is that you're instantly swarmed by gnats! Don't expect the sit down to eat lunch. Hiking around and through the water was so beautiful! The trail on the way down was relatively boring, but the forrest is pretty sweet! Make sure you wear sunscreen, as the trees haven't "sprung" yet. I would definitely do this hike again!

By: Paul Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, April 09, 2014
Spectacular Hike!

Staircase after staircase beside cascade after cascade.

The ascent is not too difficult until you get up to the top. Then when the blazes stop, they cross the run. I kept hiking on the wrong side at times, but looking over onto the other side of the gorge I could pick out the blue blazes again.

Once reaching Fourway, I decided to do the longer...scenic route...

Pole Link Trail to Piney Branch Trail.

There was a little flag memorial to a fallen American soldier on the Pole Link Trail.

Then the exquisite descent beside the Piney River.

The Hull School Trail rises unexpectedly, so after several miles of descent, there is a little bit more of a climb. Once arriving at the Bolen Cemetery a fine place for a break and a reflection of past residents.

Finally down the Fire Road in the shadow of many peaks in the North District of the SNP...Compton, North and South Marshall, Little Hogback and Hogback Mountains.

Spectacular Day!

By: Laura S. Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 05, 2014
This is one of my favorite hikes in the area, we had not done it since 2012. It was a perfect day, no clouds and the temp was in the low 60s with plenty of sunshine. Also, we are coming off a really wet winter so the falls were gorgeous! You need to have proper footwear for this hike, boots that have waterproofing would be your best bet. Make sure you bring plenty of water, some of the incline section--or the stairs--can get strenuous.The views of the falls on a perfect spring day like we had are worth it, and also the view of the valley from the fire road on the way down is stunning.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 19, 2013
My wife & I did this hike on a cloudy day with the stream fairly full - it had rained about three days earlier in the area.  Stream crossings were a bit slippery in a few places, but nothing a good pair of waterproof boots with good gripping soles couldn't handle.  The trek up the stairs is pretty strenuous, but there are plenty of opportunities to stop and enjoy the view - mostly rocks.  A pole (or pair) definitely helps with the stream crossings.

The foliage was pretty nice (mid-October) and there is one place you can get a nice overlook of the valley from the Keyser Run Fire Road.  Other than that, the views are pretty limited.

I recommend doing the hike up the stairs & down the fire road.  IMO, there is less chance of injury going up the rocky ascent as opposed to down.

Nine photos of our hike starting here:

    View all 63 reviews for the Little Devils Stairs hike
Early October
Late October (photos courtesy of Iris)
Mid November
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