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 Keiser Run that much nicer. At one point the trail even passes through a small set of falls. Enjoy spectacular views of either side of the gorge as the Little Devis Stairs trail gets closer to the top of the gorge.
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 2.2 - 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
of the for the the Hull
Mile 4.8 - Stay left down
the yellow blazed Keyser Run Fire road where it becomes steeper
for the final 1.2 miles back to the parking area.
Mile 6.0 - Arrive back at the parking area.
Interactive Hike Map BelowPrintable
Topo Hike Map (PDF)
Hike route in Drag the map with your mouse using the icon Zoom with the controls on the left
Mouse-Over the icons in the map below for location shots
Calculate roughly how many calories you could burn on the Little Devils Stairs hike:
Reviews For The Little Devils Stairs Hike (5 Most Recent)
Hiked this in the afternoon, about 38 degrees out. I wanted to make sure I was done by sundown so I kept a pretty steady pace and finished the 6 miles in 2 hours. The first section will definitely warm you up quick in the winter. It's a fun little scramble back and forth across the stream that does incline quite a bit. Only in a few places during the back and forth across the stream are the blue blazes are a bit hard to track down, but for the most part it's very easy to navigate. You don't ever go too far from the stream until you get to the switch backs. It's gorgeous on a crisp winter day. Just be careful when you're stepping as some of the rocks do have ice on them this time of year!
Date of Hike: Sunday, January 15, 2017
Just completed this hike plus the added-on Piney River trail section. The total distance for this longer loop is about 9 miles with about 2,300 ft. of vertical climb, according to our measurements. This is an outstanding hike with the first two miles creating one "ooh and ahh" after the other. The walls of the gorge on either side are rocky and in some places what looks like large boulder field cascade down the sides of the canyon. There are about 10 water crossings for which we'd recommend wearing good non-slip shoes. Be careful and use caution. The last waterfall before the trail ascends upward out of the canyon is the best one in my opinion and a good place to stop for lunch. We filtered water here and had an ice cold drink of mountain water.
Once you get up to the four way intersection, follow the Hiking Upward trail directions to get down to Piney River. There are two trailheads up at the top of the hill so be careful to select the one that leads to Piney River if that's your end goal. It's worthwhile going the extra distance down to that river. We ran across zero hikers on the Piney River section and maybe 6 people on the LDS portion. The total hike took us about 5.5 hours and we weren't rushing it.
I've done this hike in various seasons and I think the winter is a great time to go because you get much better views without all the leaves and fewer crowds. Spring is also a good time but I really think winter might be my favorite time to go. Lots of solitude down in Piney River area and some good campsites in case you want to make an overnight trip.
We have a short video on our youtube channel Ott Mountain that previews the hike in more detail. Link below. Have fun!
Date of Hike: Friday, December 23, 2016
I just did this hike with my dog. While there was no foliage, it was still a beautiful hike and an excellent workout. Up, up, up it goes. Itís worth the work to get to the top.
Date of Hike: Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Please check out our review of this hike on our blog -- http://wp.me/p8ebJj-E
Date of Hike: Saturday, October 15, 2016
Fantastic hike! Trail is well marked and it follows a stream so it's difficult to get lost. This trail is accurately rated as difficult. The sheer length of time you are going up is what makes it difficult. The trail itself was never scary or too hard to navigate. Really fun having to climb in certain areas. The only negative was that the fire road to get down is very long and steep. It was painful on the toes and hard on the knees.