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
of the for the the Hull
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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Reviews For The Little Devils Stairs Hike (5 Most Recent)
I did this as a solo hike the day after halloween, without much research. It was a pretty crappy day, weather wise, but the hike was still wonderful. The opening mile is a mostly uphill scramble back and forth along a stream. It is beautiful, challenging, and a lot of fun. Once you are at the top, it is a long, pleasant stroll down a fire road after that. My only complaint is that the fire road bit is a bit too long, and a bit too easy. The graveyard at the end was pretty cool, especially as I was surprised by it hiking the day after Halloween!
Date of Hike: Saturday, October 25, 2014
One of the best hikes in the area. Streams, rock hopping, guaranteed bear spotting (atleast I've seen them all 3 times I've been there). You can park at keyser run inside shenendoah national park and start the hike going down or park down and go up (you save $15 but you'll miss skyline drive). Its fun either way. I like the rock scramble way too much to actually take the fireroad part of it. Although based on other reviews taking the fireroad seems to provide a high probability of bear spotting. Nevertheless, I've seen bears on all my visits even though I've always gone up and down the rock scramble. For people who dont like too much rock hopping, you may see it as strenuous for a small portion - nothing too diffucult. Also, the stream's always beside you when you are doing the rock scramble, so you always feel good :) Dont miss this hike ! Highly recommended.
Date of Hike: Sunday, August 17, 2014
Nice hike, especially the first part up the gorge. We easily did it in three hours, even with a bunch of teenagers. What is missing is vistas and nice lunch spots.
Date of Hike: Saturday, August 16, 2014
This is an amazing hike for a 5+ mile, 2-1/2 hour loop. The hike up the waterfall is amazingly beautiful and fun. We hike all over the US and central Italy, and for its size, this is one of our favorites. We went on a Saturday - quite a few hikers out. No bear nor tick sightings. As experienced hikers, we found this a strenuous hike (tho' we took only one or two short water breaks on the way up). it's 1500' of net elevation - in about 2 miles. We took the Keyser Fire trail road back - no views this time of year. The cemetery is a nice historical touch. We wished we had gone the extra mile up to Skyline Drive. I honesty don't know how anyone could call it average, or not strenuous. We did take tick precautions (long sleeves and pants, pants tucked in, etc.), tho' no one else on the trail seemed to do so.
Date of Hike: Saturday, July 26, 2014
I had a similar experience to Eightythree83's review from above. As I was finishing the hike (on the rock scramble side) -- I was hiking alone -- about 0.25 miles from the parking area I turned a corner where I was no more than 10 feet from a large female black bear and two cubs. They were obviously surprised and the two cubs quickly ran up trees. The mother approached me and did the typical "defensive encounter" actions you read about. I moved slowly then quickly. She followed for a bit up the trail but eventually left me alone. Be careful out there, folks. I didn't come across many other hiking parties on this particular day, so I can understand how the bears could have not known people were around.
Other than that the hike was nice. I was using Little Devils Stairs as a training climb so did the rock scramble section to the top a few times. The scenery was nice and I particularly enjoyed crossing over the streams a few times.