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)
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.
Led a group of 13 up Little Devil stairs continued on up to Hogback Mountain and Rattlesnake Overlooks for a 11.4 mile loop on a warm but beautiful fall day. SNP is officially closed, but a number of hikers were also disregarding the signs posted at the trailhead. Parking lot was full, but parking along Keyser Run Road was available. Not a whole lot of water flowing down Little Devils Stairs, but still a nice prep hike for Old Rag Mountain.
Date of Hike: Sunday, May 26, 2013
Beautiful Memorial Day weekend hike!
We were a little concerned that we started at around 12:30 p.m.--not knowing whether we would hit bottlenecks, as one would at Old Rag starting at that time. But we encountered only about 20 other hikers total, which felt like the right amount: large enough not to feel lonesome but small enough to keep the trail romantic and private.
Although it's obvious from the trail map that the ascent is short and steep and the descent long and level, we were still surprised by just how stark the difference was. Next time we'll probably come down through the gully to avoid what we felt was a boring (if beautiful) fire road return trip.
Our total hiking time (with stops for photos and snacks) was 2:50, and we're a relatively fit couple ages 37 and 40. An older couple we encountered at the parking lot said they'd done it in 2:30, and a family told us the web site "lied" where it said it should take 4 hours.
Date of Hike: Sunday, January 20, 2013
I got an early start and was on the trail just as the sun was coming up. It was unseasonably warm, the trail was damp in many spots and Keyser Run was running higher than usual. Taking the walking sticks and putting a little extra waterproofing on the boots turned out to be a very good idea as many of the stream crossings were challenging. In several places the stream had taken over the steeper parts of the trail and freezing temperatures would have otherwise made those ares very troublesome. I saw only 4 single hikers or groups, which was surprising for such a sunny weekend day. This is a great hike for views, particularly in the winter months when the leaves are off the trees.
Date of Hike: Thursday, October 18, 2012
We hiked Little Devil's Stairs (as a tune-up to Old Rag) one day prior to hiking Old Rag at the suggestion of the park ranger at Shenandoah National Park's Visitor Center near the North entrance to the park. We hiked in a circuit starting at Skyline Drive (parking lot right after mile marker 19) and followed a fire road down for several miles before turning and starting up the Little Devils Stairs trail. There is an old cemetery at the bottom of the fire road with several grave sites and a marker commemorating the occupants of the "hollow" who lived in the valley prior to being relocated when the park was first established. The uphill was fairly challenging-we covered a fair amount of vertical in a short length of trail-but the views were first-rate. We hiked through a canyon-we were surrounded by sheer rock walls to our right and boulder fields to our left as we worked our way up the stairs. The stairs were steep and there were a few times I found myself using my hands to steady myself among the rocks. Once we got through the stairs, the remainder of the trail was not bad at all. There were a few switchbacks, but at that point it was not steep-just a gradual, gentle uphill.
It was definitely a fun hike! I was using a GPS and it clocked us at 7.3 miles in about 3 hours. Make sure you are wearing sturdy hiking shoes and take plenty of water!