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)
This was a really nice hike on an unseasonably warm day! My dog and I took this loop clockwise to make it a little longer uphill, but snow and ice covered most of the trails, making the downhill through the gorge slower. The scenery through the gorge was absolutely beautiful. I know the ranking for the views are for high elevations looking out (which this has very little of), but if I that included the gorge, it would easily be up to a 4/6. The waterfalls, flowing creek, and high rock walls on either side combined with the ice and snow made for some great photo ops. It was really interesting to visit the Bolen Cemetery, a piece of history right there in SNP. Many people on this hike so if you're seeking solitude, try a weekday.
Date of Hike: Sunday, January 18, 2015
My partner and I hiked Little Devils Stars in mid-January on an unseasonably warm day (about 45 degrees at the bottom of the mountain). We did get a little lost driving to the parking lot at the boundary of the park, but the instructions on the Shenandoah National Park's page are correct. There were only about five other cars when we arrived at 10am. I really enjoyed the first part of the hike up the stairs. The stream was flowing, but the waterfalls were frozen over, making a very striking contrast with the limestone rock formations. Waterproof/resistant shoes are a must in the winter! The last half mile of the ravine was pretty steep and I was certainly huffing and puffing. We are not in great shape, but we hike weekly or every other week, so it's certainly a challenging hike. We didn't come across any bears, but it's possible they were hibernating. We added the extra mile to Skyline Drive - nothing spectacular. Just adds a mile distance each way on the fire road at a slight incline and ends at the upper parking lot. According to the map, you could go an extra 0.6 miles along Skyline Drive to the Little Devils Stairs overlook, but we decided to have lunch instead. There are no picnic tables, so you have to make do with the fallen logs and rocks. Like others have mentioned, the fire road back down is pleasant, but not terribly exciting after the hike up the ravine. If we were in better shape, I think we would have gone back down the ravine. In total, we took four hours to do the 7.5 mile loop with a short lunch. I agree with others that it took some creative minds to set this trail, and it certainly is unique. I hope to return in the next couple of months before it gets too hot.
Date of Hike: Saturday, November 29, 2014
Did this hike solo on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Completed the loop in 3 hours and 45 minutes. There was a dusting of snow on the ground at the start of the trail, and about six inches at the top. The climb up the ravine was strenuous, and a little more difficult due to the snow and ice on the rocks. Still, it was well worth the effort. Spotted a bear from the fire road. The cemetery was interesting. I strongly recommend this hike, and will definitely do it again.
Date of Hike: Saturday, November 01, 2014
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.