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 4th of July Solo hike. Directions didn't say that the parking lot was at the end of the road, but that is an issue with Google Map, not the hike.
This was a challenging first two miles as it was very slick going over wet rocks and criss crossing Keyser Run. I am large and not in particularly great shape but I am adventurous and not afraid of a challenge. I did get passed by a group of 5 hikers on the uphill portion, but I passed them back on the downhill over the fire road when gravity was on my side. I took some great pictures of the falls/Keyser Run as everything was a lush green.
The Fire Road down was rather boring, although if I had ventured off the road a bit I may have had some good views, this would probably be better in the fall...at least the walk down portion.
There were about a half dozen cars in the lot and I did pass couple doing the hike in reverse (and they parked at the top (alternate parking lot for this hike???) I am not sure where the other hikers were as only one other couple was back at the parking lot when I returned.
All in all, a pleasant way to spend 3 hours (1:50 uphill 2 miles and a little over an hour downhill 3.5 miles-with a quick stop in the cemetery.)
Date of Hike: Friday, June 26, 2015
Hike of Little Devil Stairs in Shenandoah National Park. I extended the hike and also did the Piney Branch Trail to make it an ~9 mile loop. Only saw one other person in the 6 hours that I was hiking and that was within 0.25 miles of returning to the parking lot on the fire road.
The initial 2 miles of Little Devil Stairs was rough but I would not consider it to be scrambling. The stream was ever present with cascades the length of the hike. Nice waterfall at the very end but no vistas.
I had planned to do take the fire road back to the parking lot but felt like adding a few miles so took the longer Piney Branch Trail. The trail was nice but lacked any major features. From about the midpoint the trail begins to follow a stream but stay maining above and a couple hundred yards away from it. I found the trail posts confusing with some indicating Piney Branch Trail in all directions. Since I had not planned to do this as part of the hike I had not brought directions and was off the edge of the map I had brought. Ultimately you just keep turning left and will end up back on the fire road at the cemetery.
Video of Little Devil Stairs:
Date of Hike: Monday, May 25, 2015
Did this hike in 2 hours and 30 minutes. The 2 miles hike up was not easy, but definitely not extremely difficult. The way back down was super easy and it was under the shades of trees so it was nice. Wear steady, water resistant shoes as you will cross the run several times and had to climb the rocks which were slippery at some points. Overall, nice hike.
The Wandering Fools
Date of Hike: Sunday, April 19, 2015
Arrived at the trail head around 11am on Sunday morning. We knew that we had a challenge ahead of us based on the trail description and reviews from other hikers. The first 2 miles was definitely more strenuous than anticipated. We enjoyed the hand over hand climbing and multiple stream crossings all the way to the top. There were plenty of places along the way to stop and rest. We wish we would have taken it a bit slower...the scenery was gorgeous and we didn't spent nearly enough time taking it in.
There is a great little camping area once you arrive at the fire road to have lunch. If you hike a few feet further, you can enjoy a break at the overlook but it was full of other hikers so we were just as happy having a quiet lunch off the beaten path. The remaining three miles of the hike are very easy. The views were pretty spectacular as we hiked down the road and we were happy to have done this hike earlier in the season while the leaves were still off the trees.
The cemetery at the end was cool to explore and also provided a shady resting area before the final push to the end. We will definitely come back and do this hike again!
Word of advice: bring bug spray! The gnats were awful and it was the only part of the hike that we didn't enjoy.
Date of Hike: Sunday, April 19, 2015
Great hike. Definitely takes some work to get to the top but not too bad. The hike up is one small waterfall after another. About half way up you come to same impressive looking vertical rock walls on the side. Numerous places to step off the trail and take a break if you need one. Many rocks and downed trees to rest on.
Near the top the trail changes to switchbacks with soft forest ground under your feet. This is a nice reprieve after walking on rocks for over a mile. At the top before you head down is a nice spot to drab lunch but if you hold off a little there is a amazing spot with a view. Although when arrived there where some other hikers on the overlook rock enjoying the view.
Farther down the fire road is a cemetery and another nice spot take a break.
You know your getting close to the parking lot when the grade becomes much steeper for the last mile or so.