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Little Devils Stairs - Sperryville , Virginia

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
6.0 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
4.0 hours plus a half hour for lunch
1,480 ft
Shenandoah National Park
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Park at the end of VA614/Keyser Run Rd. and parking area for Little Devils Stairs.
38.73060, -78.25827

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 Devils 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 and intersection of the for the the Hull School Trail.

  • 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.
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Early October
Early October
Late October (photos courtesy of Iris)
Mid November
Little Devils Stairs Hike Comments
Archived Comments

By: Chris Rating: Date of Hike: Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Great hike with nice views of stream and small waterfalls throughout. Not as tough as I expected. When I got to the top of the trail at the fire road I made a right and continued a mile to Skyline Drive before turning back down the fire road back to the parking lot.

By: Madeleine Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 28, 2018
Beautiful hike, especially in October with the changing leaves. It was steep but doable and crossing the waterfall so many times was a treat. There wasn’t an overlook at the top- the hike itself was the view. However, once we turned onto the yellow blazed trail, there was an overlook a little ways down. We’ll be back!

By: Jackie Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 26, 2018
Did Little Devil Stairs to Pine Top to Piney Branch for an ~8 mile, 2,100 feet of elevation change loop. Just a warning, with all the summer rain, all the trails were very wet yesterday! Could have benefitted from waterproof shoes to make crossings easier, but rock hopping is still mostly possible. Took of shoes to cross on Piney Branch both times. Great loop, nice gradual downhills and fun uphill scrambles! Would recommend taking Pine Top/Piney Branch alternative down for those who want to add a little extra, trail is wet but overall is a good walk. There is a nice climb from about mile 6-7 though, but its all downhill after that!

By: Debbie Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 25, 2018
My boyfriend and I hiked this trail for the first time after hearing good things about it.  The first 2 miles were awesome -- fun stream crossings and a great work out.  Only passed 4 or 5 other hikers the entire time. The rest of the hike on the fire trail is pretty boring. There is one spot where you can walk out to a rocky outcrop and see an amazing view so be sure not to miss it.  Also keep your eyes open for bears.  We were about .2 miles from the parking lot when a momma bear and 2 cubs crossed the fire road.  They stopped and looked at us but decided to keep going.  My first bear encounter -- got the heart rate up for sure.

By: Tom R Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, June 8, 2018
A wonderful hike. Three of us did the LIttle Devils/Piney River combo a few days after a period of much rain. A truly enjoyable hike as both streams were running beautifully, and one or the other could be heard throughout much of the hike. Switched to water/running shoes before the first crossing (until the last) of Keyser Run and then before the first crossing of Piney River (until the second and last). Made the same mistake we made two hikes ago (Stony Mountain), i.e., following each other blindly off the trail and ending up In a severe bushwhack situation. We rejoined the Little Devils Stairs trail somewhere between the gorge and Fourway.

By: Crowbelly Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, April 23, 2018
This definitely an interesting hike. First hike of the season for me. I'm from upstate NY and there has been no real Spring at all yet. I had business in Harrisonburg so I took the opportunity to visit SNP for a quick hike.

The road back to the trail head goes past many horse farms and there are long stone and wooden fences. Very picturesque! Eventually you turn left onto the Keyser Run Road, which is mostly dirt but not a problem, even for a passenger car. The road ends at the parking area.

I admit I ended up doing it backwards because I had not brought a map and didn't notice the trail head to the right of the parking area, so not sure how helpful this might be. Started at 1PM. Sunny. The road is obviously easy to walk. Taking it up was no big deal. The cemetery was interesting. A very large tree had (recently?) toppled over and lay across most of it, but only one tombstone was a bit askew.

By the time I reached the ridge, it had clouded over and there were no real views to be had. Eventually came to the trail junction and headed down. There was plenty of water in the run. Many small waterfalls and large rock ledges and cliffs. Multiple creek crossings but no wet feet. Definitely a fun place for kids to scramble and explore. If you can't find a blue blaze on the trees, look for the faint remnants on the rocks near the stream.

Stopped a little ways down (up for you smarter hikers) and had a quick snack. Start to finish was 3 hours, including numerous small rests and a 10 minute snack. 5.5 miles altogether. Enjoy!

By: Hobo Hiker Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, April 14, 2018
Little sister hike to White Oak Canyon. Lots of bugs. Many small waterfalls, rock scrambles and steep climb. I did this loop from the Skyline drive Hogback/Overrun Falls parking lot. Took the AT to the Sugarloaf trail then Pole Bridge. That added an additional 4 miles.(2 extra miles of up on the way back that was brutal after the gorge climb.) After Pole bridge, then down then down the fire road. The fire road was steeper and longer than I expected. The gorge climb itself is only two miles. Making the fire road 4 miles. The lower parking area was completely full at 10:30am. There were young groups of 4, mostly couples and some dogs. I would not suggest attempting the hike from Hogback as it was a brutal 4 miles with a long up back to the Hogback parking lot. Over all this is a very nice hike in the gorge.

By: Julian Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, April 1, 2018
First hike of the year and a great one. The gorge is the best part of the hike, beautiful rocks and Keyser run has multiple falls. Jumping Keyser run is quite fun as well. This hike is most challenging in the first 2 miles with the last 4 quite easy. Would definitely recommend.

By: Jeff Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, March 27, 2018
My son (14) and I had a great time today hiking Little Devil's Stairs. The gorge along Keyser Run was steep and chalanging in spots especialy as we reached higher elevation and the rocks were iced over. Found a nice rock outcrop to stay dry for lunch. Bolen Cemetary in the forest was a little creepy. Reminded me of a Stephen King novel. All in all I really enjoyed the hike. The gorge was our favorite. I recommend this trail.

By: Suzanne Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 24, 2018
Very enjoyable hike! I would recommend crampons if hiking in winter. Lost of snow on the rocks and trail at the upper elevations. The snow allowed me to follow the foot prints someone who hiked the trail before me. Very helpful considering the terrain over second mile of the hike. (Uphill rock scramble.) Climbing up, especially at the top takes some focus. I loved it! Beautiful crisp day, and I had the trail mostly to myself. It will be a stunning hike in about 5 weeks when the forest is blooming.

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