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Hiker Reviews for the Big Devils Stairs Hike - 1 to 36 of 36   
Review the Big Devils Stairs hike here!   Average Review Rating:

By: Jamey Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, March 30, 2018
Since it was supposed to rain, I wanted a quick and easy hike, and this fit the bill. The views from the overlooks are certainly nice, but they're not spectacular. The woods here are boring, scraggly, and rocky. I didn't see anybody, but I heard a loud group at Gravel Springs Hut. While it's always nice to be out in the woods, I wasn't expecting much, and this hike is nothing special. In fact, it's one of the least impressive of the dozens of hikes I've done in SNP.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, August 13, 2017
The hike from gravel springs hut is easy and quick. The views from the overlooks are pretty great. The bottom of the trail at the park boundary was kind of boring, so I went back up via the stream bed. It's pretty fun. Once you're almost at the top the stream bed flattens out. I climbed up the rocks on the trail side to where the first overlook is. It was pretty easy and fun. Once up there I knew i just had to walk a short distance to find the trail, and instead I found a yellowjacket nest and got stung a bunch of times. And lost my sunglasses. So if you go that way, watch out for bees. And if you find some Native sunglasses in the middle of the woods near the hive, hit me up, please!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, August 12, 2017
I enjoyed the hike down, but like shawnm4747 below, I found it a little tame. The viewpoints were spectacular, but the high vegetation and low water meant the stream itself was audible but invisible. So once I'd taken a rest at the bottom near the fence line, I decided to scramble back up the water course. I am strong, fit and light weight, but it was really challenging. Only the fact that I knew I'd never make it going down kept me going up. Like a kitten in a tree, once I'd started I was committed!

I stuck with the stream bed to have a vegetation-free path, which meant being very careful about footing on the wet rocks and a fair amount of moving very carefully on hands and feet together or even hands and knees. Some scrambling over or under or up fallen tree trunks. Wet feet eventually, of course. Then there were a couple of steep overhangs, which would be waterfalls in wetter weather, where I had to leave the path of the stream itself. That meant choosing to go through stinging nettles to try to avoid the poison ivy. Mostly the nettles didn't get me, but the occasional stem would have stingers tough enough to get through my summer-weight hiking pants. Ow! Still waiting to see how successful I was in avoiding the poison ivy...

I don't think I'd try it again, certainly not alone. I slipped a few times - one fall and I could have been stuck for good, hoping against hope my whistle would get someone's attention. I think I was also very lucky it was so dry. There were bits I don't believe I could have got past if there had been any volume of flow, and if it started to rain, the steep-sided gorge full of dead wood and loose rocks would be a very bad place to be. Better to take the same way up as you came down. Maybe I'd have seen the bear who left those piles of scat on the path in the past couple of days...

All that whining aside, I made it all the way up the stream to where it intersects the trail, and I'm glad I did it. The round trip took me from 7 a.m. to about 2 p.m. on a beautiful 80F day. Parts of the stream bed were nothing more than wet, parts were trickles, but the wet rocks were fantastic colors and there were some beautiful pools. I saw crawdads, newts, a salamander, many great big millipedes and lots of amazing fungi. I came away with great memories, good stories and no major injuries!

By: LynnD Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, May 18, 2017
I live in Madison County VA and the Shenandoah is my gym. I hiked Big Devil Stairs with my sister-in-law a few days ago. Once we left Bluff Trail and were on Big Devil, there weren't many blazes. Not a problem as most of the trail was obvious. On the way back we veered off for a short segment but were able to pick the trail back up (mostly because the gorge was to our left, so it had to be to the right). The hike had a nice vista of the gorge and there was a heavily shaded stream at the bottom. The trip up wasn't particularly difficult compared to going up White Oak Canyon, Old Rag, or hiking up from Hoover Camp. But a nice trek upward. Between the gorge and the stream at the bottom there was not a lot of visual interest. Lynn

By: shawnm4747 Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, February 20, 2017
The hike down to the overlook on big devil stairs is easy, though somewhat rocky. Hiking down to the overlooks and back is probably a 1 or 2 in difficulty and a 5 in views for the overlook as the canyon is quite unique for SNP.

However, this review is more concerned with the rock scramble/bushwack up the valley. You'll know you reached the end of the big devil stairs trail when you hit the barbed wire (and the rock cairn, though it is more difficult to see). From there, to climb through the valley back up, you need to turn right and generally follow the stream bed. It's almost impossible to get lost, even without a trail and without blazes, because you'll have two steep canyon walls on each side, which will keep you on track. While the bushwack/rock scramble is more difficult than a typical hiking trail, it is not more difficult than the rock scramble on Old Rag. If you can handle Old Rag, you can definitely handle this unmarked hike back up the valley. I'd suggest that if you do this scramble back up the valley, it is best to do it in the winter/early spring/late fall when there is less vegetation. You'd probably be facing heavy brambles, stinging nettles, and poison ivy/oak in the summer time that may have you climbing in areas which are more dangerous. A few tips/warnings for the way up. First, to pick the best route, you'll probably need to cross the stream on several occasions. I didn't see any way up that would have you consistently on one side. Second, if you find yourself in a precarious situation, you've probably picked the wrong route. You should not find yourself facing any ten foot climbs up a rock face. For the most part, the most dangerous part of the hike will be the loose rocks. Third, I'm not sure if there is a good way to connect to the big devil stairs trail. I had to cut through a lot of thick mountain laurel to get there. It was a bit of a bushwack, but as long as you go right of the stream near the top where the sun starts cutting through, you should be able to easily find the path. Again, don't do the rock scramble/bushwack with little kids or if you are out of shape/have difficulty on loose rock. However, if you can handle Old Rag and/or are confident going off trail and finding a good route, you should be okay.

By: MarshMudMan Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 29, 2016
I did this hike on a beautiful and warm weekend when the fall colors were drawing big crowds to the park. Despite running into quite a few people on the way to the Big Devils Stairs trail (I took the Mt. Marshall and Bluff trails rather than the route described in the hike description), I only saw a few people at the upper end of the Big Devils Stairs trail itself. After getting to the overlooks, I did not see a single other person from the time I arrived in late afternoon Saturday until the time I left the next morning. As others have said, the views from the overlooks are fantastic. I enjoyed the hike down to the bottom of the canyon but it's apparent that the trail after the overlooks doesn't get a lot of traffic: it was largely covered with leaves and some of the blazes were quite faded. I threw down my sleeping pad and bag a little ways off the trail [a ranger at Dickey Ridge emphasized to me that the camping spots mentioned in the hike description are not the required 20 yards off the trail, so I didn't use them], but cooked my dinner and breakfast right on the first overlook and enjoyed watching the sunset and sunrise colors paint the distant mountain ridges. It was also awesome watching the stars and planets (Mars, Venus) appear as it got dark and I even saw a shooting star and the Milky Way itself. It was easy to sit on that overlook for hours and enjoy the view.

By: G-Man Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, April 21, 2016
I have frequented SNP many times in the past however, this is a hike my wife and I have never done.  We took advantage of the fee free day during National Park week and did this hike.  I would say this is a much better hike when the leaves on the trees have not filled in.  If they had been filled in, the majority of the hike wouldn't have had much scenery.  With the leaves not filled in, you were able to get some views throughout much of the hike.  There were several small stream crossings during the "upper" section.  As most trails within SNP the trails are well marked and the trail sign posts were all correct and help guide your path.  The only part which could be a little confusing is when you approach the gorge.  On the Big Devils Stairs trail, it will make a sharp (90 degree) right turn and you head toward the gorge.  You don't go very far and you see the gorge.  This is where it was a little confusing.  This could be confused with the 1st overlook.  It is not.  When you reach this area it appears as if the trail ends and this is the look out.  It is not.  There aren't good markings here.  Look to your right and the trail will descend down the rock stairs as mentioned in the trail description.  Then you arrive at the 1st overlook which is pretty awesome.  The second overlook is just a short distance away.  If you are hiking and the trail starts to bear to the left and go up hill towards/through the woods away from the gorge, turn back.  You have missed/passed the second overlook.

In all a good hike to take advantage of the National Park fee free day.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, November 9, 2015
Hiked in and out in about 4 1/2 hrs, quiet and not a bunch of people, 4 of us and our dog Ginger..... Mostly downhill going in, trail was easy to follow, beautiful weather Nice day hike, views are nice and good overlook to the waterfalls, have fun

By: Neil Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, June 1, 2015
A brief review from the wildflower perspective: I've always wanted to do the Big Devil Stair hike when the mountain laurel is in bloom and finally hit it at peak time this year. There are areas where 10-12'mountain laurel lines the trail. I was disappointed to see the blooms were rather sparse (guess I was imagining it would look like mountain laurel growing in someone's well-tended garden). This disappointment was more than offset by the the lush, full mountain laurel in bloom at the first overlook. It was fantastic. For anyone who ever had the fantasy to get married in the park, I would recommend June 1 at Big Devil Stairs first overlook.

By: aldikuma Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, October 27, 2014
Normally I avoid SNP because of the crowds and head to GWNF instead. However, it was a Monday and I wanted a quick nearby hike, so this was it. And it was very much worth it! It was a beautiful day to be outside, and aside from the bugs making their last rounds, this hike was awesome. The trees were so colorful and sun was shining through them - many nice photo opps. I didn't have time to make it to the boundary, so I would rate this as a very easy, scenic hike and the directions above are perfect. I would like to return to get a workout going to the bottom and back up. The views from the overlooks are absolutely amazing and the best part was that I didn't see another person the entire time. I did spot a beautiful, large black bear just before the Big Devil Stairs Trail turnoff - he or she was drinking water from the stream there, but ran when he saw me and my dog. Looking forward to coming back.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 25, 2014
The two of us hiked the trail to the park boundary and then returned up the canyon. Certainly, the overlook view of the canyon is one of the most spectacular God-given features of SNP. Since our prior hike here in late 2012, we had read reviews (two from HU and a couple of others that we found on the internet) regarding the option of returning from the park boundary up the canyon, in effect making your own way. After lunch at the park boundary by the creek, we began the trek up. We are 30 and 66 years old, respectively, and in good shape. The reviews that we had read prepared us mentally that this would be a very different and difficult hike as we sought our way, step-by-step up and along the creek bed, over and around rocks (often loose and slippery with autumn leaves, water, and/or moss) and large downed trees. It was interesting to see that in a couple of sections, the water disappeared and went underground. We completed the canyon part of our journey in 2 hours, 30 minutes when we rejoined the trail in the mountain laurel section. We had enough left to make it to the Gravel Springs trailhead. Quite a workout, putting it mildly. In returning up the canyon, we would raise the "difficulty", "stream", and "solitude" ratings to "4". For the average hiker including us, we would rate this a strenuous hike, both physically & mentally, physically because the ascension up the canyon is steep at times, and mentally because every ten paces or so the hiker must make a plan and decide what course to take up the canyon due to there being no set path. In retrospect, we particularly think that the Sep 13, 2012 HU review is well-stated. We also note that the map display board at the trailhead is gone - see the November 10, 2012 HU review commenting on what appear to be inconsistencies between its numbers and those of HU.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 12, 2014
OK. This sounded a bit daunting for me as the last couple 4 hr hikes killed my knees. On the way down it was clear that coming back up was going to be the challenge for this senior citizen. The parking lot was full but we got the guy who'd just arrived to move his car over a bit to fit us in and, mid-hike, passed one guy who said he saw a young bear running away on the trail and two girls who said they'd spotted a young bear where we'd parked - two different young bears separated by at least a mile and a couple hours. We saw no bears, even though rain and fog should have muffled our silent hike. We made it all the way to the bottom of the gorge, to a beautiful, clear stream where there were park boundary markers, a small "Trail End" sign and plenty of Posted signs. We returned, retracing our steps up the canyon and made it back to the car just before my legs gave out - 5 hours total. Well-marked. We enjoyed the hike in the cool rain with the leaves changing, even though we only saw a few birds and maybe more people than we would have liked. More hikes to do in the future here - Gravely Springs Trail and Browntown both from the same parking lot.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Monday, September 22, 2014
The parking lot is about 13.8 miles from the Shenandoah gate. Once you're there, follow the instructions and hike for just under 2 miles to get to the trail from the parking lot. Bring directions because it's easy to get lost, we almost did. The trail is exactly like it's shown on the map. Descend for 1.5 miles then come right back up, the ascent according to the map is about 700 feet, which doesn't sound like much, but you feel it. My girlfriend and I were annoyed by all the rocks on the way down, they take their toll on your feet and ankles after a while. I remember commenting that it was more of stepping around rocks and strolling through the woods than hiking. There's only one good view on the entire hike, and that's shortly after the beginning. It's a great view though. Once at the bottom, the trail just sort of disappears and you run into a private property sign and barbed wire fence. We kept a pretty good pace the whole time and we did the trail itself in an hour and 50 minutes with several small breaks to catch our breath on the way up. The ascent is a great workout. On the way back up, we ran into a black bear at the gravel springs shelter. Big bastard was just sitting there at the hut, probably looking for food. Which means it may have been hungry, which is the worst time to run into a bear. Either way, after poking our heads around the corner several times and waiting half an hour the beast went away and we hurriedly went back to the car.

Overall it was a great experience, but the hike itself is lacking, and I give it three stars because we both felt that a day could be better spent on another hike. However, I would still recommend doing it at least once.

By: Paul Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, March 16, 2014
Nice hike. The BDS Trail has a couple of spots for views concentrated above the falls which is a ways down the gorge. Having put on a few winter pounds I wanted a workout, so I descended all the way down to the park boundary. The hike back up was definitely a workout so I would give an extra star for difficulty by completing the entire trail.

By: Mike & Brenda Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 8, 2014
Great hike. There was about a 1/2 inch of snow on the ground. It took us three hours with a short lunch and pictures. The hike in was easy, the hike out was harder due the fact that it was more up hill and the snow had melted from the warm temps and made it some what slippery. Ignore the description and time to do the hike at the trail head. HU is much more inline with the true hike. We will defiantly do this hike again.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 22, 2013
2 Adults and 4 scouts enjoyed this relatively easy hike. A lot of sights to be seen between flora and fauna. Highlight of the hike was at the last view spot we found a pair of Timber Rattlesnakes who had just moulted. Scouts enjoyed observing from a safe distance before hiking back up to the parking lot.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, April 4, 2013
Hiked this on probably one of the last few 'cold' days of the season, and I have to say I Loved It.

The caveat is, if you just hike this as an 'out and back' to the viewpoints on top of the canyon, it's not that great.  Yes, the views of the canyon are incredible. But that's is. It's a pretty easy, mostly downhill stroll all the way to the lookouts and then a nice uphill hike all the way back to the trailhead.

However, if you take the advice of another reviewer and follow the trail all the way to the bottom, to the edge of the park, and scramble your way back up through the middle of the canyon - amazing, fun and challenging hike.

The scramble up the canyon is literally on par with Old Rag! It was a blast made all the more fun by the fact that you are finding your own way.  You can, as I did, criss cross the canyon 20 or more times looking for good lines, hopping from boulder to boulder, crossing the myriad of fallen trees and looking for the best, easiest or even most challenging way to make it up that next waterfall.  And, oh yes, there are I don't know how many falls flowing right now as the snow melts off the top of the mountain, making for views every bit as impressive as Cedar Run, but with the built in fun of challenging scrambles.

The entire trip from trailhead down to the bottom of the canyon, and back up to the parking at Gravel Springs took me right at 3.5hrs, but I tend to move pretty quickly on the trail.

I'll definitely be back to do this again, but I would advise doing it before summer (or even warm spring) as come summer time these rocks will probably be a haven for mocassins, rattlers and copperheads. It would still be fun, but you'll need to be on your guard with every step and every reach for a handhold.

- Richard

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 10, 2012
Overall nice hike. Little confused regarding the total distance, elevation gain & hiking time. HU review reflects 5.5 miles, 3.0 hours with 1/2 hr for lunch, and elevation gain of only 1,055 ft. Sign in the parking lot prior to the hike says 5.7 miles to the park boundary and estimated hike time 5.0 hours. We hiked down to the park boundary and back, taking 30 min break for lunch and two other 15 minute breaks and it took us about 4.5 hours. HU states the second overlook as the turnaround point, and I can only assume this is where the gain in elevation stops. The distance from the second overlook to the park boundary is about 0.5 miles, with a fairly significant descent. On the other side of the gorge, at the park boundary, we noticed some trees that appeared to have red blazes on them and wondered if another trail existed... Obviously, the ascent was equally significant, and really made the hike worthwhile, from an exercise standpoint. However, I'm not certain the additional 1.0 mile down and back to the park boundary is included in the elevation gain. In fact, I'm almost certain it's not. This was a very nice hike and the views of the gorge definitely made the hike special. We stopped at the first overlook (with best view of gorge) on the way back and enjoyed lunch. My 7 y/o had no problem with this hike, so I encourage it for families. For a more leisure hike, turn around at the second overlook and head back.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 29, 2012
We hiked this trail following HU guide to a &ldquoT&rdquo. We finished it in 2.5 hours and ran some of the trail back. Very nice hike with some good views and only ran into about 7 other hikers. This was a very easy hike with a little elevation gain, but nothing too much for a beginner hiker. The leaves are already starting to change color which added some beauty to this trail.

By: Catherine Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, September 13, 2012
As for the hike down, I have nothing more to offer than has already been written.  The overlook IS worth the hike.   I am writing this to account our hike UP - via the creekbed, not the main trail.  Firstly, I consider us to be average hikers.  We hike every chance we get and have logged hundreds of miles however, there are better hikers than us and living in the flatlands of North Carolina doesn't afford us many opportunities for daily challenging hikes.

We had a book that mentioned that in the dry season, you could hike back up the rocky creekbed instead of the trail.  With September being the dry season and our LOVE of rocky trails, we decided to take the main trail all the way to the park boundary and hike back up via the dry creekbed.  We LOVED this trek back up!  We had to scale several rock "walls" that were 15 feet tall, but were doable (without climbing gear) with a little bit of forethought. 

Some issues: 

1) There is no trail.  At no point is there anything to tell you that you are on the correct path and the creekbed can be difficult to follow at times (because of fallen rock) however, you ARE in a canyon and cannot veer too far off.  It is a constant climb - no flat areas and 99% rock.  The book we had mentioned that the path had a few rocks to climb, but we later noticed that it was written 6 years ago and the creekbed now has nothing BUT rocks to climb.  There are a handful of places where you are climbing a rock knowing that if your foot slips, you will get injured.  Again, and I cannot stress this enough, there is no relief from climbing on this way back up.  It is constant and we became fatigued toward the end of the climb - which is dangerous when climbing large rocks/boulders.  The book mentioned that only experienced hikers should attempt this path upward, which we normally take as a challenge and don't hesitate to go however, I would definitely take heed here.  If you are in very good shape and love hiking/climbing rocks - you'll love this path however, there are dangers here and after you've climbed a couple of those 15-foot walls, there's no turning back.  Great hiking shoes are an absolute must!

2)  The stinging nettle here is unavoidable.  There are places where you can choose different paths upward in order to avoid a large field of them, but sometimes you are forced through them.  Considering all the cuts we had and the nettle we had to endure, we should have worn long-sleeves and long pants, but it was 80 degrees.

We absolutely LOVED this hike upward, but given our fitness level, it may not have been the smartest thing.  Don't get me wrong, we are not in poor shape (the hike up the main trail even from the park boundary would have been fine for us) but it IS quite a workout climbing those rocks.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, March 22, 2012
Took the day off and spent a great day in SNP.  I have not spent a lot of time in the North section of the park and this was a chance to explore.  It was a very warm day for mid to late March.  The gorge is very impressive, its size and depth, something that you can't get from looking at pictures.  Had lunch at Gravel Springs shelter and had a great time reading the shelter log book.  I would recommend to anyone that they put this hike on their list just to see the gorge for themselves.

By: threehikers Rating: Date of Hike: Tuesday, March 13, 2012
A very nice hike on a warm March day. The ratings seem about right as the views at the gorge are impressive, the trail is relatively good footing and just a nice hike overall. Enough for a first spring outing to let you know that you have been back in the mountains without over doing for 3 old men! Lunch at the hut was a plus when we finished about 12:30 after starting out at 8:30 a.m.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, December 30, 2011
Reached the trail head around 11 a.m. , knowing there wasn't a great deal of day light I was slightly concerned by the time estimate provided by sign (at around 5 hours) but all of the other information we'd seen estimated a far shorter time. The hike out was surprisingly low key, no stretches of uphills or downhills for any significant duration.  I'd guess we arrived to the overlook in just over an hour.  The second overlook provided a great view of the falls and gorge and offered a nice flat spot for some lunch. The hike back had some low grade inclines for a nice elevated heart rate at a quicker pace. Temperatures were in the upper 30's/ & low 40's so it was cool, we only ran into a single hiker and one small group on our way back. Including lunch we finished this hike at just about 3 hours. I'd recommend this hike for anyone who wants to squeeze in a quick out and back with a nice view of the valley, or for folks who may not be as experienced or fit for some of the more difficult hikes. Solid 3-star

By: 1 ExFed Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, December 15, 2011
Started from the parking lot at 8:30 AM with a partly cloudy sky. The absence of leaves really makes this hike worthwhile. About 1.5 miles into the hike I observed a doe being tracked by a coyote. Unfortunately, the coyote saw me as soon as he came into view, flipped in the air reversing his course, and disappeared over the ridge from whence he came. Upon leaving the park I stopped and spoke with a Park Ranger who confirmed that coyotes have been reported in the area. What a thrill, what a day!

By: Priyanka Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, November 12, 2011
Well let me start by saying am a beginner in terms of hiking ...i started the hike at 10.30 am and finished by 3.30 pm..5 hours..and we took like one hour break in the stream and the second overlook...the hike is pretty easy on you way towards the stream..even though we saw most of the hikers return after the second overlook, we went ahead and went downhill towards the stream..on our way back , we took more than 3  stops as i was out of breath,which is expected as i am not much of a was overall a moderate hike in terms of physical activity, and the trail till the first overlook was very easy and after crossing that, it became narrow and downhill...At this time of the year there is no greenery at all, the dry leaves are all had its own beauty...we saw like 1 big group of people and then few not many hikers which was nice..the solitude was a plus, even though i expected more people as it was the veterans weekend and the park had free entry. Overall a fun hike!

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, October 2, 2011
Spectacular view from the overlook.  We continued down the ravine after the second overlook despite the stacked rocks (signifying the end of the stairs).  We did this hike after the Harris Hollow Trail, very eager to hike this one again.

By: Kelsey Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 1, 2011
Spectacular views. We did Harris Hollow trail down and back first, then Bluff trail and then Big Devils Stairs. Honestly, I thought I was going to die hiking it back up. Spent a considerable amount of time thinking about just giving up and letting the bears come get me. Luckily I went with a friend that kept pushing me along the trail. I could not walk correctly for 2 days. Awesome hike, I would certainly recommend this to anyone.

By: MikeA Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, September 3, 2011
Getting to the trailhead is easy enough. The trail itself is well marked and easy to follow. It's a little rocky but altogether not that bad. It's really not too difficult of a hike, especially at an easy pace. The 'decent' down the Big Devils Stairs to the overlook isn't too steep, so coming back up isn't too strenuous but will get your heart going a bit. Took us 2.5 hours total, not including a stop at the overlook for a snack. The overlooks are nice enough, though there isn't a heck of a lot to see--the 2nd overlook is the turnaround point. A helpful hiker has marked this with a small stack of rocks--if you see it, you're at the end. you can continue down into the ravine along the blue blazed trail, but as other reviews have said, not a lot to see and a steep hike back out. We saw a few groups at the trailhead and 1 other group on the trail but mostly had it to ourselves. It's an OK walk through the woods--not a lot of sights along the way, nothing overly challenging, and the overlook is less than spectacular.

By: Kundric Rating: Date of Hike: Thursday, May 5, 2011
I started this hike around 8:30am and never saw another hiker on the trail which was great. The hike down is easy and this time of year is full of wildflowers. If you continue past the main overlook you continue downhill until you reach the park boarder at which time you have to go back up the trail you just thought was so easy. The return trip is much harder with significant more incline, but you know what you're in for since you saw it all on the way down. IMO there is not much to see past the overlook and after that great scene I was disappointed with the rest. The waterfall was running strong due to all the recent rains, many flowers were blooming, and there were a ton of birds. All in all i enjoyed the hike, but won't do the full hike again.

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, March 26, 2011
We started this hike around 10:00am. Temps were in the mid-20's, nothing a few smart layers couldn't handle. The trail down was not that strenuous, but we knew it would be a little tougher coming back up. There were lots of springs running along the trail...some of them literally ON the trail. We had Gore-Tex, but a little rock-hopping would keep your feet dry. The mountain laurel was awesome! And the main overlook was amazing!! Since there are no leaves on the trees, we could see everything. The stream at the bottom of the gorge was running good. We had lunch on the main overlook rock. Since it was so cold, we brought our Brunton backpacking stove and made a hot lunch instead of sandwiches. It really hit the spot! The hike back was a little more strenuous, but not bad overall. We took the side hike on the way back over to the Gravel Springs Hut. Left a little "trail magic" in the form of hand warmers and first aid supplies. Then we hiked up the blue-blazed access trail to the AT, and then back to the parking area. We finished around 3pm (we took our time, plus the long lunch and long side track to the hiker hut). Temps were into the mid-30's when we finished. Awesome hike, definitely one to do when there are no leaves to block the views. Not related, but Skyline Dr. was closing at 5pm today due to the anticipated snow.

By: RBhiker Rating: Date of Hike: Sunday, July 11, 2010
An enjoyable hike on a hot day for the most part.  Note, though, on the Bluff Trail, lots of poison ivy, in places crowding the trail on both sides--step carefully!  The view down the gorge from the overlooks are pretty good.  Not one of my top picks but a decent, pretty easy short hike.  This might be a better hike in fall or in late spring, when the laurel is in bloom.  The trail to the gorge passes through dense patches of laurel. 

By: Hokie Hiker Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, October 3, 2009
This was a great day for a hike- temps started out in the 40s (we weren't there yet) and probably got up to about mid 60s. By the time we got to the overlooks, it was middle of the day so we sat down, ate lunch, and the I laid back and took a 20 minute rest in the warm sun on the overlooks- which while they are partially blocked with full trees- there's still some nice views... especially today because of how clear it was you could see for about 20 miles and the rolling mountains were great. So the hike itself isn't amazing- I've done amazing- but it's a nice hike for a few hours!

We ended the day seeing a black bear cub on our way out of the park... I'm convinced somebody made sure this was a great day for me.

By: ShenHiker Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, July 25, 2009
I would not recommend this hike to any of my hiker friends. Ever.  I was expecting something similar to Little Devils Stairs (but bigger?), but these 2 similarly named hikes are sadly nothing alike. The one viewpoint of BDS was ok, but if you don't turn around there the trail will lead you down a steep ravine that ends at the Shenendoah Park boundary, at which point you have no choice but to turn around and hike back the steep eroded trail. I would give this zero stars if I could- not worth the drive!

By: Don Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, July 24, 2009
I found the Big Devils Stairs hike a little underwhelming. While it traversed through interesting terrain, the payoff wasn't there at the overlooks. The view into the valley was blocked by mother nature in the form of trees, and I never saw the waterfall mentioned by hiker01. Maybe I just missed it. The hike was a little strenuous on the way back, but overall I would rate it easy to moderate. With a stop for a snack at the first overlook it took about 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete the out and back hike. Much of the trail is rocky so shoes or boots with ankle support are in order. Saw only two other hikers and a couple of deer on the trail.

By: hiker01 Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, June 6, 2009
Having seen the hike described as family-friendly, I was surprised that the sign at the trailhead called it "exhausting."  Our group of 7 (ranging from 6 yrs old to 40-something) started out on this hike around noon and got back around 5 p.m. It is a very pleasant hike the mountain laurel was blooming, the path crossed and re-crossed a couple of streams, and the first overlook was a pleasant spot to sit for a while.  For mothers with small children and those with a fear of heights, the proximity to the edge and the steep dropoff can cause some anxiety. I recommend using the first overlook t as your turnaround point. The second overlook (very close to the first), though affording a nice view of a distant waterfall, was also a small area, and it was very easy to miss. (We hiked past it and ended up hiking much further down the mountain before turning around the trail did not seem to be well marked past the first overlook.)

By: Rating: Date of Hike: Saturday, May 30, 2009
Since nobody had previously reviewed Big Devils Stairs I decided to do so. That was surprising to me since I've known about this hike for over 15 years. First, Google map is a little off on its directions, mostly in describing confusing turns that don't really exist in/around Warrenton. Simply take 29 to 211W and 211 to Skyline Drive which takes you to the SNP gate. The park ranger at the gate didn't know where Big Devils Stairs was so be sure to read Hiking Upward description of the trailhead. To that end, the Gravel Springs Gap parking area--about 13.5 miles from the park entrance--is adjacent to the trailhead. As far as the hike is concerned, definitely on the easy side, but certainly an A+ for solitude and a B for scenery. We saw a few hikers as we were starting (around 1:15 p.m.) But after the initial wave of 2-3 groups, we saw nobody else. The final overlook that serves as the turn around point is well worth the 2.5 miles out. The return trip is a bit more challenging since it is more of an uphill than the trip out. We did see a black bear on the final mile or so right before the turn up the fire road. I would recommend this hike to anyone who doesn't mind a little sweat on the way back. You don't really earn the view on the way out since it is pretty much all downhill. Overall the hike took us about 2 hours. Definitely worth the time, a bit on the short/easy side, would be good for people who aren't necessarily in the best of shape and don't want to be overwhelmed. All in all, not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

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