Little Devils Stairs and Piney Branch Loop [CLOSED]

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Shenandoah National Park

Little Devils Stairs and Piney Branch Loop is a 7.5 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Sperryville, Virginia that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from April until November.

Distance: 7.5 miles Elevation Gain: 1,998 feet Route Type: Loop

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

running

forest

views

wildlife

bugs

rocky

scramble

closed

Note: This trailhead is currently closed by SNP and the County for the foreseeable future due to community health concerns— NO parking or road access is available. Please check with the park page for more information. Dogs are allowed but due to the terrain of Little Devil’s Stairs, it is not advised to bring them unless they are of larger breeds or are sure footed and won’t pull you at the end of the leash. Small dogs or those needing help navigating vertical terrain should stay home or hike a different trail.

hiking
scramble
1 month ago

The parking lot and county road leading up to the trail head are closed as of 3/31/20. You will get a ticket if you park here :(

hiking
closed
1 month ago

This trailhead is currently closed by SNP and the County for the foreseeable future due to community health concerns— NO parking or road access is available.

hiking
muddy
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

The only thing that could make this trail better would be an overlook. Super fun, super beautiful, and a challenging first couple of miles. I did lose the trail a little bit on the rock scramble and have to back track, but overall it was easy to find/stay on. I loved the hill at mile 6.5ish. Really kept things fun through the end of the hike. Saw 1 other group while hiking and 2 other solo hikers and everyone was very respectful and maintained 6’ distance from one another. Great, quiet hike

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

Great trails. a lot of waterfalls. The first 2miles is along river with many times crossing. It is the hard part. Part of pine branch trail is along the river as well. Nice waterfalls. Some areas are hard to cross. The overall distance is far more than 7.5 miles. It is almost 10 miles and took us 4 hours. Be there early to find a parking spot. Great hike.

hiking
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

Super fun and challenging going up Little Devils Stairs. Much easier once you get up the waterfall but still a nice hike through the woods.

hiking
icy
muddy
rocky
scramble
snow
4 months ago

hiking
rocky
5 months ago

Hiked on 12/23/19 with my 9 year old. For references, we’ve hiked Old Rag twice together and I am in the woods every weekend with a SAR team I volunteer with. This trail was my kid’s request and gets a 5/5stars from the kid! A little helpful info- we started at the Little Devil’s Stairs lot just off Route 614. The lot here is at the end of a dead end road and hold maybe 15 cars. The trailhead is immediately there to the right and this is the counter clockwise start. I carried my day pack and camera, both of which I am comfortable carrying but unless you’re an avid photog, leave the camera (it can get clunky and heavy over the course of this trail). This first <_2.5 mile section is the steepest and loveliest— amazing views with all the leaves off the trees. Stream crossing were plentiful but the water seemed low. I got in up over my boots but was wearing gaiters, so my feet stayed dry. If the water is higher, I can see how wet boots would be an issue. The trail markings get a little iffy in some spots— bring a map and compass to help and know how to use it! The section that runs from the intersection with Jinny Gray road (a restricted fire road) to the intersection of Piney Ridge trail is open and even after that impressive incline. You’ll come across two intersections here— opportunities to pick up Sugar Loaf or head to the AT on the other side of Skyline drive— both are a distance from these markers. Stay on Piney Branch (not Piney Ridge) trail and head Southwest for several miles. There is another cross with Piney Ridge Trail — keep on Piney Branch. At the southern most point of the loop, you’ll come to an intersection with Keyser Run Road that takes a turn to the North East and is blazed yellow not blue— this is the trail you need to turn onto to link back to the start! Take that turn and head NE and about a mile (all uphill) beyond, you’ll come across the Boylen cemetery on your left. Continue past, still heading NE on Keyser Run Road and about two miles down from there is the gate and the end of this loop. The distance (measured with my Garmin 62s GPS is 9.3 miles, not what is given above. At a steady but slow pace (we took breaks, a lot of pictures), it took us 6.5 hours. Dogs are allowed but due to the terrain of Little Devil’s Stairs, I would advise against it unless they are of larger breeds who are sure footed and won’t pull you incessantly at the end of the leash. Small dogs or those needing help navigating vertical terrain should stay home or hike a different trail. Side note: to anyone attempting to find the Hull School trail, start at the same Loy but head left up the “private drive” area until you find the gate and proceed clockwise. We ran into a woman on looking for it on the way north end of the route (she started at the ranger station on Skyline) but discovered she’d hiked from the wrong start point. From the gate and south west, it’s probably 2-2.5 miles to the market we saw with that trail name on it, but as I only noted it in passing, that distance could be slightly off). Hope this helps! Happy hiking!

hiking
6 months ago

Solid hike. Not too much rain recently, so the river crossings were totally fine. We went clockwise up the stairs, then down the long slope back around to the parking lot. Other than the stairs, which we're steep at times, this hike was very leisurely. We're quick hikers, so this took right around 3.5 hrs total (including a few quick breaks, nothing too long). I mapped it at 8.66 with a Suunto GPS watch. If you go counterclockwise, it'd definitely be a bit more of a workout, with a long gradual slope, then a scramble down through the waterfall valley. Will probably do that next time we do this hike. Not much of a view through the trees at the top of this loop, but still a nice hike.

9 months ago

It’s very scenic up the waterfalls and I would recommend going right back down. It’s a thrill!

hiking
bugs
rocky
scramble
10 months ago

hiking
bridge out
rocky
scramble
Mon Apr 15 2019

Wonderful hike. First 2 miles are challenging with lots of scramble, crossing river numerous time with boots off, walking in water. After you have reached highest point, hike turns into quite pleasant and somewhat easy.

hiking
muddy
snow
Sun Mar 10 2019

It’s definitely not for the faint of heart. I tracked it at around 8.7 miles long. If you start by going to the right and hit the steepest parts in the first 2 miles the rest is cake! Also better views going that way. Did not have an overlook but that’s ok. Coming down Piny Branch 2 water crossings that make you question your choices in life that day but overall easy. Grab some longish branches from the many laying near by and use them to balance yourself along the slippery rocks and logs. I had no problem but several others got knee deep and one person fell trying to balance on a log. Not a pretty sight. Overall great run. 8.72 miles, 4.5 hrs and 1955ft of ascent. Wish I could upload my pics. Oh well. I used Gaia to track my progress as this app seems to close out every time I put my phone away.

BE AWARE trail is longer than 7.7 miles. It’s 9 miles

Tue Nov 27 2018

High water with multiple river crossings! Hiked Nov 25th and had to take shoes off to hike in knee deep icy cold water at least once. Take hiking poles And water shoes for these crossings. Our group of 20 hikers hiked this in just under six hours. Spent a lot of time though having to wait for people to walk over logs. One woman fell in the water off a log. Slippery! My Garmin registered 9.5 miles though!

hiking
Mon Oct 01 2018

Took us much longer than expected. Six-seven hours for the loop. Went after a few heavy rainfalls (ok tropical storm Florence) and the rivers and streams were full. Running water was everywhere, coming out of the ground too! Had to carry our miniature Aussie across a couple times. Wet feet and hungry but would do it again.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

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