Little Devils Stairs Trail

HARD 162 reviews
#13 of 144 trails in

Little Devils Stairs Trail is a 5.3 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Washington, Virginia that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, trail running, and nature trips and is best used from April until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
5.3 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,496 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

river

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

rocky

scramble

hiking
12 days ago

This is an awesome trail! What a unique experience to be able to hike up a waterfall. We decided to do the hike up and back because others suggested that this route was more scenic than the fire road loop. The ascent (2 miles) is a steep incline with a bit of rock scrambling and scattered steps. You cross over the water multiple times, zig zagging your way up. You gain the nearly all of the elevation in the first 1.7 miles up, so get ready to work! When you reach the top there is no view or summit, just an option to continue down other trails. Coming back down is steep, so take your time! For up and back the trail is 4 miles: as an experienced hiker, without stopping, this hike took me 2 hours. It was an awesome opportunity to hike in a bit of different scenery, it was so beautiful! Would definitely suggest!

hiking
18 days ago

Completed this hike counterclockwise as recommended on a 100 degree day in DC- was very HOT even inside the forest. We appreciated the shade and cold water it provided though for the first hour along the waterfall. We completed it in little over 2 hours...if going again will definitely try to go up by the falls and come back down via the falls. The downhill walk felt super long and on gravel.

hiking
20 days ago

One of the best hikes I’ve found in this part of the country. I did it a little different than most people, instead of the circuit I started from the top and climbed down to the bottom before turning around and climbing back up. I thought it was even more challenging that way as you skip almost all of the flat terrain going around.

It’s great that they allow dogs, just make sure your dog is an experienced hiker. My dog is a very experienced hiker and even he is really sore and tired today (as am I). I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone inexperienced person or dog.

The way-finding is decent, but not always the most intuitive. That plus a lack of good views gives it 4 Stars in my opinion, but I rarely give 5 Stars out. It’s a very good trail and I would certainly recommend it for anyone looking for a challenging hike. Certainly one of the best in the region.

1 month ago

Hi there fellow nature lover :-)...are you up for a 3-hour adventure you will probably not forget anytime soon? Then you should go ahead and check this one out!!! fun! Go ahead---eat some yummy carbohydrates and just do it!

RAWGs review=

!!perfect day for this one! 60 degree weather and it just got done raining. I actually got a little chilly after doing all of the climbing. Be advised, do this one counterclockwise. You would not want to come down the Falls, it's much better to go up them. yes -you easily climb over a thousand feet in the first 1.7 miles!!!. if you are brand new to hiking, this one might be tricky for a first-timer:-)
The trail (blue blaze first half -yellow second half) is very clear the whole way except for some portions criss crossing the waterfalls--- rock scrambling included. Would not bring young children on this hike ---unless they are half monkey and/or just badass :)

The RAWG recommends using the following equipment: at least one trekking Pole, ankle supported shoes or boots. (the more waterproof the better :-)

Very beautiful hike-that's the bottom line... & a very very peaceful hike, did not see a soul, except my trekking pole (haha) At mile 5.1 ... just when I thought this was a kinda bland part of the trail...a black bear scrambled down a tree and scared the doggoned Dookie out of me haha. but as I turned my music down, he just scrambled up the hill. (guess it was a boy, I did not see his name tag :-)

In summary--- you will climb for about the first two miles or so. Then you will come to a nice widening of the path.
(which is where I took my snack break... also drink one 3 Liter Camelback on this trip)
Then it's a very wide service road the whole way down. A nice old ass cemetery at the very end of hike- with a "blue" poem sign. I didn't let sadness felt throughout the poem bother me, as life is all about change anyway. you know :-) time marches on.

Again---Very very beautiful hike. especially the first two miles, lots of picture taking and videos. The first half, AKA The Climb...the sound of water will keep you company... the second half AKA The Descent, The Sound of Silence will accompany you.

ñjoy the journey. yes, this one is a blast.:-)

The original RAWG-11jun18

hiking
1 month ago

This has to be the best hike I’ve done in Virginia. The entire first segment you are literally following the river/waterfall up the mountain. The remainder of the hike is a little less spectacular, but still features the gorgeous Shenandoah scenery.

hiking
1 month ago

Hiked this in the rain. Incredible hike and TONS OF WATER FEATURES.

hiking
1 month ago

Loved this! So much fun and challenging for the first two miles. Great View around mile 3.

hiking
1 month ago

Great trail for leg conditioning. Many steps during the steep climb up along the stream and waterfalls. The return trail is a fire road back to the parking area.

hiking
2 months ago

Best hike in the Shenandoah! Perfect day. Light wind to keep away the bugs and beautiful blue sky. Lots of stream crossing throughout the hike. Definitely a challenging, strenuous hike but SO worth it! Recommend high-top, waterproof, non-skid hiking boots, as there is a lot of tricky stream crossing and rock scrambling.

hiking
2 months ago

Loved the energy of the stream flowing through the gorge and couldn't get enough of it! The little waterfalls and the sound of the water made me want to climb higher and just hang out as people passed by. One group had to turn around and go back because it was too difficult for one of their peeps. i personally didn't think of it as Hard but rather as Exhilarating! I agree that the fire road was not so exciting but we did get a nice pic of the panoramic view. i give it 5 stars because of the energy in the gorge.

hiking
3 months ago

Loved the rock scrambles - couldn't stop grinning!

hiking
3 months ago

Awesome trail! Fire road can get a little boring, but the way up is amazing. I will return

3 months ago

beutiful views while the foliage is still down...4 on the way in -1 on the way out

hiking
3 months ago

Wonderful 3 hour hike for those who are in shape.

hiking
4 months ago

I often prefer hikes with more views, but the gorge rock scramble makes this hike worth it. You are along the creek/river on the way up and it makes the climb a blast. Doing the entire loop makes it closer to 8 or 9 miles. The fire road on the way down is a bit boring, but in the summer when there is a lot of green, early on the fire road is the single best location for a view over the valley, plus the fire road leads to a great old cemetery that adds historical context. Parking was not too bad, even showing up around 0900 midsummer. Strongly recommend doing the route counterclockwise.

hiking
4 months ago

We did this hike during the winter, and we loved it! The rock scramble on the way up was super fun. We ended up taking the Pole Ridge Trail to Piney Branch to Hull School back down to the fire road. In all, it was about 9.5 miles. Took us 4 hours total, and the only part that required some athleticism was the rock scramble at the beginning! Nice little day trip.

4 months ago

Strenuous going up the gorge but definitely worth it. Great view of mountains at top when no foliage. Stop by family cemetery on fire road about a mile from parking lot to learn a little history. And get there early- parking is very limited.

hiking
5 months ago

Nice hike through the gorge to the falls. Definitely recommend to hikers in the area

5 months ago

Walking through the gorge with waterfalls and the river was pretty awesome. I hiked it backward, so the first 3 miles was walking on a fire road, which was a bit of a bummer. Would probably do the gorge as an out and back next time

camping
5 months ago

Any backcountry camping in this area?
Looking for just an overnight... Thanks!

8 months ago

Beautiful little trail. Lots of elevation to get the heart rate up. Peaceful little waterfalls and cascades.

8 months ago

Quite a workout. It’s effectively just cutting up through a gorge. It’s a lot of fun, and quite a bit of climbing over rocks. I️ did get to see a young bear cub, which made for excitement since I knew mama bear couldn’t be too far away. Didn’t have spectacular views, but still a lot of fun.

8 months ago

Very fun trail! The park says it should take 7-9 hours to complete but we were done in 3.5.

hiking
9 months ago

A bit disappointed. The first 2 miles are challenging but the remaining 4 miles are boring, just walking down the fire road. The view would definitely be better if the water level is decent. It hasn't rained for at least a month now.

hiking
9 months ago

This trail was fun but we took the long way back by taking piney tree trail instead of the fire road. It was about 10 miles all together and took us about 5.5 hours. Instead of turning left at the 4 point intersection you go straight. From there you keep turning left for a few times and then finally straight when you get to the cemetery at the fire road. It feels like never ending, we felt lost a couple of times but luckily they mark some trees to keep you on the right path. You will cross the stream a bunch of times just make sure you have a map, directions and Google maps. I had to compare the old school map with the GPS on my phone a few times to make sure we were going the right way. The last left turn we took we were going up hill so that confused us for a bit but once we saw the cemetery we knew we made it. Overall, challenging but fun. Also there isn't a overlook view at the top. Just a trail to enjoy nature, the butterflies that follow you and the waterfalls. It was worth the challenge and to be out hiking and getting lost in the woods. Best time to go is in the spring, we went in the fall and there wasn't much water in the streams. Bring plenty of water and snacks!!

hiking
10 months ago

Started at 9am and completed in 3 hours (going slow to take pics and enjoy the scenery). The first ~hour was fantastic, lots of rock scrambling, beautiful views, and no one else in sight. I then heard yelling and came across a couple who had been attacked by a swarm of wasps on the trail. I went off-trail to avoid the wasps which was challenging due to it being a steep slope with unsteady ground and covered in prickly plants (not recommended). They said there was another group ahead of them on the trail that didn't appear to have had any issues with the wasps. Shortly thereafter I reached the top of the stairs and started heading down the fire road. The road was pretty uneventful....boring except for the old family cemetery which was interesting to visit. The bugs kept swarming my head on the fire road so make sure you have bug spray.

hiking
11 months ago

We took the fire road down to the bottom of the trail and hiked up making it a 7.4 mile hike. When we started up we were underwhelmed until we reached the part that required hard work. Didn't see any falls but there was hardly any water sadly. Fun hike though! Took us about 3.5 hrs but so worth the trip.

hiking
11 months ago

Hiked it yesterday with my wife and three teens at the advice of the ranger at Dickey Station. We completed the longer 7.4 mile loop.

The stairs were quite steep and rocky although they only represented a couple miles of the loop.

Overall it was a nice challenge and we finished in 4.5 hours with several stops.

We have never encountered a snake let alone 2 - the first being a Water Snake and the 2nd being a Timber Rattlesnake.

The Bolen Cemetary was quite the unexpected surprise. Haunting and eerie.

hiking
11 months ago

Did this in the early morning after a overnight rain shower. The stream water level was still low. The rocks could be slippery in places so watch your steps. If you are familiar with some other trails on eastern slope of Shenandoah NP, comparing with Cedar Run Falls Trail or White Oak Canyon Trail, this trail is easier mostly because it is shorter on the way up (2 miles). Highly recommend doing this hike, and wearing good hiking boots.

hiking
11 months ago

My 12 year old son and I did this hike yesterday. Temps reached mid 90's outside of the valley and into the mid 80s on the trail. This was a fantastic trail with the 1st 1/3 being the GEM of the hike up the "stairs." While difficult this was definitely manageable for my 12 year old and would debate bringing my 9 year old if we were to do it again.

Water levels were low as it had been several days without rain but I am sure that dynamic changed significantly after the late afternoon storms.

The 2nd 2/3rds of the trail was nice but simply fire road with not much to see. There were several people who had entered the loop from inside the park. If you do this I would recommend going down the fire road so that you can access the Stairs from the bottom by the parking lot.

Total hike was about 3.25 hours with several break to enjoy the views.

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