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Big Devils Stairs Trail

Difficult
 3.5 (4)

This trail makes for a fairly steep yet striking route down a canyon with exciting water features.


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Map Key

1.4

Miles

2.3

KM

Point to Point

2,432' 741 m

High

1,405' 428 m

Low

0' 0 m

Up

1,027' 313 m

Down

14%

Avg Grade (8°)

45%

Max Grade (24°)

Dogs Unknown

Features Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Spring · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Description

Access this trail from Gravel Springs Hut Parking Area on Skyline Drive. Use the white-blazed AT to head south, away from the Drive, and connect with the Gravel Springs Hut Road/Harris Hollow Trail to loop around onto the blue-blazed Bluff Trail. After about 1.5 miles on the Bluff Trail, look for the blue-blazed Big Devil Stairs Trail on the right.

The trail starts off gradually for the first couple hundred yards and then begins to increase in grade as it switchbacks along the ridge of the canyon. The canyon is dramatic with cascades, water features, and massive boulders all between steep walls of rock.

The majority of the trail is, however, a little distance away from the edge of the canyon. This makes it possible, especially in summer when the trees and bushes are fully grown, to hike much of the trail without seeing into the canyon. Not to worry, however, as the best view comes about a half-mile from where you turned off the Bluff Trail.

The trail bends to the right and dives down to a rock ledge that overlooks the canyon. For the next few hundred yards, the trail follows right along the rim of the canyon with beautiful views. Just after the trail heads away from the canyon rim, there is another viewpoint. Look for some large rocks and boulders to the right of the trail, about 50 yards away.

From here, the trail meanders downward through the woods until it joins the stream at the bottom of the canyon at the park boundary. Downstream from this point, the land is all private and posted, please respect the signs and do not trespass. There is no access to Big Devils Stairs from SR 622, you must return the way you came.

Thanks to Larry W. Brown, for sharing this trail description. If you’re interested in learning more details about great hikes, weather, camping / lodging, wildlife, and scenic drives, check out the comprehensive Guide to Shenandoah National Park.

Contacts

Shared By:

Larry W Brown

Trail Ratings

  3.5 from 4 votes

#21673

Overall
  3.5 from 4 votes
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Trail Rankings

#552

in Virginia

#21,673

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1,277 Since Apr 28, 2016
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Photos

Looking south at west face of Big Devil Stairs canyon
Nov 24, 2019 near Washington, VA

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Check-Ins

Nov 8, 2020
Dave J
Nov 20, 2019
Phil Manger
Trail below cliffs can be difficult to follow because of downed leaves. Blazes are few and faded. 3.2mi — 2h 00m
Sep 29, 2018
Mar Vahlsing
Bluff trail is quiet, easy, wooded trail without much of a view, although it might be scenic in the winter. Go down devils staircase for the overlook. 6mi
Feb 8, 2018
Chris McCloud
Done as part of day trip to Shenandoah 2/8; accessed via Harris Hollow & Bluff Trails.
Feb 7, 2018
Chris McCloud
Done as part of day trip to SHEN 2/8
Nov 2, 2017
Eileen McMahan
Oct 28, 2017
Robert Howard
Jan 13, 2017
Trey Swartz