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