Summary: If you are in for the challenge, this scramble up a steep, rocky ravine along Keyser Run is more than worth the spectacular views of almost continuous waterfalls. From the parking lot, follow Keyser Run Fire Road down, passing straight through "Fourway" intersection. At the bottom you’ll reach a parking lot, and the beginning of Little Devil Stairs trail. The trail slowly winds upwards to the stream and a small waterfall. Be prepared to possibly get your feet wet -- it crosses a small stream not just once, but several times. Also be careful of the deceptively slippery rocks. After you have cooled off in the water a little, get ready for some hands and knees action as you scramble for the next mile over huge boulders in this narrow gorge. Don't worry about getting lost - it is difficult to get lost between the two high rock walls beside you. Try and follow the blue blazes for the best access across this stumbling ground.
Trailhead: Go to parking area 0.4 miles south of MP 19 at intersection with Keyser Run Fire Road. (Lat:38.758 Lon:-78.2582)
Trail Guides for Little Devil Stairs, SNP, VA:
Circuit Hikes in Shenandoah National Park
by Potomac Appalachain Trail Club (PATC)
by Potomac Appalachain Trail Club (PATC)
Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Summer,
User Groups: Hikers,
Ranger Contact: US Forest Service 1-540-999-3500
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Joe Cross, who has posted 56 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Page 1 of 3 Submit your own review
Reviewed by Jim on 10/22/2009
6 of us retired old farts took almost exactly 4 hours to do this enjoyable hike starting at the parking lot and tackling the steep first very slowly with a bunch of rest stops. A treat was to find patches of snow on the North facing slope as we neared the top. (Oct 19th!) There was plenty of water in the run as it had rained the previous four days straight. There was so much spice bush along the upper part of the trail, the trail smelled perfumed. The trail is well blazed, except for at one crossing near the top where the blaze must have been eradicated by a tree blow down. However, its is clear that the trail does turn to the right over the run even though the blaze is missing.
Reviewed by Scott W on 8/17/2008
We went down the Stairs and came back up the fire road, which is over an hour of up up up. Most SNP hikes are down-and-back-up deals. You pick your steps carefully on the trail but it's doable in sneakers. No real fording (but no rain recently). We spent about 4.5 hours on it, so no rushing. It'll be great when the leaves are turning, around Oct 1. August is good for butterflies, and adolescent deer. The Bolen cemetery was an interesting find and definitely adds to the trip.
Reviewed by Rick on 2/24/2008
Excellent hike. We did it as part of a perimeter hike in the area, including Piney Ridge and several other trails (about 15 total miles). We hit LDS on the way back down. Very scenic, with plenty of water flowing. Would like to do it again, but going up LDS rather than down.
Reviewed by Greg on 6/4/2007
We took the full circuit route from Skyline Drive (Kaiser Run Fire Road) down past the cemetery through the parking lot at the bottom and up Little Devils Stairs and back up to the entrance off skyline. I would recommend the reverse, starting your climb from the bottom heading up LDS and then back down the fire road. By the time wee hit the stairs we had 3 miles of accent left in our hike and it was painful. I wanted to call a medivac!!! Man I am out of shape. What a great hike though, we saw a mature black bear estimated at about 400lbs on the fire road. I was clapping as it seemed like a good area for bears and did not want to surprise a mother and her cubs so was making a little noise. This bear darted out about 100 ft in front of us.
Reviewed by Jim on 5/13/2007
About 1-1/2hour drive from DC to the base parking lot, my adult daughter and I enjoyed the hike alot. Trail well marked except for one place where the blue-blazed tree had toppled over. Not really much rock scrambling on the way up, but lovely views of rock faces and small tumbling falls. Nice wildflowers, particularly wild geraniums, and a pair of towhees. We even enjoyed the fire road return, that we did in a mild spring rain accompanied by occassional thunder. Total walking time, 4 hours with 15 minutes for lunch. Although we made the hike on a Saturday, only saw one other hiker.
Reviewed by Wolf on 11/21/2006
What a great hike, beautiful in the fall. I started from the bottom parking lot off Route 614, and found it to be much easier than old rag, but still a nice challenge. Stayed at Hopkins Ordinary B&B in Sperryville and had a great time.
Reviewed by Alicia on 9/20/2006
The hike was great, Just right for a nice early afternoon hike. We saw a bear on the trail.
Reviewed by Jen and Leslie on 9/10/2006
Beautiful, challenging hike--although we accidentally did it backwards! I don't recommend doing it this way. At the cement post one mile out from the parking lot, rather than continue straight on the descent down the fire road, we made a right turn toward Little Devil Stairs and ended up experiencing the beautiful gorge by sliding DOWN the rocks! It was kind of scary but really beautiful. Then, at the bottom, we hiked up the st times very steep fire road. We saw people coming the opposite direction of us and their hike was much shorter than ours, since they'd taken the correct route. Even despite our mistake, it was a really fun hike, if pretty tiring. We're going to do it again one day, only this time try climbing UP the ravine!
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