Little Devils Stairs is located just inside the eastern boundary of Shenandoah National Park. From the parking lot off of Keyser Run Road you can enter the Little Devils Stairs Trail to the right (marked with blue blazes) or the Keyser Run Fire Road to the left (marked with yellow blazes). They meet at the top, so the full 5.3-mile hike can be completed as a loop from either direction.
The Little Devils Stairs Trail is a very challenging 1,500-foot climb over the course of 2 miles, requiring multiple creek crossings and some scrambling. The blazes may be obscure, so close attention is required to avoid accidentally straying off trail.
This is a great hike for anyone transitioning to strenuous or very strenuous trails, training for increased elevation gain, or just looking for a challenge. The climb is continual over the first 2 miles with only a few short spans of level ground. The creek crossings range from 2 to 15 feet across, sometimes over rapidly moving water, and they can be quite slippery. Waterproof hiking boots are recommended. Dogs are allowed on the trail but may need assistance at times.
The majority of Little Devils Stairs Trail runs parallel to the creek and several small and medium waterfalls. The beautiful scenery provides photo opportunities, which are great excuses to stop and catch your breath. Toward the top of the trail, the visual perspective of the gorge and the elevation change is quite remarkable. There are several switchbacks just before the trail ends at a four-way junction and the fire road. Arriving at this crossroads is a special kind of reward!
The fire road is a gradual 1,500-foot descent over the course of 3.3 miles and takes you past an overlook of the Shenandoah Valley through an old hemlock forest and past the Bolden Cemetery before it ends at the parking lot. Completing the circuit this way (counter-clockwise) allows you to get the hard part out of the way first and then reflect on your accomplishment during a leisurely downhill stroll with a few points of interest along the way.