Little Devils Stairs Figure-8

Climbing a picturesque gorge, Little Devils Stairs is a popular loop day hike in Shenandoah National Park. This runs extends that hike with a second loop incorporating the Appalachian Trail.

  • 15.5 miles
Running time
  • 3–5.5 hours
Total ascent/descent
  • 3,300 feet
    215 feet/mile


From the trailhead, take the Little Devils Stairs Trail for 2.1 miles to Fourway and the intersection with the Keyser Run Fire Road (you will come back to this point near the end of the run).

Turn right and climb on Keyser Run Fire Road for a little more than a mile to the Skyline Drive. Cross the road and pick up the trail off to the right that will take you a short distance to the white-blazed Appalachian Trail (AT).

Take a left on the AT and climb for 1.7 miles to the summit of Hogback Mountain. You will cross Skyline Drive twice in the next mile (pro tip: just run the road at the first crossing — the views are better), with excellent views to the Massanutten Mountains to the west.

The view from Hogback Mountain from Skyline Drive
The view from Hogback Mountain from Skyline Drive.

At mile 5, leave Skyline Drive and continue on the AT, descending 0.4 miles to the Tuscarora/Overall Run Trail. Take a right and descend 0.7 miles. Take a left on the Traces Trail and follow it for 0.5 miles to Mathews Arm Campground (mile 6.6). Run uphill from the gatehouse a short distance on the road and pick up the Elkwallow Trail on the right. Follow this trail a little under 2 miles to Elkwallow Wayside, with snacks and drink in season (mile 8.5).

From Elkwallow, take the AT northbound across Skyline Drive and climb for 1.5 miles. Take a right onto Piney Branch Trail and descend for 1.4 miles. Take the Pole Bridge Link Trail for 1 mile back to Fourway.

Make a right onto Keyser Run Fire Road and descend for 2.3 miles down to a cemetery. Pass the cemetery and take a left, descending to the Little Devils Stairs Trailhead.

Last updated June 25, 2021

What you do is up to you, but you shouldn't rely on these directions alone; they are often not specific enough to navigate by, and may be incorrect or out of date. Review a map beforehand and carry it with you. Tell a friend where you are going and when you plan to return. Do not count on having cell phone service while on the run. The VHTRC is not responsible for your welfare on any of these runs. If you go on one of these runs and get lost, run out of water, get injured, mauled by a bear, or die, or if anything else goes wrong, it's your fault; not ours. You assume all risks here and the VHTRC assumes none at all. Legal issues aside, some of these runs are more remote than others and the VHTRC is not suggesting that you do any of these runs, unless you are prepared to accept full responsibility for yourself.