Bluff-Appalachian Trail Loop

Features Big Devil Stairs


This is one of Shenandoah National Parks more popular trails with easy access from Skyline Drive. There are nice westward views from both North and South Marshall Mountains. The trail is difficult because of the length and the elevation, rising over a 1000 ft in the first 4 miles. The hike is 15.4 miles if you also make the side trips to both the Big Devil Stairs and The Peak, without the side trips it is 13.3 miles. The hike can be made in a day, but overnight camping is allowed also.

Big Devis Stairs gorge goes down from mount marshall among rocky outcroppings. Big Devils Stair Trail follows the east rim of the gorge. Along the way, you will pass a shelter used by long-distance hikers on the Appalachian Trail.

The Peak is a 3000 ft elevation mountain that stands alone from the main Blue Ridge Mountains, it's not maintained by the park service so it's overgrown but some say it's worth the effort.

Starting from Gravel Springs parking area follow Bluff Trail for about 1.5 miles trning right on Big Devil Stairs Trail. Big Devil Stairs Trail is about 2 miles down and back (1 mile each way), before continuing on Bluff Trail. About another 1.5 miles before the cutoff to The Peak, the peak trail is about 2 miles up and back (1 mile each way) but has a 1000 ft elevation gain. It's about 4 miles after this before reaching the AT, and another 5.5 miles on the AT to get back to Gravel Springs parking area.

Directions: Google Directions

From Thornton Gap, take Skyline Drive north for 13.9 miles to the Gravel Springs Gap parking area at milepost 17.6. It is on the right side of Skyline Drive. The Appalachian Trail leaves the rear of the parking area

State: Virginia
County: Rappahannock
Latitude: 38.76767
Longitude: -78.23351
Length: 15.4 miles
Difficulty: 7
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