Sunday, October 17, 2010

Climbing Little Devil Stairs

On a perfect October day, I joined the Richmond and Charlottesville Adventurers Meetup group for a wonderful hike up Little Devil Stairs in Shenandoah National Park. 13 of us joined together for this 8 mile (including a mile up and back to the Skyline Drive) circuit hike. There was some fall colors, and at least some water in Keyser Run as it tumbled down the steep gorge. The hike has minimal views, with its appeal being the steep "stairway" up the gorge. The climb is about 1,500 feet to where the trail joins the Keyser Run Fire Road for the return of the circuit along a gradual descent to the start. Most of the elevation gain seems to be in the middle mile of the hike up, where you litterally feel like you are walking up giant stairs much of the way. The mile up to the Skyline Drive added about 140 more feet, according to my new DeLorme PN-60 GPS. Here is the elevation profile as captured by my GPS:

And here is the track of the circuit, mapped in DeLorme's Topo USA 9.0:

From what I hear, spring is a great time to do this hike because the stream is gushing along, but even in the fall, there is consistent water in Keyser Run. Here, some leaves float in a little pool:

Members of our group climbing parts of the Little Devil Stairs:

Autumnal orange against a robin-egg blue sky:

This was a particularly steep section:

Followed by crossing the stream on a log:

Pretty flowing in Team in Training colors:

More fall colors along the descent of the fire road:

This cemetary in the middle of the woods was a reminder of the human cost of creating this tremendous park when numerous mountain communities had their residents evicted, often forcefully. In the cemetary is a plaque with a poem commemorating the mountain people who were forced out. The location of the cemetary is marked with the American flag waypoint near the bottom of the map near the beginning of this post, and it was about a mile from getting back to the car:

This tree reminded me of a strange alien being:

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a fantastic hike. Some pretty steep climbs. The day looked perfect. Great photos of the day.