Very Strenuous 18.7 Miles SNP: Bluff Trail / AT Loop/ The Peak/ Big Devil Stairs!
C'mon! Get out of bed and onto the trail! Steve CHALLENGES you to get out of bed and kick this trails butt. We have seen other groups hike "The Peak", but not this route which involves 4268 of elevation gain so quickly. The rugged ascent - 1,000 feet in just over a half mile, on a trail no longer maintained by the park service - makes it one of Shenandoah’s lesser known, but more-demanding climbs.
Compared to the other very strenuous hike we have that also visits "The Peak", which is only 15 miles and does not finish with Big Devil Stairs. This grueling version of the hike heads the opposite direction, so you can look forward to some great elevation change right at the END of the hike for a serious butt-buster of a hike.
Like so many of the park’s popular trails, the most often visited feature of this hike is a series of waterfalls within easy reach of Skyline Drive. Big Devil Stairs tumbles down Mount Marshall on rock shelves and outcrops worn out of ancient lava flows. We'll take a side trip to the stairs. Just before we do, something bigger and a bit older on the geologic timeline awaits up the Bluff Trail, an enticing destination aptly named "The Peak". This steep-sided mountain, crowned with billion-year-old granite, measures just under 3,000 feet in elevation. The rugged ascent—1,000 feet in just over a half mile, on a trail no longer maintained by the park service—makes it one of Shenandoah’s lesser known, but more-demanding climbs.
Note that while this is a spectacular hike, it is very strenuous. This hike is much more challenging that Old Rag which many consider a strenuous hike. If have not earned pre-approval status our for very strenuous hikes, you must contact the hike leader before signing up for this hike so you can make an informed decision regarding this hike. It is dangerous to hike beyond your physical limitations. About 48 hours before the hike, I will check to see if anyone has signed up for this hike without contacting the leader and remove them for safety purposes. Thank you for your understanding.
Nearby City: Front Royal
Length: 18.7 total miles
Elevation Gain: 4,268 feet
Trail Type: Loop
Skill Level: Very Difficult
Terrain: Hike rocky single track paths, old forest roads, and abandoned trails through the cascades and falls of Big Devil Run and enjoy the breathtaking views approaching and from the Peak
Duration: At least 7 hours
Season: Year round; bad weather may occasionally close roads
Trailhead Elevation: 2,700 feet
Top Elevation: 3,250 feet
Local Contacts: Shenandoah National Park
Local Maps: USGS Chester Gap
Topo Map: Bluff Trail / AT Loop Topographic Map
We hike rain or shine! Click here for the forecast of the area we will be hiking.
There are 2 carpools for this hike!
Baltimore Area Carpool
To carpool from the Baltimore metro area, meet at Savage Station. Click here for directionsto Savage Station. Use the comment section to discuss carpooling with other members.
DC Area Carpool
To carpool from the metro DC area, meetup at the Centerville Park and Ride. Click here for informationand directions to the Centerville location. Use the comment section to discuss carpooling with other members.
If you can drive or want to carpool from additional locations, please post your location in the comment section below. For those who need a ride, reach out to the drivers. Make friends, and support the environment - by just offering a ride!
Directions to the Trailhead
Click here for directions to where we meet for this hike.
Parking Note: The trailhead only has room for 10 cars so please carpool or use one of the additional lots detailed on the directions page for this hike.
Hike is at 7:30 a.m.
Carpool meetup time from Savage Station is 4:45 a.m.
Carpool meetup time at Centerville Park and Ride is 5:30 a.m.
Park Entrance Fee
Many of our members have passes so please coordinate amongst yourselves to help cut expenses! The entry fee for Skyline Drive for all vehicles is $15 for a single car. Passes, which are valid for unlimited entries within a seven-day period, are issued. Payment may be made with cash, credit, or debit cards. If you plan visiting more than once it is well worth it to purchase a pass!
Fido is ONLY Welcome on this Hike with Permission of the Leader!
Be sure to take the hike leaders number(s) with you just in case!