If you're looking for an easy trip, the Little Stony National Recreation Trail in Jefferson National Forest is the perfect alternative to the nearby Devils Fork Loop
. Devils Fork Loop is gorgeous, but it includes a strenuous and often wet climb. Little Stony, on the other hand, offers similarly beautiful views within a mere 2.8 miles, and its footbridges save you from cold, slippery water crossings. You can also take breaks from the trail's 600-foot ascent by resting at the bridges high above the rushing currents and below the hemlock canopy.
Starting at Hanging Rock Picnic Area, follow the yellow blazes marking the trail, which snakes along Little Stony Creek. The trail is rather narrow in areas where it climbs in elevation and travels over boulders, and the slope is steep for a rail-trail, but the exhilarating views are worth every step. Within a half-mile of the northern trailhead, you will find a viewing platform across from a 40-foot waterfall. Thick, waxy leaves of rhododendron and mountain laurel frame the white veil of water, and if you visit in May or June, you'll likely catch the spectacular blooms of these plants.
Continue uphill to find two more impressive waterfalls. Several hundred feet beyond these, you will arrive at the Little Stony Falls parking area, where the 16-mile Chief Benge Scout Trail picks up from Forest Road 701.
To access the Hanging Rock Picnic Area from US Alternative Hwy. 58, head south on State Route 72 near Coeburn. Travel for approximately 7 miles to the Hanging Rock Picnic Area. A sign marks the trailhead.
The upper trailhead, north of Hanging Rock, is a bit more complicated to find. Fortunately, the forest roads that you need to take are peppered with signs to Little Stony Falls. From the junction of SR 72 south and US Alternative Hwy. 58, travel south on SR 72 to the minor SR 664. Go west on SR 664 for about 1 mile to Forest Road 700. From there, follow signs to Little Stony Falls.