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Cautionary Note: This trail is extremely challenging, with as many as 18 stream crossings (at the height of the winter thaw), a 1,200-foot elevation change and many opportunities to lose the trail. There are also no facilities (such as drinking water) on or near the trail.
The Devil's Fork Loop Trail provides an impressively beautiful route through an old-growth hemlock and rhododendron forest. Amazing rock formations, waterfalls, swimming holes and mountain views give you plenty to see and do, but keep one eye on the trail, as the going can be rough. Although the trail follows yellow blazes for its entire 7 miles, poor maintenance means it is often difficult to find the blazes and the path, which, in several places, scrambles over large rocks or up very steep cliff faces.
The western leg of the loop follows the Devil's Fork, and your first crossing is about 0.25 mile from the parking lot. Be prepared to get your feet wet. This, like many of the trail's water crossings, has very slippery rocks and seasonally changing water levels. After this, the trail breaks in two directions. The less strenuous route is to the left, following the loop clockwise. This also lets you hit the highlights of the trail much earlier.
The only hint that you are on a rail-trail is the abandoned coal car that sits on the trail about halfway up Little Mountain. In fact, the western side of the loop is the only portion on an old rail bed. This railroad was used to transport logs and coal, and thus the corridor is not as wide as a standard-gauge railway, and the grade is much steeper, which provided the trains with better access to these resources.
The trail's main attraction is Devil's Bathtub, located just 1.5 miles from the start. The rushing water of Devil's Fork shoots out of the soft sandstone and swirls quickly through this stone luge, plummeting into a beautiful pool of blue-green water. Another trail highlight, shortly after Devil's Bathtub, is the 50-foot waterfall at the mouth of Corder Hollow. The trail enters a very different landscape as you leave the Devil's Fork and begin hiking along the ridges of several mountains. The forest has little underbrush and the path can be easily lost.
Your adventure concludes on an old logging road with about a mile of steep switchbacks to the loop's end, where you cross Devil's Fork for the last time. There are primitive camping facilities near the parking lot. You can continue hiking by taking the Straight Fork Ridge Trail (1.8 miles) via the parking lot. The scenery on Straight Fork Ridge is similar to the Devil's Fork Loop Trail, but the latter is considered the more interesting of the two trails.
From US 58 Alternate, take State Route 72 south toward Fort Blackmore. In Dungannon, SR 72 merges with SR 65. Just before they separate in Fort Blackmore, take SR 619 to the right. Alternatively, you can take US 23/58/421 (Daniel Boone Heritage Hwy.) toward Gate City. In Gate City, continue going straight as the road becomes East Jackson Street and, ultimately, SR 71. Head east on SR 71 for a little over a mile. From here, take SR 72 to the left toward Fort Blackmore. Shortly after SR 65 and SR 72 merge, turn left onto SR 619 then follow SR 653 for a short segment; when they break, look for the Devils Fork sign where SR 619 takes a sharp left and becomes Forest Road 619 (there is no street sign).
Travel over the one-lane bridge and turn left just before the abandoned white house. Follow this unmarked dirt road to the end, where you will find parking for the trail. The road to the parking lot is very rutted and may not be accessible by all vehicles. You will pass the trailhead on your right just before you reach the parking lot; there are also stairs up to the trail from the parking lot.
Note: There are only 14 parking spaces (via the U.S. Forest Service) presently serving this trail. Please be courteous and respectful to all adjacent landowners (do not park on private property or block local access routes), and if you get to the trail and find there's no parking available, be sure you are equipped with information on other great local spots to try!
One way road in, parking for no more than 7 cars without getting trapped in. No cell phone service but gps still worked. If you like water crossings (I think we crossed 12) and a sense of adventure this is it. Trees are tagged well with yellow paint. Water is freezing, I had to jump in. Not from the area but would love more trails like this. Little to no trash on trail.
We, my friend and I who hails from Pennsylvania, and who was on a quest to visit all the Virginia waterfalls and swimming holes he could find, arrived at the DFLT around 11:30 on August 13, 2016, prepared for the hike and ready to climb! Took us about an hour or so to hike up the trail to the Devil's Bathtub. The trail was rocky and uneven, but dry at that point of the day. As we wound our way upwards all of a sudden there was a huge change in the air temp. Outside the forest the temp was around 90 degrees; the temp decreased by at least 15 degrees I would say. Very pleasant, actually! We passed many, many hikers on the way down as we traveled up; and vice-versa on our trip down around 3:00. The Bathtub's water was not just cold...it was down right chilling...but so worth the trip and the cold chills from our dip in the icy water! I ran into a lady who recognized me from high school, which was pretty sweet considering that school is at least 3 hours away! You just never know! There were several swimming holes along the trail, but the most beautiful was the Devil's Bathtub! Mother Nature's gift to us all! It began to rain a little and the trail became a little slippery on the descent, so be prepared for that. The only downside was the garbage that littered the trail. Anticipating that we would need to, we took a trash bag that we got from a gentleman at a nearby store and picked up all that we could get to on the way down, and I suggest that anyone making the trip do the same as it appears we have to pick up after those who don't care about the environment surrounding this beautiful gift from God!
June 12th, 2016. We arrived at around 11:30 am and was out by 6 pm. If you are a family, go early. At the start of the trail there is parking for about 15 4x4. Coming down the trail there's a few places on the side to park, but if you meet another vehicle, then one or the other has to back up. Sometimes you can get blocked in at the top.
If you park at the entrance of the rocky road (which you should never take a car up the rocky/rutty road) then your walk will be a little longer. The path is rocky and sometimes muddy. Again, tolerable and enjoyable if you take it slow and we had a toddler with us on the hike. NEVER take an infant without something to carry the infant on your back or in front of you. We saw this on the trail and I am sure because of the terrain they will not make it to the top. Two miles is not a long way when you are on flat ground but the trail is all up hill until you get to the Devil's Bathtub.
Bring shoes that you don't mind getting wet because you cross several streams. It's easier to wade through the water than to try to cross the rocks. I thought we were never going to make it to the top but when we did it was really worth the hike. I have never seen the water so clear. Lots of people were swimming. The water was a little cold and much deeper than it looks because of how clean and clear the water is. It's also a little cold so don't just dive in!!!
Over all we loved the hike, loved the day and will go again. Take bug spray and lots of water. If you plan to make it a day (which you almost need to) take a backpack and snacks. Now, go have fun.
Wes very pretty and very clean.
Great little piece of god country, breathtaking
The 2 miles to the bath tub is a great beautiful hike. We hiked the entire loop which was blocked off about one mile from the trailhead with fallen trees complete with Hornets nest because of this we had to back track 7 miles so I would not recommend the entire loop until they maintenance the trail! Which they must not do often because these trees looked like they had been there several months
This place had been on my bucket list for quite some time...finally had the chance to visit on Saturday, July 11th! It did not disappoint, pictures do not do it justice. You have to see this place in person. We did not do the entire loop but someday I'd like to try it, the hike to the pool and the tub are strenuous but very doable. Can't wait to go again!!!!
This trail is well marked now with yellow paint on the trees! You cross the creek approximately 12 times and the water is always nice and cold! I have been when the creek has been pretty full, but the experience was well worth it! The parking lot is at the foot of High Knob in Fort Blackmore & in the summer time it can get pretty full! I advise either parking on the main road and walking in or parking where there is no chance of getting blocked in! A high vehicle is recommended if you drive to the lot. Several deep potholes and ruts are scattered up the road.
We read all the reviews an decided to to try out the trail and we're glad we did! We found the trail to be well marked with yellow markings on the trees. We took a dip in a pool right before the Devils Bathtub. The water was cold, deep and clear and refreshing. The scenery was beautiful. It was rocky, wet and muddy. We decided to do the full loop. The scenery changed a lot after the waterfall. We no longer saw the creek. Then we were just walking on a high ridge, which we an intense climb! There were many slippery areas. In fact, I just had mentioned the movie Romancing the Stone when my feet slid out from under me and I began sliding down and I knocked my husband's feet out from under him and knocked him down too. We only slid a foot or two and luckily weren't hurt....it was actually funny. The trail is tough....only for an experienced hiker. Not the toughest we've ever done, but a bit tough. One of the best things, we never saw in other hikers out there.
Something no one else mentioned is as you're driving to the parking area, you drive down this dirt lane. On both sides in the trees are no trespassing signs. We weren't sure if we are going the right way, but we were.
Started in the parking lot off Veterans Hgwy for the 1.5 hike to the tub. You have to cross the creek 12 times before you get to the actual bathtub. People frequently think the blue pool is the bathtub. It is not. You have to cross the creek here and walk another 500 feet to overlook the tub. If the water is high it is not visible. Good shoes that are Ok for water are a must. There are a lot of stones both large and small on the trail. From this end the elevation is gently sloping. The hairiest part is the ledge that you have to carefully go down right at the pool. IF not careful you could fall into a waterslide that most likely would break a bone. Overall a moderate hike due to the stones but quite doable even for those in their 60's like us.
My wife, small dog and I tackled the loop trail today. This is a HIKE not a walking trail, so if you have knee or ankle problems keep this in mind. Lots of creek crossings and beautiful scenery. The trails were pretty well maintained at the start but around mile four it becomes a chore to force through the growth. All in all though it's a wonderful trail to spend a whole day on. The devils bathtub makes a great swimming hole, and there are many more places to swim up the river as well.
Really a great hiking trail, but used very little. We like to visit the Devil's Bath Tub http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?guid=2d00b662-9c3f-43bd-99b4-0d462fad01c4 . A great place to swim after a long hike. We are geocachers/hikers and use our GPS units, as the Devil's bath tub and some of the trail heads are marked on the www.geocache.com site
We like to start at the Straight Fork ridge/ mouth of Devil's fork trail head near Big Cherry resoivor and hike down to the parking lot on Straight fork near Big Stoney Creek. Really hate to see that the last person to review this trail missed the highlight of the trail so I'll post the coordinates
Coordinates to the Devils Bath Tub:
N 36 48.802
W 082 38.979
I did this trail and wandered around for 5 hours looking for Devil's bathtub. I had a map but most of the forks in the trail were not on the map. When I would come to a fork in the trail both paths away from it would be marked in yellow. This happened at least 5 times. Unless you go with someone who has already been there before don't waste your time wandering through the forest. I'm an athletic person and my pace was a jog or fast walk the entire time. I easily could have covered the trial in no time if I had known where I was going. This trail is not labeled anywhere and there are a few signposts but the signs have been removed. Several of the trails that I attempted dead ended into hunting reserves. Not places I wanted to wander through. I'm sure Devil's bathtub is great, but getting there is nearly impossible.
This is a great hiking trail, a few geocaches in the area but the Devil's Bath Tub EarthCache is well worth the trip. Really a remote area with huge hemlocks, lots of creek crossings. When the water is up in the Winter it makes the trail impassable in places. We see lot's of bear sign in this and the Straight Fork area. Really a nice trail and not many people make use of it, seems that we always have the place to ourselves when we hike.
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