Hiking To Virginia’s Devil’s Bathtub Means 13 River Crossings And Rock Scrambling

Devil's Bathtub Hike

Flickr/Corrina Beall

Let’s paint a quaint Virginian picture. You’re hopping from rock to rock across a river in the midst of a dense, green forest. And you haven’t broken any park rules to get this wild — the rock hopping is part of the hiking trail. Between the river forging and rock scrambling, you’ve got the story of Virginia’s Devil’s Bathtub hike.

The Devil’s Bathtub is a swimming hole located in the southwest corner of Virginia, almost to the state’s borders with Kentucky and Tennessee. It’s right near the Smoky Mountains, making the entire hike incredibly lush and serene. But as beautiful as the smooth rock pool is, some of the best parts of the evilly-named waterfall adventure happen during the journey to get there.

devils pool

Flickr/Corrina Beall

There are a couple of ways to reach the final pool, although the entire hike is pretty waterlogged. (Yes, you will need water-resistant shoes or hiking boots.) You can take a longer, simpler route or you can take the shorter, more direct route — but that one means hopping, skipping and jumping through 13 river crossings.

Either route requires some serious rock scrambling over boulders. But why wouldn’t you want to wade through rivers and clamor over rocks? Take the short way with the river crossings. It’s an adventure.

devils pool

Flickr/Corrina Beall

The Devil’s Bathtub is located a little ways behind the first big waterfall and swimming hole. There’s also a 50-foot waterfall a little bit past the Devil’s Bathtub. We’d suggest taking a plunge in the swimming hole (if the weather’s warm enough) before continuing on to the waterfall.

The entire hiking trail is called the Devil’s Fork. It’s a 7-mile path that’s classified as “difficult” in the scale of easy to hard hikes. The trail is a loop, so you can begin with the stream crossings to the Devil’s Bathtub or start at the opposite end for a calmer, drier route.

Fair warning: This is a popular local spot, so be prepared to fight for a parking spot and see other hikers on the trail during the summer.


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