By Ramona Taylor
The Devil’s Bathtub is a wildly popular tourist destination located in Scott County, Virginia. People visit from all over the country to hike to the Devil’s Bathtub and visit local attractions. If you are planning a hike to the bathtub for the first time we have a few tips to make your visit more enjoyable. You can view a video of Devil’s Bathtub here.
My first hike to the Devil’s Bathtub was near the end of October, so the fall colors were spectacular and the water flow was pretty low. Even with the 24 creek crossings (12 there and 12 back), my hiking partner and I were actually able to complete the whole hike dry. My second hike to the bathtub was with my husband in July after heavy rains so I wasn’t so lucky that time, but he somehow managed to complete it with dry feet.
This hike is rated as strenuous, but not for the typical reasons. Most strenuous hikes are because of a substantial elevation gain, but on this trail there is virtually none. What makes this trail difficult is the number of creek crossings and the large slippery rocks. Nevertheless, if you have the proper equipment and come prepared you should very much enjoy this fun hike. The trail itself is beautiful as it follows along the Devil’s Fork Creek, with many small waterfalls and cascades.
After parking there is a short walk to the trail head. The hike to the bathtub is 2 miles for a round trip of 4 miles. Parts of the trail are along an old rail bed, and if you look carefully you will see a small, discarded rail car.
The trail is marked with yellow blazes, and on this warm July day you can see the mist hanging on the creek due to the high level of humidity.
As you can see in the following picture, the creek bed is the trail.
Once you reach the point of the trail that follows a rock ledge with a steel cable bolted in for you to hold you’re almost there.
The first popular place you come to is called the “swimming hole” by the locals. It’s a beautiful, crystal clear pool fed by a waterfall where in the summer you will find many people swimming to cool off from their hike. Some people actually mistake this for the bathtub, but you’re not there yet!
The next part of the hike is difficult. You can either carefully inch along a ledge on the left side of the swimming hole to reach the bathtub or cross the creek at the swimming hole and follow the blazes to bring you in above the bathtub. The latter has a steep rocky climb and 2 deep creek crossings, but once you’re there it is a sight to behold.
The Devil’s Bathtub itself is about 9 feet deep with an oblong shape and the area surrounding it gave me the impression of an amphitheater with the rock ledges stepping up to overlook the tub. As you can see, the scenery is beautiful summer or fall.
Disclaimer: I am an avid hiker, but I am not an expert. Based on my hiking experience, and information from experts in the area, below is a list of suggestions to make your hike to Devil’s Bathtub safe and enjoyable. This is a primitive back country hike so come prepared.
•Pack food and extra water
•Wear sturdy shoes or boots, NOT flip-flops or open toed shoes
•Hiking poles for me were a must, especially for the many creek crossings
•There is NO cell service, so let someone know where you are and when you expect to return. If you are staying at our cabins,you can let us know and we will watch for your return
•You should allow at least 4 hours for this hike. Do not start this hike later than 2pm in the summer and 12pm in the winter. We’ve had guests caught after dark with no cell service
•Rescues and injuries are not uncommon so carry a first-aid kit
•PACK OUT YOUR TRASH. People leaving trash along the trail and in the creek harms the wildlife and destroys the natural beauty of the trail.
And most of all…HAVE FUN! This beautiful trail is popular for a reason, so get out there and enjoy it! Just please do so safely and responsibly.
We want everyone to enjoy this beautiful region and all it has to offer!
**Because of the popularity of this trail parking can be an issue at the trail head, so be careful to park only in designated areas and go during the week or in the off season to avoid large crowds. Saturdays in July in particular can be very busy with limited parking. Or to avoid the drive you can go on one of the guided hikes provided by Natural Tunnel State Park, who will shuttle you to the trail head and guide you to the bathtub for a minimal charge.