Nestled in the quiet hills of Scott County, VA are some of the most lucious trails and incredible end sights I’ve seen. Make no mistake, Virginia has plenty of jaw dropping trails and scenic sights, and I’ve seen a lot of them. In comparison, the areas around Scott County are quite calm and much less drastic than that of say, Skyline Drive, but they are beautiful nonetheless. One of these trails led to what is known as “The Devil’s Bathtub” and has become quite a popular spot for locals and visitors alike. Here’s my recount of it.
The opportunity to head to Scott County came as a fluke, a chance meeting to gather my children from my family and enjoy a quick weekend getaway. Initially, the timeframe was the only thing that led me to pick this spot, but upon further research I discovered that it held some highly sought after spots for Virginia outdoor adventurists. Enter “The Devil’s Bathtub”. I found the photos and descriptions online and immediately knew I had to seek out the spot for myself, and luckily enough, my brother enjoys hiking and just happened to be meeting me as well.
*Let me just quickly tell you that it was easy to see that there wasn’t much to do around the areas of Big Stone Gap, Duffield, Fort Blackmore (and so on) unless you enjoy camping and the outdoors. That being said, the kids weren’t exactly thrilled to spend all their time outside, so be mindful of that if you choose to head out for some adventure.*
Getting to the trailhead was fairly easy, so long as you make sure to have your GPS on and directing before you head down the long and winding road. You lose service fairly quickly and you don’t pick it back up again until you’re headed out. There is a parking lot about a quarter mile away that we chose to park in, or you can opt to keep going and park along the road. Should you choose that option, be mindful of your timing and know that it gets crowded pretty quickly. Once you’re there the signs show you which ways you can go and how long it should take. We didn’t bother with any of that. Us being who we are, we chose to do our own thing.
I have the AllTrails app on my phone so I had the trail map and navigation there, along with other possible routes from other hikers. My brother had heard that you should make a left at the fork for the most river crossings. My map and his advice led us to quite the half mile trek along the river. The poor souls behind us that decided it would be fun to follow us were probably not too happy after realizing that we were actually just hiking ON the river. Oops. It was quite fun to climb along the river rocks and try not to fall, though you’re guaranteed wet feet at some point if you choose to go this route. The water levels were incredibly low so I’m not sure how you’d fair if they were fuller. After about a half mile you meet the trail at the first crossing and it’s pretty smooth from there out.
The trail can get a bit steep and will require some climbing/scaling and careful stepping. Once you arrive though it’s all worth it. The wading pool near the bottom was already pretty full when we arrived and it was still fairly early in the morning. The water levels were low, but still beautiful hues of blue and green. Cold doesn’t quite begin to describe the temperature of the water, and don’t expect to get used to it. Some have described it as “being baptized by the Devil himself” while others (my brother included) say it’s not so bad. I didn’t get a chance to take a dive in on this trip, but I did wade my feet and never got used to the iciness. Now I have an excuse to go back and do it again.
Once you pass the wading pool and keep climbing the rocky cliffs you arrive at a second and smaller pool just below the actual bathtub. A short trek up and you’re there. The bathtub itself really isn’t all that spectacular (in my opinion) and is just a small bathtub shaped hole, although it is pretty to look at and apparently fun to jump in. The real fun is found down the way at the wading pool and along the hike itself. It was nice to spend time there though and just sit and enjoy the water and the views. Watching everyone else jump in and have fun was also quite the entertainment.
The hike back was fairly uneventful and since we stuck to the path much less fun. It’s certainly worth a day trip if you’re in the area to check out though. As I said before, be mindful of the time you choose to go as it was getting crowded about the time we headed out (this was before noon). Also, as always, leave no trace behind!
While in the area we also took a quick trip to Natural Tunnel State Park and did some small hikes. We opted not to hike down to the tunnel itself but voted to head up toward Lover’s Leap and see the tunnel from that vantage point. Although a small park and shorter trails, the views were still incredible. The top lookout at Lover’s Leap gave you both the tunnel and the moutain views and was quite impressive. Another area worth a quick trip if you’re nearby.