(VIRGINIA) -Hidden in the woods near Ft. Blackmore, Virginia sits a little piece of hiker’s heaven called Devil’s Bathtub. The spectacular swimming hole is a highlight of the Devil’s Fork Loop Trail in Scott County, not far from the Virginia/Tennessee border. My friend and I drove three hours from my place in Roanoke, Va to experience one of the Commonwealth’s best kept secrets.
Getting there was a bit of a challenge, our GPS took us to the nearby town of Duffield, Va., home of the popular “Duffield Grill” which looks slightly bigger than a food truck. We didn’t see any signs pointing to the trail so we contacted the Scott County tourism office for directions. The gentlemen who answered the phone said that he was a former game warden and was very familiar with the trail. He politely offered us turn-by-turn directions which included steps such as “go down the road a few miles then turn left by the produce stand”. With a slight sense of hesitation we were on our way. About 30 minutes later we saw the produce stand and turned onto Rt. 619 which eventually lead us to Devil’s Fork.
Parking at the trail head is best done with a 4×4. There’s a dirt road leading to the parking area that can get muddy and bumpy. Heads up, it’s a small lot which can probably fit about 20 vehicles.
Once parked, we enthusiastically hopped out of the car where we were greeted by a kaleidoscope of colorful butterflies. It was the first of many signs that this was going to be a beautiful journey. Around 10:30a.m., we started the roughly 2 mile hike to Devil’s Bathtub. Yellow arrows guided us on a path through the woods, across river crossings and over lots of rocks. About an hour later, we arrived at our scenic destination- Devil’s Bathtub. Wow, what a beautiful sight!
The Tub appears to be around 8-10 feet deep and you can see straight down to the rocks at the bottom. Getting into the crystal-clear water felt like jumping into a pool for the first time. Even though it was an 80 degree summer day, the water remained cold. While I was nervous at first, jumping into Devil’s Bathtub was a refreshing feeling. Afterwards, we relaxed on a nearby ledge eating sandwiches we packed and watched as hikers of all ages arrived. It was fun to see their various reactions – their excitement to finding the Tub, the contemplation over whether to take a dip and the pure joy on their faces as they ultimately jumped in.
The Scott County Tourism Office website rates the trail as difficult. Here’s how they describe the hike “Devil’s Fork Loop Trail is perfect for the true backcountry enthusiasts who are willing to get their feet wet. All hikers should be prepared to scramble over boulders, and should plan their visit during relatively low water conditions.”
While it was a challenging hike getting to Devil’s Bathtub is well worth the trip.
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Author: Brie Jackson is an award-winning television journalist. She’s a marathon runner, former Division 1 college basketball player at the University of Maryland and lover of the outdoors. You can follow her on Facebook at Brie Jackson or on Instagram as @positivelybrie.