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Brave The "Devil's Bathtub" At This Virginia Swimming Hideaway

Whether or not you're a seasoned hiker, it is always nice to have a reward during a strenuous hike. I mean, what a tremendous motivating factor. It almost doesn't matter if the sky pours rain, beats you down with sunshine, or if the ground beneath your feet makes your joints ache. If nature has something special for you in the end, those factors become worth it.

The Devil's Fork Loop Trail in Duffield, Virginia, is one such hike. That's all thanks to the Devil's Bathtub, a unique natural swimming hole along the trail.

The reward at the end of the Devil's Fork? A cool swim amidst haunting beauty. You can't beat that.

What Is The Devil's Bathtub?

Each year, thousands of hikers from around the world trek into the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests in the Cumberland Mountains of Virginia to find the infamous Devil's Bathtub. Over the decades, the Devil's Fork carved a hole about 20-feet long and eight feet wide. A waterfall fills a 12-foot-deep depression in the creek bed, creating a unique swimming hole for hikers.

Why is it called Devil's Bathtub? Hard to say. There's not one definitive origin story. The waters in the "bathtub" are pretty cold ... cold enough to extinguish the Devil himself?

Hiking to the Devil's Bathtub

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I hope you're ready to get wet.

The Devil's Bathtub is within the Devil's Fork Loop Trail. The trailhead for the hiking trail is 3 miles northwest of Fort Blackmore and just north of Kingsport, Tennessee, on State Route 619. The Devil's Bathtub is 1.6 miles from the trailhead, making it a 3.2 round-trip hike to and from the swimming hole.

On your way to the swimming hole, you'll cross water at least 15 times, passing waterfalls and other places to take a dip. Beware of multiple obstacles on this over-used trail-downed trees are not uncommon, and at one point, you'll need to use a hand-rope to keep your balance over a ledge.

The trail itself is pretty gorgeous. It follows Devil's Fork Creek and includes fantastic rock formations, stream crossings, and waterfalls. If you are planning on just heading to the Bathtub, you may want to hike a bit further to the mouth of Corder Hollow to take in the 50-foot waterfall. Be sure to look for trespassing signs as you walk the trail-do not go off it onto private property.

The Forest Service maintains the area. There is an option to take the Straight Fork Ridge Traillocated about a quarter of the way around Devil's Fork, bearing right. At this point, the hike is just over 10 miles.

Devil's Bathtub: Know Before You Go

You can swim at the Devil's Bathtub, but please be respectful to the land and do not litter. There should be two rope swings on which you can fly into the swimming hole. You can also slide into the pool, too. Just remember to be safe! This is a natural, rocky swimming hole. It's slippery and can be dangerous.

No, you can't camp right at the Bathtub. But camping is allowed near the parking lot and where the Devil's Loop meets Straight Fork Ridge.

Dogs are allowed on the Devil's Fork Trail. Like any trail, please pick up after your dog, and do not let them wander.

This backcountry hike is beautiful but rugged, with water crossings and rocky and overgrown areas. Even if you hike the three-mile Devil's Bathtub trail, wear hiking shoes. You may even want to consider water shoes if you plan on taking a swim. The path is prone to flash flooding, so please be aware if it has recently rained or if rain is predicted.

Are you looking for more things to do Around The Devil's Bathtub? Try nearby attractions like Little Stony Falls TrailGuest River Gorge, Natural Tunnel State Park, or High Knob Recreation Area.

This article was originally published on May 21, 2021.

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