The Devil’s Bathtub – Duffield Virginia

The forecast is calling for snow overnight, but I’ve got spring fever! After getting the “running out of storage space” notification several times I decided to go through the photos on my phone and move them to my computer. I couldn’t just quickly transfer the hundreds of photos from the summer without looking through them! After scrolling through photos of summer days spent mowing, at the beach, in the hammock, or in the mountains I simply had to share what has become one of my favorite hiking spots – the Devil’s Bathtub.

I first heard about the spot when a work pal mentioned it back home in Bristol. He described it as absolutely breathtaking but extremely difficult to find. He was right on all accounts. For those of you in the Tri-Cities area I’ll include a photo of my handwritten directions that should be prove to be much easier to understand than the confusing directions online full of state route numbers that don’t always match up with the actual streets names.

Take the exit near Zaxby's in Kingsport toward Gate City and these directions will get you there!
Take the exit near Zaxby’s in Kingsport toward Gate City and these directions will get you there!

Last summer when Micah came to visit one weekend, Abigail, Micah, and I decided to brave the sketchy directions and find the spot that promised to be an adventure. After an entire morning getting lost out past Gate City – I will never forget the confusion and frustration of Alley Valley Drive . . . don’t turn here – we finally found someone out in the middle of no where to ask for directions. We weren’t far from the abandoned white house listed on our directions.

The parking area by the Devil’s Fork Loop trail head, though elusive, led us right to the starting point. The trail makes a huge loop about seven miles, but there’s a fork you can take (left) just after the first creek crossing that will allow you to reach the tub in only 2 miles. After about a dozen creek crossings  in the clearest coldest mountain stream that requires getting your leg wet at least up to your knee in some spots, you will finally come to the large swimming hole – not the actual tub. The immediate approach requires descending a narrow ledge that drops down into a smaller swimming hole.

The Lower Swimming Hole beneath the ledge
The Lower Swimming Hole beneath the ledge
Abigail at the lower swimming hole - the water level was way down on this trip
Abigail at the lower swimming hole – the water level was way down on this trip

On our first trip, we missed the fork and hiked a very steep incline for about a mile before turning around and taking the fork upon the advice of a very confused hiker on his way down. The trail at the fork is relatively flat though the not clearly marked at all the creek crossings and may require a bit of searching before setting out across.

Clear Mountain Water
Clear Mountain Water

Okay, all that to say this spot is positively dreamy and even though you might convince yourself you can’t handle the *freezing* cold water it’s going to lure you in and before you know it you’ll be screaming as your toes hit the chilly depths. The canopy of trees make the tub – which sits out of sight upstream from the large swimming hole – feel ethereal as the stream tumbles down the rocky bed down the mountain.

If you have the slightest appreciation of nature and enjoy hiking this is a worthwhile day hike.

On both occasions I’ve made this hike the lower pool has had several groups of hikers hanging out and daring to jump in but the bathtub upstream is usually more secluded. The trail has been better maintained since my first hike and last time I went had a marker at the fork to point out the short cut.

Now, a sneak peek of what you’ll see and a trip down the happiest block of memory lane for me!

The tub when the water level was low. Absolutely gorgeous!
The tub when the water level was low. Absolutely gorgeous!
The tub on a later trip when the water level was higher
The tub on a later trip when the water level was higher
The falls at the large swimming hole
The falls at the large swimming hole

IMG_4050

IMG_4054

IMG_4344

Advertisements

One thought on “The Devil’s Bathtub – Duffield Virginia

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s