Devils Marbleyard, Natural Bridge, VA 24579
Distance: 2.3ish miles to summit (4.5 round trip)
Elevation: approximately 1463 elevation change hike
View: Rocks and valleys
Worth it: Yes(4 stars)
Noah and I attempted a visit to Devils Marbleyard once before and ended up visiting Sulphur Springs trail, which is mainly a pretty walking trail with a beautiful view of the valley around the 3-mile mark. We blamed our GPS and planned on trying again.
Long story short, I’m very glad we did (you can stop reading now, if you want, since that’s the point–or don’t).
Some hikes are worth it because the view at the summit is spectacular, or the trails are pretty, or the friends you brought with you made great memories. Other hikes are worthwhile because they offer you a rock avalanche to scale and every hike will inevitably be its own experience.
When we first set out on Belfast Trail (featured below–this is what you should look for when your GPS takes you to Sulphur Spring Trail), I thought it was about a mile hike to the main attraction. At it turns out, my sources were incorrect and it turns out it’s more like 2.5 miles–but it’s really not all the difficult.
Most of it is a nice walk where you cross streams and climb a slight incline. It’s very rocky and tree roots invade the path, so it’s definitely not for weak ankles, but with some attentive foot placement, you’ll easily manage. (I rate this hike as “Hard” instead of “Easy,” however, because you’ll have to be in reasonably good shape to be comfortable climbing the very end of the hike. It goes from Easy to Hard all at once, and what’s the point of hiking the easy part if you can’t hike the hard?)
When you begin to near the marbleyard, the path gets even more rocky and a lot steeper (you’ll feel it in the legs). The marbleyard comes into view along with the stream’s waterfall and there are plenty of logs (or rocks) to sit on for a break if you need.
After that, the length of your trip and the continuation of your hike is completely up to you. There is a trail off to the right (by the waterfall) that climbs to the summit of the mountain, but there’s also the option of exploring the rocks and channeling your inner mountain goat (I recommend this option–it’s exhausting and great).
Ultimately, this hike is a blast. We got to the marbleyard relatively quickly and then spent approximately two hours exploring the rocks, views, caves, and trails (we would have spent twice as much time exploring had we had the time for it–no joke). We got lost, saw vultures, squeezed through caves and crevices, shared laughs, and stuffed ourselves with BBQ ribs and chicken wings when we got home.
Not a bad day at all, if you ask me. Entertainment at its best.