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Hiking Devil’s Den: Ridgeway, Pennsylvania

Hiking Devil's Den

Located in State Game Lands Number 44, Devil’s Den is a little hidden gem tucked away near the small town of Ridgeway, Pennsylvania. At the summit, you’ll find intriguing pock-marked rock formations and a rewarding view of the surrounding forest.

Hiking Devil’s Den involves a 3.4-mile lollipop-loop hike up a steep incline to reach towering rock faces and some scrambling to the summit. The views along the trail and at the top make all the huffing and puffing worth it! You can connect this hike with Umbrella Rock or make the loop and return back to your vehicle.

Come along as we journey the path towards Devil’s Den. When you reach the summit, you’ll understand its namesake!

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What To Expect Hiking Devil’s Den

This hike isn’t for the faint of heart, and not just because of the sinister name. Devil’s Den is a steep climb. You can expect to gain around 800 feet of elevation, most of which occurs in the final 1 mile.

So, if you’re still ready to tackle this beast, let’s discuss what to expect.

Parking

Parking is a pretty simple affair for this hike. It is located right off the main road (more specifics later!), so it’s easy to find. However, the gravel lot is small and may fill up on busy weekends. 

We went on a weekday, and there was only one other car in the lot. It would be a tight squeeze to fit more than 8 or 10 cars.

Road Walking

To get to the trailhead, you’ll have to walk along the main road – Portland Mills Road. The road isn’t as busy as a highway, but it gets steady traffic. There is a large shoulder to walk on, but if you’re bringing pets who are spooked by loud noises, this might be difficult.

Our boy Pawdrick did not appreciate the sounds of traffic, but he did a big shake once we reached the trail to destress and then went on his merry way!

Scrambling

Towards the summit, you may have to scramble over and around rocks. There isn’t much of a trail at the end, and you must find your way to the top by whatever means you can.

The scrambling is minimal, but if you’d like a sweet pair of scrambling gloves, Metolius’s half finger climbing gloves rock!

Wildlife

Black bear standing near a tree

This hike is right on the border of the Allegheny National Forest. This area is teeming with wildlife, but the most you will likely encounter are chipmunks and squirrels.

However, if you’re lucky, you might spot something more interesting on your hike:

If you happen to run into one of these animals while hiking Devil’s Den, you can read about what to do if you see a wild animal on a hike to be prepared! As always, be respectful of wildlife and keep your distance

Hiking Devil’s Den: A Step-By-Step Guide

Now that you know what to expect on this journey, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty details of the hike. We’ll start and end at the parking lot, giving you all the details in between!

Parking

Devil's Den Parking Lot

A small gravel parking lot is available off of Portland Mills Road near the Clarion Little Toby Creek Trail.

Finding The Trail

Elk Camp Road

It’s a bit tricky to find the trail to Devil’s Den. You have to walk up the road to Elks Camp and then through the campground to reach the trail. We did this hike in winter when the road and the camp were closed. Conditions may be different in the summer.

From the parking lot, head north on Portland Mills Road (the Clarion River should be on your left). Follow the road for about 0.2 miles until you see a small road to the right. There will be a sign for Elks Camp, and depending on when you go, there may be a gate across it.

This is the start of the adventure!

Hiking Devil’s Den: Step-By-Step Guide

Once you find the road to Elks Camp, it’s time to start your hike to Devil’s Den. The most challenging part of the hike is towards the end, so enjoy the leisurely beginning stroll!

  1. Start by walking up the gravel/dirt road toward Elks Camp and follow it for 0.4 miles.
Elks Camp Gravel Road

2. After 0.4 miles, you’ll come to a clearing, a fire pit, and a building. This is Elks Camp. The trail is nearly straight across from the building.

Elks Camp
Devil's Den Trail

3. Once you find the trail, continue forward on a relatively flat path. It can be muddy at times, so be sure to wear proper footwear like waterproof boots and tall socks.

Devil's Den Trail

4. As you continue forward, you’ll pass over two bridges. The first is a metal grate bridge, and the next is a wooden bridge.

5. At the 0.9-mile mark, you’ll come to an intersection with another trail on the right. Take a right here to jump on a narrow trail.

Devil's Den Trail

6. The next half mile is a steep incline. After huffing and puffing for a half mile, you’ll come to another intersection. This is part of the lollipop loop, so you can go either way here (straight or right). When we hiked it, we ended up going right first.

Devil's Den Trail

7. Next, you’ll face another 0.1 miles of steep uphill. But hang in there; you’re almost to the top!

Devil's Den Hiking Trail

8. Towards the top, the trail becomes a little muddied and unclear. However, you’ll know you’re in the right place when you see a few monstrous boulders

Devil's Den Large Boulders

9. Follow the trail as best you can, scrambling over and between rocks until you find the summit! Soak in the views and get ready for the return journey.

Devil's Den Summit
Devil's Den Summit

10. From the summit, head east for a tenth of a mile to another intersection. Here, the trail either goes straight or left. You’ll take a left here to start back down the hill and complete the lollipop portion of this trail.

Hiking Devil's Den

11. Follow this trail for about 0.3 miles until you return to the same intersection from step 6. Go straight here.

Devil's Den Hiking Trail

12. After about 0.4 miles, you’ll reach the next intersection. Turn left here to head back toward Elks Camp. 

13. Once you reach the camp, cross the yard and hit the gravel/dirt road once more, heading toward Portland Mills Road to finish out the hike!

Once you finish your hike, it’s time to celebrate! Check out our article on the top 4 dog-friendly breweries near Cook Forest.

If you’re looking for other hikes to do in the area, consider getting a hiking guide like the Falcon Guides Hiking Pennsylvania Book.

Hiking Devil’s Den With Pets

If you know us, then you know we love to bring our dog, Pawdrick, on all our adventures. Luckily, Devil’s Den is pet-friendly, so feel free to bring your pup along. If you’re wondering what you need to hike with your dog, peruse our checklist of dog hiking gear essentials!

For now, let’s go over some pet-specific things to take into consideration when hiking Devil’s Den with your pet.

Ticks

Pennsylvania is one of the worst states for ticks. The Pennsylvania Health Department tells us that in 2019, Pennsylvania reported the most Lyme disease cases of any state in the United States.

After hiking Devil’s Den, always check your beloved furbaby for the presence of ticks, and pack a tick remover tool in case you discover one has bitten your dog. Make sure your pup is up to date on their flea and tick treatment before attempting this hike.

We use Nexgard for our furbag Pawdrick, and we’ve found it highly effective at keeping the ticks and fleas away. Just be sure to match the treatment with your pet’s size.

Mud

In the Spring and Winter, the trail gets very muddy, especially in the lowlands from Elk Camps to the beginning of the incline. Consider bringing some pet wipes to clean your dog’s paws after your adventures.

We use Vetnique Labs Furbliss Pet Bathing Wipes, and they work great! We’ve also used Dexas Mudbuster Portable Dog Paw Cleaner, which works better for cleaning their paws post-hike at home.

Reactive Dogs

If you have a reactive dog, this is a fantastic hike to take them on, especially in the winter or in the off-season. The trail is not well-known except by locals and, therefore, is hardly ever busy. Your reactive pup can sniff and smell without fear of triggers such as other dogs or people!

If you’re unsure how to hike with a reactive dog, check out our friendly guide to hiking with a reactive dog.

Journey’s End: Hiking Devil’s Den

Hiking Devil’s Den is a challenging trek to the top of a beautiful rock formation. This trail can be connected with the path to Umbrella Rock or done by itself. No matter which you decide, you’re sure to experience the magic of the great Pennsylvania outdoors!

If you bring your pets along for the adventure, remember to check them for ticks and consider bringing pet wipes to clean them off afterward. Always pack extra water and food for your furbag to make sure they stay hydrated and keep their energy up.

Do you have experience hiking Devil’s Den? Or have a specific question? Let us know in the comments below! We love hearing from other adventurous pet parents!

If you’re looking for more ways to enjoy the outdoors in Pennsylvania, check out our PA Hiking Blog.

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