May 25 UPDATE – The Devil’s Bathtub Trail has officially reopened on Tuesday after it was closed on Memorial Day.
According to the U.S. Forestry Service, the trail reopened on Tuesday following a 20-hiker rescue that stretched from Sunday night into late Monday morning.
All 20 hikers were rescued, and officials said some experienced mild hypothermia, and one may have suffered a twisted knee.
Most officials warn that only experienced hikers should attempt the trail, as a portion of the trail forces hikers to cross a creek.
UPDATE – The U.S. Forestry Service has closed the Devil’s Bathtub Trail for Monday after all 20 stranded hikers were rescued.
According to the Fort Blackmore Volunteer Fire Department, the forestry service has closed the trail after all 20 hikers were rescued and accounted for.
The closure is just in place for the remainder of Memorial Day as of 10:40 a.m., according to Fort Blackmore VFD.
All of the stranded hikers at the Devil’s Bathtub were rescued just before 10 a.m. Monday, according to the Duffield Volunteer Fire and Rescue.
“The real challenge is the stream crossings and when you have the water come up very quickly, that’s going to trap people in places where they can’t get out and they can’t get out because the terrain is so steep and in some places, sheer vertical cliffs and then other places, they may end up on an island trapped by water on all sides of them,” said Billy Chrimes, Search and Rescue Coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.
Chief Roger Carter of Duffield Volunteer Fire and Rescue said that one rescued hiker may have a twisted knee and multiple rescued hikers have mild hypothermia.
Carter told News Channel 11 that there were conflicting numbers originally reported, but 20 hikers in total were stranded in the area.
Carter said rescuers had to make their way into the bathtub area by an alternative route, as the normal route is too treacherous at the moment. Rescuers entered the area by going over the top of the route and through the brush.
Chrimes said that still posed a challenge.
“We can access from the top,” he said, “but we still have to do stream crossings and things like that, so it’s very dangerous for the first responders because again water is so unforgiving.”
Around 8:15 a.m., Carter said a son was able to make his way down and informed rescuers that his mother and sister are a part of the then-seven hikers still stranded.
Rescuers have warned people to stay out of the region as it is inaccessible due to high water.
The Bristol Virginia Professional Fire Fighters Association also sent personnel up to the Devil’s Bathtub to assist in rescue efforts.
According to a post from the association, Virginia Task Force 4 is responding to the trail on Monday morning to assist due to the rising flood waters.
Chrimes said the Devil’s Form is not a beginner trail and is best suited for prepared and experienced hikers.
He said wearing the right equipment and checking the weather can also help you be more prepared.
“It costs money it costs time and all those things and in some cases, this may cost somebody’s life and it’s not worth it when it was meant to be fun, that a little bit of preparation and the right equipment could have prevented,” said Chrimes.
UPDATE: As of 11:30 p.m., eight hikers had been rescued from the Devil’s Bathtub area, according to the Fort Blackmore Volunteer Fire Department.
At the time, it was suspected that 12-20 hikers were still stranded. FBVFD later confirmed that a total of 20 hikers had originally been stranded, and 12 were still in need of rescuing at 11:30 p.m.
FORT BLACKMORE, Va. (WJHL) — The Fort Blackmore Volunteer Fire Department along with the Duffield Fire and Rescue are responding to an incident involving 12 stranded hikers at the Devil’s Bathtub area, according to a Facebook post from the Fort Blackmore Volunteer Fire Department.
According to the post, Sunday’s thunderstorms in the area caused the surrounding creeks to rise, resulting in 12 stranded hikers in different locations on the trail.
The hikers remain stranded. According to Fort Blackmore VFD, rising and swift waters are making the rescue difficult to reach the hikers.
This is a developing story. Stay updated on-air and online at WJHL.com.