Zig-Zag root in Devil's Staircase
Zig-Zag root in Devil's Staircase

Devil's Staircase

Devil's Staircase is a secret gem located on the Ohiya-Kalupahana route. This popular route is a 14-kilometer-long trail of sharp zig-zag twists that are incredibly steep and challenging to travel, but very exciting.

BY Palitha Weerawansa
PUBLISHED ON May 13, 2021 | LAST MODIFIED ON June 4, 2021

There have been many man-made and natural structures around the world giving the name 'The Devil's Staircase,' with Sri Lanka having one of the most dangerous. The 14km trail has a steep climb with several rapid zigzag curves, and it is advised that only more experienced hikers attempt it because it is very difficult.

How to get to Devil’s Staircase

The trail starts on the Horton Plains road in Ohiya and travels through tea estates to the Kalupahana area on the A4 Main Road, or vice versa. You can also finish the trail near Bambarakanda Falls, about a kilometer before Kalupahana; the only distinction is whether you hike uphill or downhill.

Kalupahana to Ohiya via Devil’s Staircase

The road is very steep, so going uphill for an extended period in the mountainous area of Central Sri Lanka can be taxing on the lungs while going downhill requires muscle strength to control. These two starting points, on the other hand, have their own set of thrills and obstacles. The overview here takes the uphill route and begins at one of the most famous spots, Bambarakanda Rest, near the stunning Bambarakanda waterfall.

Bambarakanda Falls view from Devil’s Staircase startup
Bambarakanda Falls view from Devil’s Staircase startup

After passing through Balangoda Belihul Oya and arriving at Kalupahana Junction, you will join Devil's Staircase. In the beginning, you can reach the tallest waterfall in Sri Lanka, Bambarakanda Falls, and then begin the hike to the Udaveriya Camping Site.

Ohiya to Kalupahana via Devil’s Staircase

The hiking is better started early in the morning. Then, as you refresh yourself before beginning, you can watch the sunrise reflect off the waters of Bambarakanda Falls.

Devil’s Staircase on Foot

If you're going to walk from Ohiya to Kalupahana, take the Devil's Staircase path.

Mists overtake the path in Devil's Staircase.
Mists overtake the path in Devil's Staircase.

Biking down Devil's Staircase is a well-known trail.

You might even get a four-wheel-drive car, but you would miss out on the stunning scenery.

Route to Devil’s Staircase

Before extending, the Devil's Staircase travels by the stream that feeds Bambarakanda Falls and over dangerously narrow ridges. The path is very rocky throughout, but it often opens up to stunning views of the valleys to the south and the mountains to the north.

You'll walk through several difficult places where you'll have to tread carefully, which will help you remember the trail's name. Along the way, you'll be able to see a natural pool fed by a transparent spring and a Hindu/Buddhist temple.

V Cut in Devil’s Staircase

The trail will travel across magnificent green tea estates when you near the end of the Devil's Staircase. You can also travel through the 'V Cut,' which is a common feature of the road. In the far past, a 'V' shaped channel was cut into a hill to allow the Devil's Staircase to pass through. You go through a rough section before reaching the Ohiya Road, not far from Horton Plains. Your hike has come to a close.

Best time to visit the Devil’s Staircase

Visit between January and March to experience a less rainy hike.

How long does it take to hike Devil’s Staircase?

Due to the bumpy road, the Devil's Staircase takes 4 hours to drive in a 4WD.

History of Devil’s Staircase

The entire island was almost surrounded by tropical forest until the turn of the nineteenth century when it was cleared to cultivate coffee and tea. Today, the Devil's Staircase is one of the island's few surviving primeval forest zones, and it should not be overlooked.

Learn before you go Devil’s Staircase

Balangoda is the best place to get supplies if you are traveling from Kalupahana to Ohiya through Devil's Staircase.

Since the terrain can be rugged, it is recommended that you wear good hiking boots and warm clothes as the temperature will drop unexpectedly.

It's also a good idea to wear a raincoat or other waterproof gear in case of Ohiya's heavy downpours.

A good hiking guide would be needed since it is very possible to get lost on the trail.

Especially: Plastic and polythene should be avoided.

We have compiled all of the necessary details about Devil's Staircase for you here.