Hydrogen etching of 4H-SiC has been performed in a hot-wall chemical vapor deposition reactor to reduce surface damage and to create a bilayer-stepped surface morphology, optimal for initiation of growth on 4H-SiC substrates offcut 4° and 8° towards the <11-20> direction. To understand how step bunching evolves during the ramp to growth temperature, samples were etched ending at temperatures from 1400 to 1580°C under 0, 2 or 10 sccm of propane (C3H8) addition to hydrogen. Initial exploratory growth of 5 μm thick epilayers on the 4° etched surfaces are also discussed. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) and Nomarski microscopy were employed to investigate changes in the surface morphology. The 8° substrates subjected to H2-C3H8 etching up to growth temperature routinely exhibited bilayer steps. However, when the 4° substrates were etched with a 10 sccm C3H8 flow, considerable step bunching was observed. At 1450°C, with a 10 sccm of C3H8 flow (partial pressure is 1.25x10-5 bar), step bunching started with the formation of ribbon-like steps. Progression to higher temperature etches have shown the coalescence of the ribbons into larger macro-steps up to 30 nm in height. Etching 4° substrates under 2 sccm of C3H8 (partial pressure is 2.5x10-6 bar) or in pure H2 up to 1500°C results in minimal step bunching.