Seven Devils Loop, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Idaho

Overview: The Seven Devils Loop is a 26.7 mile trail around the Seven Devils Mountains in west central Idaho. From the highest point on He Devil Mountain (9,393 feet) to river level of the Snake River in Hells Canyon is an 8,043 foot drop, making this the deepest river gorge in North America. The Loop itself rings the range but never penetrates it. However, there are ample opportunities to visit the alpine lakes and ancient cirques by taking any or many of the spur trails into the heart of the range. You can customize the length of your trip by excursions to Dry Diggins Lookout and to the lakes.

The Google Earth (GE) image to the right (click for full size) is north-facing and shows the relationship between Hells Canyon on the left and the Seven Devils Range. Note the Snake River National Scenic Trail along the river (blue), the Loop trail (red), spur trails to the interior lakes (blue) and several trails connecting the Loop and the river. The latter typically have a relief change of about 4,000 to 6,000 feet with few opportunities for camping to break up a long assent.

Topographic Map: The adjacent map will open to a full scale (1:24,000) composite USGS topographic map (free for download). The Loop is shown in red and the other trails in the area are shown in blue, green, purple and aqua and correspond to the colors on the Google Earth (GE) images. Also shown are waypoints, mileage between the waypoints and Forest Service trail designations (name and number).

The map is based on the trails shown on the original topographic maps which, when I used them in 1997, I found reliable and good enough for planning and navigation. The roads have been corrected using aerial photos. With a few exceptions, the mileage shown are based on the official miles used by the US Forest Service. The major exception is the increments between the waypoint, which are extrapolated to fit the “official” Loop distance. If you have a high quality GPS track that you want to share, send it to me and I'll update the map with it.

For preformatted (11x17), ready to print maps of the main part of the loop, go to the bottom of this page.

WP-01 (N45.34946, W116.51209): The Windy Saddle Trailhead sits in the saddle formed by the ridge to Heavens Gate (north) and the north side of the cirque that holds Seven Devils Lake and campground. It is accessed from Idaho Highway 95 via the Seven Devils Road (FR 517). This narrative will follow the trail counterclockwise.

Leave the trailhead parking lot and head north on the Seven Devils Trail (#124, red), descending 400 feet into East Fork Sheep Creek. Intersect Sheep Creek Trail (#53, green) at 0.4 miles (WP-02). Trail #53 goes north and intersects the Bernard Creek Trail #58 in 5.3 miles, which in turn will take you to the river (see more information under WP-03).

WP-02 (N45.35278, W116.51323): This next section is 5 miles and involves 2 ridge accents. Keep left at the junction (WP-02) and contour around the head of East Fork Sheep Creek valley. Ascend 800 feet up a ridge. The rest of this section is shown on the WP-03 GE image.

WP-03 (N45.35875, W116.56012): From the ridge on the left of the image, descend 1300 feet into the West Fork Sheep Creek Valley and ascend 600 feet to WP-03. WP-03 sits at the junction of Dry Diggins Ridge Trail (#140, green) on top of Dry Diggins Ridge (duh). The trail #140 goes north for 3.7 miles to where it intersects the Bernard Creek Trail (#58, purple) which can be taken west and down 4,000 feet to the river or east to intersect with the Sheep Creek Trail. See Dry Diggins Lookout GE image for trails #140 and #58.

A few hundred feet further down the Loop trail, the Bernard Lakes Trail (#57, blue) splits off to the north west. This 2.7 mile trail passes Bernard Lakes and ends at the Dry Diggins Lookout Trail (#56, purple). Turn left on trail #56 and it is 1.6 miles back to the Loop trail at WP-05. Turn right on trail #56 and go 0.5 miles to Dry Diggins lookout. (See Dry Diggins Lookout GE image, below).

GE View of Dry Diggins Lookout. View is looking east from Oregon, across Hells Canyon to the Lookout.

WP-04 (N45.35369, W116.56316): Back to WP-03 on the Loop trail, it is a 0.4 mile hike to WP-04 and the intersection of Sheep Lake Trail (#123, blue). The Forest Service lists trail #123 as a 4.1 mile trail; my measurements are more like 3.1. If you have a GPS and send me an accurate tract, I will update this mileage and trail section. For that matter, I’ll do it for any section you send me. (See the GE images, below, for the Sheep Lake Trail).

WP-05 (N45.34939, W116.57655) is a 1.0 mile, slightly up hill walk from WP-04. It is the junction with the Dry Diggins Lookout Trail (#56, purple).

GE View of Sheep Lake Trail 01: This images is facing east and shows the trail passing Basin, Shelf and Gem Lakes. The white on the lakes appears to be ice.
GE View of Sheep Lake Trail 02: This images is facing west and shows the trail coming around the mountain between Gem Lake (white patch in middle) and descending to Shelf Lake (white).

WP-06 (N45.34457, W116.57934): From WP-05 head downhill for 0.4 miles past Hibbs Cow Camp and Spring to WP-06. WP-06 is the junction with the Little Granite Creek Trail (#112, green). See GE view of Little Granite Creek, below.

WP-07 (N45.33284, W116.57549): From WP-06, descend another 300 feet over 1.1 miles to WP-07 and the junction of the Echo Lake Trail (#129, blue). (See the GE image for the Echo Lake Trail, below).

GE View of Little Granite Creek and Devils Farm Trails: Little Granite Creek Trail (#112, green) will lead you west down 6,000 feet over 6 miles to the Snake River (most of the decent occurs in the first 4.5 miles). A mile from the river is the junction with Devils Farm Trail (#114, purple). Turning left on it will bring you back to the Loop at WP-09. This invigorating trail ascends about 6,000 feet in 9 miles.
GE View of Echo Lake Trail: This images faces west and shows the trail (blue) passing Echo and He Devil Lakes. Directly forward of He Devil is Quad Lake (greenish white) and right and slightly forward of He Devil is Triangle Lake (right half is white). To the far right of the image, below the wall of the cirque and covered in white is Purgatory Lake. The Forest Service says the trail to He Devil Lake is 1.6 miles and I measure 1.1.
WP-08 (N45.31902, W116.58590): The hike from WP-07 to WP-08 and the junction with the Baldy Lake Trail (#69, blue) is 2.1 miles, descending about 400 feet for the first 1.6 mile and ascending 300 feet in the last 0.5 miles. The Baldy Lake Trail is shown as 1.0 miles by the FS; my measurement is 0.7.
WP-09 (N45.27424, W116.57342): The trip from WP-08 to WP-09 is 4.5 miles and takes you into the lower cirque of Devils Farm and up the side of Pyramid Mountain. WP-09 is the terminous of the Seven Devils Trail and junction with 3 others. 1) Going west is the Devils Farm Trail (#114, purple) which drops 6,000 in 9 miles towards the Snake River. It is another mile on the Little Granite Creek Trail to the river. See GE View of the Devils Farm Trail, above. 2) Going south is the trail (blue) to Horse Heaven, the Carbonate Hill prospects and Stevens Saddle. These trails offer a couple options to extend your hike and also pick up the view from Horse Heaven. 3) Going east is the South Boise Trail (#101, red) which is the designation for the Loop on the east side of the range.
WP-10 (N45.29515, W116.53618): Follow the Boise Trail (#101, red) from WP-09 for 4.1 miles to WP-10 and the junction of the Dog Lake Trail (blue).
GE View of Dog Lake Trail: Though the Forest Service does not designate or maintain a trail to Dog Lakes, we had no trouble finding the one shown on the map and reaching the lake. That was 1997 so good luck. However, I just looked at my photos (film if you remember what that is) and it would be worth trying the 1.1 mile hike again.
WP-11 (N45.32569, W116.50126): Leaving WP-10, it is 4.2 miles to the Cannon Lake Trail (#126, blue). The map shows a trail dropping into the East Fork Rapid River valley and connecting with the same named trail. I don’t remember this trail and I have not found it searching the web. If it exists, it can form a loop trail that takes you back to Horse Heaven or Stevens Saddle that could give you some more trip options. If anyone has any intel on this, please send it to me. The Cannon Lake Trail is 1.0 according to the FS and 0.8 by measuring the track on the map. Unfortunately, this side of the Seven Devils Range was shrouded in clouds when the satellite image was taken.

Last Leg: The Loop finishes on the Boise Trail with a 3.5 mile hike back to the Windy Saddle Trailhead. The first part of the trail is fairly level and about a mile is missing from the USGS topo. The last part is your final treat, an 800 accent over the last mile.

Happy hiking!

To Buy Map: The map shown above is too large to fit on 11x17 paper so use the following links to download three preformatted 11x17 sheets covering the main part of the loop. East Map. NW Map. SW Map. Sorry, but at this time I don't sell a weatherproof version. Take the jpg down to your copy shop and have them use a color laser printer. The laser ink doesn't bleed if it gets wet. In the field put them in a gallon ziplock. First fold about an inch on the long side and then fold the sheet in half. Put it in the ziplock with the active part of the map on the clear side. Refold to center the maps as you hike. I have been using this technique with paper USGS topos for many years and never lost a map to the elements.

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