Seven Devils Loop

Seven Devils Loop, Hells Canyon, Idaho

The Seven Devils Loop in the Hell’s Canyon Recreation Area is a rugged, beautiful, and challenging adventure.

Chris & Mac of Grey Otter Outventures

Chris & Mac
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Length:  39.1 miles
Trailhead(s):  Windy Saddle Trailhead at Seven Devils Campground
Elevation Gain:  7,876’
Trail Type:  Loop
Dogs:  Allowed
Difficulty:  Advanced
Permit Required?  No
Considerations:  Rugged Terrain
Season:  Late June – Early October

Overview

The Seven Devils Loop in the Hell’s Canyon Recreation Area is a rugged, beautiful, and challenging adventure.  For us, we considered this a “one and done,” but also a backpack trip not to be missed.  We hiked the loop, with a number of side trips, over the course of five days because we wanted to take our time.  Depending on your travel logistics and hiking strength, the same trip could be done comfortably in 4 days if you want to move faster or even less if you want to skip the side trips (although you might find it a somewhat boring hike without the side trips).

Seven Devils Loop Day 1:  Windy Saddle Trailhead to Sheep Lake

The Windy Saddle Trailhead has a good amount of parking and is next to the Seven Devils Campground which offers numerous campsites.  Driving from Oregon, the campground made it easy to spend the night before we started our hike so we could begin first thing in the morning.

We began the Seven Devils Loop leaving the Windy Saddle Trailhead and heading west on the Seven Devils Trail.  The hike begins with a swift, rocky descent into a canyon.  After descending for about 3.5 miles, the climbing begins ascending to the junction with the Sheep Lake Trail, which was our first side trip off the Seven Devils Loop.

The Sheep Lake Trail climbs past Basin Lake, Shelf Lake, and Gem Lake, all of which can be reached on side trails off the Sheep Lake Trail.  Each of these lakes are pretty, well worth visiting, and have accessible camping.  Our target, however, was Sheep Lake so we continued along the Sheep Lake Trail.

The Sheep Lake Trail climbs until just above Sheep Lake, then begins a steep, but well switchbacked, descent to the lake.  The lake is beautiful and has numerous quality campsites.  We picked an excellent site on a rock outcropping just above the water.

Seven Devils Loop Day 2:  Sheep Lake to Echo Lake & He Devil Lake

Leaving Sheep Lake, we climbed back up the Sheep Lake Trail to its junction with the Seven Devils Trail and continued our counter-clockwise trip around the Seven Devils Loop.  In a few miles, we reached the junction with the Echo Lake Trail, our second side trip.

Echo Lake has a number of good campsites as you reach the lake and additional sites on the left side of the lake.  The lake can hold quite a few campers.

We set-up camp on the left side of the lake, then climbed up to He Devil Lake.  He Devil is a very pretty lake and worth the short climb to look at and photograph.  Because the lake is very marshy around the edges, however, there are no campsites – at least none we could see.

Seven Devils Loop Day 3:  Echo Lake to Dog Lake

On day 3, we hiked from Echo Lake to Dog Lake.  We skipped a side trip to Baldy Lake due to the logistics of our hike, but you may want to add Baldy Lake to your trip depending on how you do the loop.  My understanding from other backpackers we met is that Baldy has limited camping but is a pretty lake.

The hike from Echo to Dog Lake was, frankly, amazing.  The views were vast, the terrain, although very rocky like most of the hike, was varied, and the scenery was diverse.  Mac and I agreed that this day held the best views of the trip from the trail.  It also took us to the highest altitude we hit (8,000’) with an amazing view.

To get to Dog Lake, we hiked the Seven Devils Trail south, then traveled north-east on the South Boise Trail.  We then turned left when we reached the junction with the Dog Creek Trail.

Dog Lake is a large and pretty lake with many good campsites.  The climb to the lake was steep and the trail was overgrown when we did the trip in late August.  If you prefer not to carry your pack up to Dog Lake, there are some good campsites near the South Boise/Dog Lake junction.  You can leave your packs there after setting up camp and do an out and back to the lake.  This is how we chose to handle the side trip.  Either way, I highly recommend making the effort to get to Dog Lake – you will not be disappointed.

Seven Devils Loop Day 4:  Dog Lake to Lower Cannon Lake

Before heading to Lower Cannon Lake on Day 4, we did our hike up to Dog Lake to check it out.  As I stated above, it was beautiful and worth the hike up.  Upon return to where we camped near the South Boise Trail, we broke camp and headed north on the South Boise trail heading for Lower Cannon Lake (our last side trip).

The hike to Lower Cannon Lake was fairly easy by Seven Devils Loop standards.  The hike was filled with some excellent views of landscapes that were very different from those we experienced earlier in the trip.  To get to the lake, we took a left off the South Boise Trail on to the Cannon Lakes Trail.

Lower Cannon Lake is a pretty lake ringed on one side by peaks.  There are some excellent campsites by the lake (we also passed some good sites along Cannon Creek on the way to the lake).  Getting into camp early afternoon, we had our choice of sites and picked one above the lake to reduce the number of bugs compared to water’s edge sites.  It was a great place to hangout for the afternoon and the views at sunset were very dramatic due to the orientation of the sun to the peaks.

Seven Devils Loop Day 5:  Lower Cannon Lake to Windy Saddle Trailhead

On Day 5, our final day, we made the quick hike from Lower Cannon Lake to the Windy Saddle Trailhead.  Lower Cannon Lake was the perfect spot for our last night because the exit was quick, allowing us to start the drive home mid-morning without having to spend the night in the established Seven Devils Campground with the car campers.  The hike out was straight forward and somewhat uninteresting, but we appreciated the quick exit and turned our attention to getting some “real food” on our drive back to Oregon.

Concluding Thoughts about the Seven Devils Loop

I really enjoyed the Seven Devils Loop – with the side trips.  The Loop itself would be pretty boring, except for some segments, without the side trips.  The side trips, however, transform the hike into a bucket list hike with some amazing beauty.  We probably will not do this one again, but we are absolutely glad we did.  I think you will be glad if you do it too!

Hike on!

Scroll down to learn about the GEAR WE USE and OTHER OUTVENTURES in this area.

Additional Information (Click below to follow links.)

Seven Devils Loop Slideshow

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Gear We Use for Backpacking

To see descriptions of the gear Chris & Mac use for backpacking, as well as links to manufacturers and retailers offering the gear for sale, please CLICK HERE.

Articles About Other Regional Outventures that May Interest You (click to view):

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