Seven Devils Side Trails


Hells Canyon National Recreation Area Trails
#56, #57, #123, #129 and #69

Why? Fabulous scenery and places to camp

Season: Mid-July through September

Ease: Strenuous

While it might technically be possible to hike the Seven Devils Loop without stepping off the main circle, it would be difficult. Most camping spots are at lakes on side trails off the main loop, and perhaps the finest view spot in the area, Dry Diggins Lookout, isn’t on the loop either.

The #57 trail to Dry Diggins Lookout leaves the main trail at Iron Phone Junction. After a short downhill to Bernard Creek, there’s a short uphill to the lakes. They are largely marshy, though there are good-looking camping spots at the two larger lakes. The trail then switchbacks up to the spur to the lookout and through an area that can be ablaze with wildflowers in season.

Dry Diggins is definitely the place for great views – across to the Wallowas, down 6,800 feet or so into Hells Canyon and the Snake River, back into the Seven Devils. If you return to the main trail via trail #56 up and over the knoll to the south and then down to the main trail near Hibbs Cow Camp on the way down, you’ll get what arguably are the finest views into the heart of the Seven Devils themselves, with a vast open area in front of them. If you decide to omit Dry Diggins, at least hike part way up to that knoll on trail #56 so you can get some of the views.

Basin, Shelf, Gem and Sheep Lakes are on the Sheep Lake trail #123 that exits the main loop about ½ mile south of Iron Phone Junction. Sheep is the most dramatic, by far, with the Tower of Babel and She Devil towering above, and it’s probably your choice if you plan to hike out over Goat Pass via the unofficial trail up the east side of Sheep. That trail is not for the faint of heart, but it’s surely a trail to hike up rather than down. Sheep also would make a fine destination lake, though it’s probably busier than you might expect given its location at the end of a trail.

Shelf has a fine semi-isolated camping spot at its north end, and Basin has a couple of wide-open spots on its northeast side. Gem is tucked into the rocks just off the trail south of Basin.

Echo Lake has its own side trail, #129. It’s a fairly well switch baked climb, unfortunately through an area recently burned. We hit it the year after the fire and were rewarded with more morel mushrooms than I’ve ever seen before in one place. It’s well known that morels like fresh burns, and this surely argued in favor of that.

He Devil Lake is a bit farther up the same trail and a fine swim spot on a hot day.

Another trail, #69, leads to Baldy Lake. Baldy sits below the Devils Throne to the southeast and the Twin Imps off to its right. It’s a dramatic camping spot well worth the hike up.

On the eastern side of the loop, there’s good camping at the outlet to Dog Creek, just off the main trail. And at Cannon Lake, at least the lower one. It’s a gorgeous but rugged spot with blue green water and dark, brooding mountains above.

Note: Gary D. Jones Hiking Idaho’s Seven Devils is useful and worth carrying if you’re hiking the Seven Devils.

Directions: Take a right just south of Riggins on Road 517, the road to the Seven Devils. It’s a 17-mile uphill drive. The first 11 are great but the last 6 are rocky. The Seven Devils trailhead is at the top at Windy Saddle where there’s also parking, an outhouse and a campground. All of these trails are off the main loop trails, #124 and 101, that head out of Windy Saddle.

Information: Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Riggins, Id, (208) 628-3916 or Clarkston,Wa, at (509) 758-0616

Maps: USGS He Devil, Idaho. Jones’ book also has a map, albeit without topo lines.

Connections: All of these trails are side trails off of the main Seven Devils Loop.