Saturday, July 16, 2011

Seven Devils Loop Run

Probably my favorite Idaho run.  The Seven Devils Loop is 30 miles of pure rugged alpine bliss.  My third time on this one and I still feel like it has my number.  I went Counter-Clockwise this run, but I have done it both ways.    A goal of 10 minute miles (5 hours total) sounds easy at home, but quickly deteriorates into exhausting 12 and 13 minute miles when the trail shows its devilish horns:  heat, rough trail, snow, downed trees, deep creek crossings, rerouting for obstacles, etc.  I drank 1.5 gallons of water out there and still lost 7 pounds.  This thing is a BEAST.

Windy Saddle Trailhead.  As pretty as trailheads get.  7500' elevation.

Coming down over the first pass the devil shows you his fangs: Devils Tooth spire.

Past the scenic Bernard Lakes, you encounter the most jaw-dropping view of the day from Dry Diggins Lookout 7850'.  

Looking North from Dry Diggins into Hell's Canyon.  Six-thousand plus feet straight down to the Snake River.  Deepest Canyon in North America.  It gets even deeper as measured from the top of the rim at He Devil Peak.  Over 8000' down to the Snake from there.  Amazing topography in Idaho.

Looking West from DDL.  The Wallowa Mountains of Oregon rise west of Hell's Canyon.

The shabby interior of DDL.  The door was open and the place is loaded with flies.  If this viewpoint was at the Grand Canyon, a milion people a year would visit.  But in the rugged heart of the Hell's Canyon Wilderness, 8 miles from the trailhead, I bet a few hundred would be a good year.  This national treasure needs some TLC.

 From the meadow near Hibbs Cow Camp.  The largest of the Seven Devils: Tower of Babel, He, She and the Ogre.

Somewhere on the Southwest side of the loop.  Perhaps Pyramid Mountain?

On the South side of the loop, looking South toward the upper reaches of the West Fork of Rapid River.  12 miles to go.

The remainder of the loop is still very scenic, but I managed no pics.  I was tired and locked in a full on war against the downed trees which are typical on the SE side of the loop in the early season.  One section had avalanched last winter and piled trees high over the trail.  Crawling through this section took patience.  Thankfully, soon after this section, I encountered a trail crew that informed me the next 9 miles to Windy Saddle TH were clear.  Home free.


  1. This is an awesome run, but tougher than it looks, as you said. I did it in October a couple years ago, and got caught in a bad storm. Looks like you had fine weather. Took me just under 7 hours. I will have to try it again in summer, like you did.

  2. Yeah, it's a hoot. That Lookout up there is amazing. Going up there makes it 30.2 miles. Skipping it and the Bernard Lake area makes it 27-ish. Careful going in mid to late summer, the creeks dry up and water sources are scarce. I got some crazy heat exhaustion last September and had to sit in Granite Creek for 2 hours before continuing.