September 7, 2013

Map shows main trails running through the core of the Seven Devils Mountains in the Hells Canyon Wilderness west of Riggins, Idaho.

Rich Landers photo

From Windy Saddle Trailhead, backpackers hiking the Seven Devils Loop counterclockwise begin by heading down through a burn in the East Fork Sheep Creek drainage and into the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

Rich Landers photo

A mountain goat feeds along Trail 124 a few miles from Windy Saddle Trailhead along the Seven Devils Loop in the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

Rich Landers photo

Peaks up the West Fork Sheep Creek drainage come into view after a few miles of hiking counterclockwise on the Seven Devils Loop in the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

Devil’s Tooth is one of the most prominent peaks backpackers see while hiking the Seven Devils Loop in the Hells Canyon Wilderness. There’s a second “tooth” immediately behind the tooth seen from the trail in this angle from near the West Fork Sheep Creek.

A log provides a bridge over West Fork Sheep Creek while many other creeks must simply be forded when hiking the Seven Devils Loop in the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

Wildflowers by Trail 124 along the Seven Devils Loop in the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

Wildflowers in sprout from a rocky flat near Lily Pad Lake off the Seven Devils Loop in the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

False hellebore blooms near Lily Pad Lake off the Seven Devils Loop in the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

Larkspur, paintbrush, columbine and other wildflowers flourish on a rock shelf near Gem Lake off the Seven Devils Loop in the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

A rocky outcropping provides a perfect lunch spot over Gem Lake for Brook Landers during her trek on the Seven Devils Loop in the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

Brook Landers donned her poncho to ward off mosquitoes while she took a reading break on the shore of Gem Lake off the Seven Devils Loop in the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

Ferns flourish over the Gem Lake outlet stream in the Seven Devils Mountains of the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

Shelf Lake is on a spur trail off the Seven Devils Loop along with Sheep, Gem, Basin and Lily Pad lakes in the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

Rich Landers photo

A hiker tries fly fishing for trout just before sunset at Basin Lake in the Seven Devils portion of the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

A hiker tries fly fishing for trout just before sunset at Basin Lake in the Seven Devils portion of the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

Hikers hang their packs and hiking poles in a tree to keep them away from a salt-seeking mountain goat cruising through a Basin Lake campsite in the Seven Devils portion of the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

The trail is rocky from Gem Lake up to the pass above Sheep Lake in the Seven Devils portion of the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

False hellebore blooms at Lily Pad Lake in the Seven Devils portion of the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

Roger Phillips photo

Trails 56 and 57 that form a sub-loop off the Seven Devils loop to Dry Diggins Lookout trail and Bernard Lakes are recommended side trips for this view to the Snake River deep into the bowels of the Hells Canyon Wilderness. Check out the next photo to see how the scenery changes from this photo, shot in early July, to the next photo made in early August.

Rika Ream photo

Trails 56 and 57 that form a sub-loop off the Seven Devils loop to Dry Diggins Lookout trail and Bernard Lakes are recommended side trips for this view to the Snake River deep into the bowels of the Hells Canyon Wilderness. The tortured landscape of the canyon dries out in August.

The sego lily blooms in profusion in July above Granite Creek along the Seven Devils Loop in the Hells Canyon Wilderness. The wildflower has an edible root used by Native Americans.

Pockets of old-growth trees above Granite Creek have escaped the forest fires that have radically thinned timber on many slopes of the Seven Devils Mountains in the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

Hikers pass Echo Lake, above, on Seven Devils Loop spur Trail 129 that leads to He Devil Lake and an approach route to He Devil Peak in the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

Hikers can visit He Devil Lake via Seven Devils Loop spur Trail 129 in the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

Several forest fires in the 2000s have left dead standing trees that are constantly falling and making work for trail crews in the Seven Devils portion of the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

Fireweed flourishes in the burned areas off the Seven Devils Loop in the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

After a long day of hiking to Baldy Lake on spur Trail 69 off the Seven Devils Loop, Outdoors editor Rich Landers enjoys fishing and then a swim before sunset in the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

It’s morning, and time for trout fishing at Baldy Lake in the Seven Devils Mountains of the Hells Canyon Wilderness. The Idaho Fish and Game Department uses aircraft to stock the lake with 1,000 triploid rainbow fry every three years.

Outdoors editor lands and releases a trout at Baldy Lake in the Seven Devils Mountains of the Hells Canyon Wilderness. The Idaho Fish and Game Department uses aircraft to stock the lake with 1,000 sterile triploid rainbow fry every three years.

A campsite at Baldy Lake in the Seven Devils Mountains of the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

Trail 124 on the Seven Devils Loop above the headwaters of Devil’s Farm Creek offers excellent views into the bowels of Hells Canyon and beyond to the Eagle Cap Wilderness peaks in the Wallowa Mountains of Oregon.

Wild buckwheat graces the Seven Devils loop in the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

Blowdowns can slow hikers down if they hike the Seven Devils loop before trail crews clear trails in the high mountains of the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

Paintbrush and penstemon grace the Seven Devils Loop in the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

Prepare for bushwhacking and scrambling over talus, scree and rotten-rock ledges if you venture off the Seven Devils loop into the peaks and even the higher named lakes of the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

No maintained trail leads from the Seven Devils Loop to Horse Heaven Lake in the Hells Canyon Wilderness. Yet the lake is aerially stocked with 500 cutthroat trout every three years, and the shoreline is mostly open, a factor that lures backpackers toting fly rods.

A mule deer prances by camp at Horse Heaven Lake, which is reached by bushwhacking up from the Trail 101 section of the Seven Devils Loop in the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

The east side of the Seven Devils Loop in the Hells Canyon wilderness follows Trail 101 (Boise Trail) through older burns in areas popular with deer and elk hunters during fall seasons.

Twin Imps rise to the skyline above the east side of the Seven Devils Loop in the Hells Canyon Wilderness.

Roger Phillips photo

No maintained trail leads from the Trail 101 (Boise Trail) portion of the Seven Devils Loop up to Dog Lake in the Hells Canyon Wilderness. Glenn Oakley and Bill Manny earned this moment of relaxation after making the tough bushwhack to the lake.

The Goblin Peak rises above Lower Canon Lake, the last lake Hells Canyon Wilderness backpackers pass before returning to the Windy Saddle Trailhead when hiking counterclockwise on the Seven Devils Loop.

The view Hells Canyon Wilderness backpackers enjoy when hiking out of Lower Canon Lake back to the Trail 101 (Boise Trail) portion of the Seven Devils Loop.

courtesy photo

If you’re tired of hiking, visitors to the Windy Saddle trailhead area above Riggins, Idaho, can get a good view of the Seven Devils Mountains and the Hells Canyon Wilderness from the Heaven’s Gate fire lookout — accessible by vehicle on a forest road.