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Seven Devils Loop
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mini location map2019-09-04
30 by photographer avatarkeepmoving
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Seven Devils LoopNortheast, OR
Northeast, OR
Backpack34.00 Miles 7,295 AEG
Backpack34.00 Miles3 Days         
7,295 ft AEG19 LBS Pack
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Backpacked the 7 Devils Loop over 3 Days. Did the loop clockwise and opted to finish using the alternate exit along the climbers route above Sheep Lake.

Wed 9/4. 10.8 Miles
Arrived mid afternoon and started by following the trail towards Cannon Lake. Immediately passed a couple who were just finishing up doing the very same loop and briefly chatted with them before continuing on. Shortly after that I passed 2 hunters on horseback and their mule team in tow.

Took a brief break at Cannon Lake to refill my water and have a quick snack. I had the lake all to myself and would have gladly spent the night, but I had plenty of daylight left and wanted to get more miles under my belt, so I continued on. The trail past the lake passes through several burned sections that afford good views of the Seven Devils Peaks and the valley to the south.

Arrived at the unmarked junction for Dog Lake about an hour before sunset and headed up to the lake. The "trail" here is more of a route- its overgrown in several places and littered with downed trees. It's also exceptionally steep and only gets steeper as you near the lake. Fortunately, the lake itself is worth the effort and was very scenic- nestled in a glacial bowl at the base of the Twin Imps, the hillside was even starting to turn crimson now that summer is beginning to wrap up.

There was already one other person camped at the lake, so I opted to let him enjoy the solitude and I dropped back down to the lower junction to camp for the night.

Thur 9/5. 21 Miles
The trail past Dog Lake is completely dry until it reaches Baldy Lake, 9 miles later, so I got a super early start and loaded up on water. The views through this section were phenomenal and just when I thought they couldn't get any better- I climbed over the pass above Horse Heaven and was treated to views of Hells Canyon. The clouds were beginning to build for the day, but I could actually make out the distant peaks of the Wallowas to the west.

Eventually I arrived at Baldy Lake to find it completely empty. I had a nice lunch, did laundry, refilled my water, and explored the surrounding campsites. I found 3 brand new large fuel canisters abandoned at one of the campsites, so I picked them up and added them to my pack (+2.5lbs).

Continuing along the loop, the clouds continued to build and it gently sprinkled off and on. I took the side trail up to Echo Lake and He Devil Lake (again, both completely devoid of people). Beyond the Echo Lake drainage I spotted a bear rooting through the berry bushes a little ways below the trail.

Eventually I arrived at the main turn off the Sheep Lake and the heart of the 7 Devils area. I hadn't seen anyone all day, so I was surprised to round the corner of the trail and find myself face to face with a saddle-less horse and no rider in sight. We had a brief stare down and the horse was soon joined by 2 curious mules. They seemed a bit skittish, so I just stood around and waited for a bit until their owner came chasing after them. Apparently they had been camped out in the meadow with their herd when the horse decided to wander off. The owner informed me that the horse is a bit of a free spirit- and has been known to walk the 7+ miles back to the trailhead all by himself when he feels like it.

The 3 miles to Sheep Lake are some of the best along the whole loop- passing multiple lakes while the peaks tower over the trail, it goes by super fast. I arrived at Sheep Lake to find a group of 3 already camped out on the shore. Had a good chat with them- apparently they are locals who have been visiting the lake for years, so they were very helpful and they gave me information about the climbers route. As a thank you (and out of my own selfish desire to lighten my own pack), I gave them one of the fuel canisters that I had found earlier in the day. Then, at their direction, I continued along the far shore of the lake to find some secluded campsites right at the base of the climbers route. I knew a storm was scheduled to arrive the next morning, so I wanted to be able to break camp, climb over the ridge, and get back to the trailhead ASAP.

Shortly after crawling into bed for the night, the storm arrived. Almost 12 hours ahead of schedule. At first it was just flashes of lightning in the distance, but soon the wind picked up, only to be followed by rain and thunder. It continued off and on until the morning.

Fri 9.6. 2.2 Miles
Between the noise of the rain/wind and my anxiety over whether the climbers route would even be a viable option in the morning, I really didn't get much sleep. I was up long before first light and had my pack ready to go as I waited under the shelter of my tent. As soon as their was a lull in the wind, I broke down the tent and hit the trail. It was still just dark enough to need my headlamp for the first couple minutes and for the first part of the climb up the talus slope.

As I climbed up the ridge the wind continued to subside and the clouds actually started to part. There was no rain, no lightning, and the path was much easier to follow than I had expected. Passing over the notch in the ridge, I was treated to fantastic views of Mirror Lake and got to watch the sun break through the clouds. I dropped down the far side of the ridge, passed through the 7 Devils Campground where everyone else was still sleeping, and arrived back at my truck right around 7am.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
Some Lupine, Fire Weed, Indian Paintbrush, and verious other wildflowers still blooming, but most are beginning to die off.
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