ITA Seven Devils Loop trail work


A trail maintenance project for the Idaho Trails Association (and you!)

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

Also note: Unless otherwise noted, all photos courtesy of Dave Beck.


This trip was not on the calendar for long. It was only by Kelly’s efforts that we filled it. Then three volunteers dropped out due to smoke and Covid (transporation) issues.
We had a variety of reports that all indicated that there wasn’t a lot of work to do. Jeff H. said he had heard there were “a few” small trees down out by Horse Heaven, the far end of the loop from Windy Saddle trailhead. Tom D. had walked into Cannon Lakes the previous weekend and reported that on the way out, the several down trees he encountered on the way in had been removed. And that there was “some” brush. He also talked to some hikers who had completed the loop and reported no trees down.
In addition, an ITA crew led by Art T. had done this trip last year in four days.
Given the reports combined with the long distance to be covered in just four days (28 miles without any side trips to the very worthwhile lakes), I opted to go light on tools. We took two Silkys, one big lopper, one small lopper, and two small hand saws.

After some deliberation, I decided to do this loop clockwise. The idea was to do the flatter section of trail when the packs were the heaviest. Also, this would allow us to gauge our efforts to maximize lake time on the west side.

Day 1

Windy Saddle to Dog Creek

  • Trails (FS#):           101 Seven Devils Loop trail
  • Trail stats:                7.3 miles, 619’ gain, 6:15 hours

The day started off a little late; we met at Windy Saddle trailhead at 10am to allow people to drive from home that morning. Weather was fine but quite smoky. We had reports that this first section of trail did not have much water. So we were loaded heavy with three quarts each.


Almost immediately after hitting the bottom of the grade, we ran into intense brush work. Heavy alder obscured the trail. Then we ran into Manzanita, aka buck brush or ceanothus. In places, especially the steep hillsides we were traversing, the buck brush has pushed people and pack strings to the extreme outside of the tread such that the tread has collapsed.
Recent weather conditions have been extremely dry. This has resulted in “poofer dust” on the tread. Between sweat, hard work, and having to crawl around to get under the buck brush, we were soon all filthy dirty.
As the afternoon wore on, were were not making very good progress down the trail. So at 3PM, I called a halt to work so that we could reach water for camp (approx. W45.3081 N-116.5153). For the next 100 yards the trail needed more brushing, but after that the trail was in good shape all the way to Dog Creek.

Before Trailhead



I had originally planned to camp at Haas Lake, based on the idea that there wasn’t going to be a lot of work. Instead, we camped at Dog Creek. We found water also at Cannon Creek and Hanson Creek. So there was adequate water. But not a lot of good camp spots. Dog Creek was fine for camping, if a little dusty. We arrived there at about 4:30.

Map Trailhead

Day 2

Dog Creek to Baldy Lake

  • Trails (FS#):           101 Seven Devils Loop trail, 124 Seven Devils Loop trail
  • Trail stats:                8.9 miles, 1761’ gain, 7:17 hours

We got started early after a visit in camp from three mule deer bucks. The first three miles or so were a steady climb to Horse Heaven with lots of talus for tread. Not much trail work required.
Then the trail starts moving through burned areas and in and out of several drainages. Especially near the water courses, new trees and brush proliferate. However, we didn’t see as much tread degradation as on the first day.
We left the loop trail and hiked into Baldy Lake. This side trail was in excellent condition, and required only a little light brushing. Nice camp sites in the trees, but horse poop throughout the camping area.
That evening, the predicted storm moved in with thunder and lightning nearby, continuing through most of the night.
Trail work was again mostly brushing, and again it was pretty thick near the various water sources.



Map Trailhead

Day 3

Baldy Lake to Lily Pad Lake

  • Trails (FS#):           124 Seven Devils Loop trail
  • Trail stats:                6.8 miles, 1548’ gain, 6:46 hours

In the morning it was very, very foggy. We opted to let things dry out before starting work. While waiting for things to dry out a bit, we even got in a little fishing.



And then it started raining. With some hail included. We finally left camp at about 10AM in rain gear. Cutting wet brush means wet workers, so we had some issues with proper clothing and shoes.
Like yesterday, we ran into a lot of brush near water courses and on certain aspects. Some of the brush was pretty heavy.
As we moved up the hillside toward Hibbs Cow Camp we were finally able to remove much of our wet gear. Above there, trail work diminished as we were walking through open grassy hillsides.
Our original plan was to camp at Basin Lake, but due to general fatigue and a need to have time try to dry out all our wet stuff, we instead camped near Lily Pad Lake. We found a good camp site adjacent to the trail north of a meadow that is southeast of the lake. Good tent sites, but a bit of a walk back to the lake for water. And slots of horse poo in the site.

Map Trailhead

Day 4

Lily Pad Lake to Windy Saddle

  • Trails (FS#):           124 Seven Devils Loop trail
  • Trail stats:                6.0 miles, 1774’ gain, 4:48 hours

We woke this morning to sub-freezing temperatures, but a clear sky. For us, this was a spectacular piece of trail, a great way to end the trip.
We started the morning by removing an ~18” log, about the limit of Silky work. But it was important to our team that we take this one out so we could finish saying there are NO trees down on the loop. None.
The first part of the trail was pretty clear. Then once again, intermittent brush. Not as much buck brush; more huckleberries and willows. And LOTS of little evergreen trees. As earlier, we left the little ones on the downhill side. In another year or two, those will probably need to be taken out. But in the interim, they’ll hold the tread and keep people and stock on the uphill side.
This day required the least work. With spectacular scenery (He Devil, She Devil, Devil’s Tooth, and more) and a goat encounter, this day will leave our volunteers with much fresher memories of a pleasant trip.

Map Trailhead

See Tuesday Dave's excellent photos


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