To the Devil (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 06-Oct-2021

Devils Peak (7,582 ft / 2,311 m) sits on the divide between the Seven Lakes and Sky Lakes Basins in the Sky Lakes Wilderness. It’s not the highest point in the wilderness but from its summit you have an expansive 360Β° view, plus a unique view north toward the Crater Lake Rim. Four years had passed since our last visit and it was certainly time for another. An attempt this August was foiled by choking clouds of wildfire smoke. πŸ˜₯ But it’s rained a few times since, the fires are out, and the air is now clear. Another wet cold front went through last night, further clearing the air and dropping temperatures (and a tiny bit of snow); it was time for another go at Devils. πŸ™‚

On the road to Devils Peak (August 2021)

Deer season began this month, so we started up the Seven Lakes Trail (#981) festooned in orange clothing through cold, clear air. The trail was clear except for its permanent collection of ankle-wrenching rocks. πŸ™

On the Seven Lakes Trail
Frozen rain
On the #981

About 2 miles (3.2 km) in, we passed Frog Lake, now showing considerably more muddy shoreline thanks to the drought.

Frog Lake

We continued on the #981 past the lake and on up to its junction with the Devils Peak Trail (#984) and then followed that trail east toward the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). The #984 is an easy trail with a few open sections that afforded us a wonderful view of the Crater Rim to the north. It might be worth hiking up here just for this view.

On the Devils Peak Trail
Along the #984
Devils Peak
Looking north from the #984: (1) Union Peak, (2) Mount Thielsen, (3) Mount Scott, (4) Seven Lakes Basin

The #984 took us to the PCT and we went north on that to where an obvious use trail starts up Devil’s southwest ridge. Soon this use trail merges with the trail built to access the fire lookout which once stood on Devil’s summit. Just short of the summit, it merges with another use trail that comes up from the saddle between Devils and Lee Peak – you can use this to make a loop over Devils.

Starting up Devil’s southwest ridge
The Seven Lakes Basin from the ridge: (1) South Lake, (2) Cliff Lake, (3) Middle Lake, (4) North Lake, (5) Grass Lake
On the summit
A snack on the summit with Lucifer (L) and Jupiter (R) beyond
West from the summit with Jupiter to the left and clouds filling the valley beyond
North from the summit toward Mount Scott (1) and clouds fringing the Crater Rim
Northeast from the summit: (1) Gardner Peak
East from the summit: Lee Peak in the foreground with Upper Klamath Lake beyond
South from the summit toward a cloud-shrouded Mount McLoughlin (if not for the clouds Mount Shasta would be visible too)

We enjoyed a snack on the summit in sunny, mild, windless conditions. 😎 A fire lookout was here from 1917 to 1968. Once again, I was struck by how amazing it would have been to spend the summer up here as a lookout. Of course, I have this feeling about most old lookout sites which is probably why I go out of my way to visit them. πŸ™„

Devils Peak Lookout, 1956 [Howard Verschoor Collection]

When the clouds began spilling over the ridge from Frog Lake, it was time to retrace our route back to the trailhead.

Leaving the summit
On the #984 with clouds spilling over the ridge
One last look: Devils Peak on the right with Mount Scott (1) in the distance
Into the gloom on the #981
Clouds over Frog Lake
Continuing on down
End of the season

This hike is 10.3 miles (16.5 km) round-trip with 2,300 feet (701 m) of elevation gain spread out over the whole distance – you are mostly always going up. The stretch from the trailhead to Frog Lake is rocky and boring but things get better and better past the lake. The #984 seems almost level and offers those big views of the Seven Lakes Basin and the Crater Lake Rim. The views from Devil’s southwest ridge and its summit are (weather permitting) expansively wonderful. Having tried Devils at other times of the year, I think that a cold, clear day in early Fall (like the one we had today less the clouds) is the best time for a visit. 😁

Our out-and-back path to the Devil
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7 comments

  1. That’s a good loop but you might want to consider starting from Nannie Creek instead. The trail between Cold Spring and Heavenly Twin Lakes was burned by the 2017 North Pelican Fire. From Nannie Creek, you’d be able to visit the Puck Lakes, the Snow Lakes, follow the PCT south, and then loop back through the majority of the lakes on the Sky Lakes Trail. Do it clockwise and you’ll hit all the lakes first. Or you can go the other way, catch some views from the PCT, and then spend time at the lakes on the way back. Either way, a great trip. October is a good month – cold but there are Fall colors and the bugs are gone. Just watch the weather forecast for snow.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m running out of adjectives for your incredible photos! Brings back a memory of a family hike to Frog Lake in late June. We hit deep snow and drifts. Hiked on for awhile in our shorts and Keds until our fearless leader sent us grumbling back down the trail.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Southern Oregon is a bit of a love/hate thing for us at the moment. We had to wait out weeks of smoke (hate) for what was a wonderful day in the wilderness (love). This particular hike is a steady climb (about 500 feet per mile) but not super steep at any point. We just kept going and we got there. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So gorgeous!!! This makes me miss Oregon. It also looks mighty steep (from the point of view of a two-year refugee on the East Coast).

    Like

  5. I couldn’t agree more about this hike. That patch past Frog lake is always covered in rocks that are just the right size to want to twist your ankle in a very not natural way. Apart from that, it is a lovely hike that I’ve always enjoyed.

    Like

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