The ApproachThe trail starts at the intersection of Deer Creek Road #4052 and Coal Creek Road #4054. Follow the description in the Getting There section of the main page.
Start hiking NW on Coal Creek Road, travel on this road for 1.5 mi. to the first switch back. When you are at this switch back, you can hike the road all the way around to the top, or cut through the woods to the upper part of the road. This route is pretty brushy, but will save a great amount of time. When you arrive at the upper portion of the road, turn right, cross the old wooden bridge, and continue to the third and final switch back of the road (you skipped the second if you cut through the woods).
One the USGS Silverton map, only one stream is shown flowing SW past the road switch-backs. This is the one that is the drainage for Devils Lake. In actuality there are really two streams coming down the hill by the road. The first one is the one you can see from the first switchback, and also the one that is bridged on the upper portion of road. Do not follow this stream. It will bring you up the hillside way south of the lake. Make sure you cross the bridge on the upper portion of road and continue to the last switchback, then you will be at the correct stream that will lead you to the lake.
From the last switchback, find an adequate place to get into the woods from the road, the first little bit off of the road is very brushy. When you have gained access to the woods above the road, start climbing up the hill, more or less following the stream. In some places, specifically around 3,400 ft. and 3,600 ft. there are some very steep and cliffy sections. It is best to go to the left away from the stream to avoid these areas, and then you can continue on toward the lake.
When you get up above the last steep section at 3,600 ft. the terrain levels off, and you will continue on semi flat ground to the lake, you will need to find a good place to cross the stream if you wish to camp on the east side of the lake, that is where the best areas for camping are. During the winter there are ample snow bridges that cross the stream. We camped on the east side and a little ways to the south of the lake, there is a big flat area with some trees here. For a topo of the area with approach and route lines click here.
Route DescriptionFrom the lake, start traveling north, up the valley, toward the pass between Devils Thumb and Devils Peak. At about 4000 ft. the climb starts to get steeper. Follow a band of trees up the hill, don’t aim straight for the pass, but instead follow the trees to the right and up a gully that will lead to the ridge. Most of the climb up to the ridge is about 35 degrees, with some short sections that may be as steep as 40-45 degrees.
When you have gained the ridge, turn right and continue for about 50 yards to a short, 30 ft. rock step. The rock step is 3rd-4th class and solid. During the winter, there may be some water ice in the cracks, but is still not a major obstacle to climb. There is a small chimney on the right side that can be ascended and then up the face to the top, or you can climb the left corner to the top (this is what we did).
At the top of the rock pitch, continue on steep terrain for about 50 yards where is eases off a little bit. Continue up the ridge to the highest summit at 5,172 ft. The last section of ridge is very narrow with some good exposure. During the winter the ridge from below the rock pitch all the way to the summit has some large cornices, so use caution.
On the descent you may wish to rappel the rock pitch, especially in winter when the holds are icy, it all depends on your comfort level. There are some small fir shrubs that provide good anchors, but they may be under snow in the winter. We found one that was sticking out of the snow, and we were able to dig down to the base of it to attach a sling.
To descend, the best (and probably the only way) is the route you climbed up.
-Ice axe and crampons in the winter
-Rope and a small rack for the rock pitch if you are uncomfortable on 3rd-4th class terrain. This really won't be needed in summer especially.