- A short hike of only 660 yards to the lookout.
- Moderately difficult due to the high altitude of over 8,100 feet.
- Trailhead: Heaven’s Gate Observation Site parking area.
Heaven’s Gate Trail is located on the east edge of Hells Canyon, about 66 miles northwest of McCall. It is one of three designated national recreation trails in Hells Canyon Recreational Area. Hiking the trail gives you access to breathtaking scenery, including a panoramic view of four states from Heaven’s Gate Lookout.
You’ll hike through beautiful groves of old growth whitebark pine, and if it’s early summer colorful mountain flowers will lend even more beauty to this scenic trail. With an altitude of over 8,100 feet, you may get winded quickly if you’re not used to hiking at high elevations. The trail is usually open from mid-July to mid-October.
From Riggins, head south onto ID-95 at Riggins and go one mile to Seven Devils Road (Forest Road 517). This is a steep, winding single lane gravel road so don’t attempt it in an RV or travel trailer. Go 17 miles to Windy Saddle Trailhead and then veer right and go 1.5 miles to the parking lot of Heaven’s Gate Observation Site.
- Distance –660 yards - a little over 1/3 of a mile (0.75 miles both ways).
- Average Time of Hike –It should take just a few minutes to reach the lookout, although allow plenty of time to enjoy the spectacular view once you get there.
- Elevation Gain – 269 feet – the hike starts at an elevation of 8, 160 feet and ends at 8,429 feet.
- Difficulty – This trail is considered to be of moderate difficulty largely due to the high altitude.
- Trail Type – Out and back.
- Trailhead – The parking lot of Heaven’s Gate Observation Site.
Plan & Prepare
The best time for hiking this trail is from the middle of July through late September. Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen for the high altitude sun rays. Come prepared for both hot and cold temperatures, as the elevation varies significantly in Hells Canyon – even in the summer. There’s no water at the lookout so be sure to bring some. Mountain weather can be unpredictable so pack emergency food, shelter, flashlights, etc. just in case you get stranded and need to wait for help.