This loop combines two canyon routes. The middle half on the east side is trailless. Entering Devil's Den from the east is a bit tricky and has several 5+ft drop offs.
Not recommended for a summer outing. Water at any time of year will be needed, and you'll want to pack in as much as you think you'll need. Pants should be worn for the middle third of the loop to avoid any scratches from prickly scrub.
It's worth noting that this route is not recommended for beginners, as there are quite a few portions that are off trail, and some navigation skills will be required. The approach into Dog Canyon is relatively easy, starting from the Nine Point Canyon Draw Campground. There's not much grade going there, and you'll be able to make your way through some open terrain to reach the well traveled Dog Canyon Trail
. The last portion approaching the trail follows a wash, making it easy to keep on track. Within the Dog Canyon there are many interesting formations, a cave, and flowers. You'll follow the popular trail for a bit before passing through the canyon itself, and then branching southeast, and getting off trail.
The middle third of the route is all navigating open terrain, off trail. It is rough scrub country that almost requires pants, as the desert flora isn't friendly. This portion is where your route-finding skills will come in handy, as you'll be working your way over open terrain to reach Devil's Den, a tight canyon that resembles the slot canyons found throughout the American wet. To do so, you'll keep a prominent ridge to your right (west), and then continue working your way through the scrubby terrain on your way south. The latter part of the middle third has a decent grade and without clear waypoints its hard to know where Devil's Den is. The feature itself is obscured by the eastern ridge that you've been keeping on your right. Devil's Den has a fairly evident start on the canyon's east side. You'll enter the narrow split in the ridgeline, and head west. Before long, several (three?) drop offs need to be navigated. Devil's Den is narrow through out, providing an unusual and scenic trip through the area. There are some nice boulders to be explored and climbed on once the drop offs are cleared. As you continue heading west, you'll follow the Devil's Den Wash
, whch makes for fairly easy navigation.
The last quarter of the loop can be negotiated by finishing out the Devil's Den Wash
, and heading back north to the Dog Canyon Trail
, but we elected to use the map and head straight to car. You'll be able to follow the wash for quite a ways before making your exit to head almost straight west. The scrub brush is much lighter than the middle third of the trail, making this open-country hike an easy finish.