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Hiking the Devils Den

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Offline jtemples

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Re: Hiking the Devils Den
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2020, 04:54:33 PM »
Wow.  I didn't think soliciting info for a little day hike to the Devils Den would have garnered so much info (that's the BBC for ya!)  Thank ya'll SO much for such detailed info on this hike.  Especially you HMOD.  Greatly appreciate it.  Cheers!

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Re: Hiking the Devils Den
« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2020, 05:13:27 PM »
That’s what we’re here for, Jtemples!  When I first logged on to BBC, people like Okiehiker and Mule Ears provided me with the the same kind of amazing info as they’ve shared with you here today. Pay it forward!


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"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline jtemples

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Re: Hiking the Devils Den
« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2020, 07:22:33 PM »
Amen brother.  Amen.

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Re: Hiking the Devils Den
« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2020, 09:52:26 PM »
Supposedly the Dog Canyon hike needs some wayfinding ability. Does devil's den as well?

If you’re approaching Devil’s Den from the 385 side, study your map/GPS for a general idea of where it’s located. There used to be a small sign along the fairly well-burned-in trail to Dog Canyon that indicates where to turn south toward the approach to Devil’s Den, but I wouldn’t count on that. The best guide is a visual: you’ll see the Devil’s Den gash appearing on the ridge to the southeast as a dark zigzag snaking up the slopes well south of Dog Canyon. It looks almost EXACTLY like Harry Potter’s forehead scar.

On the other hand, if you’re approaching from the ridge crossing between Dog Canyon and Devil’s Den, aim for the low spot on the ridge - there’s a faint social trail - and once you top out, the eastern mouth of Devil’s Den, down below on the west side of the desert floor at the northern end of the flats, is obvious.


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"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline jtemples

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Re: Hiking the Devils Den
« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2020, 07:54:28 PM »
Greatly appreciate all of the input.  What do ya'll think of this route.  Starting at parking area off park road, going counter-clockwise following drainage's toward Devils Den, traveling through Devils Den and exiting it to the east, then heading north in valley to the pour-off of Dog Canyon and heading back west through Dog Canyon to our original starting spot.  Has anyone completed this?  Too technical? We aren't planning to bring ropes and carabiners, that ship has sailed  Ha. 

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Re: Hiking the Devils Den
« Reply #20 on: January 14, 2020, 10:32:12 PM »
Greatly appreciate all of the input.  What do ya'll think of this route.  Starting at parking area off park road, going counter-clockwise following drainage's toward Devils Den, traveling through Devils Den and exiting it to the east, then heading north in valley to the pour-off of Dog Canyon and heading back west through Dog Canyon to our original starting spot.  Has anyone completed this?  Too technical? We aren't planning to bring ropes and carabiners, that ship has sailed  Ha.


The person who could best answer your questions is Okiehiker, as he just did this route (in reverse) a couple weeks ago with his grandkids (see his post above).  It's been a long time since I've done this two-fer, though when I did, I followed your basic itinerary. 

IMO, the advantage of the counterclockwise route is that it's self-limiting, which is to say, as you make your way up Devil's Den the route will test you.  If you reach a pouroff that you feel is beyond your abilities to climb, then that's a good sign that the rest of the route might be too challenging and it's time to turn around.  I strongly encourage you to bring some kind of dependable rope in case you need it as a handline to descend any pouroffs during a retreat.  You and your wife can help each other out ascending and descending obstacles in the canyon.  If you do have to bail, and you have time, you can still continue eastward via the rim trail up top.  Or you can abandon Devil's Den altogether and just hike to Dog Canyon via its western entrance.
 
I like the counterclockwise approach to Devil's Den because you get loads of interesting challenge on the way up the Den while you're fresh, then peak (so to speak) with the climb over and descent from the saddle on the eastern ridge, and finally get to kick back and enjoy the easy hiking and mind-blowing eyecandy of your stroll through Dog Canyon back to your vehicle.

About that ridge....the route you've outlined on your map looks to be a ridgewalk along the spine of the last stub of the Sierra del Carmens leading north to Dog Canyon.  Is that what you intend?   Pretty bold route, and daunting.   It's a lot easier to drop down into the desert below and then hook northward to the eastern mouth of Dog Canyon.  There are at least two good ways to cross that ridge and drop down into the eastern desert: one heads east-northeast through the obvious low narrow saddle at 29.6064, -103.1017, where you might find a social trail leading down into the desert; the other is over the lowest point in the ridge, slightly farther southeast at 29.6035, -103.0977. That one bushwhacks southeast before heading north and is gentler in grade, but a lot longer.

"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline okiehiker

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Re: Hiking the Devils Den
« Reply #21 on: January 15, 2020, 07:06:56 AM »
Greatly appreciate all of the input.  What do ya'll think of this route.  Starting at parking area off park road, going counter-clockwise following drainage's toward Devils Den, traveling through Devils Den and exiting it to the east, then heading north in valley to the pour-off of Dog Canyon and heading back west through Dog Canyon to our original starting spot.  Has anyone completed this?  Too technical? We aren't planning to bring ropes and carabiners, that ship has sailed  Ha.


The person who could best answer your questions is Okiehiker, as he just did this route (in reverse) a couple weeks ago with his grandkids (see his post above).  It's been a long time since I've done this two-fer, though when I did, I followed your basic itinerary. 

IMO, the advantage of the counterclockwise route is that it's self-limiting, which is to say, as you make your way up Devil's Den the route will test you.  If you reach a pouroff that you feel is beyond your abilities to climb, then that's a good sign that the rest of the route might be too challenging and it's time to turn around.  I strongly encourage you to bring some kind of dependable rope in case you need it as a handline to descend any pouroffs during a retreat.  You and your wife can help each other out ascending and descending obstacles in the canyon.  If you do have to bail, and you have time, you can still continue eastward via the rim trail up top.  Or you can abandon Devil's Den altogether and just hike to Dog Canyon via its western entrance.
 
I like the counterclockwise approach to Devil's Den because you get loads of interesting challenge on the way up the Den while you're fresh, then peak (so to speak) with the climb over and descent from the saddle on the eastern ridge, and finally get to kick back and enjoy the easy hiking and mind-blowing eyecandy of your stroll through Dog Canyon back to your vehicle.

About that ridge....the route you've outlined on your map looks to be a ridgewalk along the spine of the last stub of the Sierra del Carmens leading north to Dog Canyon.  Is that what you intend?   Pretty bold route, and daunting.   It's a lot easier to drop down into the desert below and then hook northward to the eastern mouth of Dog Canyon.  There are at least two good ways to cross that ridge and drop down into the eastern desert: one heads east-northeast through the obvious low narrow saddle at 29.6064, -103.1017, where you might find a social trail leading down into the desert; the other is over the lowest point in the ridge, slightly farther southeast at 29.6035, -103.0977. That one bushwhacks southeast before heading north and is gentler in grade, but a lot longer.
HMoD is dead on about the connecting route.

A lot of these questions are matters of personal preference. I am by nature a ridge runner so I like your choice. But the desert route represents less risk.

I rarely hike without a rope and there are a couple of spots in Devil’s Den that a hand line might make you more comfortable. My 3 year old grandson made the hike without being carried except for 2 spots where we handed him up over a ledge.

There is an excellent route along the south rim of the canyon that is extremely easy walking, allows good views, but lacks the fun of all of the scrambling. I have twice led groups through DD that preferred using the trail instead of the canyon bottom. If you are uncomfortable proceeding then double back and exit the canyon to the south then follow the rim. You’ll know what you want to do within half a mile.

Oftentimes people have strong opinions about what route is “best.” The best route is the one that is best for you and your group.

In order to consistently have the best experiences, allow too much time, carry a rope, bring too much water, then you’re safe, can change plans if you need to, have opportunities to explore the nooks and crannies of the caves in Dog Canyon, and have stories to tell for the rest of our lives.


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Funny... I have a story about that...

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Offline bbbrain

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Re: Hiking the Devils Den
« Reply #22 on: January 15, 2020, 04:07:09 PM »
Is there a Devils Den hike in the Big Bend?

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Offline jtemples

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Re: Hiking the Devils Den
« Reply #23 on: January 15, 2020, 05:47:47 PM »
Greatly appreciate all of the input.  What do ya'll think of this route.  Starting at parking area off park road, going counter-clockwise following drainage's toward Devils Den, traveling through Devils Den and exiting it to the east, then heading north in valley to the pour-off of Dog Canyon and heading back west through Dog Canyon to our original starting spot.  Has anyone completed this?  Too technical? We aren't planning to bring ropes and carabiners, that ship has sailed  Ha.


The person who could best answer your questions is Okiehiker, as he just did this route (in reverse) a couple weeks ago with his grandkids (see his post above).  It's been a long time since I've done this two-fer, though when I did, I followed your basic itinerary. 

IMO, the advantage of the counterclockwise route is that it's self-limiting, which is to say, as you make your way up Devil's Den the route will test you.  If you reach a pouroff that you feel is beyond your abilities to climb, then that's a good sign that the rest of the route might be too challenging and it's time to turn around.  I strongly encourage you to bring some kind of dependable rope in case you need it as a handline to descend any pouroffs during a retreat.  You and your wife can help each other out ascending and descending obstacles in the canyon.  If you do have to bail, and you have time, you can still continue eastward via the rim trail up top.  Or you can abandon Devil's Den altogether and just hike to Dog Canyon via its western entrance.
 
I like the counterclockwise approach to Devil's Den because you get loads of interesting challenge on the way up the Den while you're fresh, then peak (so to speak) with the climb over and descent from the saddle on the eastern ridge, and finally get to kick back and enjoy the easy hiking and mind-blowing eyecandy of your stroll through Dog Canyon back to your vehicle.

About that ridge....the route you've outlined on your map looks to be a ridgewalk along the spine of the last stub of the Sierra del Carmens leading north to Dog Canyon.  Is that what you intend?   Pretty bold route, and daunting.   It's a lot easier to drop down into the desert below and then hook northward to the eastern mouth of Dog Canyon.  There are at least two good ways to cross that ridge and drop down into the eastern desert: one heads east-northeast through the obvious low narrow saddle at 29.6064, -103.1017, where you might find a social trail leading down into the desert; the other is over the lowest point in the ridge, slightly farther southeast at 29.6035, -103.0977. That one bushwhacks southeast before heading north and is gentler in grade, but a lot longer.
HMoD is dead on about the connecting route.

A lot of these questions are matters of personal preference. I am by nature a ridge runner so I like your choice. But the desert route represents less risk.

I rarely hike without a rope and there are a couple of spots in Devil’s Den that a hand line might make you more comfortable. My 3 year old grandson made the hike without being carried except for 2 spots where we handed him up over a ledge.

There is an excellent route along the south rim of the canyon that is extremely easy walking, allows good views, but lacks the fun of all of the scrambling. I have twice led groups through DD that preferred using the trail instead of the canyon bottom. If you are uncomfortable proceeding then double back and exit the canyon to the south then follow the rim. You’ll know what you want to do within half a mile.

Oftentimes people have strong opinions about what route is “best.” The best route is the one that is best for you and your group.

In order to consistently have the best experiences, allow too much time, carry a rope, bring too much water, then you’re safe, can change plans if you need to, have opportunities to explore the nooks and crannies of the caves in Dog Canyon, and have stories to tell for the rest of our lives.


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Greatly appreciate the info gents.  I'm still uncertain how we'll tackle the hike, but will pack a rope.  Will be fun to look at the options ya'll have presented when I see the terrain in person.  We're planning on hiking it 16 Feb, and I'll post a trip report afterwards.  Cheers!

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Re: Hiking the Devils Den
« Reply #24 on: January 16, 2020, 10:31:15 PM »
Hey, J.....I was researching another subject and stumbled upon this trip report by Randell, including a Dog Canyon hike and an aborted Devil's Den attempt. In addition to being another of Randell's typically phenomenal TR's, it also contains some excellent photos of Dog Canyon as well as one that shows a view of Devil's Den from afar, showing its "Harry Potter Scar", which might be helpful to you in your navigation toward the Den.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline jtemples

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Re: Hiking the Devils Den
« Reply #25 on: January 17, 2020, 07:50:20 PM »
Hey, J.....I was researching another subject and stumbled upon this trip report by Randell, including a Dog Canyon hike and an aborted Devil's Den attempt. In addition to being another of Randell's typically phenomenal TR's, it also contains some excellent photos of Dog Canyon as well as one that shows a view of Devil's Den from afar, showing its "Harry Potter Scar", which might be helpful to you in your navigation toward the Den.
Thanks HMOD.  What a great and scenic TR from Randell.  Beautiful photos!  Looking forward to this hike and the many different options it presents instead of the normal, well-known and established routes of other hikes we've taken.  Trip report with pics to follow afterwards.  Thanks again! 

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Offline jtemples

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Re: Hiking the Devils Den
« Reply #26 on: February 14, 2020, 07:53:37 PM »
I wanted to thank ya'll for all of the input you gave us regarding this little day hike.  My wife and I are going hit the trail this Sun morn after an early morn breakfast in Marathon.  Decided to do the route clockwise so we're going to hike through Dog Canyon first, then head south toward the mouth of Devils Den.  Once we ascend the ridge  south of the Den we're going to head south a bit along the ridge to get a good view of Dagger Flats, and return to the of mouth Devils Den to travel through and enjoy.  I asked my wife if she wanted to travel above it but she said "No, I want to get in it".  Great wife.  We'll be checking out the Brick Vault Brewery and BBQ later that eve in Marathon so if any of ya'll are in the vicinity prob around 6 pm, look for a short, red goateed lil Irish bastard wearing a brown Browning ball cap accompanied by and blessed with a green-eyed and feisty beautiful Irish woman.  First beer on me.  Cheers!

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Online House Made of Dawn

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Re: Hiking the Devils Den
« Reply #27 on: February 14, 2020, 09:51:24 PM »
I asked my wife if she wanted to travel above it but she said "No, I want to get in it".  Great wife. 

I love my wife more than life itself, but I gotta say...a lotta you guys (and some gals, too) really won the spousal lottery!!!

We'll be checking out the Brick Vault Brewery and BBQ later that eve in Marathon so if any of ya'll are in the vicinity prob around 6 pm, look for a short, red goateed lil Irish bastard wearing a brown Browning ball cap accompanied by and blessed with a green-eyed and feisty beautiful Irish woman.  First beer on me.  Cheers!

Dang, that's tempting, and I'd be driving all the way from Dallas!
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Online Lissa

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Re: Hiking the Devils Den
« Reply #28 on: February 15, 2020, 08:47:54 AM »
We hiked this one probably twenty years ago. A ranger actually told us to hike through Dog Canyon, then exit the back and hike cross country to the top of Devils Den. Then drop in and down climb through the canyon and back out. If I remember correctly it was one of the first times we hiked "off-trail" and realized that option opened up a huge part of the park. We missed the drop in point initially but then found it and was able to make it out. It was easier climbing down everything and a lot of fun. Would like to do the same route with YoungHiker (she's 15) I know she would enjoy the climbing.
~Cookie
How difficult is the climbing? can a regular person get through it fine?  Would love to tackle this with my girls, but the older one is not really a climber but would be 14/15 and adult sized. (At climbing gym right now with younger, so imagine she should be fine.)

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Offline jtemples

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Re: Hiking the Devils Den
« Reply #29 on: February 17, 2020, 08:28:28 PM »
My wife and I just returned home this afternoon after completing the loop yesterday.  We began from the Dog Canyon trail head at the pull-out on Hwy 385, traveled east through  Dog Canyon, bushwhacked south to the low saddle in the Deadhorse Mountains, negotiated our way down to and through the Devils Den,  and then headed back to our original starting point at the pullout on Hwy 385.  The Devils Den was very challenging - more than I expected.  I'll post a full trip report with pics later this week, and with that you'll be better prepared to know in advance what challenges you and yours await you if you choose to travel it.  (First thoughts - you better be a great rock scrambler, you better be pretty fit and agile, you better not be alone, you better be willing to get wet, and it would be a very good idea to let someone - NPS Rangers or friends, know where you plan on hiking and when you plan to return to your vehicle.  There are some pour offs that may be difficult for some to drop down into, and several of which are difficult to climb back up - which could leave you stuck between pour offs).  More to follow.  Cheers!

 


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