This was such a cool hike! I'm sure I'll go back again.
Once you leave the Dutchman Trail and hike over the low ridge into Little Boulder Canyon, the scenery just keeps getting better. We were surprised to find quite a few pools and running water there. It would be spectacular in wetter times. The jagged rock peaks that rose high on either side near the turn-out from the creek were quite striking and you see a wide variety of geology all the way up Palomino Mountain. We noticed a great many arches and tunnels in the rock there.
Going up the ravine, we stayed to the left (north)
side on a faint use trail which was a bit difficult to follow from below and the ravine itself was hard to define from the low vantage point. This route took us through some fairly thick brush throughout the steeper second half of the climb, but I didn't notice any cat claw. At the top, the rock is the same type as that on Battleship Mountain, except here it is striped with veins of quartz crystals. The views on top were fantastic! I could have spent a whole day up there climbing around and exploring the spines. If the exposure doesn't bother you, navigation isn't too difficult on them, although there are a few spots that require some thought and/or ingenuity to proceed. And, care must be taken because hand and foot holds have a way of breaking off on you here.
Going down was much easier than I expected, but we came down a different way. We stayed to the left again (now, the south side)
and this was a much better choice. It didn't seem as steep, the bushwhack was minimal and the use trail was easy to see. I would definitely recommend this route over the other.
This hike turned out to be much more enjoyable than I thought I would be. The climb was easier than I was anticipating and the scenery was more interesting. I was most surprised by Little Boulder Canyon. This is a sweet little gem, tucked away out of casual view in a very overlooked area right in the midst of the well traveled Boulder Basin (well, not so much today... we only saw 3 people the entire trip! )