"Off-Trail the Best" of these two Cabin Loop Cyns
Overview: Seldom viewed by most Mogollon Rim- East Cabin Loop hikers, experience the very best remote, peaceful, riparian, and scenic sections of Upper Barbershop and Upper Dane Canyons via this mostly "off-trail" lasso loop hike. Only a total of 2.6 miles of this 11.0 mile round trip hike are on "official" Cabin Loop trail (the interesting and historic Barbershop Trail#91).
Warning: This mostly "off-trail" canyon, remote TH Start, and intermediate level hike requires better than average topographic map and/or GPS route finding and route following skills. Author has posted the recommended "default" GPS Route including a geocoded pic set for this hike. It is highly recommended that you download and follow this "default" GPS Route when planning this hike.
Hike: This hike begins at a primitive campsite TH location off Mogollon Rim FR139C (please see driving directions for details). Within this primitive campsite the "off-trail" TH Start (at way point N34.459101 W111.176169) first heads SSE towards for ~50 yards in the direction of Barbershop Canyon towards a visible, old ranching fence. Following authors "default" GPS Route, continue hiking SSE past this old downed ranching fence following the topographic ~7406ft contour line. You will now be paralleling upper Barbershop Canyon on your left (east side). Continuing to follow the GPS Route SSE and the ~7406 ft contour line, you will soon hike down in elevation and cross a small canyon drainage. After crossing this canyon drainage, you will continue hiking SSE regaining this elevation back and still following this ~7406ft contour line. From your TH Start at approximately .30 miles in (at way point N34.45600 W111.17422), you will exit left downhill beginning your -165 ft, fairly steep, switch-back, and animal use trails route down to enter Barbershop Canyon creek bed (at way point N34.45528 W111.17333). As of this writing, I had placed a rock cairn at this way point canyon entrance location to aid for hiking entry and exit, but there is no guarantee that this rock cairn will be in place for any period of time, so be certain to make a note of this important way point canyon location for your return hike in order to know where to exit the canyon (Note: in this section of upper Barbershop Canyon there are very few safely doable "off trail" entry/exit routes).
From this above described upper Barbershop Canyon creek bed entry location, it is approximately 2.0 very pleasant, easy to navigate (via elk and deer use trails), scenic, and riparian area hiking miles further up Barbershop Canyon to intersect the official Barbershop Trail#91. A left turn (south) onto #91 for an additional ~1.9 hiking miles to exit TR#91 by continuing to follow FR9616B and the "default" GPS Route. (Note: from TH Start you are now 4.4 miles into this 11.0 mile hike).
Continuing north on FR9616B for 1.0 mile (5.4mls total hike in) to way point N34.43748 W111.16892 and exit FR9616B (left turn- north). Follow this rock cairn use trail in and downhill to enter Dane Canyon creek drainage at a total of 5.6 miles in from TH Start. This remote and scenic riparian section of upper Dane Canyon is fairly easy to navigate as you hike up canyon (SW) for 2.3 miles following established elk and deer use trails. You will intersect Dane Canyon/Barbershop TR#91 at a total of ~7.9 miles into this hike. A right turn (NW) onto Barbershop TR#91 and you will begin retracing your hike back to the intersection of #91/Barbershop Canyon for .70 miles, then a right turn (NE) back into Barbershop Canyon to hike down canyon for 2.5 miles to end back at your TH Start for a total hike of 11.0 miles.
Water Sources: Barbershop and Dane Canyons have both perennial and seasonal water flow with generally more water to be expected in these "upper" hiking sections of both canyons.
Camping: There are a number of private, remote, and primitive backpack possible campsite locations available for small groups of hiker/tents (1-3 tents/location)in both canyons.
Wildlife Sightings: These remote and seldom hiked sections of both upper Barbershop and upper Dane Canyons offers an excellent opportunity for day hikers and especially for backpacker campers to experience more possible Mogollon Rim wildlife sightings (for Elk, Deer, Bear, and other..).
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.