Because Dog Canyon is considerably higher in elevation than McKittrick Canyon, it’s much easier to start the hike in Dog Canyon. You need a car shuttle to avoid retracing your route. With an early start, the trail can be hiked in a day by strong hikers, but it’s much more relaxing to camp for a night at McKittrick Ridge campground. Take clothing and gear appropriate for the weather. Even in summer, it can get chilly at night in the mountains. For a one-night backpacking trip, take 1.5 gallons of water per person, possibly more in summer.
Park entrance fees are $5 per person. A free permit is required for primitive camping. For more information, contact Guadalupe Mountains National Park, 915/828-3251; www.nps.gov/gumo.