It worked on this one.
Good maze designers know this trick and are careful to design multiple branches in each direction. Back when I was in junior high, I used to make huge mazes, and the basic idea was to anticipate what the solver might try to do and to make the maze difficult by postponing the point at which he would realize a path was going nowhere. For example, you might have 6 branches: one dead end, two pairs that form loops going back to the start, and one that is the correct solution. You do this from both directions and add some twists and turns, and there you are.
But the maze designer aiming for the naive solver–the sap who starts from the entrance and goes toward the exit–can simplify matters by just having 6 branches: five dead ends and one winner. This sort of thing is easy to solve in the reverse direction. I’m surprised the Times didn’t do better for their special puzzle issue.