East Shepherd Canyon is another one of San Diego’s many neighborhood canyon areas that helps maintain a touch of nature in our otherwise urban and suburban neighborhoods. Unlike many hikes in San Diego, however, East Shepherd Canyon has the unique advantage of being fairly well shaded for much of the route. A short, tree-lined hike sounded perfect for one of our monsters, so we were joined by the ever-handsome Apollo.
There isn’t any formal parking area for this trail, so we parked on a small side street (Remora Street) and walked north along Santo Road for a couple of hundred feet to reach the trailhead. The area was lush and green after some winter rains.
Many years ago Tierrasanta was part of Camp Elliot – a Marine Corps Training Camp used during WWII. We were greeted by a sign alerting us to the remote possibility of unexploded shells in the area. Always ready for a little excitement, we headed down the path. Nothing like a little unexploded ordnance to liven things up! In all seriousness, it’s been a very long time since this area was used for military purposes, and its quite heavily trafficked by hikers and walkers these days. It’s perfectly safe to hike here.
The trail turned towards the right and we found a small stream of water along the canyon floor, a result of recent rains. We came to a very small water crossing, which most people could easily hop over with the aid of a strategically placed rock or the narrow board that spanned the water. For humans (and most normal dogs who have no problems bounding through puddles), this spot would require barely a pause. For not-so-normal dogs like Apollo, however, it took a minute. For you see, despite being part Labrador, Apollo HATES water. After carefully surveying the terrain and assessing his options, he finally decided the best course of action was to cross the wooden plank. Thank goodness for all those years of agility training!
After successfully navigating the Bridge of Death, we continued up the trail. We stayed to the right as we merged with another neighborhood access trail. The path widened and we soon began to see small interpretive plaques describing some of the common plants found in the canyon, including Laurel Sumac, Chaparral Broom (or Broom Baccharis), and Coast Goldenbush. The plaques, part of the “Shepherd Canyon Native Plant Trail,” were courtesy of Girl Scout Troop 3278, who created and installed the signs as part of their Silver Star project.
At .7 mile we came to a 4-way intersection, and found a sign for Dishwasher Pond. The pond was on our right, hidden by a thick screen of brush and trees. To the right was a short spur trail that led to a concrete spillway at the edge of the pond where we could get a good view of the water. Despite its odd and somewhat unfortunate name, it was a pretty spot.
Continuing up the main trail, we found another trail fork leading off to the left that appeared to connect with the road above us. We stayed to the right and passed into another cluster of eucalyptus trees. The trail was once again cool and shady from the trees and tall brush surrounding us.
Once again the trail forked, both routes leading up to the street at the top of the hill (Via Valarta), and the end of our trail. We found a spot under the trees to rest for a few minutes and give Apollo a good long drink of water, then we turned around and headed back the way we had come.
View the full photo gallery
Directions: From Highway 52, take the Santo Road exit. Proceed south on Santo Road for just under 1 mile to Remora Street. Turn left onto Remora and find parking along the street. map
|Total Distance:||2.6 miles|
|Total Ascent:||310 feet|
|Dog Friendly?:||Leashed dogs allowed|
|Bike Friendly?:||Bikes allowed|
View route on Google Maps