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The hiking/biking/jogging trail following a branch of Shepherd Canyon in Tierrasanta, dating from the 1980s, is an example of one of San Diego County's first "community" or "neighborhood" trails designed to serve the recreational needs of local residents. Today, trails like this one, which are considered to be neighborhood amenities, are common in newly built suburban and semiurban housing developments. The Shepherd Canyon trail (along with most others of its ilk) is open to leashed dogs as well as self-propelled humans.

To get to the starting point, exit Interstate 15 at Clairemont Mesa Boulevard. Drive one mile east to Santo Road and turn left. Turn right after one block on Remora Street (a minor residential street) and find a place to park along the curb.

From Remora Street, walk 0.1 mile north along the landscaped Santo Road sidewalk to the start of the signed "Shepherd Canyon Hiking/Jogging Trail." You make your way east on this path of variable width, enjoying intermittent patches of shade cast by native and nonnative trees. Houses line the rim of the canyon both right and left, but frequently there's nothing in view but the greenery of the canyon floor itself.

About 0.8 mile from Santo Road, the trail passes "Dishwater Pond," a small reservoir that attracts birds, coyotes (at night, anyway), and local kids with fishing poles.

On past the reservoir, the trail enters a drier section of the canyon and climbs a eucalyptus-shaded embankment to reach the street called Via Valarta, 1.4 miles from where you started. You can either turn around at this point and go back the way you came, or -- if you don't enjoy following your steps in reverse -- you can use the sidewalk of Clairemont Mesa Boulevard to the south to loop back to the starting point.

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