Shepherd Canyon Loop
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DISTANCE: 7.5 miles
GAIN/LOSS: 1800 feet (approx)
HIGH POINT: 4400 feet
LOW POINT: 2600 feet
BEST TIME OF YEAR: Late October to April

      This hike begins near the mouth of Shepherd Canyon, proceeds a mile or so up the canyon and then takes off up a side canyon. After a couple more miles this side canyon reaches the top of another canyon which heads off to the east. Follow this canyon down its full length and then follow the road back to the trailhead. Hike highlights include yucca, a seep, and lots of interesting scenery.

Desert Paintbrush (click to enlarge)

IMAGES:
Shepherd Canyon
TRAILHEAD: To reach the trailhead drive approximately 3.2 north on Nadeau Road from Trona-Wildrose Road. Turn left (west) onto a dirt road. Drive 2.7 miles to an old Onyx Mine area, continuing west beyond the mine site. At about two-tenths of a mile beyond the mine site continue straight ahead (more or less south), bypassing a road that heads off to the right (more or less west). Turn right after another four-tenths of a mile and then continue about two-tenths of a mile to an area with room to park.
HIKE DIRECTIONS: Find a donkey trail at the west end of the parking area that heads west and drops into wash. Follow it across wash and up the other side. Now head south towards highly vegetated area to at bottom of slope. Once in main wash head west towards large fin-shaped rock. Follow the canyon as it turns southwest and continue up the canyon over a mile. A side canyon to the left is reached at approximately 1.6 miles from the trailhead. Head up this side canyon. You will know that you have taken the correct side canyon when after about 200 yards you see a tree and some vegetation. Pass through the small vegetated area, keeping watch for snakes. The first yuccas are reached at an elevation of about 4200 feet, about a mile up this side canyon.

At about 2.9 miles from the trailhead the canyon turns west and an open passage to a canyon heading east into Panamint Valley is reached. Drop into the canyon heading east and follow it as it turns northeast all the way down to Panamint Valley. Stay to the north as you near the mouth of this canyon. Eventually you will find a dirt road which heads north a little ways before turning west. Follow this dirt road and then the wash back to the mouth of Shepherd Canyon. Less than a half mile below the trailhead another road drops into the wash from the north. Exit the wash to the north at this point and continue west to the trailhead.


Suggested Variations:
1. The suggested trailhead is a convenient location to begin this hike from. However, it is possible to drive into the wash and start the hike close to the fin-shaped rocks. Also it is possible to start the hike anywhere along the dirt road back toward the mouth of the unnamed canyon that drops into Panamint Valley.

2. Seventh Heaven Mine Camp - A short distance to the north of the fin-shaped rocks is an old mine camp. There are old trailers, fences, remains of structures, diggings, springs, and palm trees at this location.

3. Nile Spring - A little over a half mile up Shepherd Canyon from the mouth of the side canyon is Nile Spring. Near the spring are the remains of three old stone structures.

4. Donkey Trail - A very good donkey trail heads off to the north at about three-quarters of a mile up the side canyon. Although I didn't follow it to its end, my hunch is that it drops down to Nile Spring.

5. Open Passage - This location is somewhat of a confluence between a number of interesting areas. Just over a small hill is the road that leads to Water Canyon. Also the top of the canyon heading down into Panamint Valley is found here.

6. Seep Area - A highly vegetated area is found less than a half mile from the Open Passage. There is no actual spring, but enough moisture to support increased vegetation apparently exists. The road to Water Canyon passes through this area. BTW, the road also heads west from here for over a mile.

7. Ship Rock - A large rock that looks a little bit like a large ship is found a little over half way down the unnamed canyon.

8. Onyx Mine - On the way to the trailhead it might be fun to stop and explore the area around the Onyx Mine.



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