Marshall Mellow

Wildflower Hike at Marshall Peak in San Bernardino National Forest

The 3-mile (round-trip) Marshall Peak Trail might not be the most epic in the San Bernardino National Forest, but this lightly used trail is beautiful in spring when the wildflowers come out. This hike isn’t really so much a trail in fact, but rather a stroll along a dirt road. Cars are able to use this road (and they do), so use caution and listen for the sound of approaching cars, especially around curves (the road is plenty wide enough to allow vehicles and other hikers to pass).

The trail gradually climbs 456 feet in elevation, but the grade is gentle enough to feel like a pleasant nature walk. Vibrant wildflowers like monkeyflower and mountain pennyroyal line the road, and panoramic views of the Inland Empire welcome you at every turn. It is worth noting, however, that there is very little shade on this hike and the air can get very dusty from the cars kicking up dirt—bring lots of water, and do this hike only in spring and when temperatures are cooler. Eventually the trail opens up into a crossroads with paths branching off in every direction.

Looking forward from where the trail spits you out, the peak is around the 1:00-2:00 position. The trail gets considerably steeper at this point, and the road is covered in deep ruts, so if the trail you chose doesn’t fit this description, turn back and try a different one! Thankfully, this stretch of trail is very short, maybe a couple hundred feet at most.

If you were wondering where all the cars that passed you on the road were going, you’ll get your answer when you reach the summit: Marshall Peak is used as a launch site for hang gliders and paragliders! On any weekend day you’ll likely see several of them prepping to launch, or already up in the air. The summit is huge, so it’s easy to find a place out of the way. Sit, relax, enjoy the view, and watch them soar through the sky!

From the CA-210, take the exit for the CA-18/Waterman Ave. and head north for approximately 11 miles (you’ll actually pass the trailhead, but it’s on the opposite side of the road and inaccessible when heading northbound). You’ll see a left-hand turn lane appear (up until this point the highway is single lane and has a barrier down the center)—use that lane to make a u-turn when it is safe to do so. Head back down the CA-18 for approximately 2 miles. You’ll see a wide dirt lot on the right-hand side that has a dirt road leading away from it. Park in the lot and head up the dirt road on foot—this is the trail! Adventure Pass required. Dog-friendly!

Story and photos by Natalie Bates, @thefreeboheme

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Ridgetop Rolling

    Tilden Regional Park is the flagship of the East Bay Regional Parks system. And its best views? Find them along Nimitz Way, a paved, multi-use ridgetop trail. We recommend biking this trail for about 4 miles.

    View
  2. Wide-Open Wildcat

    Sure, peak-bagging hikes are great, but ridge trails? Well, those might be the best. The East Bay’s Wildcat Canyon Regional Park is home to a fantastic ridgetop rolling trail.

    View
  3. Bird Rock

    Other than the Birdman of Alcatraz, Robert Stroud, birds aren’t typically the first thing you think of with Alcatraz. When it was a working prison there wasn’t much bird life. But now? Well, the birds are back!

    View
  4. Forest Bathe Under the Redwoods

    Giant Douglas firs and a peaceful madrone- and tanoak-studded forest make the hiking at Sanborn County Park sublime, but there’s an added majesty here thanks to the Todd Creek Redwoods Grove.

    View

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Sponsored

    Monterey Bay Aquarium Reopens!

    The wildlife has been waiting patiently … and now, at long last, they’re ready for their close-ups! As California reopens make new memories at the reopened Monterey Bay Aquarium!

    View
  2. Beach Walk + Cambodia Town

    A trip to Long Beach is not complete without a … long walk on the beach. But add a little extra with a walk through Cambodia Town, featuring local murals and delicious food.

    View
  3. Hodges and Hodgee Monster

    Escondido’s Lake Hodges is one of the most beautiful lake settings in San Diego, with Kumeyaay history, phenomenal birdwatching, a world-record-holding bridge, and a resident lake monster!  Do a 5.5-mile shoreline hike here ...  

    View
  4. Go For Guajome

    Head to Guajome County Park in Oceanside for a hidden lake twofer hike via a 4-mile loop trail traversing most of the 394-acre haven.

    View