Upper Marshall Canyon
- Location: North of La Verne in the San Gabriel foothills. From the 210 freeway, take the Fruit Avenue exit, go north (right if you are coming from the east, left if you are coming from the west) and in 0.1 miles, take a left on Baseline. Go 0.3 miles and take a right on Esperanza. Go 3 miles, take a right on Stephens Ranch Road. After a mile, looked for the signed Equestrian Assembly Area and park in the dirt lot on the right side of the road.
- Agency: Los Angeles County Department of Parks & Recreation/City of Claremont
- Distance: 4.4 miles
- Elevation gain: 750 feet
- Difficulty Rating: PG
- Suggested time: 2 hours
- Best season: October – June
- USGS topo map: “Mt. Baldy”
- Recommended gear: sun hat; sunblock
- Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield: Inland Empire
- More information: here; Everytrail report here
- Rating: 7
This hike explores the scenic upper reaches of Marshall Canyon Regional Park, where one can feel pleasantly isolated from the nearby suburbs. With a good variety of trails in the park, this is one of only several possible routes; it’s easy to either shorten it or extend it by hiking into the lower canyon or into the neighboring Claremont Hills Wilderness Park.
From the parking lot, follow the paved road (or the trail along side it), past the equestrian center, to a yellow gate. Here, head left (right is the return route). You climb up on the ridge above Marshall Canyon, staying right at a junction with another fire road. Shortly after, you can bypass a section of the dirt road by bearing right on a single-track that enters a thick forest and rejoins the main road.
At about 1.1 miles, you come to a picnic table. The trail splits three ways. The far right single-track an alternative return route; the middle can be used as a short-cut to access the fire road farther up the hill, and the left is the continuation of the fire road, the route for this hike.
After passing another picnic area, you reach the upper terminus of the short cut trail (signed as Marshall Canyon). Your route continues to the Claremont Hills Wilderness Area and will share about 0.4 miles with that loop. Take a right on the Johnson Motorway, passing the shade structure. After enjoying some great views of Ontario and Cucamonga Peaks, and on clear days San Gorgonio, San Jacinto and Old Saddleback, you take a hard right on another fire road, signed as the Miller Motorway (look for a yellow pole).
This route takes you back into Marshall Canyon. After about half a mile, a single track trail descends to the picnic area you passed earlier; this is a nice alternative if it’s a hot day, as the remainder of the route is almost entirely exposed. Continuing along the fire road, you make a brief ascent before beginning your final descent back into the canyon. Stay right at both of the intersections, and you return to the first junction at 3.8 miles. Retrace your steps back to the parking lot.
If the route described above seems a little complicated, keep in mind that your route will usually be whatever is the most obvious one. You also don’t have to follow this trip to the letter to enjoy the scenic variety of Marshall Canyon.
Text and photography copyright 2013 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.