Marshall Peak via Cloudland Truck Trail
- Location: North of San Bernardino, on highway 18. From I-210, take the Highway 18 exit (Waterman Ave.) and go north for 5 miles. Park at a turnout on the left (west) side of the road, at mile marker 11.23, just north of the San Bernardino City Limit sign.
- Agency: San Bernardino National Forest
- Distance: 6.2 miles
- Elevation gain: 1,600 feet
- Suggested time: 3 hours
- Difficulty Rating: PG-13 (Elevation gain, distance)
- Best season: November – April
- USGS topo map: “San Bernardino North”
- Recommended gear: sun hat; sunblock
- More information: Mountainzone report here; Everytrail report here
- Rating: 6
Marshall Peak (elevation 4,006) is a rounded bump in the front country of the San Bernardino Mountains, just north of the city of San Bernardino. It can be approached via a shorter (3 mile) hike from the north, or by a longer route, as described here.
The good news is that on clear days, the views are incredible on the way to and from the summit. You can expect to see San Bernardino Peak, San Jacinto, the Santa Anas and Puente Hills, and the eastern end of the San Gabriels, notably the “Three T’s” and Cucamonga Peak. If you’re lucky, you may get a glimpse of the Palomar Mountains of north San Diego County–and even Catalina Island. The bad news is that the trail is almost completely exposed, so you need to pick a cool day for hiking and preferably get off to an early start. Although the steady grade will have you huffing and puffing by the time you reach the summit, navigation is easy, and it makes a great, convenient training hike for those wanting to pursue more ambitious peaks.
From the turnout at the side of Highway 18, you head uphill on the Cloudland Truck Trail. The trail winds around the south side of a ridge, almost immediately providing great views of San Bernardino and Riverside. You double-back over the ridge and get a nice aerial perspective on Highway 18. The fire road more or less parallels the highway for a mile or so before crossing back over the ridge.
At about two miles from the start, the trail enters a plateau, where a few solitary pines provide basically the only shade on the hike; this can be a nice place to stop for a break. The trail continues, starting a brief descent to meet up with forest road 2N40, coming in from the north (the shorter approach to Marshall Peak.) Here, you have two choices: Cross the fence and turn left, make another quick left and head uphill on the fire road to the summit, or stay on the south side of the fence and climb a rough, but not too steep, fire break past a water tank. You’ll cross the dirt road and continue up a steeper path, soon arriving on top.
From Marshall Peak’s flat summit, you get a nice view similar to what you saw on the way up. A wooden fence that runs around the side of the clearing makes a good place to sit and check out the scenery before heading back down to Highway 18.
Text and photography copyright 2012 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.