Ghost Mountain

Jacumba, California 91934

Ghost Mountain

Ghost Mountain Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"The California desert has been home to many an eccentric person, but possibly none so audacious as Marshal South. From 1931 until the mid-1940s, Marshal and his poet wife, Tanya, lived atop Ghost Mountain, a rock-strewn, remote mountaintop in the Anza-Borrego Desert, depending in large part on local resources for food, water, and shelter."

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Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Day & Overnight Hikes: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (Menasha Ridge Press)
Sheri McGregor
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"The history evident on this immediately climbing trail makes the hike a wonder from the first step. The Souths, a family who lived on Ghost Mountain in the 1930s and 1940s, carefully placed rocks along the route that still provide good footing. The quiet mountaintop, with its ruins of the family’s rural lifestyle, offers a pretty view and sparks imaginings about how they lived. Outstanding Features: A climbing path to the home site of the South family, who lived at the top of this mountain, perhaps the proverbial “top of the world” to this creative, colorful couple and their children."
Hiking California's Desert Parks (Falcon Guides)
Bill & Polly Cunningham
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"Poet Marshal South was an early refugee from civilization, fleeing with his family in the 1930s to this remote desert mountaintop, named Yaquitepec. This hike is an interesting mixture of scenic splendor and devastating squalor—the South home was primitive at best. The remains of the family’s attempt to live atop a mountain peak in this valley creates a striking contrast with the awesome views in every direction. No water is available; remains of a cistern system sit on the boulders near the cooking area. Fuel is also nonexistent. Living here was hard work. The path snakes its way to the mountaintop with a series of steps and switchbacks. Marshal South built quite a trail; there are even steps on some of the steeper stretches. It is thought-provoking to imagine what it would be like to transport essentials up this hillside and rear three children in such a location. When you arrive at the house site, the ruins reveal how basic life was for the South family. This was no castle. Of course, the dwelling has fallen into severe disrepair."
100 Classic Hikes in Southern California (The Mountaineers Books)
Allen Riedel
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"The natural beauty of the region attests to this. It is impossible to visit here and not be touched by the surreal circumstances and the transcendental nature of this place. Sunrise from the top of Ghost Mountain is a preternatural experience, as the desert conjures majestic colors and shadows from its inexhaustible palette. The views from Ghost Mountain are truly stunning."

Ghost Mountain Trip Reports

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A short hike, only 2 miles round trip, but the up hill is BRUTAL with too many switch backs. Fantastic view though and fascinating archeology.
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Easy Trail up to the remains of an adobe home of the Marshall family during the depression. Kids loved the idea of exploring an old homesite. Great views from the top of Ghost Mountain of the Blair Valley to the North. Access via the Blair Valley turnoff on S2 approx 5 miles south of the Scissor's Crossing. Going in the winter proved to be a great idea, as it was beautiful out there. Summer could be brutal. Trail Head is at N33 00.189 and W116 23.452. Walk to the top and back with lunch at the top was an hour and a half. No water or amenities at the site. Have fun!
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Nice little hike up the mountain. Good for kids with plenty of places to explore around the homesite. The airforce seems to use the valley for training and if you are lucky you will get an eyelevel fighter flyby while you are taking a break at the top.

Ghost Mountain Photos

Trail Information

Nearby City
450 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
1½ hours
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Local Contacts
USGS 7.5-minute Earthquake Valley
Local Maps

Trail Log