Ghost Mountain

Julian, California 92036

Ghost Mountain

Ghost Mountain Professional Review and Guide

"Marshal South was a poet and an early refugee from civilization. He fled with his wife and three children in the 1930s to this remote desert mountaintop, named Yaquitepec. This hike is an interesting mixture of scenic splendor and devastating squalor. The landscape is breathtaking in its stark beauty, while the Souths’ adobe cabin was primitive at best. The remains of the family’s 15-year existence on top of a mountain peak in this valley creates a striking contrast with the awesome views in every direction. No water is available; the remains of a cistern system sit on the boulders near the cooking area. Fuel is also nonexistent. Living here must have been hard work, considering the lack of essential supplies. From the parking area at the base of the mountain, the path snakes its way to the mountaintop with a series of steps and switchbacks. Marshal South may not have been terribly practical about location, but he did have some simple engineering skills. He built quite a trail, complete with steps carved into rocks on some of the steeper stretches. It is thought-provoking to imagine transporting food and water up this hillside and rearing three children in such a location."

More Ghost Mountain Professional Reviews and Guides

"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."

"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."

"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."

"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 Reviews

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1/1/2008
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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12/3/2000
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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1/13/2000
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.
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Ghost Mountain Photos

Trail Information

Julian
Nearby City
Kid-friendly
Accessibility
2
Distance
420 feet
Elevation Gain
Out-and-back
Trail Type
Moderate
Skill Level
Day hike
Duration
Best October to April
Season
Anza - Borrego Desert State Park
Local Contacts
Earthwalk Press Anza-Borrego Region Recreation Map; USGS Earthquake Valley
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Sep 2018