Ghost Mountain & Marshal House




Marshall House

33.005693, -116.379111
San Diego County, CA

14.7 miles, or 4 if your car can handle the dirt roads to the Ghost Mountain trailhead

Elevation Gain: 778 ft

Time: 7 hours, if hiking the entire route - closer to 2.5 if you drive in.


Season Spring, Fall, Winter

From 1930-1947 Marshal South lived a rough, pioneer-lifestyle on the remote and waterless Ghost Mountain.  For 9 of those years, South wrote for Desert Magazine about his family's struggles and experiences while living an isolated lifestyle in the harsh desert.  The articles that he wrote showed his love of the desert and deep respect for its early inhabitants.  His sudden and acrimonious divorce though ended the "experiment in primitive living", only drawing rumors and a surrounding mystery about who Marshal really was.

It took decades after his death before the stories started emerging thanks largely to his eldest son. Turns out South was far more talented than people realized.  South had been recognized worlwide as a published author of over 50 poems, 35 short stories, 8 novels and 102 articles for Desert magazine.  On top of that he was also a versatile artist which included painting, sculpting, leather work, weaving, wood-carving and even had his own printing press where he made greeting cards and newsletters.

Marshal South

South, born Roy Bennett Richards, moved from England to America when his mother left his father and took him and his brother to America.  In 1911 they settled in Oceanside.  At the time, Marshal was writing publications and out of fear that their father would find where they were staying, changed his name to Marshal South.  South was always fascinated with the American West, often writing about it in his novels.  It was probably these fascinations that lead him to the desert.

Today the home  is nothing but a skeletal remain. There are stone foundations, a well and other small remnants of times long ago.   Marshal called this region Ghost Mountain because of the thin, ghostly trails that lead to the ridge where they built their home.  It turns out that there is nothing spooky about it.

Marshal South

How to Get There From the North: T ake CA-78 toward Scissors Crossing, the junction with S-2. From Scissors Junction, travel south on S-2 (The Great Southern Overland Route) through Earthquake Valley for 5.8 miles. Turn onto the dirt road toward Blair Valley, and either park near the outhouse to hike, or continue driving along the dirt road, following the signs toward the South Residence and Pictographs. From the South - From I-8, take exit 87 toward Ocotillo. Follow the Imperial Highway (as it becomes S-2 / Sweeny Pass Road) for 41.9 miles. Detailed driving directions »

Trail Condition:  Excellent. Most of this hike is on a dirt road, which has very easy to read signs at the junctions. The trails themselves are well marked and well traveled, although it is easy to take a wrong turn while coming down from the Yaquitepec site. Just keep your eyes peeled for the climbing route and you should be fine.

Camping Info:  You can camp for free in Anza-Borrego as long as your car is at least one car-length off the road, you don't go off-road driving, you keep any fires in a metal container, and you pack out your ashes. Camping in this way is free. In addition to free camping, there are also several primitive and three developed campsites in the park. The closest developed site is Tamarisk Grove.

Photos & experience by Ian Townsend:

My daughter and I took a daytrip out to Blair Valley with some cousins who know the area.  We set up home base here:

Marshall House

Great bouldering area and the pics don’t do the height I was at justice at all:

Marshall House

Drove south from base camp to the Marshal South Trailhead.  Stay on main trail and follow the signs.  Pretty hard to get lost out here.

Marshall House

Ghost Mounntain on approach to the trailhead:

Marshall House

Almost there!

Marshall House

Marshal South Trailhead :

Marshall House

This was a short but difficult hike to the summit of Ghost Mountain.  Terrain was extremely loose and unstable, not to mention the freezing weather working against us. 

Marshall House

Marshall House

The trail disappears from time to time so just stick to the general route and you should be fine.  Also, you might have to do some minor rock scrambling at places to get through.

Halfway up:

Marshall House

We were able to watch the rain coming towards us all day.

Marshall House

As you start to near the summit, you will see the man made stairs made by the former inhabitants.  Careful on the way back – we got side tracked and ended up having to scramble our way back to the main trail. Super fun!

Marshall House

Marshall House

Just the remnants of a foundation, old bed frames, a dry well, cistern, and just basically ruins:

Marshall House

Marshall House

Marshall House

Primitive Cistern?

Marshall House

Marshall House

Marshall House

Marshall House

View from the house towards Agua Caliente. Trying to make it down before the rain gets us again:

 Marshall House

The entire ruin.  Not much there but very cool destination:

Marshall House

Marshall House

Marshall House

Marshall House

Marshall House

Marshall House

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...




Alpine Historical Society


Anza Borrego Desert

Galleta Meadows

Anza Borrego State Park

Ghost Mountain & Marshal House


Bankers Hill

Balboa Park Archery Range

Balboa Botanical Building


Balboa Dirt Bike Trails


Desert Garden


Bridle Trail


Centro Cultural de Raza


Florida Canyon


Free Tuesdays at the Park

Top of the Park

Japanese Friendship Garden

Marston Canyon & Footbridge


Marston House


Maple Canyon


Mingei International Museum


Museum of Man


Natural History Museum


House of Pacific Relations International Cottages


Old Cactus Garden


Palm Canyon


Reuben H. Fleet Science Center


Spanish Village Art Center


Twilight in the Park


World Beat Center





The Grave of Kathy Fiscus (Lost History)



Campo Stone Store Museum

Carmel Valley

Carmel Valley Cemetery



Batiquitos Lagoon

Carlsbad Flower Fields

Hosp Grove

Leo Carrillo Ranch

LHOOQ/EXREALISM Vintage Bookstore

Museum of Making Music

Self-Realization FellowshipHermitage & Meditation Gardens


City Heights 

City Farmers Nursery 

New Roots Community Farm

San Diego Peace Garden

Wat Sovannkiri Buddhist Temple


Chula Vista

Living Coast Discovery Center

Proctor Valley Rd.

Zorba's Greek Restaurant

U.S. Olympic Training Center

Upper Otay Lake



Coronado Sand Dune's Secret Message

Hotel Del Coronado

Dog Beach



Cuyamaca State Park


Dyar House Ruins 

Green Valley Falls

Stonewall Mine

Del Mar


Four-o-clock Friday's

Exotic Bird Sanctuary



Altitude Sky Bar

Chinese Historical District

Grant Hotel

Horton Grand Hotel

The Noble Experiment


Zombie Walk

Shout House


William Heath Davis House


Good Morning

San Diego Botanic Gardens


El Cajon

Kuma Bonsai Nursery

Water Conservation Garden


Summers Past Farms

Crestridge Ecological Reserve


 Altipiano Vineyard & Winery

Cordiano Winery

Daley Ranch

Deer Park Winery & 
Auto Museum

Distinction Gallery

Deer Park Monastary

Dixon Lake

Elfin Forest

Grand Tea Room

Philosophical Library

Felicita Park

Grape Day Park

Harmony Grove Spiritualist Center

Harmony Grove

Kit Carson Park Hiking Trails

Orfila Winery

Lake Wohlford

Lake Wohlford Dam

Plan 9 Alehouse

San Pasqual Cemetery 

San Pasqual Indian Cemetery

Sikes Historic Adobe Farmstead

Street Life

Record Paradise

Questhaven Retreat

Questhaven Rd.

Queen Califia's Magical Circle Garden

Phap Vuong Monatsery

Stone Brewery

Stone Farms


Dinwiddie Preserve

Grand Tradition Gardens

Masonic Cemetery

Odd Fellows Cemetery

Palomares House & Park

Santa Margarita River & Ruins


 Golden Hill


Golden Hill Park

Villa Montezuma

Victorian Homes of Golden Hill






Suspension Bridge


Imperial Beach

Mt. Olivet Cemetery

Suzie's Farm

Tijuana River Valley Regional Park Community Garden


Desert View Tower

Boulder Park


Carrizo Gorge Railyard


Coyote's Flying Saucer Retrievals & Repairs


Institute of Perception



Wolf Sanctuary

Downtown Julian

Golden Gem Mine

Julian Pioneer Cemetery

Eagle Mine

Three Sisters Falls

Kearny Mesa

 94 Aero Squadron Restaurant

99 Ranch Market

The Fruit Shop


La Jolla

Munchkin House 

Seal Beach

Secret Swings

La Jolla's Caves, Coves and Tidepools

Mount Soledad

Salk Institute

Scripps Coastal Reserve

Secrets of UCSD

Sunny Jim Cave

Pottery Canyon Natural Park

La Mesa

La Mesa's Secret Stairs

Mount Helix

McKinney House

Wat Lao Boubpharam Temple



Blue Sky Ranch

Linda Vista

Tecelote Park


Little Italy

Downtown Little Italy

Washington St. Skatepark


 Logan Heights

Chicano Park Murals

Technomania Circus

The Chrch

Writerz Blok

Mira Mesa

Camino Ruiz Trail



Aesthetigeist Art Collective

Christmas Light Displays

Community Acupuncture

Haunted San Diego Events

Little Free Library

 Urban Ruins of HIghway 80


Mission Hills

Pioneer Park

Presidio Park

Presidio Park Historic Spots 

Topiary Garden

Mission Valley 
Adobe Falls

Half Moon Tunnel

Mission Basilica San 
Diego de Alcala


Normal Heights

Folk Arts Rare Records

Herb Shoppe



Ray St.

Red Fox Piano Bar

Lips Restaurant

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach Farmers Market

Sunset Cliffs Caves & Coves

Sunset Cliffs Hiking Trails

Villa Surf Ruins


Villa Surf (Lost History)



Succulent Cafe

San Luis Rey Mission


San Luis Rey Pioneer Cemetery


Old Town

Casa de Estudillo

Cosmopolitan Hotel

Dia de los Muertos

El Campo Cemetery

La Casa de Machado y Stewart Museum

Mason Schoolhouse

Old Adobe Chapel

Seeley Stables

Whaley House

Victorian Village Heritage Park

Pacific Beach

Kate O Sessions Park 


Abandoned Homes of Pala


Mission San Antonio de Pala Cemetery

Oceanview Mine & Inn


Palomar Mountain

 Palomar Mountain

Palomar Observatory

The Weir

Point Loma

Cabrillo National Monument

  Fort Rosecrans Cemetery

Old Point Loma Lighthouse


Blue Sky Reserve & Lake Poway 

Meadowbrook Tunnels

Cypress Canyon

Kumeyaay Interpretive Center

Metate Meadows

Lightning Brewery

Old Poway Park

Old Pomerado Rd.

Poway Back-Trails

Meadowbrook BMX Trail

Midland Tunnel

Xpressive Arts Center BYOB Classes


Black Canyon

Devil's Punchbowl

Lake Ramona

Mount Woodson Castle

Oasis Camel Dairy

Sutherland Dam



Rancho Bernardo

  Battle Mountain

Buddha's Peak

Lake Hodges

Lake Hodges Waterfall

Bernardo Winery



Rancho Penasquitos

Black Mountain Glider Port

Cara Knott Memorial Garden 

Eichar's Grave

McKamey Manor

Rancho de Los Penasquitos 

Rancho Penasquitos Waterfall 



Kumeyaay Lake & Campground

Santee Drive-In Theater

Old Mission Dam

Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor Center


San Marcos

Double Peak Park

Jack's Pond

Scripps Ranch

Ballast Point Brewery

Giant Grove Trail

Hendrix Pond

Lake Miramar

Evan's Pond


Seaport Village

B-39 Submarine

Berkely Ferryboat

HMS Surprise Ship

Medea Steam Yacht

USS Dolphin Submarine

Star of India


Serra Mesa

Murphy Canyon


Sorrento Valley

Pet Cemetery

Seabreeze Organic Farm




Torrey Pines

Blacks Beach

Mushroom House

Torrey Pines State Reserve


University Heights

Buchanan Canyon

The Massage Center

Soltan Banoo

Valley Center

Bates Nut Farm

Lavender Fields

Metta Forest Monastery

Morning Star Ranch

Old Castle Ranch

Valley Center Historical Museum

Yellow Deli



Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum

Alta Vista Gardens

Butterfly Farm

Koral's Tropical Fruit Farm & Museum

Exotica Rare Fruit Farm

Indian Store

Yellow Deli

Rancho Guajome Adobe



Warner Springs

Chapel of St. Francis Assisi 

Santa Ysabel Mission

Sky Sailing

Warner Springs Town


Big Sur

Andrew Molera State Park

Ewoldsen Trail

The Henry Miller Library


Limekiln Waterfalls

Los Padres Beach

McWay Falls

Cafe Kevah & Nepenthe Restaurant

Partington Cove

Pfeiffer Beach

River Inn

Salmon Creek Waterfall & Cave

Spirit Garden

Soberanes Creek Watershed

Tanbark Trail



California Market Restaurant

Point Lobos State Reserve

Catalina Island

Trans Catalina Trail System


 Los Angeles

Abandoned Zoo (Griffith Park)

Bronson Caves (Griffith Park)

Club 33 (Disneyland)

Hidden Treasures (Topanga)

Murphy's Ranch (Pacific Palisades)

Korean Friendship Bell (San Pedro)

Lake Shrine (Pacific Palisades)

Malibu Hindu Temple (Malibu)

Mosaic Tile House (Venice Beach)

Paramount Ranch (Agoura Hills)

The Getty (Brentwood)

The Last Bookstore (Downtown)

Museum of Death (Hollywood)

Sunken City (San Pedro)

Witch's House (Beverly Hills)


Glass Beach (Fort Bragg)


Highways 1, 101 & 46

Orange County

Mission San Juan Capistrano (San Juan Capistrano)



Abandoned Homes of Salton City

Abandoned All-Boys Military School

Cabazon Dinosaurs (Cabazon)

Eagle Mountain Railroad (Bombay)

East Jesus (Niland)

Salton Sea (Salton City)

Salvation Mountain (Niland)

San Jacinto Mountains & Tram (Palm Spring)

Slab City (Niland)

Tios Tacos


San Luis Obispo

Avila Valley Barn

Bubblegum Alley

 Eberle Winery (Paso Robles)

Madonna Inn

Cal Poly Graveyard


Santa Barbara


Santa Monica

Willet & Sespe Hot Springs (Ojai)


San Simeon

Hearst Castle Registered & Protected