I really have mixed feelings writing about Marshall Canyon, the hidden jewel north of La Verne in eastern Los Angeles County. It has avoided the overcrowding that happens on the nearby Claremont Hills Wilderness Park, Ice House Canyon and the Etiwanda Preserve. It’s nice to have this canyon almost to ourselves.
Some twenty years ago and through a local hiking club, I got to know it as an emerald forest watered by two creek systems flowing through two canyons in the foothills. On the west side, Marshall Canyon spouted live oaks and canyon oaks, sycamore trees, toyon and laurel sumac. On the east side, Live Oak creek begins its journey south in a small canyon lined with alders (until a wildfire wiped them out ten years ago.)
Los Angeles County mostly leaves the canyon to the critters and hikers that wander the forest but when a new county supervisor, Kathryn Barger replaced termed out Mike Antonovich in 2016, she apparently decided to put her stamp on it. A slew of often confusing and mysterious signs sprang up.
Signs for miles six to seven, in quarter mile segments began to line the trails. This was most confusing since in Marshall Canyon, one is never more than 2 1/2 miles from the trailhead.
So, using gps coordinates, topographical maps and county maps, hiker Mike Carter located mile marker 0, the beginning of the trail system laid out by the new signs. It proved to be four miles distant from the canyon, in Bonelli Park on the south side of La Verne! The “trail” traversed the city of La Verne, following Marshall Creek’s concrete channel, along busy Wheeler Avenue and even crossing over the 210 freeway. It is an interesting walk, definitely an urban hike.
Marshall Canyon is accessed at the north end of Stephen’s Ranch Road in La Verne. My recommendation? Enjoy the canyon, its critters and trails…ignore the signs. They definitely won’t help you!
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