Black Star Canyon Hike
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black star canyon hike to the falls

Black Star Canyon Hike

The Black Star Canyon hike is a local favorite for a reason. The hike follows Black Star Creek to Black Star Canyon Falls, and there's even a haunted history to ponder as you hike through this beautiful part of Black Star Canyon Wilderness Park.

Rating:
4 / 5
Distance:
7.1 miles (11.4 km)
Time:
4-5 Hours
Difficulty:
Moderate
Climbing:
1100 ft (335 m)
Trail Condition:
Marked trail and stream bed scramble
Challenges:
Some boulder climbing
People:
Moderate
Known For:
Waterfalls
Best Time:
After Rains
Dogs:
Yes
Bathrooms:
No
Parking:
Free

Black Star Canyon Hike Trail Maps

Use this address in Google Maps to get to the trailhead:
13333-14587 Black Star Canyon Rd., Silverado, CA, 92676, USA

black star canyon hike to the falls location

The Black Star Canyon hike trailhead is about 25 minutes from Irvine, 1 hour from downtown LA, and about 1 hour north of Oceanside, CA.

black star canyon hike to the falls 3d map

The trail gradually climbs up along Black Star Canyon. No big climbs on this one, but there are boulders to pull yourself up towards the end.

black star canyon hike to the falls elevation

It's an uphill hike, but the challenges of the stream bed hike distract you from the uphill effort. The last section to the falls has some areas where you have to haul yourself up the boulders.

Interactive Map

Black Star Canyon Hike Map Downloads

hiking map on garmin fenix 3

If you have GPS device (I use this one by Garmin and I love it) for your hike, load the GPX file below into your device to navigate the hike. For help on loading the GPX file, read this article on converting and transferring to a Garmin GPS.

Also, don't rely on electronics as your sole means of navigation. There's a basic printable PDF map below, and I strongly picking up a good topo map too.

View a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File

Black Star Canyon Hike Video

Black Star Canyon Hike Directions

black star canyon hike to the falls

What to Expect

Turn By Turn Hike Directions

Black Star Canyon trailhead
There’s plenty of parking at the Black Star Canyon trailhead. It’s a popular hike though, and I’ve seen the lot full.
Black Star Canyon trailhead
At the end of the lot, the road dead ends into a gate. Start hiking past the gate.
Black Star Canyon trailhead
The sign on the gate tells you that you’re in the right place.
black star canyon trail
The beginning of the hike is on a paved road. Keep hiking straight and enjoy the view of rolling valleys.
black star canyon trail
Avoid any side trails and stay on the main road.
black star canyon trail junction
At about 0.6 miles the road comes to a T, make the right.
black star canyon trail sign
Here’s a closeup of the sign at the junction, with an incorrect distance to Black Star Canyon Falls.
black star canyon trail
The trail is a road here, and is rolling and scenic.
black star canyon trail
Parts of the road go from paved to dirt. You’re still in the right place.
black star canyon trail
You’ll leave OC Parks. Don’t get scared, just go straight.
black star canyon trail
Please respect the property off the road. You’ll see a bunch of no-tresspassing signs and electric fences. It’s probably just a function of people wanting to keep hikers and bikers from thrashing their property.
black star canyon trail
The road passes over a creek. If it’s a raging torrent, you might have chances of water at the falls.
black star canyon trail
Again, avoid any fences or side trails. You want to stay on the main, unobstructed road.
black star canyon trail
At about 2.3 miles, you’ll come to another bridge. Make the right after you cross. To the left are some old ruins and an old truck.
black star canyon trail
Shortly after that, you’ll come to the most important turn off. The road turns sharply to the left, but the trail veers off to the right. There’s a metal sign marking the spot.
black star canyon trail
Here’s a closeup of that intersection. Hike the hard right at the metal post.
black star canyon trail
The trail is a steep downhill to Black Star Creek, where you head to the left and upstream.
black star canyon trail
Gone is the wide dirt road, hello stream bed. Start making your way upstream. In the beginning section, the trail is well defined.
black star canyon trail
The trail goes through the stream at some points.
black star canyon trail
The stream is a lush, evolving landscape, so the trail splits, disappears, and reappears accordingly. This section looks different every time I do it. Again, just follow Black Star Creek upstream and you’re good.
black star canyon trail
At some points the trail veers to one bank or the other, briefly moving away from the stream.
black star canyon trail
After about 3.2 miles, you come to this clearly marked junction. Hike to the left and continue up Black Star Creek.
black star canyon trail
Okay, now the fun part starts. As you make your way up Black Star Creek, there are some sections where you have to scramble up boulders. Many hikers have done it before you, so it’s all doable. If you don’t know how to make it up, you can always wait for some other hikers to pass you and do the climb, observing how they approach it.
black star canyon trail
Most of the boulder obstacles have a few ways to tackle them.
black star canyon trail
The rocks can be sharp. Many dogs that I see have booties on them to protect their paws. I wasn’t so lucky on this day.
black star canyon trail
One last steep stretch to the falls.
black star canyon trail
Here it is, Black Star Canyon Falls. On this day it was raining, but the falls weren’t so active. It’s hit or miss, but after a few days of rain your chances are better.
black star canyon trail
The trail dead ends here, and many folks use the clearing as a place for a snack and break. There are some steep side trails that lead above the falls if you want to explore.
black star canyon trail
If you’re comfortable with rock climbing, you can also go into the lower mine shaft. I didn’t, but I’ve seen kids do it.
black star canyon trail
Grab your photos at the falls. Hopefully they’ll be a little more spectacular on the day you go.
black star canyon trail
To get back, simply retrace your steps. Notice the steep drop in this picture, which gives you a better idea of the steepness of the boulder climbs in the last section.

An easy way to give back is to simply pick up any trash you see on the trail.

A quick note. These directions are meant as a guide for the hike, and not a definitive source. Conditions change, and the information here can be different based on time of day, weather, season, etc. There can be small side trails that you might see but I missed. I have made every effort to include all the information you need to complete the hike successfully. I recommend using this guide in conjunction with a map, GPX file, common sense, and call to the ranger station or park office. If you do the hike and notice something has changed, please contact me and I will update the guide.

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