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.
There are really two parts of this hike up Black Star Canyon. The first half is on dirt roads and is very easy. The second half follows Black Star Creek and is much slower going. Toward the end of the hike, you have to pull yourself up some rocks and boulders. It’s doable, but slow going. The second half is definitely not a traditional trail hike.
If it’s raining out when you do this, expect to go through some water as you hike up along the stream bed. You will get wet.
The falls don’t always have water coming down them. Your best chance is after a heavy rain, but it’s still hit or miss. Either way, it’s a fun hike, so don’t let that stop you.
There’s a lot of poison oak along the Black Star Creek portion of the hike.
Keep you’re eyes and ears open for mountain bikers on the first half of the hike.
I’ve seen plenty of people with dogs on this hike, but they’ll have to get up and down the boulders too. They should be comfortable jumping up and down, or you should be prepared to carry and lift them. Many folks put booties on their dogs here too.
The Black Star Canyon hike is popular with locals, so don’t be surprised if you get to the falls and encounter kids playing music, smoking cigarettes, and drinking beer. It’s not a dangerous hike in that way, but the crowd can be mixed. Some people love the hike, others hate it.
This area was the original home of the Tongva peoples, and there are signs of their habitation, such as ‘pothole’ grinding rocks, in the area (although I have yet to spot any).
In 1831, William Wolfskill led a group of fur trappers to Black Star Canyon in search of their stolen horses. Finding the horses with the Tongva in Black Star Canyon, the trappers massacred the Tongva in a “rifles versus bow-and-arrow” battle. William Wolfskill went on to become one of the wealthiest men in America, credited with starting the citrus industry, inventing the Valencia Orange, and producing 50,000 gallons of wine a year.
Black Star Canyon used to be home to numerous grizzly bears, all of which were killed off in California, with the last one being spotted in 1924 at Sequoia National Park. Even though the grizzly is no longer in California, we still have it on the state flag and California’s state animal is the grizzly. You won’t see any bears on this hike today, but you might spot some rabbits or squirrels.
Since this spot is popular with local teens over the years, Black Star Canyon has a reputation for evil sprits, satanic cult meetings, shadows that follow you, KKK meetings, a crazy homeless guy named Black Star Bill, and locals who will shoot at you. After having done this hike numerous times, I can safely say that I’ve encountered none of those phenomena. Just stay on the well-marked trail for the first part of the hike, avoiding the fenced off private property, and you should be fine.
The canyon is named after the Black Star Coal Mining Company, which opened a mine at the mouth of the canyon in 1877, but shut down in the early 1900s. The lower tunnel in the falls is actually an old mine shaft.
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.