Hike Black Star Canyon Falls Trail
|In This Guide|
|Total Distance (?)||7.1 miles (11.4 km)|
|Hike Time||4-5 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||820 feet (250m)|
|Highest Elevation||1,692 feet (516m)|
|Fees & Permits||Free|
|Alerts & Closures (?)||Black Star Canyon Wilderness Park|
Hiking the Black Star Canyon trail is a local favorite for a reason. The trail follows Black Star Creek to Black Star Canyon Falls, and there’s a haunted history to ponder as you hike through this beautiful part of Black Star Canyon Wilderness Park. Hiking on the Black Star Canyon Trail can be a challenge, especially when it’s wet. This guide has everything you need to navigate the hike safely and get to the falls.
Where Is The Black Star Canyon Trail
The trailhead is easy to find and has lots of parking. Here’s the address to use: 13333 Black Star Canyon Rd, Silverado, CA 92676, USA.
Note: There are some road closures, check out this link and call the ranger station to ensure that you’re good.
Gear You Need For Black Star Canyon Falls
There are really two parts of the trail on the hike up Black Star Canyon. The first half is on dirt roads and is very easy. You could do it in sneakers. The second half follows the Black Star Creek bed and is much slower going. There are sections where you walk through water and mud. Toward the end of the hike, you have to pull yourself up rocks and boulders. It’s doable, but slow going. The second half is definitely not a traditional trail hike, so here’s the gear that I recommend.
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. And usually the falls are best when it’s raining or just has rained, so yea, just plan on getting wet.
I usually hike in shorts but it pays to hike in long pants and long-sleeves here; there’s a lot of poison oak along the trail.
Joby GripTight Smartphone Flexible Tripod
Take your selfie stick game to the next level. Part of the fun of a hike is taking pictures, and a flexible JOBY smartphone tripod takes it to the next level. You can use it as a selfie stick, as a regular tripod, but more importantly, as a flexible tripod that can attach to tree branches and other objects. It’s not expensive, and it’s something you can use when not hiking too.
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Black Diamond Astro 250
It’s your biggest asset if you get lost. If something goes wrong and you get lost, sprain your ankle, or get delayed, you might be caught out after dark. And one of the top items that search and rescue departments recommend you carry is a light. Now smartphones have lights, but they drain the battery quickly. It’s better to invest in an expensive yet high-quality headlamp like the Black Diamond Astro 250. It takes AAA batteries, can last 200 hours, and has an emergency strobe. Carry it with you off the trail to use in emergencies as well.
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REI Membership Saves You Money Forever
Have you shopped at REI before? They have all kinds of active clothes and gear, from fitness, to hiking, to snow sports, to casual wear. It’s an overall great place to shop (here’s why) and they offer a $20 membership that gets you 10% back on everything for life, along with frequent coupons, discounts, and member-only sales. It’s a no-brainer.
REI Membership – REI
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated January 2022.
No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps keep the website ad and promotion free. There is no cost to you.
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 for the hike because of sharp rocks.
Why is Black Star Canyon Haunted?
There are a few ingredients to the Black Star Canyon haunting story. Let’s start at the beginning.
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 above the falls. 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. The canyon is said to be haunted by those massacred.
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. One of the apparitions “most sighted” is referred to as “the Miner” and evidently worked the mine.
In 1899 Black Star Canyon was the scene of another murder, this time as a result of friction between Mexican and Anglo-American homesteaders.
So in addition to the murders and massacres, Black Star Canyon is also a traditional spot for teens to come and party over the years. You can imagine combining the stories of past massacres with drugs, alcohol, and darkness, and you have a recipe for a haunted reputation.
Today the local tall-tales about Black Star Canyon have evolved into it being a place for 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.
There are guided hikes at Black Star Canyon around Halloween, and it’s also a popular spot for local ghost hunters. If anything, expect loud teens. 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.
Black Star Canyon Falls Trail Maps
Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File
If you try to download the GPX file and your browser adds a “.txt” or “.xml” extension to it, simply rename it as a “.gpx” file.
How Are You Going to Navigate This Hike?
If you are a hardcore hiker and/or hike in extreme conditions, I recommend getting a dedicated GPS like a GPSMAP 66sr or 66i, or a wrist-based GPS with maps like the Garmin Fenix 6. If you only hike in fair weather and a touchscreen is fine, or just want a solid tool, I highly recommend downloading the smartphone app, Gaia GPS. It’s a piece of cake to use and very powerful, just make sure your phone is in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get a big discount here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.
Black Star Canyon Falls Hike Directions
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Turn By Turn Hike Directions
Keep you’re eyes and ears open for mountain bikers on the first half of the hike. It’s a popular spot for them. Once you’re on the smaller trail along the stream, you won’t see any bikes.
This guide last updated on March 8, 2021. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.
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