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.
Altra Lone Peak 5
For most people, the Altra Lone Peak is a solid choice that will leave your feet feeling great at the end of any hike. The feel is cushy and light, and if it had a car equivalent, this would be a Cadillac or Mercedes Sedan. The grip is great and they’re reasonably durable for this type of trail runner, which I think is better in most conditions than a hiking boot, and here’s why. The downside of this shoe is that it won’t last as long as something like the Moab 2 (see alternate footwear choices at the bottom of my gear page). I’ve been using mine for many miles and my feet always feel great. Watch my video explaining why they are a great shoe here.
Latest Price on Women’s Shoe – REI | Amazon
Latest Price on Men’s Shoe – REI | Amazon
Stay Safe Out of Cell Phone Range
If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Garmin InReach Mini (REI | Amazon | My Review) fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing.
Gaia GPS Mapping App
Smartphones are not backcountry instruments, but almost everyone has one today. And they all have GPS onboard. So I recommend getting a good GPS hiking app like Gaia GPS that supports offline maps. Just make sure to put your phone in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. GaiaGPS not only has smartphone and tablet apps, but also an online planning tool. You can drag the GPX hike tracks from my (or any) guides into the online map and they will sync to your phone. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get up to 40% off here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated July 2021.
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?
To start, you should always have a paper map and compass. And it helps to print this guide out or save it on your phone. I highly recommend a GPS as well. I use the Garmin Fenix 6 Smart GPS watch ( REI | Amazon | My Review) with maps (or the more affordable Garmin Instinct). The GPS smartwatch is nice because it’s rugged, works if your phone dies, and also has a billion other features like sleep tracking, workout recording, etc.
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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