Hike Black Star Canyon Trail
|In This Guide|
|Distance||7.1 miles (11.4 km)|
|Total Climbing||1,100 feet (335m)|
|Dog Friendly||Off Leash Okay|
|Park||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.
Gear You Need For Black Star Canyon
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.
Here’s what I bring:
- Gore-Tex hiking boots
- Trekking poles
- Hiking daypack with 2L of water
- Waterproof GPS to look at the hike GPX
- Snacks to eat at the falls
If you want hiking gear recommendations, check out my full gear list. I only recommend and review gear that I actually use. No company pays me to push their product. Everything on my gear list is battle tested on the trails, and should work well for you too.
See The Gear I Use
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 (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. 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 Hike Trail Maps
I highly recommend bringing some form of paper map with you, and then using it in conjunction with a GPS device. You can see the navigation gear that I use here (I’m currently using the Fenix 5x and love it). Just download the GPX file below and load it onto your GPS.
Download the Hike GPX File
View a Printable PDF Hike Map
Black Star Canyon Trail 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.
You can help other hikers. If you do this hike and something has changed, snap a few photos and email me the details. I’ll update the guide so that others can do the hike safely.