Black Star Canyon
14587 Black Star Canyon Rd, Silverado, CA 92676
Renowned for its history of being one of the most haunted spots in California, Black Star Canyon is also one of the most popular hiking spots in Orange County.
My friends and I were feeling daring and wanted to explore the infamous haunted hike in Black Star Canyon. The hike is about six miles out and back, and leads to a waterfall that, unfortunately, didn’t have any water running through it. It took about five hours for my friends and me to complete, but it was totally worth it.
Black Star Canyon, used to be called Cañon de los Indios (Canyon of the Indians) because of the Tongva-Gabrieliño, a Native American tribe who settled there. It was renamed in 1877 when the Black Star Coal Mining Company opened a mine at the mouth of the canyon. The mine was operated off and on from 1877 until the early 1900s. This area is said to be haunted because of a battle that ensued between William Wolfskin, a Californian explorer, and the Native American tribe living there, in 1831. Most of the Native Americans were killed and their ghosts are said to roam the grounds, seeking their revenge. According to the Irvine Ranch Conservatory, to get to the actual historical site requires about nine miles of hiking on rugged trails out of the Orange County Parks’ domain. It is recommended to go on the docent-led activities if you want to explore or learn more about the area.
There is speculation about other stories from Black Star Canyon, from ghost sightings to crimes, to a man dubbed Black Star Bill, a possible inhabitant of Black Star Canyon who is said to be armed and protective of the land. However, when I was hiking, I didn’t see any houses or signs of Black Star Bill. The only thing that I thought that could’ve been seen as “creepy” were some rusting old remnants of vehicles and metal behind the barbed wire fences on the road to the trail.
There was some graffiti on trees and rocks on the trail, which said things like, “go back, not worth it” or “666,” but I’m pretty sure they were just jokes trying to freak people out. There are countless rumors about ghosts, cults, and superstitions online about Black Star Canyon, however, I wasn’t able to find any credible information proving any of these things actually happened.
The first two and a half miles of the hike was on a wide dirt road owned by the Orange County Parks Department. However, once I got to a certain point on the trail there was a sign that said past that point was no longer land owned by the department, and is open to the public unless otherwise stated. The dirt road section of the hike is relatively easy as it’s not too steep or rigorous. It’s somewhat shady because of the trees that line the road, but there are also long spots of direct sunlight. Make sure to stay on the road because most of the land on either side of the road is privately owned, as you’ll notice by the barbed wire fences and warnings of trespassing.
After the dirt road, there was a turnoff to the right with a Black Star Canyon Trail sign. The rest of the way to the waterfall was about .8 miles of seemingly unused trail which involved climbing over boulders, ducking under low tree branches, and weaving through fallen trees. We had to be careful climbing over the rocks, and it took my friend, who had less experience hiking on rugged terrain, more time to scale them. It wasn’t a terribly difficult hike, you just have to watch where you’re going.
“It’s nice because the terrain changes to keep it interesting but it isn’t so difficult that you can’t chat along the way,” said Jesse Wulfman, a sophomore graphic design major, who has hiked there before.
- Watch out for mountain bikers on the dirt road, although they were very courteous when passing by
- Bring water
- Less experienced hikers may not be comfortable after the dirt road
- Stay on trail, and go during the day, because it’s not well marked
- Dogs are allowed, but some might not be able to go farther than the dirt road