Big Horn Mine

An abandoned mine that once operated in the 1890’s, Big Horn Mine, was just waiting for us to explore. And, believe it or not, it is waiting for YOU.  

The hike is fairly easy, and the views are just amazing. 

Distance: 4 Miles RT, Fairly Easy **Adventure Pass MUST displayed

To get to trailhead, you’ll need to get to Wrightwood; the drive can feel long yet enjoyable. Passing Mountain High ski resort and Grassy Hollow Visitors center campground, and right before road closes on Highway 2, Vincent Gap is your stop.

Our hike started late in the afternoon, with nowhere to be but on the trail exploring, we took our time knowing hike shouldn’t take that long. Regardless, our headlamps in packs at all time. 

Arrived to Vincent Gap Trailhead at around 1pm. Goofed off a little; it was kind of windy so Christopher tossed on a thermo under his sleeveless shirt, and we were good to go. Christopher was happy with his  new daypack; perfect fit, comfy and way lighter than backpackers pack. 

At the end of the Vincent Gap parking lot, the trail begins. Go passed the white locked gate; there are multiple trails. Follow sign for MINE GULCH. In about 5 minutes a fork is reached. To the left, Vincent Cabin and to the right, Big Horn Mine. We did not explore the cabin, word on the mountain is that it’s an off-trail trek, be cautious and if possible have GPS handy.  

We stayed right at the fork, heading to the abandoned mine. In about 3/4 mile, a treacherous drop off must be traversed. Very doable, just requires to stay focus on trail. The rocky rugged terrain looks sketchy, and has room for only one person at a time. Keep alert, and you’ll be fine.

Passed that, a small hill must be conquered, then flattens out. This got us a bit out of breath, and forced us to take our first water gulp. 

You will pass a mine structure on the right, this means you are closer to your destination. Keep going. After rainy days, or while snow melts, there’s most likely to be running water coming from inside the mini mine. 

2 miles into the hike, we arrived to our destination: Big Horn Mine. Full story of mine can be found here 

It was awesome, the views of Mt. Baldy were spectacular. And, the exploring began. ​

​Christopher decided to explore, ignoring the fact we were already hungry. At the beginning of the mine structure, there is a way up. It is steep and slippery, good grip is key. 

Once you reach the top of what once was the factory, there is a mine protected by metal bars. 

One of the bars is broken off, and it is manageable to squeeze in. Headlamp or phone light is needed, it is pitch black a few feet from entrance.

A scavenger hunt for our headlamps in our packs; spotted, packs remained off while making it across. Let the exploring begin.​

​We walked about 10 minutes into the mine, reaching a split on the road, or should I say, mine. To the left, the mine gets deeper and darker, and to the right, what seemed an outlet to the running water spotted upon arriving.

Already close to starving, we convinced ourselves the mine would look the same if we went further, and decided to turn back.

Before we started grubbing, a quick litter pick up was performed. The amount of water bottles and cans was insane. 

Time to munch: we stopped by a Subway before heading up the mountain. Best idea ever, wife has always been a good thinker.

While eating, a group of 4 hikers sat down at a distance. They looked tired, and dirty as can be, as if they had gone deep into the mine. Only one way to find out, I just had to ask. 

Apparently, they were inside the mine for a few hours, going a few miles deep. One of the guys, pants rolled up to his knee, said “there are a few crossings that are about knee deep.” The time was now 2:45pm and they had been inside the mine since around 11am. Crazy if you ask me, but then again, that’s is one of the best ways to discover and explore. 

Our exploring needs satisfied, bellies full, we were snapping a few pics until BAMM!! Humans… lots of them. And they were loud. A tad bit too busy for our taste, we quickly grabbed our packs and bailed.​

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As dramatic as it sounds, that’s exactly how it all went down. 

Back on the trail, retraced our steps and hiked back with a smile on our faces, happy campers. 

Along the way, we had spotted patches of snow off the trail, Christopher was in heaven. Even for that short period of time. He would run up to the snow patch, and play while we caught up, then back to hiking.

3:45pm, hike concluded, all situated and ready to hit the road.
PHOTOS & VIDEOS:


Black Star Canyon Falls

A seasonal waterfall? Hhhmmmm, i don’t know if I can call it that. Nevertheless, this nice hidden gem in the Orange County area, Black Star Canyon Falls is a must check-out.  A quick 6 mile hike (RT) that should not be taken lightly. Multiple stream crossings and some bouldering towards the end, will make the trek that much more rewarding.

ADDRESS: 13333 Black Star Canyon Rd, Silverado, CA 9267

Distance: 6.7 Miles RT, 800-1000 ft gain/loss, 4-7 hour hike, depending on pace

Our hike to Blackstar Canyon Falls was a challenge. Not in distance or bouldering, but in backpacking for Christopher ; full gear including 1 1/2 liter of water added his pack to a little over 6lbs.

We arrived to the trailhead parking lot at 12:20pm. No time to waste, hopped out of car, packs on, let’s do this we said. Right off the back, Christopher was not happy with the heavy pack.  Having weight on your back slows you down tremendously, and more effort needs to be put into your body. 

As is always the case, the start is usually the hardest. Nevertheless, he was reminded why he was doing this and pushed to the falls like a champ, with a positive state of mind.
Once passed the locked gate, trail continues on to a cement fire road for about 15 minutes. Fire road becomes all dirt in about 1/2 mile, here you want to go slight right, and continue with desired pace. Beware of the electric fences to keep trespassers from private homes.

At 1 1/4 miles, we reached a bridge with a small running creek underneath; this we thought to be really awesome. There’s a 2nd bridge about 1/2 mile after that. Right before the 2nd bridge crossing, a few hikers spotted a peacock. Here, we took a 10 minute picture break. We kept our distance from peacock, snapped a few pics, and got on our way. Keep eyes open and ears alert for wildlife.

The dirt road continues and a fork is reached at 2 1/2 miles. Here, the road continues towards the left and detours to falls to the right. You will see a wooden sign for BLACK STAR CANYON FALLS right in front as you approach the turn. This is the moment we had been waiting for, the fun part. Dropped about 20 feet on a narrow slide-like trail down to the river, and right away started following the creek up. No trail from this point on.

Multiple crossings are required. There is no specific trail to follow, you have to use your best judgement as there are multiple ways to get across and keep moving forward. Poison Oak is everywhere, watch your step while going thru grassy areas.​

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A blue metal sign is located at .5 miles, keep left. Now, the fun part, this is where the bouldering really begins. 

Do not underestimate the 0.4 miles that are left to the falls; this is the fun part yet also the hardest, as you will be climbing some huge boulders. Plan to take the same amount of time as the previous 2 1/2 miles. Some spots get technical, tackle the climb with confidence and simply make sure to have good grip to pull yourself up and feet are stable to push yourself up. All is very doable, simply keep alert and on your toes with the short bouldering section.​

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Along the way,   after a rainy day, there will be lots of mini falls everywhere. The trail itself is just a joy, and knowing you are closer to the 80 foot waterfalls just motivated us to keep pushing forward. 

After several hundred feet gained in a short distance, the last climb, a 20-foot waterfall signals you are near. Off to the right, hands up, feet down secure on rocks, up you go. Climbed. Arrived.

The falls were stunning. The main stream falls into a man made cave allowing water to flow into a 2nd smaller waterfall. I was tempted to climb onto the fall and cave, however, the rocks seemed very slippery and too risky. Also didn’t want my son to think I am some kind of daredevil in pursuit of danger; because after all, there will come a time when what I do will speak loudly over what I say. Lead by example.

Although this trail has gotten very popular, the amount of people at the falls did not bother me much. We stayed there for about an hour, just enjoying the view. Cooked a dehydrated meal, and at around , started hiking out. Retraced our steps as best we could, being extra careful while looking for beat way down the boulders. 

Even though we always pack headlamps, my main concern was to make it back to the dirt road junction before dark. I was shocked to see soo many people making their way up with no water or even light. Strongly suggest an earlier start, that also gives you room to explore more if ahead of schedule. 

Back to the road, to what seemed to be a death march. The short 2 1/2 miles felt like 5. Luckily, we had company. Trail friends found on the trail, right there and then. A couple, who we chit chatted with all the way out. They were really cool, and we exchanged hiking stories and shared some laughs.

About 10 minutes before returning to trailhead, Christopher had given all he had. He was exhausted , and shoulders sore as can be. I carried his pack for the remainder of the way.

Made new friends, the hike was really good, waterfall did not disappoint, and training session was a success in my book. 

Christopher’s pack is comfortable, and I believe it is all a matter of getting use to the weight. That simply means, more adventures 😜
Depending on your pace and desired amount of time at falls, plan to be on trail between 3-6 hours. I suggest a nice meal packed lunch and plenty of snacks. Water can be filtered from stream, or a reusable water bottle is a good choice.

Remember, if you pack it in be sure to pack it out. Leave no trace. #trashfreeearth