Ever see a place full of water and when you get there it’s all gone. A seasonal waterfall? No sure 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 endurance for Christopher; He had his Deuter 40L backpack with full gear, including 1 1/2 liter of water, snacks, sleeping bag and extra clothes.
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.
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.
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 of the falls, hands up, feet down secure on rocks, up you go. This little climb is kinda scary, and you can easily slip if distracted.
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