Black Star Canyon Waterfalls

May, 5th 2012

Black Star Canyon Waterfalls, Silverado, CA

Directions are pretty easy. From the I-5 get off on Jamboree and head east for about 5 miles. The you’ll make a right on Santiago Canyon Road, take that for about another 5 miles until you reach, Silverado Canyon Road, make a left here, the next street you come to will be Black Star Canyon Road, go left, drive about a mile and you’ll see the gate/trailhead. Park on the side of the road.

The first time I heard about the Black Star Waterfalls was from an article I read by David Whiting of the OC Register. I remember David wrote something like the photos of this place looked like something from Hawaii or Disneyland, and when I checked out the photos that accompanied his article, it did look like something you would see at Disneyland, with this 80’ waterfall with a mine shaft right next to it, that also had water flowing out of it. I also read about this hike again months later in Karin Klein book, 50 Hikes in Orange County.

About a month earlier I hiked to the Historic Indian Village 217, which passes right by the trailhead to the waterfalls. I really wanted to hike to the falls that day, but I had my little dog Tiffany with me and from what I read about the last mile to the waterfall was that it was a tough hike that including some bolder hopping and lots of poison oak. The hike to the Indian Village was a nice hike, about 10-miles roundtrip. It was really neat to see all the grinding stones where the Indians use to grind acorns.

So I planned to get there early, had to leave Tiffany at home. It’s only 7-miles round trip to the waterfalls, the first 2.5 miles to the falls are easy. I use doing 15 minute miles, but I knew from reading about this hike, is that the hike doesn’t really start until the last mile.

It’s approximately 1-mile from the main trial to the Black Star Canyon Waterfalls. I stopped at the trailhead, and took my pullover and gloves from my pack and got ready to encounter some poison oak. About a month before, I ran into some poison oak and it lasted for 3-weeks, it was awful. This time I was determined not to get poison oak on this trip. 

Once I headed down the trail and started following the creek up to the waterfalls I was instantly greeted by lots of poison oak. I was so happy that I had long pants, a pullover and some gloves on, otherwise I for sure would have had come home with another case of poison oak.

This part of the hike is actually pretty beautiful. The stream is crystal clear, and there are these reddish colored newts that call this stream their home. I think it was mating time, either that or these newts liked to wrestle a lot.

It was nice getting there early because I pretty much had this place to myself; I was only passed by these two brothers’ that were making their way to the falls.

I was really moving slow on this part of the hike. You have to cross the stream more then a few times, you also have to do some bolder hopping, I was even walking up a huge log at one point. Once I got real close to the falls I ran into this mini waterfall and it looked like people climb up at this point. I couldn’t because of my damaged leg, so I did some backtracking and found another way around that climb. I did have to walk through lots of poison oak taking this new route, but it was okay, coz I was pretty much completely covered.

Soon after I arrived at the falls. It was a great relief making it there; it was a nice hike and the falls looked amazing. I wanted to hangout a little longer, but I had to get home. Some took some photos, and video and headed back. What’s kind of funny is that during the first few miles of the hike, I was hiking 15-minute miles; the last mile to the waterfalls I was doing 1.25-hour miles. It took me over an hour to go a mile!

On the way back it was a bit easier, I didn’t have to really guess which way I was going. I was just trying to go faster to make up for the time getting to the falls, but I did notice a lot of lizards were out and about, and whenever I see lizards they remind me to keep an eye out for rattlesnakes. Right when I was about to step down from some rocks, I saw a nice rattler on the trail I was able to shoot some video of him heading back into the bush. Remember to always keep looking down and forward!

All in all it was a fun hike. It’s not for everyone. Be prepared for poison oak and a long day in the sun. Make sure you head out early. On the way back I ran into about 40 people all heading to the waterfalls. When I was there it was just the two brothers and myself.

Would I go back? Yes I think so. I wanted to climb into the mine, but didn’t have the time. And there wasn’t a huge amount of water flowing down the waterfall. I think I would like to see how it really looks when it’s really going.

I saw deer, newts, rabbits, rattlesnake, all kinds of birds and lizards. It was a really fun hike.

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