Black Star Canyon is a remote mountain canyon in the Santa Ana Mountains, located in eastern Orange County, California. The 6-mile hike begins on a fire-trail in the Santiago Canyon an easy, minimal incline. However, once you get to the base of the riverbed, it’s literally rock jumping up to the waterfall, which typically only flows during the rainy season. We recommend not taking small children on this hike, as some of the rocks are rather difficult to scale.
The Black Star Canyon Falls Hiking Trail is a great Southern California hike to do with a group of friends! The trail is supposedly “haunted,” which is fun to chat about, especially when you pass the deserted school bus on the trail. As the first section of the trail is on a secluded road, be respectful of the local residents.In the middle of the hike, you’ll literally be jumping from rock to rock, before you reach the base of the waterfall. However, unless it’s a fairly wet season, don’t expect the falls to be flowing. During this dry season, some people like to climb to the indention (like a hole) near the top of the falls.
View Black Star Canyon Falls Hike in a larger map
From the North (Orange Area):
- From the 55 freeway in Orange, take the Chapman Ave. exit.
- Head east on Chapman Ave for a total of 10.8 miles (on the way it becomes Santiago Canyon Road).
- Turn left on Silverado, just past Irvine Lake, and take a quick left on to Black Star Canyon Road.
- Drive 1.1 miles to the gate and park in the turnout.
From South Orange County/San Diego:
- Take I-5 to Oso Parkway.
- Turn right, go 0.7 miles and turn left on Marguerite Parkway.
- Go 5.6 miles and turn right on El Toro Road. Go a total of 8 miles (El Toro becomes Santiago Canyon Road) and turn right on Silverado.
- Take a quick left on Black Star Canyon Road and park at the end.
Where to Park:
- Take a quick left on Black Star Canyon Road and park at the end. While most hikes in the area require a United States Forest Service Adventure Pass ($5 per day or $30 for the year), there is no sign at the trail head that a pass is required for Black Star Canyon. If you have an adventure pass, display it on your dashboard just in case! To purchase a pass, click here.
What to Bring:
When to Go:
- Spring: We recommend doing the Black Star Canyon Hike in the early springtime. This is the best time to see the active (flowing) waterfall. During the summer months, do this hike in the early morning to prevent heat exhaustion. The fall season is also a great time to partake in this hike, but the waterfall will likely not be flowing.
How it Looks:
- Yes, on a leash.
- Barry-the-Bear: “I left like a large rabbit jumping from rock to rock on this trail. The hike offered great scenery, but was a challenge for the beary-big body. I’m glad I took a large sandwich, because the hike took me between 4-5 hours to complete.”
- Larry-the-Lion: “Black Star hike was hard, but worth it. The falls at the top of the trail were scenic and a great backdrop for my pictures. Definitely coming back! PS – If you have time check out the near by Cook’s Corner restaurant for some post-hike grub.”
- Chris-the-Cheetah: “This hike was moderate a intensity level, taking me about 2.5 hours to complete. This hike began easy, but the rock jumping in the middle offered more of a challenge. Easy to park, great scenery, good times.”